Confirmed Line-Up vs Reading: Including Match Preview

United starting XI: De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner; Valencia, Cleverley, Anderson, Valencia; Hernandez, Welbeck.

Bench: Lindegaard, Giggs, Ferdinand, Carrick, Kagawa, Nani, Van Persie.

FA Cup Fifth Round
Monday 18th of February 2013
Old Trafford
Kick off 8.00pm

Referee: Andre Marriner (Matches 25, R0, Y74)

League Form last 5 matches
United: WWWDW
Reading: LWDWW

All Competitions last 5 matches
United: DWWWW
Reading: LWDWW

All Competitions against Reading
United: W9, D7, L1.
Reading: W1, D7, L9.

Reading’s only victory against United was achieved in a FA Cup 3rd round 2nd replay at Villa Park in January 1927, when Reading eliminated United from the tournament beating us 2-1.

Last time out against Reading, Saturday 1st December 2012.

Reading 3 Manchester United 4
Goals from Anderson, Rooney (2) and Robin Van Persie in the first 34 minutes canceled out strikes for Reading by Robson – Kanu their talisman Le Fondre and Morrison in a blistering 23 minute spell for the home side. Manchester United were at the kamikaze stage of this campaign failing to defend the 18 yard box, allowing Reading free passage to strike at will at the United goal. The manager had this to say after the match: “It was agony. The worst defending this season without doubt. To lose three goals in that manner; we have to do something about that.”

Statistics last time out
Possession: Reading 49% United 51%
Shots: Reading 10 United 10
Shots on target: Reading 7 United 5
Corners: Reading 6 United 1
7 goals scored in a free for all crazy 26 minutes in the first half of the game.
Sadly the last occasion we saw Darren Fletcher make a start for United.

Long Term Injured
United: Fletcher (illness), W Keane (knee), Scholes (knee).
Reading: Roberts (hip), McCarthy (shoulder).

Top goal scorers
United: Van Persie 22, Hernandez 14, Rooney 13.
Reading: Le Fondre 12, Pogrebnyak 8, Hunt 6.

Robin Van Persie with 19 Premier League goals to his name at this stage of the season has been quoted as being the reason United’s fortunes have turned around. It’s just not solely down to the flying Dutchman. As a group Manchester United have a harmony, a focus, a determination to wrest back the Premier League title and more, after the cruel climax on the last day of the season at the Stadium of Light and the Etihad. Having taken their eye off the ball previously at several venues, not least against Everton, Wigan and indeed Blackburn. United now have a steely polarized aim to winning games a new found concentration to get the job in hand done. Sheer professionalism, if sometimes not the silk, most certainly a gritty clinical approach from all the squad when called upon, to be fit, ready and focused to do their best for the football club.

Le Fondre has netted 7 goals in his last 7 outings for the Royals.

What the managers had to say before the match
While United’s attention was on jousting with giants in the Spanish capital on Champions League business, Reading were on warm weather winter training, 3000 miles away in Dubai having flown from these shores almost immediately after their tight 2-1 loss at the hands of Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. Reading arrived back in the UK on Thursday for further preparation for tonights tricky contest.

Brian McDermott had this to say prior to the 5th round FA Cup tie at Old Trafford: “It’s going to be a great game for everybody and a superb occasion. We can’t wait for it to come around. It’s also going to be a benefit to us that we’re going there in the FA Cup because it will prepare us for the Premier League game at Old Trafford next month.We want to do well in the cup but our biggest aim is to stay in the Premier League and build from there. Some of our players have played at Old Trafford before but others haven’t so it’s important that everyone is comfortable playing in the environment of a huge stadium like Old Trafford. ” Monday will give us the opportunity to experience what it’s like. I’ve never managed at Old Trafford before either so I’m really looking forward to the occasion as much as anyone else.”

McDermott continued: “It was a fantastic trip and the weather was perfect, from what I heard of the weather back home we certainly picked the right week to go. The whole idea behind it was to get in some good training in a nice climate and to prepare properly for a big game on Monday. Everything went to plan, the facilities were first class , we had some really good training sessions and we picked up no injuries which is a bonus. This wasn’t about team bonding because we already have such a tight group, it was just about being ready for Manchester United.”

