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Ratings: Sergio Romero put in a good performance against Reading; Romelu Lukaku scores third goal in three games

Manchester United beat Reading 2-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday. Goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku put United into the fourth round of the FA Cup this season. They will learn who they face in the fourth round on Monday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now guided his team to five wins in five games.

Juan Mata scored the opening goal, from the penalty spot after a foul in the box which relied on VAR to award the penalty. Fred initially found the back of the net but was offside. Romelu Lukaku, assisted by Alexis Sanchez doubled United’s lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Tahith Chong made his debut for United after replacing Mata in the 62nd minute of the game and gave us a glimpse of what a proper winger on the right could actually do.

Tahith Chong was a glimpse of fresh air during the game. How long have we all waited to see a player with pace and ability on the right to play in the right-wing role? I’m not saying he’s the answer to the problems in this position but based on the players played in this position over the years, he’s a much better fit. It will be good to see him given more chances during the remainder of the season.

Sergio Romero made some good saves despite not having much to do, even though Reading had many attacks during the game. Romelu Lukaku had a good game in spells. He did not have much creativity behind him but managed to find a good finish after Alexis Sanchez played a good ball into the area. It was his third goal in as many appearances for the club. Romero is the Man of the Match for me. He does not play much but most of the time when he does, you value him more.

Manchester United

22 Sergio Romero

The Argentinian goalkeeper had little to do against Reading, despite the attacking prowess of the Championship side. He made a few saves and helped his team to distribute the ball to a good level. The best reserve goalkeeper in the Premier League?

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Diogo Dalot

The young Portuguese right-back showed a lot of attacking ability against Reading but in defence, he was not the best player. It shows that he will need time to grow as a player at the club. He will be given chances which will help in his growth as a player.

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Matteo Darmian

Played as a central defender with only Jones and Lindelof fit to play. Did alright at times, which was good considering. Drove forward occasionally but was not the best with his distribution.

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4 Phil Jones

This was an unorganised defensive backline. Jones was solid in his tackles but that is all that can be said. He is not a leader at the back and cannot be depended on to get the best out of his defensive peers. Another clue that money needs to be spend on a commanding central defender. How many more clues are needed?

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18 Ashley Young

Got forward on the left flank at times but did not produce anything for United. He was reckless at times which is not what is needed in an experienced player.

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17 Fred

The Brazilian scored in the lead up to United's penalty but he was offside. His time at United is frustrating. He gave the ball away too often and does not seem to fit in at the club.

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39 Scott McTominay

Made a contribution to the game but disappeared at times. He's not going to bench any of Matic, Herrera, or Pogba any time soon. May benefit from a loan spell somewhere in the future.

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Andreas Pereira

Went missing during the game, which is not the best way to show your worth to the manager. Out of contract in the summer and it could be the end of the road for him at United. Plenty of promise but no actual signs of that promise developing into something worthwhile. Created nothing of note.

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8 Juan Mata

The veteran midfielder won and scored the penalty, putting United ahead in the game. Did not have much involvement other than that. Cannot moan if he does not start against Spurs a week on Sunday.

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Romelu Lukaku

Three goals in his last three appearances. Confidence booster. Struggled in the game at times as there was a lack of support and creation in the midfield. Produced a good finish for United's second goal of the game.

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Alexis Sanchez

Played well during the game and seemed to grow, putting his poor form and injury behind him. Assisted well for Lukaku's goal. Was greedy with the ball at times and never really sparked into action. Came off early with the start of another injury but sat on the bench and did not need immediate treatment or assessment. Could be something or nothing.

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Substitutes

Tahith Chong

Replaced Mata 62'. Good to see him make his debut, the 229th youth player to do so at the club. Even better to see a proper winger on the right. Got involved in the game and tried to create something. Be good to see him given more chances this season.

