Manchester United v Reading Cheat Sheet
Manchester United v Reading
Saturday evening sees Reading travel to Old Trafford to face off with Premier League opponents Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The home side come into this one on the back of a very comfortable 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest in the first leg of the semi-final of the EFL Cup and will be very confident of reaching Erik Ten Hag’s first final at the club. Last time out in the league they suffered their first loss since the start of November as they lost 3-2 at the Emirates due to a very late Eddie Nketiah winner for Arsenal. The away side are facing an uphill battle here. They lost 4-0 at Stoke last time out and have won just one of their last five – a 2-0 victory over Watford in the previous round of the cup.
Man United had been flying since a humiliating loss to Manchester City at the start of October, winning all but three competitive games but a late Michael Olise equaliser and an even later Eddie Nketiah winner over the past two weeks has put a stop to that. However, confidence is still high at the club and they put those results behind them with a 3-0 victory in the EFL Cup – their eighth win in ten since the return of football following the World Cup. They look very likely to finish in the top four and return to Champions League action next season and with one foot in the final of one domestic competition, they will now be targeting this one. Axel Tuanzebe, Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek are all ruled out of this one and are in different stages of recovery, whilst Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Diogo Dalot could be welcomed back after missing the win in midweek but are doubts for this one. Harry Maguire is available having faced a one match suspension in midweek and he could be one of a number of players to be brought in if Ten Hag wants to rest some of his Premier League regulars.
The away side were predicted to go down by bookies, pundits and fans alike at the start of the season. However, a strong start had Reading fans dreaming with a run of six wins in eight at one point in September and October but their form since has faded. They sit in 14th in the league and have one win in their last six in the league. On the road they have been dire and have picked up just eleven points in their 15 matches, losing ten of them – the most of any team in the Championship. Last time out they were thumped 4-0 at a struggling Stoke side and manager Paul Ince said that his players “let the club down”. They will need to improve drastically if they hope to pick up a result at one of the most iconic stadiums in world football but will have plenty of absentees. Andy Carroll, Naby Sarr, Sam Hutchinson and Liam Moore are all out with injuries and midfielder Ovie Ejaria will not play here having been told that he can leave the club this month. A win here would be the first away FA Cup win against Premier League opponents for the Royals since 2011 where they beat Everton 1-0.
Manchester United are on an incredible run of form under Ten Hag. At home they have not dropped points since October and this selection has landed in six of their last seven at Old Trafford – with the only exception being Manchester City. Whilst they are likely to rotate players, the newcomers will want to impress and they have won each of their three cup games at home – Charlton, Burnley and Aston Villa – by an aggregate score of 9-2 and this selection has landed in all three of those matches.
Reading’s away form is as bad as Manchester United’s home form is good. They have kept one clean sheet away from home since mid-September and were humiliated against a poor Stoke last time out. They will likely sit back and try to frustrate Manchester United but defensively, they have not been solid enough to do this and this should lead to plenty of United opportunities. On the road they have conceded at least 1.95 expected goals in three of their last four and four of their last six playing against sides much worse than the Red Devils.
Garnacho has been highly impressive this season having been given a chance by his manager. He has scored two goals and got four assists in limited minutes and has started six games – two in the domestic cups, as well as two of the group stage matches in the Europa League and at Aston Villa and Wolves in the league. In those six matches, he had at least one shot in every game and at least one shot on target in five of them. The only exception to this was his first start against Sheriff Tiraspol where he had two shots. In total he has had 12 shots in those matches, despite playing less than 65 minutes in both league starts as well as just 58 minutes against Burnley. Ten Hag trusted him to play the full 90 minutes against Charlton in his last start where he had four shots – one of which on target.
Mamadou Loum has committed the 7th most fouls in the whole of the Championship and the most of any Reading player this season with 41 despite only starting 19 games. He has conceded two or more in 14 of his matches and in just six of his starts he has not made two or more fouls. Paul Ince will be looking to disrupt Manchester United as much as he can and that starts by trying to slow down their play in the middle of the park – which is what the Senegalese midfielder does best. Manchester United are likely to play with Fred and McTominay in midfield and they have both been fouled five times each in the league in limited appearances. The Scottish midfielder was fouled once in each of the cup starts he was given against Chartlon, Burnley and Aston Villa and Fred was fouled once against Charlton and in his 20 minutes off the bench against Everton in the previous round of the FA Cup.
Harry Maguire has been under plenty of pressure since his big money move from Leicester to Manchester United and there has been talk of him moving away from the club in this transfer window but it is looking likely that he will stay. He has not been given many opportunities but for England in the World Cup, he attempted at least 70 passes in all five of their games. Whilst his numbers have not been so high for his club this season, he should see more of the ball here.
Manchester United average 51.9% of the ball in the league this season, the sixth most in the division. Regular starters Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane have averaged 63.4 and 47.9 passes per match in the league but these numbers should increase against Reading. Reading are dead last in the Championship for their share of the ball – averaging just 41.7% across the season. In their last five games, they have faced ten centre backs that have played the full 90 minutes. Among these players, five have had 66 or more and across the ten, they have averaged 59.3 attempted passes per game. Manchester United should see more of the ball than these teams and that should mean that the English centre back should see more of the ball in turn.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Haven’t got a Paddy Power account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Paddy Power and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £30 on the 4/1 Manchester United v Reading Bet Builder. Here are the two possible outcomes:
* I recommend waiting for confirmed team line-ups before placing any bets *
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *