Starting team: Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher; Young, Van Persie, Rooney.

Venue: Madejski Stadium, Reading
Kick – off 17.30

Officials
Referee: M. Halsey (matches 6, R2, Y12)
Assistants: D. Bryan, L. Betts
Fourth official : A. Marriner

Form last 5 (all games)
United: WWLLW
Reading: LLWDD

Top goal scorers.

United : Robin van Persie (12), Javier Hernandez (9), Jonny Evans (3 ).

Reading : Progebnyak (5), Hunt (3), Le Fondre (3).

Team News
Brian McDermott has significant injury problems ahead of the clash this evening as Jem Karacan (knee ligament), Chris Gunter (hamstring), Danny Guthrie (leg) and Jimmy Kebe are all anticipated to remain out of first team duties until early January 2013.

Paul Scholes  is available after serving his one match suspension, missing the QPR  game, after previously collecting 5 yellow cards.

Wingers Antonio Valencia  and Nani will not be available for the trip to Berkshire. Valencia is expected to be available for selection for the huge match against Manchester City next Sunday at the Etihad Stadium. Nani unfortunately will be out of action for a minimum of a month. Sir Alex Ferguson said this on the Portuguese  International ” Nani will be out for four or five weeks, it’s a hamstring injury and you have to take your time with it. Antonio should be fit for next week. He’s got a hip injury, which is painful, but getting better. “Kagawa Japanese international who recently collected the International player of the year award, was originally considered to be absent for four weeks has not made the recovery expected. Sir Alex  explained “He’s a few weeks away. “The game after Manchester derby at Old Trafford the league match against Sunderland, we may see Kagawa Shinji make his return from injury.

The manager further elaborated on United’s ongoing injury woes. ” It’s amazing that we’ve had defensive injuries for such a long period and now we’ve got the defenders back we’ve got two wide players injured. Thats the game for you. Everyone else is fine.”

Sir Alex Ferguson had this to say on Brian McDermott ahead of the match. “When Brian became manager there it took him a little bit of time to get his ideas across but look at the second half of last season – they came from nowhere to win the league. ” They’re definitely a club that are improving and although they’ve not had a lot of wins, they’re always hard games against them. I expect what we got at Norwich – a really difficult game.”

Previously the Reading manager Brian McDermott had acknowledged the 12 time Premier League Champion who as the astute McDermott explained. Offering the Reading  manager some advice last season. ” It was a one off ” the Reading manager said. ” I spoke to his son, and asked him to give me a call – I’d heard in the past that he had spoken to previous younger managers, young in terms of games – and I just wanted to speak to  him about something. “He picked the phone up, gave  me a phone call and we had a chat for 10 minutes. It was very important to me and it tells you the caliber of the man.”

The Royals have kept the joint – fewest clean sheets in the Premier League this season.

Reading have conceded 23 goals this term, only QPR, Southampton and Wigan leaking more.The Royal’s have had to endure 186 shots against them by their opponents. The most in the Premier League in-spite of Reading having played one game less than the majority of the teams in the league.

Chelsea’s Juan Mata is joint top of the league table along with Wayne Rooney for providing the most assists this season (6).

United have drawn just one of their last 22 Premier League ties away from Old Trafford. United’s last four League losses away from Old Trafford have been by the same margin, 0-1.

With Manchester United struggling to find consistency and winning, although not playing Champagne football for a variety of reasons. After a blistering start against West Ham, Van Persie  netting in the first minute for United to fail to capitalize and improve the goal aggregate by failing to turn possession of the football into goals. However in stopping leaking goals meant this  was the teams first clean sheet in almost 2 months. While we are not witnessing fast flowing commanding performances, more grinding out results, there can be no argument with the league table.For the second time in a decade Manchester United top the league after 14 games.

All eyes and ears will be tuned to the Etihad as the sticky Toffees visit, to test Manchester City’s resolve in their push to retain the title. With City yet to find form and their goal scoring touch, recording in their last outing against Wigan at the DW Stadium a 0-2 win. Only the fourth occasion this season the Citizens have won by more than a single goal. As we know titles are not won or lost in December but with on paper a very winnable run of fixtures this month Sunderland (H), Swansea City ( A), Newcastle United ( H ), West Bromwich Albion (H), climaxing with an away game at Wigan the day after the managers birthday.

More than ever one of the biggest matches in the calendar will be the City away game on the 9th of this month in the early Sunday kick-off.

However as not to disrespect Reading there are no easy games in this Barclays Premier League. The manager will put out the big hitters this evening to ensure the points are secured, with a eye on CFR Cluj midweek. An opportunity for the younger players to express themselves in the final Champions League  group stage game.

With West Ham putting Chelsea to the sword at UptonPark today in convincingly beating their west London couterparts  3 -1 . The Hammers first win against Chelsea in nine years. It’s game on. For United to probably go 10 points ahead of the current Champions League holders. But as ever the tortoise and the hare one game at a time.

Will United get record a hatrick of wins over the Premier League new boys in defeating Reading ?

Prediction: United 3 Reading 1