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27 Marouane Fellaini

Replaced Fred 62'. Should have scored, which was unlucky. Brought on to add something to the lacklustre midfield.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Sanchez 64'. Got stuck into the game and was a threat for Reading. Good to see him get some rest. The next week will add some more rest, readying the team for Spurs next weekend.

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Goals: Juan Mata (p) 22′, Romelu Lukaku 45+4′

Assists: Alexis Sanchez 45+4′

Manchester United: Romero; Dalot, Darmian, Jones, Young; Fred (Fellaini 62′), McTominay, Pereira; Mata (Chong 62′), Lukaku, Sanchez (Rashford 64′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Lindelof; Garner; Martial

Bookings: Tahith Chong 77′; Andy Yiadom 33′

Confirmed Starting XI: Mata, Lukaku and Sanchez lead United’s attack against Reading; Chong and Garner on the bench

Manchester United start what could be an eventual road to Wembley once again this season with the Emirates FA Cup commencing again this weekend. United will face Reading at Old Trafford at 12:30 this afternoon. It will be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s fifth game in charge of the club and his first FA Cup fixture. United have won their last four matches in the Premier League, scoring 14 goals and conceding just three, keeping one clean sheet.

Since Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho, United have been a lot better in terms of playing attacking football and many players have been full of confidence. Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic and even Phil Jones have all put in some great performances, however, I am not going to get carried away. United faced Reading at this stage in the competition two years ago, winning 4-0 with Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and a brace from Rashford.

Manchester United:

Romero;

Dalot, Darmian, Jones, Young;

Fred, McTominay, Pereira;

Mata, Lukaku, Sanchez

Substitutes:

Grant; Lindelof; Fellaini, Garner; Rashford, Martial, Chong

United have met Reading on 21 different occasions during the history of both teams. United have won 13 matches, drawn seven times and lost just once, which goes all the way back to 1927 when Reading beat United in a third-round replay in the FA Cup. United are undefeated in the last 16 meetings, drawing four times. United have won the last five meetings, which goes back nearly 11 years, scoring 13 goals, conceding four and keeping three clean sheets.

The FA Cup is the most realistic chance of a trophy for United this season. The Premier League seems out of reach this season, despite the fact United have made up some ground since Solskjaer became the interim manager. They are still in the UEFA Champions League, facing Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 stage which could be tough for them. That leave the FA Cup, of which United made the final last season. Here is to number 13, which could well commence today.

What We Learned: Carrick’s successor, squad depth and winning mentality

Manchester United knocked Reading out of the Emirates FA Cup scoring four goals which started with Wayne Rooney scored his 249th goal for the Red Devils. Anthony Martial doubled United’s lead just eight minutes later, with United dominating the match entirely. Marcus Rashford’s brace saw United win the match 4-0, but they could have easily scored many more goals, especially in the first half. United are now on a 14 match unbeaten run, winning their last eight matches, of which six were in the Premier League. Tuesday’s visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup and then the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday will be long-awaited fixtures as United will be looking to make their unbeaten run to 16 matches, and their winning run to ten.

Manchester United have squad depth

Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side which beat West Ham United on Monday with only Michael Carrick and Marcos Rojo. United have the players to be able to rotate when needed, which is good for the remainder of the season with United the only team in the Premier League fighting on all four fronts at this moment in time. United have another match to play this month, which will turn into the busiest month of the season so far and have the players to ensure his side can prevail, Mourinho will continue to be happy. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both impressed today and the manager will have a headache over the next two matches, seemingly with both making a statement which could see them in contention to face Liverpool in a weeks time. The defence might be where problems lie, though. United managed to dispatch Reading without utilising Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, keeping them all fresh for the visit of Hull City, or even Liverpool.

