Now that the long awaited Champions League clash with ‘Los Blancos’ is complete, we look to Monday night, and United’s FA Cup 5th round tie with Reading. The match is hardly an unfamiliar one for both sides, with this being the eight time they’ve met in this competition.
We last met in the thrilling Premier League game at the Madejski Stadium, in which seven goals were scored in the opening 35 minutes as United claimed a 4-3 victory. Fast forward to 2013 and both teams are doing rather well. The Royals have won six of their last nine games, which includes their victory over West Brom, where they came from 2-0 down with eight minutes left to achieve a win. After beating Everton and moving 12 points clear in the title race, along with accomplishing a draw at the Santiago Bernabéu, Fergie’s team are also in high spirits.
The Reds are currently in pursuit of their 12th FA Cup, and despite being the most successful club in the competitions history, the team has not lifted the trophy since 2004. Therefore victory this year is definitely on Fergie’s mind. Despite many still being on a high from our trip to Madrid, the boss is clearly focused on ensuring this game will be taken just as seriously, stating that: “In many people‘s eyes Monday would be, ‘yes, it’s Reading, we have just been to Madrid, it was a great night, Monday will take care of itself‘…Monday can’t take care of itself. We have to take care of that.”
Despite everyone being fit except Darren Fletcher with an ongoing bowel illness and Paul Scholes who is out until the beginning of March with a knee injury, it is likely that Fergie will be changing the team around. After missing out in the Champions League, it is possible that Nani, Hernandez or Young will make an appearance, and with Scholes missing, Cleverley or Anderson could feature.
Since the new year began the Royals have impressed with an attitude of determination that was demonstrated against teams such as Chelsea, when Reading scored two goals in the final three minutes to clinch a draw against the London side. The team are certainly in good hands with Brian McDermott. Despite their defeat last weekend to Stoke, which broke their six-game unbeaten streak, McDermott is still positive. The recently named Manager of the Month for January is confident that his squad has all the correct qualities to do battle against the Reds, claiming that “the players have that heart and desire to come back”.
The visitors will be without Grenadian striker Jason Roberts who is out with a hip/thigh injury along with Alex McCarthy who has a shoulder injury, both of which have no return date yet. Reading’s star man Adam Le Fondre will be available who was named January’s Player of the Month after scoring five goals in three substitute appearances.
Andre Marriner will be in charge of this FA Cup game. The Midlands based referee has given over 70 yellow cards in 25 fixtures this season. United fans will remember him from that 4-0 victory over Wigan on New Years Day.
- Manchester United have won 10 and lost just one of the 18 previous competitive matches against Reading.
- Fergie’s side have conceded just once in their last five FA Cup matches at Old Trafford.
- United’s last loss to Reading in the FA Cup came back in 1927.
- The Royals have only ever been past the fifth round twice.
The winners of Monday’s game will face the victors of Chelsea and Middleborough in the quarter finals at home. Should we progress, it could be yet another all Premiership tie for the reds in their quest for FA Cup number 12.
Let’s hope we take another step closer to Wembley on Monday night.
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