United welcome Brian McDermott-less Reading to Old Trafford on Saturday as the club look to take another step towards title number twenty. This is a fixture that, on paper, would have every United fan foaming at the mouth in excitement. Bets on hat tricks, 7-0 victories and five goals scored before half time will be placed by ravenous fans up and down the country. However, this time of the year, this late in the title race, a top versus bottom fixture isn’t as easy to predict as expected.
Nemanja Vidic and Robin Van Persie will be itching to return to the starting line up. Van Persie, in particular, will be looking to recapture the goal scoring form that has propelled him to near legend status in his debut season at the Theatre of Dreams after not scoring for a little while. Rio Ferdinand, considering his international future according to Ferguson, could be rested as part of his ongoing management programme. Rafael will hope to play and exorcise any demons that may still haunt him from the return fixture earlier in the season where he was torn a new one by McAnuff before being substituted. Cleverley and/or Carrick could be rested with Giggs and Anderson waiting in the wings. Nani is a major doubt with a hamstring injury whilst Scholes and Jones are definite non-starters.
Reading will arrive at Old Trafford bereft of the first and second choice ‘keeper so Stuart Taylor will continue to deputise. Federici and Kebe remain injured as does BBC favourite Jason Roberts. Pogrebnyak completes a three match ban ensuring that caretaker manager, Eamonn Dolan, has plenty to think about in terms of team selection.
Why Reading has made the decision to sack their manager so late in the season is beyond me and is probably beyond any reasonable and logical football fan. McDermott had done a fantastic job with Reading and the fact that a club on their budget is still fighting for their place in the league and not yet condemned to the drop is, in large, credit to their former manager. They’ve been on a poor run of form of late, seeing them lose two huge games at home. However, what chance does a new manager have in changing their fortunes in such a short space of time? What chance, in fact, does the club have of attracting anyone to the club now?
United will be looking for their twelfth league win on the bounce and will be hopeful of turning around a week, in their eyes, of horror. The Real Madrid and Chelsea fixtures derailed a run of form and momentum but this home fixture offers United the chance to get back on the horse and ride off into the sunset. Ferguson’s team selection will be very interesting as he was quick to concede Cleverley and Carrick were exhausted against Chelsea yet he failed to address this in selection or substitutions.
• Reading’s last league fixture at Old Trafford was a 0-0 draw in the 2007/08 campaign.
• Van Persie will be looking to avoid going five consecutive starts without scoring for the first time in over six years.
• Reading have claimed only five points in all away fixtures this season.
• United are unbeaten in their last five fixtures against Reading.
Fancy a Flutter? (odds supplied by WilliamHill)
• United to win @2/11
• A 5-0 United win @11/1
• Van Persie hat trick @8/1
• Rafael to score first in a 5-1 win @245/1
• Adam LeFondre to score and Reading to win @40/1
For more United witterings, moaning about FIFA and FUT, complaints about being tired, the odd Welsh rugby comment and bragging about my new born son then follow me @matthew_james7