Sir Alex had this to say at his weekly press conference at Carrington on this evenings match: “We’ve come through Wednesdays game without any injuries. That’s the best thing apart from the result of course. I’ll make some changes for Monday night, even though it’s an incentive to get to the quarter-final. I don’t think that’s lost on any of the players. We’ll take nothing for granted. In the FA Cup you always expect the unexpected. It happens so many times. You just hope you’re not a casualty or a shock. We’ve had a few over the years. But I can’t be more pleased than I am at the moment with the form and spirit in the place. It’s good.”

Match Facts
Will we witness the evergreen Ryan Giggs make his 931st appearance in all competitions in the FA Cup tonight after his cool goal which he swept away in off the post on his last outing in the league for United against Everton. In what is his 25th year since signing for United.

Patrice Evra has been at United for seven years, however he doesn’t have an FA Cup winners medal in his collection. Despite the fact he has medals for winning the Premier League, Champions League and the Capital One Cup.

Sir Alex Ferguson has won the trophy on 5 previous occasions (1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, and 2004). It’s nine years since Manchester United lifted the famous old trophy, even though they were beaten finalists in 2005 and again in 2007.

Patrice Evra had this to say: “It is the only trophy I have not won at Manchester United. That seems impossible given that I am now in my seventh year here. The FA Cup means so much and, one day, I hope I will win it. Hopefully this year.”

Surely this is the time for the United players to seize their opportunity to progress to win the FA Cup. Only Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher have FA Cup winners medals with United, Robin Van Persie winning his FA Cup medal with Arsenal when he came on as a substitute in the 2005 final when the Gunners beat United 4-5 on penalty kicks.

Chelsea soon to be ex Champions League title holders, are the current incumbents of the oldest association football competition in the world, the FA Cup. In the last 10 years Chelsea have had a dominance in the FA Cup winning the trophy on four occasions, in doing so putting Manchester United to the sword on our last visit to Wembley in the FA Cup in season 2006/07 beating United 1-0. It’s time to address this vacuum and seize the day.

The Football Association celebrate it’s 150th anniversary in this year of 2013, supporting football since 1863. ‘Where everyone has their day.’

United have an almost unblemished record in the FA Cup at Old Trafford winning 15 times and drawing twice with 2 losses in their last 19 games.

Patrice Evra had this to share with us fans in a recent interview. ‘Patrice, it’s been a good season so far for yourself and the team. Are you pleased with how things are going?’ “I’d like to talk about the team. In every game the team is really improving. I am really happy with what we are doing in the league and the other competitions. Nobody forgets the big disappointment of losing the title last season. It’s really important that we just keep going because the league isn’t finished in February. We still have a lead, but nothing is done yet. We just have to take it game by game and aim to win every match. That’s the right attitude to have. In every game this season we’ve had the right attitude. That’s why I think the fans and the players are very happy this year because we really want to show we are champions. We have to keep going that way. ” The fabulous Frenchman further enlarged on the togetherness in the squad and desire of the club to achieve unity and success. ” I’m really happy with that. Like I said, I remember the last game of the season against Sunderland and everybody was really down in the dressing room. We felt the pain together then, which is why this season we want to experience the joy of winning together. We are all giving every effort and the star of this Manchester United side is the team. You can see that if one player is not well then people will ask, “What’s wrong? ” and we try to help him. We want 100 per cent from each player because it is so important for this club.” Source Inside United.

No football player at any club enters the park with a view to making an error. If there were nil errors there would be zero goals, cautions, sending offs, injuries etc.

This is football, there is a humane side to the people we look up to. Our idols that perform for us fans and the manager the club and their family. With the finishing post ( the 20th league title, FA Cup and the pinnacle on the season the Champions League Trophy). Is it not time to have no scapegoats at Manchester United and rather than publicly criticize our players, support them in the final push for the silverware they and we crave.

