Michael Carrick eager to avoid drama in FA Cup replay between Manchester United and Chelsea

The two sides must meet again after 2-2 draw at Old Trafford

Michael Carrick would be happy to sacrifice the regular thrills and spills of Manchester United's meetings with Chelsea for a simple 1-0 win when they eventually play their FA Cup quarter-final replay.

For the second time this season, Chelsea fought their way back from two goals down to draw level with the Red Devils yesterday.

Unlike the Barclays Premier League meeting in October, the Blues did not then have two players sent off or concede a late winner, instead coming closest to snatching victory themselves when David de Gea brilliantly turned away Juan Mata's goalbound effort.

When you add in an astonishing nine-goal Capital One Cup tie between the sides - in which United had glory snatched away from them by Eden Hazard's injury-time penalty and then crashed out in extra-time - and a 3-3 draw last term, when Sir Alex Ferguson's side roared back from three goals down, little wonder the replay is being looked forward to with relish.

The last five meetings between the sides have yielded 28 goals but Carrick would prefer that amazing average to start coming down.

"There have been quite a few goals in the games between us recently, I am not quite sure why," said the England midfielder.

"It is exciting to watch. It is not so exciting to play in. I would take 1-0 all day."

Carrick admitted yesterday's game generated mixed emotions in the United dressing room.

After the depressing events of last Tuesday, when their Champions League place was ripped away by Real Madrid, the Red Devils began at a ferocious pace.

But once Petr Cech managed to claw out an attempted clearance from David Luiz that looked certain to put United three in front, the visitors gradually took charge.

Ferguson detected tiredness caused by the physical and emotional energy expended against the Spanish giants, even if Carrick would prefer not to rely on that for an explanation of what went wrong.

"It has been a tough week," he said.

"But that is not an excuse. We are used to playing big games at this stage of the season. We want to be playing more because it would mean we had got through.

"We got off to a good start but we just couldn't see it out."

Carrick's contribution to his side's excellent start was a marvellous pass that created the opportunity for Javier Hernandez to steer his header over Petr Cech.

It is a measure of the Geordie's unassuming character that he refused to dwell on that moment of magic.

Carrick was on far more secure ground when it came to assessing De Gea, whose agility once again showed why Ferguson is keeping faith with the former Atletico Madrid man, despite his difficulties getting used to the physical nature of life in England.

"That save at the end was massive," said Carrick.

"Without that we could have been out.

"They are the saves that keepers need to make but fair play to David. He didn't have an awful lot to do in general play but it was a terrific effort."

And Carrick also had an answer to those critics who have been so quick to condemn the 22-year-old.

"As a goalkeeper you can't let these things get to you," added the former Tottenham man.

"If you make a mistake people are all over you. That is just how it is.

"You have to take the rough with the smooth. He is well aware of that."

PA

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