Defence is solid but not able to avoid injuries

Manchester United this season have been boosted with the form of their defenders with Eric Bailly resurgent following his move from Villarreal, also Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo’s partnership, which has seen the club come through a turbulent time with both Bailly and Chris Smalling on the sidelines through injury at the time. Bailly has not left United to play in the African Cup of Nations this month, which may not see him return until February. The injury sustained by Rojo against Reading early on has been described as a muscle injury, which could see him out for a while. That leaves United with two defenders out of action, meaning Daley Blind may have to become a stand-in central defender once more, or United need to act in the transfer market with Victor Lindelof’s proposed move still being touted in the Portuguese media. United have Smalling and Jones, who can do a job, but another injury between the two would see United in a predicament they would probably not want to be in.

Michael Carrick’s replacement could already be at the club

Michael Carrick is a player who has seen United win the majority of the time he has played. At 35, he is not going to last forever. Many words have been written about Carrick’s replacement, with many thinking about a like-for-like, but there not being many contenders out there. Looking back, Carrick was the best replacement to Roy Keane, coming a year after the Irishman left the club. Carrick was not a Keane type player but was allowed to make his role his own, which he has done. United will need to let Carrick’s successor do, as you will not be able to plug the Carrick sized hole otherwise. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is a player that has a big future at United. He stated that he wants to play in midfield with Paul Pogba, but will probably have to settle with Ander Herrera, with Pogba playing a further forward role. Fosu-Mensah replaced Carrick against Reading and did well in the time he played. The Dutchman could very much be the one who succeeds Carrick at the club. He made ten appearances last season, all in the right-back role, a role he does not want to cement himself into, therefore he should not play there. Having him in midfield could bode well for the future, but he needs more time on the pitch in order to better himself. He’s training with his teammates daily, but playing matches is where he will find his feet.

Conclusion

Manchester United are into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup, adding another match to an already busy January fixture list. Fighting on all four fronts this season, the only club in the Premier League to be doing that at this stage, which suggests things are going right at the Theatre of Dreams, despite whet the ABU media and clueless opposition supporters, who all seem to want to believe that Manchester United are still stuttering after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three and a half years ago now. It is good to have a belief, but when that belief is being shown up, that is when you start worrying, just like they are doing. In a few weeks time, United will either still be on their winning/unbeaten run, or it will have ended. If it is the former, United’s rivals will need to start worrying.

Ratings: Rooney matches record and Rashford bags a brace against Reading

Manchester United beat Reading 4-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. It was the first match former United defender Jaap Stam would manage at his former home and he will be returning back to Berkshire looking at what could have been – that was annihilation. United had chance after chance in the opening stages of the match, taking the lead in the seventh minute through Wayne Rooney, scoring his 249th United goal, matching the record set by Sir Bobby Charlton. Anthony Martial doubled United’s lead in the 15th minute with Marcus Rashford scoring himself a brace, finding the back of the net in the 75th and 79th minute, despite having many chances of his own throughout the match. United were the better team and showed that, continuing their momentum into the important stage of the season.

United remain unbeaten in their last 14 matches, winning their last eight, six of those in the Premier League. Tuesday’s encounter against Hull City in the semi-final first leg of the EFL Cup will see United trying to better their winning run ahead of the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week tomorrow, which should see United claw back some much-needed points in the league, helping them rise from the sixth position they have occupied throughout their winning streak in the league. United will now have to wait to see who their next opposition will be in the Emirates FA Cup, but will find out on Monday evening. Come on UNITED!

Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney

Goals: Wayne Rooney 7′, Anthony Martial 15′, Marcus Rashford 75′, 79′

Assists: Juan Mata 7′, Wayne Rooney 15′, Michael Carrick 75′

Manchester United: Romero; Young, Smalling, Rojo (Jones 19′), Blind; Carrick (Fosu-Mensah 78′), Fellaini; Mata (Schweinsteiger 78′), Rooney, Martial; Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic

Bookings: Ashley Young 54′

Manchester United

22 Sergio Romero

Had very little to do against Reading for much of the match. Reading were much better late in the second half, but still nothing to thwart Romero of his clean sheet.

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18 Ashley Young

Played well in the right-back position, but looked to have been struggling early on, but Rojo's injury meant he needed to continue, which he did. Was booked for a challenge and may have dived, again too.

