Manchester United will look to extend their winning start to the New Year, when they take on Yeovil Town in the FA Cup

Manchester United will face off against League Two side Yeovil Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup, at the Huish Park on Friday night. The Red Devils have enjoyed a fine start to the 2018, having won all of their four fixtures and they will be keen on extending this run and achieving progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a win on Friday. United defeated Derby County 2-0 at the Old Trafford in the previous round of the competition.

It is going to be a momentous occasion for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, as the clash against Yeovil would mark his 100th game in-charge of the club across all competitions, and also coincides with his birthday. And the Portuguese would like nothing better than celebrating the occasion with a win.

Yeovil Town, on the other hand, have been struggling in League Two and find themselves facing the prospect of relegation down to the National League. However, they have enjoyed a decent cup run, having defeated the likes of Southend United, Port Vale and Bradford City along the way to setting up a huge clash with the Red Devils.

And manager Darren Way conceded that it is going to be a “magical occasion” for the club to be going up against an opponent of the stature of Manchester United, but also said his side will not be overawed by the occasion.

Team News and Tactics

Yeovil Town

The Glovers will go into the game without the services of  midfielder and former Manchester United trainee Otis Khan, who misses out due to suspension, following his sending off against Chesterfield in the weekend’s league fixture.

Other than that, there are no absentees for Way to contend with coming into the game and he will look to name his strongest possible side to take on United. Yeovil are expected to set out in a 4-4-2 setup for the Friday night’s encounter. Artur Krysiak is expected to man the goal once again for the Glovers, while centre-backs Nathan Smith and Omar Sowunmi will be tasked with keeping out a star-studded Manchester United attack.

Tom James and Ryan Dickson are likely to be occupying the full-back slots on the right and the left sides respectively. They will have a huge test at their hands, going up against the pace and guile of the United attackers. They are probably going to need a lot of help from Jordan Green and Alefe Santos, who are likely to play in the wide midfield positions, with Jake Gray and Jared Bird set to take the central midfield slots.

The two-pronged strikeforce of Yeovil is likely to comprise of Sam Surridge who has scored eight times this season along with Francois Zoko. The Ivorian, Zoko, is likely to pose the biggest threat to the United backline, having netted 10 goals and registered 3 assists so far this season.

Probable Line-up (4-4-2): Krysiak; James, Smith, Sowunmi, Dickson; Gray, Green, Bird, Santos; Surridge, Zoko

Manchester United

The 12-time FA Cup winners will once again be without the services of defender Eric Bailly, veteran midfielder Michael Carrick and talismanic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Utility man Daley Blind is also expected to miss out for United.

However, the biggest talk heading into the game has been surrounding Manchester United’s January signing Alexis Sanchez. The 29-year old Chilean joined the Red Devils earlier this week from Arsenal, in a deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move the other way and he could be set to make his much-anticipated debut for the Red Devils at Huish Park.

Mourinho will not want to show any signs of complacency going into the game and is likely to field a strong starting XI on Friday night.

Sergio Romero, as usual, will come into the goal for the cup games at the expense of David De Gea, while Matteo Darmian could be in line for a rare start at right-back for United, with Luke Shaw occupying the other full-back slot. With Yeovil likely to sit deep, the full-backs will have to press forward and act as an added attacking outlet for the visitors.

Summer signing Victor Lindelof could return to the side in the heart of the defence, alongside Marcos Rojo. They will have to deal with the threat of Zoko and Surridge. There could be a reshuffle in the middle of the park as well, as Mourinho might look to afford some rest to regulars Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, which could lead to Ander Herrera partnering up Marouane Fellaini.

Considering that Manchester United will play Tottenham Hotspur after the game against Yeovil, Mourinho might decide to protect the likes of Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku and use them from the bench if need be.

That would mean United’s new No.7 Alexis Sanchez could be set for his debut from the left-flank, while Juan Mata should continue on the right, with in-form man Jesse Lingard playing as the No.10. And academy product Marcus Rashford will be leading the line.

Probable line-up (4-2-3-1): Romero; Darmian, Lindelof, Rojo, Shaw; Herrera, Fellaini; Mata, Lingard, Sanchez; Rashford

Key Stats

  • The two teams have met only thrice, all of which have come in the FA Cup. And Manchester United have won all the three, scoring thirteen goals in the process, conceding none.
  • If Manchester United win on Friday night, it will be the fifth time they have progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup in the last six seasons.
  • Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera could be set to make his 150th appearance for the club, if he features against Yeovil. The Spaniard was one of the goal-scorers for the Red Devils, when they beat the Glovers 2-0 in 2014/15.
  • The game will mark Jose Mourinho’s 100th match as the Manchester United manager. In his 99 games at the helm, the Portuguese has led United to 61 victories and has overseen 15 losses.

Player to watch out for

Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United)

The much-anticipated transfer of Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United finally went through earlier this week and the Chilean could be set to make his first ever appearance for the Red Devils on Friday night. After a series of disappointments in search of a true heir for the No.7 jersey, United seem to have found the right man to carry forward its legacy.

Sanchez is a proven performer at this level and has tasted FA Cup success twice in his three years with Arsenal. He will be keen on hitting the ground running for his new club and it will be a huge moment for both the player and the club, when he steps out on the pitch.

Prediction

Yeovil Town 0-2 Manchester United

Despite the number of changes that Mourinho might make, this Manchester United side is a class above their lower league opponents. And throw into the mix, the addition of Alexis Sanchez, we at the Hard Tackle expect an easy 2-0 win for the Red Devils against Yeovil Town.

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