David de Gea the Red’s No 1 had this to say prior to his stunning performance in the cauldron of the Santiago Bernabeu: “Of course, when you arrive at a new club it is normal there will be some low points. It is important to improve and I am now much better than when I first arrived at United.” Sir Alex Ferguson further re-enforced his support of the United youngster and his obvious development: “David has shown his character because he has taken a lot of criticism, sometimes unfair criticism. But what we at United are good at is developing people, bit by bit. It’s like a young child learning to walk. He moves forward, he wobbles. He gets up, wobbles, gets up again and now he’s walking.”

Most United supporters are behind United youngster De Gea not only now, but since his arrival at Manchester United, to do anything else is self defeating to be a United supporter. Shot in foot. The young Spaniard following his stunning performance in his home city and against his childhood arch rivals and as a player at Atletico, performed on one of the biggest stages in the world again, with aplomb. Winning the fan’s poll for the Man of the Match award, gathering in 86% of the vote! Super Danny Welbeck achieved 9% with big Phil Jones and Robin Van Persie fighting over the balance of the vote 5%.

After the teams fantastic hard fought professional result at the Santiago Bernabeu, a draw gives the club a platform with the home supports backing to progress to the quarter finals of the prestigious Champions League competition. The club will further benefit financially also with an improved Champions League run after last seasons uncharacteristic exit in the group stages from the tournament. With the improved revenue through a solid run also in the FA Cup with the possibility of progressing tonight to the Quarter Final of the oldest Cup Competition. In tandem with these team improvements commercial revenues have also risen by 29% in the main due to the hard work of United’s marketing department, bringing on board a further six new sponsorship deals showing a significant growth in comparison to the same period in 2011.

United are forecasting for this financial year 2012/13, a turnover in the range of 350m to 360m in comparison to a revenue performance for the last financial year of 320m. The clear advantage and credit in the main to the manager his staff and the players in progressing this campaign in the Champions League and FA Cup tournaments beyond last seasons unusual early exits. Three trophies are still clearly in the teams thoughts and tonight against Reading, the football club will be charged, and up-beat with an improved confidence after the graft, resilience the team displayed Wednesday past against the 9 times European Champions.

Edward Woodward Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman said: “Manchester United achieved record revenue in the second quarter driven by our commercial operation, which continues to experience extremely strong growth particularly in sponsorship.” The club’s gross debt has decreased by 16.1% since 30th June 2012 to 436.9m.

Manchester United appear to be in rude health both on the playing side and financially.

United are in a fantastic position with 12 games to go in the league, 12 points ahead of Manchester City a superior goal difference of 7, effectively meaning a 13 point advantage. This is United’s best ever situation from 26 games garnering a brilliant 65 points. At no time as any team ever caught a club with a 12 points lead with a dozen games to be played. The manager did say, “We will not lose the League Championship again on goal difference.” As ever true to his word he has put in place and carefully nurtured the team with all his management aides to get to this position. The finishing lines on two fronts are well within the clubs sights now, the League title and tonights hurdle in Reading FC in the FA Cup to get the club to the quarter final of the competition. The progression to the quarter finals of the Champions League tournament is still fraught with danger but United have given themselves a fighting chance which will be one of those special nerve racking European evenings on Tuesday 5th of March to further test this teams resolve. Some team is due an Arsenal style 8-2 battering from this United side, will it be tonight I suspect not but it’s going to happen before this seasons campaign is completed.

Reading are on a good run of form and are no pushovers, winning 4 of their last 6 games with a credible 2 -2 home draw wth Chelsea in the mix. Although I don’t believe this will be a night of a giant FA Cup killing. However a cautionary warning, 18 of United’s 20 victories this campaign have been achieved by a slender 1 goal difference.

If United can navigate the Reading hurdle this evening at Old Trafford we have a fantastic quarter final tie at home to come, between either Chelsea or Middlesborough, exciting times for United.

However the manager will be clearly focused on tonights match and QPR this coming Saturday.

The rotund lady is side-stage, she has cleared her throat and ready to sing, but like you I’ve not heard her singing. It ain’t over till it’s over.

Carpe Diem.

Match Prediction: United 3 Reading 1

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