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Chris Smalling

Calm and composed in defence. This is the sort of match he needed to regain his confidence. Overall, played well and defended when needed, which was not for much of the match.

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16 Marcos Rojo

Played well for the amount of time he was on the pitch, seemingly getting injured and being replaced by Phil Jones in the 19th minute.

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17 Daley Blind

Played at left-back with Luke Shaw still trying to get match fit. Filled in well and did what was needed. Lacked pace at times.

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16 Michael Carrick

When Carrick plays, United are never beaten (this season at least). One of the best players in the squad, but a replacement needs to fill the void and United could have that in Fosu-Mensah, who replaced him.

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27 Marouane Fellaini

Had a good game despite not being a fans favourite. Had a few moments that could have cost United, but seemed to get through them. Resurgent going forward.

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8 Juan Mata

Helped his team get in front by finding space. Unlucky not to score on a few occasions. Replaced by Schweinsteiger.

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Ratings: Rooney matches record and Rashford bags a brace against Reading

Scored his 249th goal in the 7th minute of the match. Had a good game, but also found it hard to make the record his own with a few shots on goal. Might play against Hull, but more likely to face Liverpool in a weeks time.

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9 Anthony Martial

Lively on and off the ball, got his goal in the 15th minute and tried to add more to his tally. The Reading defence seemed petrified by him. The Martial United had last season is back and ready to punish defenders.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Had a lively presence against Reading, getting the ball in their area, getting in behind the defenders and threatening to score on a few occasions. Scored a brace in less than five minutes, one of which will annoy Al-Habsi and Moore, who both dropped clangers.

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Substitutes

4 Phil Jones

Replaced Rojo. Did what was needed to keep Reading at bay, when they did get forward of course, which was not all that often over 90 minutes.

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24 Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Replaced Carrick. Had a good match playing in the Carrick role. Needs more chances to fulfil his target of earning a place in Mourinho's side, which will come with more matches coming thick and fast this month.

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Ratings: Rooney matches record and Rashford bags a brace against Reading

Replaced Mata. Many were glad to see the veteran Germany playing again. Did what was needed, but Reading were beaten when he came on. Could see himself back in the side more often this season.

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Report: Manchester United cast aside Reading scoring four without reply

Manchester United beat Reading 4-0 in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday. United could have scored many more goals, but it was just not the day for an absolute rout at the Theatre of Dreams with Jose Mourinho’s side sending former United defender Jaap Stam’s side packing.

Jose Mourinho made nine changes to the team which beat West Ham United on Monday with Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick retaining their place. United needed to keep their momentum going, which was important ahead of the visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening and the visit of Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday. United started well with two shots on goal in the first few minutes of the match, one of those from Wayne Rooney, who was chasing the record set by Sir Bobby Charlton back in the 1970’s. Rooney found the beck of the net minutes later, assisted by Juan Mata, matching Charlton’s 249 goal record.

United were the team in charge of the fixture, dominating possession over Jaap Stam’s side, putting a lot of pressure on them, effectively playing in their half of the pitch for much of the match. United doubled their lead through Anthony Martial, who played a one-two with Rooney before finding the back of the net. Marcos Rojo was replaced by Phil Jones in the 19th minute of the match after finding it difficult to play on after sustaining an injury. It was supposed to be Ashley Young coming off, according to the commentary. Marcus Rashford could have helped United to their third of the match, but he put the ball out of play.

Rashford had the chance to put United 3-0 up again, beating the keeper and putting his shot towards goal from an angle, hitting the side netting. United just did not look as if they were going to sit back, pushing Reading at every chance to increase their lead. United had a few chances on goal coming to the end of the first half; one through Rashford again, then a free-kick, which Mata and Rooney took, which amounted to nothing. United had another with Mata on the run in the box, but he was flagged for being offside. United dominated in the closing stages of the half, pressuring Reading just as much as they did earlier in the half.

