Manchester United’s pursuit of their first FA Cup trophy since 2015/16 continues on Saturday as they welcome Championship outfit Reading to Old Trafford.
Erik ten Hag’s men were ruthless against Nottingham Forest in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, pulling off a landslide 3-0 win to put one foot in the final.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring at the City Ground with a brilliant solo goal to set the tone for United’s overwhelming cup success, scoring in the ninth of his ten post-World Cup appearances for the Red Devils.
It was a perfect response to a disappointing 3-2 defeat at runaway Premier League leaders Arsenal last Sunday, which saw ten Hag’s side fall 11 points behind the title pace.
After virtually booking their tickets for the Carabao Cup final, United moved one step closer to ending their six-year silverware drought, but the FA Cup also holds a special place in their hearts.
With only Arsenal (14) beating United’s tally of 12 FA Cup titles, the Red Devils will unlikely underestimate visiting Reading, who comfortably dispatched fellow Championship rivals Watford 2-0 in the last round.
Unfortunately for manager Paul Ince, that remains Reading’s solitary win in their last five outings in all competitions (D2, L2), with the Royals suffering a dreadful 4-0 defeat at Stoke City in the lead-up to this trip.
Ince returns to his former stomping ground seeking amends for his side’s wayward form in the Championship as the Royals currently lag five points behind the play-off line.
Since a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in 2015, Man United have strung together 14 home matches in the FA Cup without losing (W12, D2), including a 3-1 romping of Everton in this season’s opening tie.
If that’s not enough to tuck the Red Devils in a confident mood, they have only lost one of their 39 home encounters against sides from outside the top-flight (W31, D7), going down 1-0 to Leeds United in 2010.
All eyes will be on Rashford again after he tallied two goals and three assists in his last five FA Cup outings. On top of that, his only double in the competition to date came against Reading in 2017.
While a triumph against the odds would go a long way to making up for Reading’s rough patch in the Championship, you’d have to go back to 2011 for their last away FA Cup win against Premier League opposition.
Home and away, the Royals have managed just one victory in their last eight FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents, courtesy of a 3-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion in 2016.
But they’ll be far away from home on Saturday, meeting a Man Utd side they’ve ousted only once in their 22 overall H2Hs (D7, L14), losing the last six in a row by an aggregate score of 15-4.
Luke Shaw (illness), Anthony Martial (leg) and Diogo Dalot (hamstring) won’t make the cut, same as Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek, who have recently returned to training.
Reading will be without Andy Carroll (ankle), Naby Sarr (knee), Sam Hutchinson (Achilles) and Liam Moore (hamstring), with all four players still stuck in the treatment room.
Manchester United vs Reading Potential Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Tom Heaton; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia; Scott McTominay, Fred; Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga, Alejandro Garnacho; Wout Weghorst.
Reading (3-5-2): Joe Lumley; Andy Yiadom, Tom Holmes, Tom McIntyre; Junior Hoilett, Jeff Hendrick, Tyrese Fornah, Mamadou Loum, Baba Rahman; Tom Ince, Lucas Joao.
Manchester United vs Reading Prediction
Considering United’s astounding run of ten successive home wins in all competitions and Reading’s underwhelming four-game winless streak on the road (D1, L3), this is really a no-brainer.
Anything other than United’s clear-cut win would be a miracle.
Manchester United 3-0 Reading
- ‘The boys gave everything’ – Graham Potter assesses Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa
- Jurgen Klopp delivers damning assessment on Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat to Man City
- Preview: Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur – prediction, team news, line-ups
- Barcelona will play at the Estadi Lluis Companys next season with Camp Nou renovation on the cards
- Harry Kane targeting a century of goals for England