Roberto Di Matteo and Sir Alex Ferguson will make significant changes to their Chelsea and Manchester United sides for Wednesday evening's Capital One Cup tie at Stamford Bridge, where they meet three days after their controversial Premier League game.
United's 3-2 win in west London was followed by Chelsea's official complaint that Mark Clattenburg, the referee, had aimed allegedly "inappropriate" language at Juan Mata and Mikel John Obi, with the club claiming that the latter was the target of a racial slur. Clattenburg denies the allegations.
Although Chris Smalling is not yet fit enough to be in contention, he should be available for United's Champions League trip to Braga next Wednesday after the groin and metatarsal injuries that have ruled him out so far this season. Smalling's fellow central defender Phil Jones is yet to return to football training as he recovers from a knee problem.
Ferguson told MUTV: "We will try to push Chris on quickly. I don't think he will make Wednesday's game but I am sure he will be ready for the following week. There was some hope both he and Phil would be back for this busy schedule. Phil will be starting football training next Monday. He still has some running to do. The good news is they are not far away."
After the visit to Stamford Bridge, United host Arsenal in Saturday's early kick-off, then fly to Portugal for their Champions League group game before travelling to Aston Villa the following Saturday.
With this busy 10 days in mind, Ferguson will rest key players at Stamford Bridge. "Obviously we will make changes for the Wednesday game," he said. "The squad that played against Newcastle [United, in the previous round] will be in place again. You don't want to lose down there and we want to continue in the cup. Any game down there is going to be tough. There has been good progress there since Roberto Di Matteo took the job. They are big games – and big games are good for us."
For the 2‑1 win over Newcastle in late September, Ferguson handed full debuts to Michael Keane, Marnick Vermijl and Scott Wootton in a side completely different from United's previous outing, a 2-1 win at Liverpool.
Di Matteo's challenge is to try to ensure his side retain focus following Sunday's post-match events. Although Mata and Mikel are in the match-day squad, the manager may elect to rest both. Di Matteo is also without the suspended John Terry, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic, and the injured Frank Lampard.
"We are looking to freshen the team up a little bit, for sure, and also put a couple of youngsters in," Di Matteo said. "We always talk about developing and giving youngsters a chance so this type of game is a good opportunity for some of them."
Daniel Sturridge, César Azpilicueta and Lucas Piazón look certain to start. They could be joined by Victor Moses, Marko Marin, Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand.