The fifth round of the FA Cup is upon us and Manchester United are away against Preston North End in what should be an intriguing FA Cup fixture.
Preston play at home and if one thing is clear and this year’s edition of the FA Cup, its that the smaller teams are going to back themselves against the giants of English Football. Chelsea faced Bradford’s wrath and rivals Manchester City fell to Middlesborough.
It hasn’t been the easiest of the time for Man United either, thanks to their own performances, as they only just managed to get the better of Yeovil and needed a replay in at Old Trafford in the fourth round to get past Cambridge.
Preston will play with freedom and their manager Simon Grayson made it clear that his players don’t have anything to lose, whereas Man United do as it is United’s only realistic possibility of silverware this season.
Vice-Captain Michael Carrick continues to be sidelined with a calf injury. Although this week he’ll more than likely have Phil Jones and Daley Blind to give him company after both were substituted in the first half in the midweek fixture.
United youngster Sam Johnstone, who is on loan at Preston, will miss the game along with Daniel Johnson who is cup tied. Manager Simon Grayson will also be without Jermaine Beckford who scored the famous goal for his Leeds side against Man United in the FA Cup in 2010.
Expect some changes from the Man United camp. Although it has become harder and harder to predict a starting XI every week, expect Juan Mata and James Wilson to get starts. Both of them will be key in breaking down Preston at home as well as Ander Herrera who should get the nod.
For Preston, striker Joe Garner has been fantastic this season having scored 14 times already. He will have to be on his toes and ready to convert any chances they manage to get and expect there to be quite few considering how much possession Man United keep this season. Yet there always that sense of vulnerability associated with the back four at United this season and they will always give you a couple of opportunities to score. Garner will have to be clinical in front of goal for the home side.
Always hard to predict an upset but given how much importance Van Gaal has given to FA Cup, I’m expecting the away team to come out all guns blazing and wary of an undesirable result
Preston North End 0-2 Manchester United