With stuttering form seriously hurting their promotion bid, Derby County will be looking to their FA Cup campaign to provide the much needed spark ahead of the season finale. Following the home loss to Southampton, Man Utd are pretty much in the same position, meaning that we are likely to witness a nervy affair between two sides very low on confidence.
Derby County bosses made a bold decision to appoint former Carlo Ancelotti assistant coach Paul Clement as the new manager in the summer, but the highly rated tactician wasted no time in impressing the club management and fans alike after arriving at iPro Stadium. Under his command, the Rams climbed to promotion places in the Championship, but their excellent run of results finally came to an end at the turn of the year. Derby County have experienced all sorts of problems in recent weeks, failing to win any of their last five league fixtures and suffering heavy defeats to Birmingham City (0-3) and Burnley (4-1) in their last two games. The Rams did manage to defeat Hartlepool on the road to set up a clash with Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round, and no doubts that Paul Clement and his charges will give their best to pile more misery on the Red Devils and at the same time kick-start their own season. The manager admits he will ask for advice from friend and colleague Carlo Ancelotti, which goes to show that he is ready to do whatever it takes to arrest the recent slump in form.
Craig Forsyth and Max Lowe are out for the remainder of the season through knee and hamstring injuries respectively, while new signing Marcus Olsson will have to wait for his chance on the bench.
If we look at Manchester United’s results this season, they are not that disappointing since nobody really expected the Red Devils to challenge for the Premier League title, but with the fans having become used to attractive attacking displays under Sir Alex Ferguson, nobody can blame them for calling for Louis van Gaal’s resignation. Not even the oldest of fans can probably remember the last time Man Utd looked so disappointing going forward and it is fair to say that their performances this season have not been easy on the eye. And with even the manager himself admitting that he was far from happy with how this campaign is panning out, it is probably just a matter of time before he gets the boot. Until that happens, he will have to try and ensure that the Red Devils show some improvement between now and the end of the season, which is not going to be an easy task. And even though Derby County have been struggling of late, Manchester United are not exactly in a good position to qualify for the next stage.
Ashley Young has been ruled out for a couple of months, while Matteo Darmian is rated doubtful after suffering a head injury in the Southampton clash.
Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia continue to miss out, but Bastian Schweinsteiger should be fit to play.
Key Factors to Consider
- Man Utd won nine of last thirteen games vs Derby (D2 L2)
- Under 1.5 goals were scored in two of their last three meetings in Derbyshire
- Derby have seven wins in last ten home fixtures
- Man Utd are unbeaten in last three away games in FA Cup (W2 D1)
- Both teams scored in five of Man Utd’s last seven away fixtures
Both sides head into the game low on spirits after some disappointing performances in the league, so don’t expect either side to risk too much going forward. With a tight game on the cards at iPro Stadium, our advice is to bet on half-time draw.
Verdict: Draw at half-time
Best Odds: 11/10
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