Monday, January 21, 2019

Prediction: Manchester United vs Reading

Verdict: Over three goals

Best Odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to make it five wins on the bounce this weekend, Manchester United will welcome Championship side Reading to Old Trafford in Saturday’s FA Cup clash.

Manchester United

Starting with Saturday’s hosts, after bringing in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to replace Jose Mourinho last month, few would have expected the immediate impact that the Norweigan legend is having at Manchester United. Coming off the back of a 2-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday night, the Reds have now won all four of their opening games under Solsjaer, something they had not previously managed in over 50 years. With United now playing with a newfound attacking identity, the hosts have really started to flex their muscle in the final third. Now scoring 14 goals on their winning run, Belgium international Romelu Lukaku will be looking to impress his new boss. Coming off the bench and scoring after just 40 seconds against the Magpies in midweek, the 25-year-old now has two in his last two and is expected to earn his first start after being given time off for compassionate leave.

Team News

Marouane Fellaini, Fred and Diogo Dalot could all return to Manchester United’s team for the FA Cup third-round visit of Reading.

Goalkeeper Sergio Romero could also make his first start since September for the visit of the Championship club.

Reading

As for the visitors, while Manchester United might be enjoying an impressive resurge in the Premier League, the same can not be said for Reading. After partying ways with former Swansea boss Paul Clement in early December, the Royals have still found themselves freefalling down the Championship table. Now under the guidance of the relatively unknown Portuguese managed, Jose Gomes, the White and Blues now sit way down in 23rd and are five points adrift of safety entering the New Year. Coming off the back of another woeful showing in their 4-1 hammering at home to Swansea on New Year’s Day, Reading have now failed to win any of their last 10 competitive matchups, a run that stems back to the start of November. Along with now managing to record just a single win in their last 17 meetings against the Red Devils, Gomes will also be growing incredibly concerned by the Royals’ form away from the Madejski. Saturday’s visitors managed to record just one win on the road in 2018.

Team News

Reading’s former United defender John O’Shea is hoping to start against the club he served for more than 10 years.

O’Shea won five Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup and two League Cups at Old Trafford.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Manchester United have lost just one of their 14 FA Cup matches against Reading and are unbeaten against them in the competition since a 1-2 defeat in a second round three replay back in January 1927.
  • United are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions against Reading – winning each of the past five – a run that started in the FA Cup back in January 1936.
  • Romelu Lukaku now has two goals in his last two appearances.
  • This will be the seventh consecutive season Reading will be starting their FA Cup campaign away from home, winning two, drawing two and losing two of their previous six third-round games.
  • Reading have failed to win any of their last 10 outings.

Conclusion

Given United’s newfound optimism, it is hard to see anything other than another convincing win for Saturday’s hosts. With Reading drastically struggling at the foot of the Championship table, we’re backing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to enjoy another impressive afternoon in front of goal.

Verdict: Over three goals

Best Odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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