O’Shea talks Chelsea, Barça and armband
John O'Shea is determined to end Chelsea's Premier League title hopes just like Manchester United did their UEFA Champions League dreams. The versatile Irishman will go into Sunday's crucial match at Old Trafford on a high after captaining the side into a Wembley showdown with Barcelona on 28 May.
O'Shea was handed the armband in the absence of Nemanja Vidic, and the team responded by beating Schalke 4-1 on the night and 6-1 on aggregate in a Champions League semi-final. He was one of eight changes to the team that lost to Arsenal last weekend as Sir Alex Ferguson kept one eye on the Chelsea clash, with the Red Devils only three points clear of the Blues with three rounds remaining.
United, however, have a remarkable home record this season and have taken 49 points out of a possible 51. Not only that, they defeated Chelsea 2-1 in front of their own supporters in the Champions League quarter-finals after winning the first leg 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. O'Shea is looking for more of the same.
"We have shown a lot of experience at Old Trafford in big games," he said. "We have already played Chelsea at home in the Champions League, so we know we will have to play well. Chelsea have hit a bit of form but we know we are a good team at home as well."
O'Shea is focusing on the league campaign instead of the final with Barcelona - conquerors of Real Madrid - with games to come against struggling Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool following the showdown with the reigning champions. United lost to the Catalan giants in the 2009 final.
"We watched the game closely against Madrid," said the 30-year-old. "They got through it quite well but we can put it to one side. We have three huge games in Manchester United's history, before another massive match."
Schalke were outplayed last night, with Antonio Valencia opening the scoring and Darron Gibson extending their lead before half-time. Jose Manuel Jurado pulled a goal back, but Anderson then grabbed a brace to complete a convincing victory against the shell-shocked Bundesliga side.
O'Shea said: "I was delighted the manager named me as captain. It was a fantastic occasion, but the most important thing is we got the performance and the win we needed. Some of the performances that the lads put in really showed how strong the squad is.
"We could have scored a few more goals but we are very happy with the end result. We lacked the same intensity as we normally do against Arsenal at the weekend, as the boys put in such a great performance in Schalke. The manager did take a risk but he also had faith in the squad."
United won the European Cup for the first time at Wembley in 1968, and lifted the trophy again in 1999 and 2008, when they beat Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. O'Shea added: "Wembley and Manchester United has a fantastic history, but fingers crossed we will have the Premiership wrapped up before then."