Ashley Young had some good play on the right flank, dominating his player and getting the ball into the box for Mata to strike, only to see his effort blocked. United regained possession and went straight back on the attack with Mata against having the chance, but hitting his effort over the crossbar. Jaap Stam will not be happy with his side during the break as they did not make a tackle before United were 2-0 up. United were still 2-0 up at the end of the half and it could have very easily have been 5-0 with the chances United had on Reading’s goal. Mourinho will be happy with his side but will be looking for them to continue pressuring Reading in the second half.

United picked up where they left off at the start of the second half, on the attack. Rooney had a chance to make the record his own, but his shot was wide of the mark. Michael Carrick needed treatment for a cut to the head just after the restart, going off, but being able to continue. Bastian Schweinsteiger was warming up, but will not be needed just yet. United had yet another chance on goal with Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Rooney on the attack. Rooney had the chance to score his 250th goal, by Ali Al-Habsi had it covered. Reading ended up on a rare attack with United nipping it in the bud and countering. Mata had another chance for United, hit the side netting but was offside anyway.

Wayne Rooney had another chance to make that record his own with a header but was flagged for offside. United found themselves with a lot of defending to do with twenty minutes remaining, which changed their dominant spell in the match. At 2-0 up, United should have won this tie, but they should have carried on and tried to add a third to their goal tally. United won a corner, which Daley Blind took, but failed to create any danger, with a second corner being won, which again did not amount to anything. United still had possession, passing back to Sergio Romero, who started the attack again.

United found a third goal through Marcus Rashford, who was assisted by Michael Carrick with a tremendous pass from his own half. Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Bastian Schweinsteiger replaced Michael Carrick and Juan Mata with United possibly looking to continue their dominance and perhaps make it four against Reading this afternoon. Rashford capitalised from a defensive calamity between Al-Habsi and Liam Moore with Rashford pressuring Al-Habsi who could not pick up the ball from the back pass from Moore. United were four goals to the good. United had two chances in quick succession to make it five, but neither came off for the home side.

United have given themselves another match to play this month by putting themselves into the fourth round draw on Monday evening, which will help them continue their momentum this season. United are unbeaten in 14 matches now, winning their last eight, their longest run for a few years at the club, which is good to see. Rival fans can continue to moan about United again, which only confirms it will not be long before that fear factor fully returns. Jaap Stam’s side did not start all that well and had fought back at times, but were lucky they were not beaten by a much bigger scoreline.

Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney

Goals: Wayne Rooney 7′, Anthony Martial 15′, Marcus Rashford 75′, 79′

Assists: Juan Mata 7′, Wayne Rooney 15′, Michael Carrick 75′

Manchester United: Romero; Young, Smalling, Rojo (Jones 19′), Blind; Carrick (Fosu-Mensah 78′), Fellaini; Mata (Schweinsteiger 78′), Rooney, Martial; Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic

Bookings: Ashley Young 54′

CONFIRMED: Carrick, Fellaini, Mata and Rashford start against Reading

Manchester United face Jaap Stam’s Reading in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford this afternoon, United’s first match in trying to retain the trophy they won in May under the guidance of Louis van Gaal. Jose Mourinho will be up for putting his side into the draw for the fourth round, adding another match to January’s already fixture packed month. United have been in good form recently, continuing a 13 match unbeaten run, winning the last seven matches, six of those in the Premier League. United are a team that is gaining momentum, something which needs to continue ahead of the visit of Hull City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday and Liverpool in the Premier League a week on Sunday. United have a great chance to gain something this season over the next three matches, moving forward and getting their momentum into full swing, which is important to show their rivals that they are not going to give up this season, which is what they have done over the past three seasons.

Manchester United:

Romero;

Young, Smalling, Rojo, Blind;

Carrick, Fellaini;

Mata, Rooney, Martial;

Rashford

Substitutes:

J. Pereira; Jones, Fosu-Mensah; Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Schweinsteiger; Ibrahimovic

Reading:

Al-Habsi;

Gunter, Evans, Moore, Blackett;

Van Den Berg, Williams;

Beerens, Kelly, McCleary;

Kermorgant

Substitutes:

S. Moore; Cooper, Watson; Swift, Obita, Meite; Samuel

Preview: Mourinho looking to make Stam’s return an unhappy one

Old Trafford, Manchester

Emirates FA Cup 2016/17

Saturday 7th January 2017 – KO 12:30 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Andre Marriner

Assistant Referees: Simon Bennett and Edward Smart

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

Manchester United face Championship side Reading in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday afternoon at Old Trafford in a match which will welcome back two former United players. Jaap Stam, the Reading manager will lead his team out in the lunchtime kick-off, vying to get his side into the fourth round of the domestic competition, knocking the holders out in their first round. It may seem unlikely though with United resurgence this season and the fact they are on a 13 match unbeaten run, winning their last seven matches in a row, six of those in the Premier League. Jose Mourinho’s side is expected to find an easy way to dispatch the Berkshire side, who used to play in the Premier League but are looking for a way back this season, occupying third place in the Championship in their bid for automatic promotion.

United have been boosted with both Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw being back in training, whether both will be fit enough to play a part against Reading will remain to be seen, but United do face Hull City in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday evening, so fitness issues aside, should see both return for at least that match, ahead of the Liverpool clash in the league a week on Sunday, which will need to see United at their best in order to show Jurgen Klopp’s side that winning at Old Trafford may well be a thing of the past for his side, who have not won at Old Trafford since their 3-0 victory on the 16th March 2014 which was played with David Moyes unknowingly having just over a month left of his tenure at the club. United will need to carry on their good form, working their way back into the top four this season, which is definitely a possibility.

Stam returning to Old Trafford may not be seen as a big deal for some as he has played for the Manchester United Legends teams and also featured at the stadium in various charity matches, but returning in an official capacity since his departure from the club will be good to see. Stam does not like talking about the reasons he left the Theatre of Dreams and neither does Sir Alex Ferguson, especially after clear-the-air-talks happened between the two, who have since buried the hatchet. Stam, speaking about the fallout with Sir Alex Ferguson, which saw him leave the Old Trafford club prematurely and how he and Fergie are both sick and tired of the chatter about it, said:

“I get sick of it, Fergie gets sick of it. United maybe get sick of it sometimes. I talk to the press and sometimes I get a question about what happened, again. You try to give a decent answer, but they always try to find a way of making it interesting. I’m not focusing on what happened when I was a player, or what the papers say. It’s not going to be an emotional return in the sense I’m going to be crying. It’s nice to go back. I love the club, I love the fans and I had a great time there. But this game is not about me, it’s about Reading facing Manchester United at Old Trafford. People don’t need to write about me, they need to write about the team and what they can do against such big opponents.”

Manchester United Form: WWWWW

West Ham United 2-0 W, Middlesbrough 2-1 W, Sunderland 3-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 2-1 W

Manchester United are in some fine form heading into 2017 winning their last six Premier League matches, seven matches in all competitions and also being on a 13 match unbeaten run. The start of the season was a good one for United, but problem reared their heads, things were down and then up again. United seem to have recovered from the problems really well, starting a run at the best possible time. Retaining the Emirates FA Cup will be one of the targets this season, ensuring the club wins at least one trophy. It is very much possible that trophies do finish the season at the Theatre of Dreams with United still fighting on all four fronts, with work to do in the league, although that is unlikely right now being ten points from the top of the league, but anything can happen in football.

