Manchester United and Reading meet in the fourth round of the FA Cup this weekend, which is the first time the clubs have played each other since the early days of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s caretaker reign at Old Trafford back in January 2019.
Aside from six Premier League games contested, almost all of the previous meetings between these clubs have actually come in this competition – having rarely shared a division over the decades.
United are much improved this season under Erik ten Hag and already have one foot in the Carabao Cup final after comfortably beating Nottingham Forest in the first leg of their semi-final this week. The boss will be keen to maximise the potential to win trophies by doing well in the FA Cup too.
Under former United midfielder Paul Ince, Reading started the Championship season relatively well and were third in the table after 12 games. But a poor run of results since then has seen the Royals plummet down the table – but not out of promotion contention altogether.
Reading’s third round win was a relatively unremarkable win over fellow second tier club Watford.
Man Utd vs Reading H2H Results (Last Five Games)
Current Form (Last Five Games)
Man Utd team news
There still won’t be any Jadon Sancho for United, despite his return to training, after Ten Hag said there remains a ‘way to go’ for the winger to regain full fitness. Anthony Martial has also been missing for the last three games, meaning Wout Weghorst could continue here.
Luke Shaw missed the Nottingham Forest game through illness, while Diogo Dalot has been making progress but wasn’t ready to return in midweek.
Ten Hag did make rotational changes when United faced lower league opposition in the Carbao Cup only recently. But Reading are in a higher division than Charlton.
Man Utd Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Malacia; McTominay, Fred; Garnacho, Fernandes, Rashford; Weghorst.
The Promised Land’s take
Here’s what the team on 90min’s ‘The Promised Land‘ Manchester United podcast had to say ahead of the game:
Rob Blanchette – I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of forced rotation. I think it’ll just be a solid base of the team with seven or eight starters, and maybe a few changes. We might even see Jack Butland for his first game in goal, but I don’t think it’s going to be dramatic, I think he’ll [Ten Hag] still feel that he has to go and get the job done against Reading.
The last thing you need is to let Reading come and punch you in the face and knock you out of a competition, because suddenly your [form] bubble’s burst.
On this edition of TPL, Scott Saunders & Rob Blanchette look back on Man Utd’s win over Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup, discuss Erik ten Hag’s Bruno Fernandes dilemma, Wout Weghorst, Marcus Rashford & more! If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
Reading team news
Andy Carroll is not expected to return for Reading until February, with Liam Moore, Dejan Tetek and Sam Hutchinson also currently sidelined.
Reading Starting 11 (3-4-1-2): Bouzanis; Holmes, Dann, Mbengue; Abrefa, McIntrye, Loum, Baba; Azeez; Long, Joao.
What Manchester United have largely done well in recent months is win the games they are expected to without much issue. It hasn’t happened every time, but for the most part the kind of upsets and shock results that started becoming alarmingly normal have been eradicated by Erik ten Hag.
That has certainly been the case against lower league opposition so far this season, with Championship leaders Burnley and League One’s Charlton both comfortably brushed aside in the Carabao Cup. Realistically, Reading shouldn’t really get even a sniff here.
Prediction: Man Utd 3-0 Reading