Manchester United will take on Huddersfield Town in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday
Manchester United will look to forget their last weekend’s disappointment, when they take the field to face off against Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup, at the John Smith Stadium on Saturday.
The Red Devils were beaten 1-0 by Newcastle United in the Premier League this past weekend, which will have dampened the mood somewhat and manager Jose Mourinho will be hoping to get his team back to winning ways with a strong display against the Terriers and seal advancement to the next round of the FA Cup, for the fourth consecutive time. United defeated Huddersfield 2-0 earlier this month and they will be intent on repeating that result on Saturday.
Huddersfield Town, on the other hand, are looking to create history and make it to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup competition for the first time since 1972. David Wagner’s men have already gotten the better of their illustrious opponents once at home, having beaten them 2-1 in the league back in October last year and the manager will be spurring his troops to put on a similar showing on Saturday.
Team News and Tactics
The Terriers will be without the services of key midfielder Aaron Mooy who is set to miss the next couple of games due to a knee injury, while Michael Hefele will also be unavailable due to illness. Fellow defender Chris Lowe is also ruled out.
Wagner, however, will welcome back striker Laurent Depoitre into the fold, along with captain and first-choice right-back Tommy Smith. But, January arrival Alex Pritchard will not take the field as he is cup tied, having already represented Norwich City in the competition. Elias Kachunga and Jon Gorenc Stankovic will also miss out.
Joel Coleman will most likely come into the line-up for the Terriers between the sticks, as has been the case for the FA Cup matches this season. Florent Hadergjonaj and Terence Kongolo should take up the full-back slots on the right and left sides respectively, with the well-established pair of Christopher Schindler and Mathias Jorgensen taking up the centre of the backline. They will have a tough job of keeping a threatening looking United attack in check.
Aaron Mooy’s absence will be a setback for Huddersfield in the centre of the pitch, but Wagner will be hoping that the duo of Jonathan Hogg and Phillip Billing will do a solid job of shielding their back four on the day. Collin Quaner and Rajiv van La Parra will take up the flanks, on either side of Tom Ince, who will look to pull the strings starting in the No.10 role.
And leading the line for Huddersfield will be Steve Mounie. The Benin forward has netted three goals in his last four appearances and will be hoping to carry the momentum against United and do some damage on Saturday.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Coleman; Hadergjonaj, Schindler, Jorgensen, Kongolo; Hogg, Billing; Quaner, Ince, La Parra; Mounie
Jose Mourinho’s side have been boosted by the return of defender Eric Bailly, who is back in training after undergoing an ankle surgery. However, the Ivory Coast international is unlikely to be involved in the weekend clash. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still recovering from the knee problem and will not take any part either.
The central midfield duo of Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera will both miss out, along with enterprising young forward Marcus Rashford. The manager has confirmed that Paul Pogba will be involved, after reports emerged that the Frenchman was carrying a knock from the Newcastle United game. With the crucial UEFA Champions League tie against Sevilla coming up, Mourinho might look to rest some key players, but will still field a strong starting line-up.
Sergio Romero will deputize for David De Gea between the sticks for the cup tie, as he has done the entire season for Manchester United. Matteo Darmian should come back in the starting XI, to replace Antonio Valencia at right-back, while Luke Shaw should start on the opposite side of the back four.
Between the two full-backs, Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo are likely to start, in place of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
There is a good chance that Jose might shift to a midfield three on Saturday, opting to start with club captain and veteran midfielder Michael Carrick with youngster Scott McTominay and club-record signing Paul Pogba ahead of him. Such a setup should allow the Frenchman to flourish and put in a strong display, after drawing criticism for his performances recently.
The attacking trident should consist of Juan Mata on the right-side and January signing Alexis Sanchez on the left-flank, with Romelu Lukaku expected to spearhead the attack once again, given that Marcus Rashford is out of contention. Having fired blanks last weekend against Newcastle, the star-studded attacking line-up will be under pressure to deliver the goods at the John Smith Stadium.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Romero; Darmian, Lindelof, Rojo, Shaw; McTominay, Carrick, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Alexis
- Huddersfield Town have won just one of their last 13 games in all competitions against Manchester United (D3 L9), though that win did come at the John Smith’s Stadium earlier this season (2-1).
- Manchester United have won two of their three FA Cup ties against Huddersfield, most recently winning 5-0 in a third-round tie in January 1963, United legend Denis Law scoring a hat-trick in that game.
- Manchester United have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches in the FA Cup.
- Huddersfield Town have won their last two games by the same scoreline, 4-1. They last scored 4+ goals in three consecutive matches back in January 1928.
- Manchester United have progressed past the fifth round on each of the last eight occasions they’ve reached this stage – the last two clubs to eliminate them at this stage have gone on to win the trophy (Liverpool 2005-06, Arsenal 2002-03).
Player to watch
Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United)
The Chilean attacker made his debut for United in this competition, in the 4-0 win over Yeovil Town in the previous round and gave a good account of himself. Since then, he has opened his goal-scoring account, scoring in the 2-0 win over the Terriers at Old Trafford. Having failed to bail his team out against Newcastle last weekend, Sanchez will be keen to put on an impressive display for the Red Devils.
Alexis has been directly involved in 15 goals in 15 appearances in the FA Cup, having scored eight goals and registered seven assists and he will be looking to boost his exceptional tally in the competition on Saturday against Huddersfield.
Huddersfield Town 1-1 Manchester United
On paper, this Manchester United side is good enough to beat any team on its day, but it is palpable that Mourinho is struggling to fit in Alexis into his plans, which seems to have had a negative impact on his side. And following their loss against Newcastle last weekend, Huddersfield will fancy themselves to have a go at United and we at the Hard Tackle expect the 20-time English champions to be held to a 1-1 draw and the tie going into a replay.