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Manchester United vs Reading: Match Preview

Can Reading pull off an unlikely result against a confident Man United side?

Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images

After a very poor display on New Year’s Day at the Madejski Stadium, the Royals will be looking to bounce back and give the supporters optimism for the future with a good display at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The last five

Manchester United: LWWWW

Centre backs Marcus Rojo and Chris Smalling were both out injured for their trip to St James’ Park, and are doubts for Saturday’s FA Cup fixture against the Royals. Another centre back, Eric Bailly, was also suspended for that match and will also miss this match after being shown a straight red card against Bournemouth. Paul Pogba is also unavailable after a challenge from Jonjo Shelvey in mid-week, while Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku are both set to start.

United have picked up four straight wins under their new caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, scoring numerous goals in each game and keeping a clean sheet at Newcastle. Their only loss in the previous five games came at top of the table Liverpool, which was Jose Mourinho’s last game as United manager.



Liam Moore is back in contention for the Royals after his recovery from an aggravated previous calf injury, and may start for the Royals after returning to the substitute’s bench against Swansea. Callum Harriott’s appearance against Swansea (and subsequent goal) was one of the only positives that could have been taken out the fixture against Swansea. He may also get a start if he is 100% fit, after recovering from a long term injury.

The New Year’s Day’s humiliation against Swansea City made it ten league games without a win for Reading. That result also destroyed the optimism of fans after promising performances against Millwall and QPR under new manager Jose Gomes. They will have to tighten up their defence if they want to escape another hammering at Old Trafford on Saturday. Gomes is likely to make minor changes for this cup tie, considering the Royals arguably need to be near to full strength to take on Manchester United.

Previous meetings

7/1/2017: Manchester United 4-0 Reading

16/3/2013: Manchester United 1-0 Reading

18/2/2013: Manchester 2-1 Reading

1/12/2012: Reading 3-4 Manchester United

19/1/2018: Reading 0-2 Manchester United

Manchester United v Reading - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The last meeting between the two sides came in Reading’s last successful season. However, on the day, the Royals were outclassed at Old Trafford with an infamous error from Ali Al Habsi gifting Marcus Rashford United’s fourth goal.

In the December 2012 Premier League meeting between the two sides, goals from Hal Robson-Kanu, Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison were not enough to earn a point for the Royals. Goals from Anderson, Wayne Rooney (2) and Robin Van Persie left the Berkshire side desperately unlucky.

Quick-fire stats

  • Reading’s last win over Manchester United came over 90 years ago, in 1927, when the Royals won 2-1 against the Red Devils in the FA Cup.
  • After reaching three FA Cup quarter-finals and one semi-final in the last ten years, the Royals have failed to progress past the fourth round in their previous two seasons.
  • Interestingly, both of United’s last two FA Cup defeats have been 1-0 against Chelsea.
  • Manchester United have conceded the most league goals out of anyone in the top half of the Premier League table. A chance for the Royals to capitalise on that?

Last season’s cup progress

Manchester United

Beat Derby County, Yeovil Town, Huddersfield, Brighton and Hove Albion to reach the semi-final. Tottenham Hotspur were their semi-final opponents at Wembley Stadium, and the Red Devils claimed a 2-1 victory through goals from Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.

Centre back Phil Jones conceded the crucial penalty against Chelsea in the final, when Eden Hazard’s cool penalty won the FA Cup for Chelsea.


The Royals needed a replay to beat League Two side Stevenage, with the Royals playing in their away strip in the second half because of a kit clash.

The original tie at Broadway Hall was infamous for the clash between players and supporters at full time, after numerous players initially refused to show their appreciation for the trek the away supporters had made to the game.

This was before the Royals were knocked out of the cup at Hillsborough with a 3-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Predicted line-ups

Manchester United: Romero, Shaw, Jones, Rojo, Darmian, Fellaini, Hererra, A Pereira, Mata, Lingard, Rashford

Reading: Walker, Yiadom, Ilori, Moore, Gunter (if passed fit), Meyler, Rinomhota, Kelly, Harriott, McCleary, Bodvarsson

Score prediction

Given that Reading conceded four at the weekend, and United have scored numerous goals since Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over as caretaker manager, this could be a heavy defeat for the away side. However, I do think there will be a reaction from the Royals after their poor home defeat against Swansea in Jose Gomes’ first home game.

However, I think United will be far too strong for the Royals, even if the home team do not play anywhere near their full strength side. Additionally, I highly doubt that Reading will be able to score against Premier League defenders after struggling for goals in their past few matches. I have to go for the comfortable 3-0 win for the home team.

Manchester United 3-0 Reading