LONDON • Jose Mourinho has suggested that Chelsea would be favourites to overcome his Manchester United side when they meet in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup next month.
The holders progressed to the last eight on Sunday, when they defeated second-tier Blackburn 2-1 at Ewood Park with goals from Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after Danny Graham had put the home side ahead.
Mourinho's reward - if it can be termed as such - is a trip to Stamford Bridge, where he held the manager's job in his second stint until he was sacked in December 2015.
He suffered his heaviest defeat in his eight seasons in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge last October, when Antonio Conte's side hammered United 4-0.
It was the most humiliating defeat of Mourinho's reign as United manager and he is wary about his team's chances of beating the Premier League leaders in the clash which is scheduled to take place on March 11, pending United's involvement in the Europa League.
NOT MUCH DOWN TIME
I have to play Saint-Etienne in the Europa League, I have to play the League Cup final, I have to play hopefully another opponent in the Europa League and I have to fight for a top-four position in the Premier League. Chelsea can only think about that because they are champions and they have nothing else to fight for.
JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, on their impending FA Cup clash against Premier League leaders Chelsea.
"I have so many things to think about," he said.
"I have to play Saint-Etienne in the Europa League, I have to play the League Cup final, I have to play hopefully another opponent in the Europa League and I have to fight for a top-four position in the Premier League.
"Chelsea can only think about that because they are champions and they have nothing else to fight for."
Mourinho, however, praised Championship side Blackburn for putting up a good fight.
"Did they give us a good game? More than good, they gave us a hard game and congratulations to them," the 54-year-old said.
"Their approach was brave, strong. They had real competitors and if we didn't have the right attitude from everybody we would be in real trouble."
United's success means the fixtures are coming thick and fast as they prepare to visit Saint-Etienne for their Europa League last-32 second-leg game tomorrow, protecting a 3-0 lead, then face Southampton in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
"Southampton is sleeping, is eating and resting and working for the League Cup final and we have had to play three tough games," the Portuguese added.
"It is so much more difficult for us, but for good reasons."
Non-league side Lincoln, who inflicted a shock defeat on Premier League club Burnley, will be rewarded with a lucrative away game at Arsenal should Arsene Wenger's men beat Sutton, also from the fifth tier, in last night's game.
And if Manchester City eliminate Huddersfield in their replay, they will face Middlesbrough.
Tottenham, who beat Fulham 3-0, will play their final FA Cup game at White Hart Lane against Millwall. The ties will be played from March 10 to 13.
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE