Manchester United v Reading
FA Cup, Fifth Round (18th February, 2013 – 20:00 KO)
Sir Alex Ferguson on Monday’s Fifth Round encounter: “I’ll make some changes for Monday night, even though it’s an incentive to get to the quarter-final. I don’t think that’s lost on any of the players.”
The squad travelled back from Madrid with no fresh injury worries. The knee complaint which kept Paul Scholes out of the Champions League tie will see him miss this FA Cup encounter, too. Other than Darren Fletcher, Sir Alex has a fully-fit and raring-to-go group of players to choose from. Expect several changes, but, with one eye already on the – whisper it – Treble, and the QPR match not until Saturday afternoon, a relatively strong first XI. Nemanja Vidic is likely to start, as is Javier Hernandez. Despite his pleas to “play him every game”, Robin van Persie should find himself on the bench.
Predicted United line-up: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Anderson, Cleverley, Nani, Rooney, Hernandez
FA Cup record at home: P193 W125 D36 L32 F401 A171
FA Cup record v Reading: P12 W6 D5 L1 F24 A12
FA Cup form: L W L D W W
FA Cup 2012/13 so far: West Ham 2-2 United (Third Round), United 1-0 West Ham (Third Round replay), United 4-1 Fulham (Fourth Round)
Royals striker, and boyhood Manchester United fan, Adam le Fondre: “People say it’s a tough game but I relish the prospect of playing against Manchester United – being a fan just spurs me on.”
Reading travel to Old Trafford having just enjoyed a short Dubai-based mid-season training break. Bad news comes, however, in the form of knocks to Mikele Leigertwood and Jimmy Kebe, who are both doubts for Monday night’s game. Veteran striker Jason Roberts (hip) remains on the treatment table. Despite his enthusiasm, le Fondre could find himself on the bench again, from where his impact has been impressive this season. The Royals are in decent form, having taken 14 points from their last 8 league games.
Predicted Reading line-up: Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, McAnuff, Guthrie, Karacan, Akpan, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
FA Cup away record: P37 W11 D16 L10 F43 A48
FA Cup form:W W L L W W
FA Cup 2012/13 so far: Crawley Town 1-3 Reading (Third Round), Reading 4-0 Sheffield United (Fourth Round)
Recent meetings at Old Trafford
United 0-0 Reading (12-08-07), United 1-1 Reading (17-02-07), United 3-2 Reading (30-12-06)
Andre Marriner. The 42-year-old has officiated 27 games in all competitions this season, dishing out 80 yellow cards and 2 red cards. He has awarded 3 penalties and last refereed United in their 4-0 at the DW Stadium on New Year’s Day.
2012/13 head-to-head (PL)
Goals: (United) 62 – (Reading) 3
Conceded: 31 – 48
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (19) – Adam le Fondre (10)
Assists: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney (7) – Jobi McAnuff (5)
Most appearances: Robin van Persie (23/3) – Jobi McAnuff (26)
Best passer: Michael Carrick (76.4/87.7%) – Mikele Leigertwood (43.0/75.6%)
Disciplinary: 43 yellows, 0 reds – 31 yellows, 0 reds
Average possession: 56.4% – 40.0%
Pass success rate: 86.2% – 69.2%
Shots per game: 15 – 9.7
Shot conceded per game: 13.5 – 17.6
A goal for Wayne Rooney, should he feature, will see him join Cristiano Ronaldo on a club-record 4 goals v Reading.
Starts for Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick or Wayne Rooney will see them join Darren Fletcher on a club record 7 appearances against the Royals.
Manchester United and Reading are 2 of only 5 clubs yet to have a player sent of in the Premier League this season.
3 goals at Old Trafford will see Reading hit a major FA Cup milestone – 500 goals in the competition.
United always get the easy draw? The Reds find themselves facing Premier League opposition for the seventh successive tie, and the 22nd in 27 FA Cup rounds.
Score prediction: United 3-1 Reading