Reading Form: WWWLW

Bristol City 3-2 W, Norwich City 3-1 W, Blackburn Rovers 3-2 W, Leeds United 2-0 L, Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 W

Reading has had a good start to the season under the guidance of former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam. His side has played 24 matches in the Championship this season, winning 14, drawing four and losing six. Reading sits in third place in the league, six points clear of Derby County who are seventh meaning they have a good chance of finishing in a play-off position this season, providing their form in the league does not drop. In their last three matches, Reading have won, scoring three goals in each game. In their last five matches, Reading have won four and lost once, which is some great form, but their work will be cut out against this resurgent Manchester United side, who I doubt will have many changes in order to keep momentum this season.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

18 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 6 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 5 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Wayne Rooney, 1 – Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

Reading Top Scorers:

8 – Garath McCleary, 7 – Yann Kermorgant, 5 – Roy Beerens, 4 – John Swift, 3 – Callum Harriott, Danny Williams, 2 – George Evans, Paul McShane, Dominic Samuel, 1 – Chris Gunter, Liam Kelly, Liam Moore, Stephen Quinn, Joey van den Berg

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Joel Pereira

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: Luke Shaw (groin), Wayne Rooney (thigh)

Reading Squad:

Manager: Jaap Stam

Goalkeepers: Ali Al-Habsi, Anssi Jaakkola, Stuart Moore, Luke Southwood, Joe Tupper

Defenders: Chris Gunter, Jake Cooper, Paul McShane, Jordan Obita, Liam Moore, Zak Jules, Tyler Blackett, Danzell Gravenberch, Tennai Watson, Shane Griffin, Niall Keown, Axel Andresson, Gabriel Osho, Omar Richards, Thomas McIntyre, Ramarni Medford-Smith, Sindri Scheving

Midfielders: Joey van den Berg, George Evans, Roy Beerens, John Swift, Garath McCleary, Callum Harriott, Sandro Wieser, Stephen Quinn, Danny Williams, Josh Barrett, Jake Sheppard, Liam Kelly, Andrew Rinomhota, Harrison Bennett, Ryan East, Terence Vancooten, Tyler Frost

Forwards: Joseph Mendes, Deniss Rakels, Dominic Samuel, Yann Kermorgant, Yakou Méïte, Andrija Novakovich, Harry Cardwell, Sam Smith, Daniel Loader

Injuries and Suspensions: N/A

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 4-0 Reading

CONFIRMED: Gribbin, Riley, Tuanzebe start against Reading

Manchester United U23’s face Reading at Adams Park in the Premier League 2 this evening. A week ago, Sunderland beat United 2-0 in a match they will need to kick back from, otherwise a defeat with push them lower in the table. United are currently eighth with 13 points, Reading in tenth with 10 points. United maybe lacking an out-and-out striker, but they will need to make do with that for another month, with January the time where the club can add some talent to the beleaguered squad. Nicky Butt will know what he needs to do to get the young Red Devils firing on all cylinders again, like he and Kieran McKenna have with the U18’s, who are a much better team this season. Perhaps promoting some talent up through the ranks might be a good idea, but splitting up the U18’s this season may be devastating for them.

Manchester United:

O’Hara;

Williams, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley;

Willock Redmond, Goss;

Harrop, McTominay, Gribbin

Substitutes:

Moutha-Sebtaoui, El-Fitouri, Olosunde, Kehinde, Mitchell

Reading:

Southwood;

Richards, Hyam, Jules, Sheppard;

Kelly, Rinomhota, Barrett;

Harriott, Mendes, Novakovic

Substitutes:

Andresson, Tupper, Frost, East, Smith

Preview: U23’s out to fight for their futures against Reading?

Adams Park, High Wycombe

Premier League 2

Monday 28th November 2016, KO 19:00 [Live on MUTV]

Manchester United U23’s travel to High Wycombe to face Reading in the Premier League 2. A week ago, Nicky Butt’s side were beaten 2-0 by Sunderland in a frustrating encounter, with United looking like a team lacking any end product. The fact no out-and-out striker is involved in the squad this season says a lot, but the squad is short of a few talented individuals with James Weir, Will Keane (now injured), Donald Love, Paddy McNair and other who left the club in the summer. United also have Joel Pereira, Andreas Pereira, Adnan Januzaj, Dean Henderson and Kieran O’Hara on loan, with James Wilson also sent out to earn some first team football, ending his season early with a serious knee injury. The fact that Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah were promoted to the first team also sees these two missing from the squad, so the U18’s might be firing goals easily, the U23’s have a serious lack of talent in their squad this season, which requires some attention in January, or the decline will continue further at this level, at least until some of the talented U18 players are promoted.

Callum Gribbin ended his injury nightmare a few weeks ago, returning to U18 action, scoring a hat-trick against Liverpool the weekend before last, sitting out of the 4-0 victory over Derby County this weekend, which could suggest he will strengthen the U23’s against Reading, which would be a great start to find some attacking talent and the ability to score a goal, or two. Of course, injury of fatigue could have kept him out, so for that, we will find out when the team sheet is released prior to kick off later this evening. United need to press on as they are the current Premier League champions at this level and have been for the last two seasons. The fact that none of the fringe first team players have played a minute of action at this level this season is telling, and could well help with the confidence of players not getting a look in at first team level. It would see Jose Mourinho wants to keep both teams separate, which is not helping the U23’s but will be helping the first team in keeping players fit, but not necessarily match fit.

After ten matches being played in the Premier League 2 this season, United have slipped down to eighth place with 13 points, two places, and three points ahead of Reading, who have not had a great start to the season. United are nine points off the top spot, held by Everton, who will be in action against Southampton tonight, so if both teams win, the gap will remain the same and it would seem that this season, the title will be lifted by another club. Reading are winless in their last six matches, drawing once and losing five times. Their last win at this level was against Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy at the start of October. Their last win in the Premier League 2 was against Chelsea on the 19th September, so United, despite having their own problems, should really be looking to capitalise on their opposition this evening, ensuring they leave Buckinghamshire with all three points in the bag.

Manchester United U23 Squad:

Manager: Nicky Butt

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone, Kieran O’Hara

Defenders: Matthew Olosunde, Axel Tuanzebe, Ro-Shaun Williams, Regan Poole, Charlie Scott, Sadiq El Fitouri, Joe Riley

Midfielders: Scott McTominay, Tosin Kehinde, Josh Harrop, Sean Goss, Devonte Redmond, Matty Willock

Forwards: Demitri Mitchell, Josh Doughty

Reading U23 Squad:

Manager: Martin Kuhl

Goalkeepers: Lewis Ward, Luke Southwood, Joe Tupper, Billy Collings

Defenders: Gabriel Osho, Zak Jules, Sindri Scheving, Jake Sheppard, Tom McIntyre, Omar Richards

Midfielders: Harrison Bennett, Andy Rinomhota, Terence Vancooten, Josh Barrett, Joseph Mendes, Tyler Frost, Jack Stacey, Sandro Weiser, Tarique Fosu

Forwards: Sam Smith, Harry Cardwell, Andrija Novakovich

Manchester United U23 Top Scorers:

2 – Josh Harrop, Scott McTominay, 1 – Own Goal, Demetri Mitchell, Matthew Olosunde, Joe Riley, RoShaun Williams, Matty Willock

Reading U23 Top Scorers:

4 – Andrija Novakovich, 3 – Tom McIntyre,  2 – Joseph Mendes, Andy Rinomhota, 1 – Harry Cardwell, Tarique Fosu, Tyler Frost, Omar Richards, Jake Sheppard, Sam Smith, Jack Stacey, Sandro Weiser

Manchester United U23 Form:- LDWDL

Sunderland 2-0 L, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 D, Arsenal 1-0 W, Liverpool 1-1 D, Everton 2-0 L

Reading U23 Form:- LLLLD

Athletic Club 3-2 L, Liverpool 2-0 L, Yeovil Town 2-0 L, Leicester City 3-2 L, Sunderland 1-1 D

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Reading 0-1 Manchester United

copyright: JW