A trip to the Madjeski Stadium a few days after a steady 1-0 home win against West Ham. In the run up to Christmas I don’t think that Ferguson could have asked for more. Granted, no Premiership game is an easy game nowadays (Ferguson recently pointed to the Norwich game as evidence of this) but, quite frankly, if you drop points at Carrow Road and the Madjeski in one season, I don’t think you’ll end up lifting the trophy at the end of the season.
It’s tough to know who’ll start in goal at this moment in time. Just as De Gea appears to tighten his grip on the jersey, Lindegaard steals it off him. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Ben Amos in goal once or twice this season!
One position that is being sewn up and easy to predict is the right back slot. Rafael has matured into a strong defender and one who is becoming increasingly threatening going forward. At left back is fans’ love-him/hate-him left back, Patrice Evra. I was delighted to see Evans and Smalling start in the middle of defence against West Ham and even happier to see their work merit a clean sheet. These two, with Phil Jones, are the future for United and as excited (rightfully so!) as we all are to hear of Vidic’s impending return, we should be equally delighted at the prospect of these two forming what could be a long partnership. However, in saying all that, don’t be surprised to see Ferdinand return to the defence in the trip to Reading. His experience in what could prove to be a banana skin of a fixture will be invaluable.
Midfield is robbed of Nani and Valencia due to injury and with Young playing through a particularly bad patch at the moment I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ferguson opt for the diamond he played midweek – personnel may change however. Nick Powell, according to the boss, is fit and raring to go and Giggs and Scholes will also fancy a run out. Anderson, my tip to replace Scholes a few seasons ago, is finally starting to command the midfield and pings the ball around like he’s a man on a mission. The major flaw to his game at the moment is his over reliance on his left foot.
If United do opt for a narrow diamond midfield then you could be forgiven for being confident of seeing Van Persie, Rooney and one of Welbeck or Hernandez start up front. However, trying to predict Ferguson’s selection is as difficult as trying to stay in the Chelsea job for more than a calendar year!
If United start well, as they did against West Ham, I can see this one being a stride too far for relegation favourites Reading. I’ve a great amount of admiration for what they’ve done but they must be a little nervous of tomorrow. However, and it’s a big however, the longer they can hold out the larger they’ll grow in confidence and the more anxious United will become. United need to score early against a Reading shaped bus parked in front of goal tomorrow. If they do? We could see a landslide.
Fancy a Flutter? (odds provided by WilliamHill)
United to win @4/9
Ferdinand to score first in a 4-1 win @570/1
Noel Hunt to score first in a 1-0 win @18/1
Wherever you watch the game, please enjoy it. If you fancy following me on Twitter, please do so @matthew_james7