Manchester United will be eager to qualify for the FA Cup quarter-finals when they take on Derby County at the Pride Park Stadium on Thursday.

The curtains are set to fall on the fifth round of the FA Cup, with one final game being played on Thursday night. 12-time winners Manchester United will resume their quest to match the record tally of FA Cup triumphs when they lock horns with Derby County at the Pride Park Stadium.

Derby County entered the FA Cup in the third round, where they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 before needing a fourth round replay to get past Northampton Town. The Rams, though, have been going through an indifferent run of form lately, having won just one of their last five games in the second division, although that victory came in their most recent encounter, this past weekend.

Manchester United, on the other hand, had a tricky start to their FA Cup campaign, as they beat Wolves 1-0 post a third round replay before easing past Tranmere Rovers in the previous stage. The Red Devils are in the middle of a fine run, having not been beaten in any of their last eight games in all competitions.

Manchester United were on the wrong end of the result when they last clashed with Derby, losing on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the Carabao Cup last season. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Derby County

Phillip Cocu does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Manchester United. On Thursday, the Derby County manager will continue to be bereft of the services of four first-team players.

Duane Holmes (ankle) and Tom Huddlestone (hamstring) are nursing their respective injuries, while former Derby captain Richard Keogh (knee) and Krystian Bielik (ACL rupture) are done for the season. The spotlight, though, will be on Wayne Rooney.

Manchester United’s record goal scorer Rooney joined Derby in January and has been in fine touch for the Rams so far. Rooney, who will don the armband for Derby, will be stationed behind the central striker and will look to be the creative force for the hosts.

Former Manchester United forward Tom Lawrence and top scorer Martyn Waghorn will be the two wide men, while Rooney will play off Chris Martin. The midfield double pivot will have Max Bird and Graeme Shinnie pair up, with the duo primarily tasked with stifling the Manchester United attack.

As for defence, Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom should partner up at the heart of the Rams’ defence, with Craig Forsyth and Jayden Bogle being the full-backs. Finally, Kelle Roos will take his place between the sticks, where he could be a busy man against Manchester United.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Roos; Bogle, Davies, Wisdom, Forsyth; Bird, Shinnie; Waghorn, Rooney, Lawrence; Martin

Derby

Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a few fresh fitness troubles hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to take on Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round. On Thursday, the Manchester United boss is likely to be without as many as seven first-team players.

Daniel James, who missed out against Everton, is still not fit enough and will not be involved against Derby, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be unavailable due to a back injury. Meanwhile, the likes of Lee Grant, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are definite absentees, while Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are unlikely to be fit enough to return just yet.

Solskjaer will hope to ring in the changes against Derby on Thursday, but with seven players out, he will be restricted on the rotations front. Sergio Romero, though, should start in goal in place of David de Gea, as is customary for cup ties.

Defence should see three changes, with Manchester United captain Harry Maguire the only player retaining his spot. Eric Bailly, who has impressed since returning from injury, will be Maguire’s central defensive partner, while Diogo Dalot and Brandon Williams ought to start as the full-back pairing.

Nemanja Matic could be given a breather, with Solskjaer reverting to a 4-2-3-1, meaning Fred and Scott McTominay will pair up in the midfield double pivot. Bruno Fernandes should start as the no. 10 once again, with Juan Mata providing creative support from the right. Jesse Lingard will likely get a chance from the left wing, while Odion Ighalo should lead the line for Manchester United.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Romero; Dalot, Bailly, Maguire, Williams; McTominay, Fred, Mata, Fernandes, Lingard; Ighalo

Manchester United

Key Stats

  • Derby County have lost their last eight FA Cup ties against Manchester United, most recently in the third round in 2018. The last time they beat the Red Devils in the competition was in the quarter-final of the 1896-97 campaign.
  • Derby are looking to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1998-99 – the Rams have lost each of their last five fifth round matches.
  • Manchester United have progressed from each of their last 10 FA Cup fifth round matches, reaching the quarter-final in each of the last five campaigns.
  • Manchester United have progressed from 45 of their last 46 FA Cup ties against sides from a lower division (including finals), only failing against Leeds United in January 2010 in that run.
  • Derby County captain Wayne Rooney has never scored in six appearances against his former side Manchester United. The last player to score an FA Cup goal against Manchester United having previously played for the Red Devils was Danny Welbeck with Arsenal in March 2015.

Player to Watch

Wayne Rooney

Out to make a point against former club Manchester United. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Out to make a point against former club Manchester United. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

It will be a special night for Wayne Rooney as he goes up against former club Manchester United for the first time since returning to England. The Red Devils’ all-time leading goalscorer has been in good touch for the Rams, making some important contributions already.

There will be no room for emotions, despite the setting being a rather stirring occasion for the veteran forward. Rooney has already stressed that he will do what it takes to get Derby over the line and with emotions running high, a game-changing performance could well be on the cards against Manchester United.

Prediction

Derby County 1-2 Manchester United

Despite the difference in stature, this has all the makings of being a close contest. Wayne Rooney will be highly motivated to make the difference against his former club. The Manchester United legend can be expected to deliver the goods in a big game setting.

However, the visitors will have plans of their own, especially with Bruno Fernandes running riot game after game. The Portuguese international should make the difference once again, helping Manchester United to a narrow win. The Hard Tackle, to that end, predicts a 2-1 in for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co. to become the final team to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.

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