Manchester United face another tricky away trip to lower league opposition in the FA Cup, this time with a place in the quarter final at stake. Louis van Gaal will be hoping his team can step it up a notch and win this one first time, rather than having to play another replay at Old Trafford.
The hosts comfortably sit 4th in League One, just four points away with for 2nd placed Swindon. Two league wins in a row along with a cup replay victory against Sheffield United have returned the confidence amongst Preston’s players and staff. Notable players such as John Welsh (Liverpool youth), Sylvain Ebanks-Blake (United youth) and Kevin Davies will look to cause yet another shock in this year’s FA cup competition. Manager Simon Grayson and striker Jermain Beckford are no strangers of knocking United out of the competition, having done it with Leeds in 2010.
After the exits of Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City, United are now joint favourites alongside Arsenal to win the cup. Expectations are high and even Van Gaal said that the team has a very good chance of going all the way. However unconvincing wins against Burnley and Leicester and the late escape at West Ham have raised questions. Despite the poor performances recently, Manchester United have only lost once in their last 18 games.
Top goalscorer Joe Garner will be available for the Lilywhites after returning from a knee-injury. Jermaine Beckford is unvailable with an ear problem, while Aston Villa loanee Callum Robinson may be subject to a late fitness test with a hamstring problem.
United’s only injury problem is that of Michael Carrick. However his recovery is slower than expected and there is no return date. Luke Shaw is again available after serving his one match ban. Midweek injuries Jones and Blind are doubtful, but expected to play. The same applies for Robin Van Persie, who might be rested.
The path so far:
Preston have beaten Norwich City and Sheffield United in a replay to reach the 5th Round.
Manchester United overcame Yeovil Town and Cambridge United in a replay.
Preston North End (4-4-2) Stuckmann; Huntington-Clarke-Wright-Wiseman; Gallagher-Welshe-Humphrey-Kilkenny; Garner-Davies
Manchester United (4-4-2) DDG; McNair-Smalling-Rojo-Shaw; Blind-Januzaj-Rooney-Di Maria-Falcao-Wilson
Last Meeting: 1972 Preston NE-Manchester United 0:2 FA Cup 4th Round
You have to go way back for the previous meeting between these two sides, ahis Preston side gave United a real scare. Brian Kidd, Denis Law, George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton were all on the pitch during that game, but goals by Alan Gowling in the 85th and 88th minutes gave United the win.
Score Prediction: Preston NE– Manchester United 1:2
Manchester United have not been convincing lately and spirited Preston side lead by Kevin Davies could cause troubles. I reckon this will be a tight game with United progressing.