Preview: Reading have poor form against United; time for Ince to learn a big lesson? United in great form and could blow the Championship strugglers apart!

Manchester United -v- Reading

Emirates FA Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 28 January 2023, KO 20:00 GMT

Manchester United will face Reading in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. The match will see Erik ten Hag go up against former United player Paul Ince who is now the manager Championship strugglers Reading. Ince has been critical of every United manager post-Sir Alex Ferguson in the past, criticising everything but has not achieved anything as a manager in his career. Bet he does not like criticism?

United have not been beaten by Reading since 1927 which gives the Red Devils an almost 100 year record against the Berkshire club. Since the season restarted after the FIFA World Cup, United have been in great form falling to a recent draw with Crystal Palace and a hard-fought defeat to Arsenal on Sunday. Ten Hag’s United beat Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup semi final first leg 3-0 at the City Ground on Wednesday evening, facing them again next week.

It seems certain that United are seeking to win a trophy this season under the guidance of the Dutchman, who has perhaps been the best fit at the club post-Ferguson despite the fact that only Louis van Gaal (Emirates FA Cup) and Jose Mourinho (FA Community Shield, EFL Cup and UEFA Europa League) have been successful, although David Moyes won the Community Shield with United. Ten Hag looks set to see this United team go the distance this season, if they can.

Manchester United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Nottingham Forest 3-0 W, Arsenal 3-2 L, Crystal Palace 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-1 W, Charlton Athletic 3-0 W, Everton 3-1 W

Goals: 18 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Anthony Martial, Antony, 3 – Own Goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, 2 – Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Fred, Alejandro Garnacho, Scott McTominay, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Wout Weghorst

Assists: 9 – Christian Eriksen, 5 – Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, 4 – Alejandro Garnacho, 2 – Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Reading – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Stoke City 4-0 L, Queens Park Rangers 2-2 D, Watford 2-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 1-0 L, Norwich City 1-1 D, Swansea City 2-1 W

Goals: 6 – Tom Ince, 5 – Lucas João, 4 – Andy Carroll, 3 – Jeff Hendrick, Yakou Meite, 2 – Shane Long, Tom McIntyre, 1 – Kelvin Abrefa, Kelvin Ehibhationham, Tyrese Fornah, Junior Hoilett, Mamadou Loum, Amadou Salif Mbengue, Naby Sarr

Assists: 3 – Tom Ince, 2 – Sam Hutchinson, Tom McIntyre, Yakou Meite, 1 – Mamadi Camara, Ovie Ejaria, Tyrese Fornah, Jeff Hendrick, Shane Long, Mamadou Loum, Joe Lumley, Andy Yiadom

Previous Meetings & Connections

United and Reading have met 22 times in all competitions. United have won 14 times, drawing seven times with Reading winning just once. United have scored 46 goals, conceding 21 and keeping eight clean sheets. For three seasons, United faced Reading in the Premier League, winning four matches and drawing twice. Reading last beat United back in 1927 – a 2-1 defeat in an FA Cup replay played at Villa Park after a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

United and Reading have played 17 times since the last time Reading defeated United. United have won 13 times, drawing four times. United currently have a six-match winning run against Reading. In the FA Cup, United have played Reading 15 times, winning nine, drawing five and losing once. United have won the last four meetings against Reading in the FA Cup and are undefeated in their last ten meetings in the competition.

Chris Casper, Grant Brenner, Luke Chadwick, Oliver Norwood, John O’Shea, Paul McShane, Tyler Blackett and Danny Drinkwater have all played for United and Reading, some of whom had only played at youth level for United. O’Shea made 394 first team appearances for United with Chadwick making 38, Blackett making 12 and Casper making six. The others played few or no matches at first team level. Blackett was the only player sold to Reading by United.

Team News

Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Donny van de Beek, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial all look set to remain absent due to injury and returning to fitness after recent lay offs. Harry Maguire will be back in the squad after he was suspended for the victory over Nottingham Forest on Wednesday evening and Luke Shaw has a 50% chance of involvement on Saturday after he missed the Carabao Cup semi final first leg due to illness on Wednesday evening.

Facundo Pellistri could be involved this weekend with him still seeking to make his first start for United since signing for the club two and a half years ago. It is possible that the likes of Zidane Iqbal and Kobbie Mainoo could also find involvement against Reading with some players likely to be given a rest from this match – although they could stick have some involvement on the bench. Tom Heaton and Jack Butland will be vying to start in goal for United.

Sam Hutchinson, Liam Moore and Naby Sarr are all set to miss the visit to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday evening. Andy Carroll faces a race against time to be fit for the clash with United. Kelvin Abrefa should be fit to return to the starting XI for Reading in this match too, which will give manager Paul Ince some other options. The former United midfielder seems optimistic about his clubs chances against United, especially from the set-piece, but I don’t believe it.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

Butland;

Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Malacia;

Casemiro, Fred;

Pellistri, Fernandes, Garnacho;

Weghorst

Predicted Reading Starting XI – 5-3-2

Lumley;

Abrefa, Yiadom, Holmes, McIntyre, Rahman;

Hendrick, Loum, Fornah;

Ince, Meite

Match Prediction

United have a great chance to beat Reading and put themselves into the last 16 of the Emirates FA Cup this season. United’s form under Erik ten Hag this season has been positive and despite the start of the season, United have turned out to be a tough team to beat. The Arsenal match on Sunday was probably one of the best matches in a while which saw United challenge the Gunners, who lead the Premier League table so far this season.

United earned a 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Wednesday evening with goals from Marcus Rashford, Wout Weghorst and Bruno Fernandes which puts them within 90 minutes of a trip to Wembley at the end of February where they will face either Newcastle United or Southampton – currently it is Newcastle that lead that tie 1-0 on aggregate. This will give Ten Hag a great chance of winning his first trophy for United, which will be a great start.

United have battled to force their way into the top four of the Premier League this season, despite getting just one point in the last two matches, they still sit clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. United are in a much better position than they have been since Jose Mourinho’s debut season as the manager for United which saw the club lift the FA Community Shield, the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Ten Hag will be seeking to establish his team as title contenders.

Manchester United 3-0 Reading

Written by John Walker


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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.