WILLIE Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) takes a look at Saturday's opening FA Cup Third Round tie between Manchester United and Reading.
Manchester United v Reading | Saturday 12:30 | BT Sport 1
It seems reasonable enough to suggest that Manchester United’s 1-0 win against Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round last season is not a match that will live long in the memory for anyone who watched it.
It was a dour, drab, dull match, with Wayne Rooney’s last-gasp penalty greeted enthusiastically by both supporters of Manchester United and neutrals alike, although the latter were only pleased because it spared us all of sitting through a replay at Bramall Lane.
United only mustered two shots on target all night and the match is now, perhaps, best remembered as the tie that kicked off an FA Cup campaign that saw Louis van Gaal’s men go all the way in the competition, lifting the trophy for the first time in 12 years.
On Saturday afternoon, the holders begin their defence with another home tie against a lower league side – on this occasion, it is Reading who provide the opposition.
The Royals are under the stewardship of former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam and the Championship side are in a reasonably rich vein of form at present, having won eight of their last 10 matches.
Furthermore, there has rarely been a dull moment in recent times, with the team from the second tier having scored three goals in each of their last three fixtures, while just one of Reading’s last nine matches – a 2-0 defeat against Leeds United at Elland Road last month – has seen fewer than three goals scored.
This time, then, there may be potential for some excitement, for Manchester United have certainly found the way to goal in recent times.
Mourinho’s men have scored more than once in six of their last seven matches in all competitions, while the FA Cup holders have scored at least three times in three of their last five home victories.
Unfortunately, though, there is a catch; it remains to be seen whether the hosts, who are still chasing success in the League Cup, Europa League and Premier League, will field a strong side for this match.
And, sadly, with automatic promotion to the top tier of English football an attainable target for the Royals, Stam’s side may not even be at full strength for the tussle at Old Trafford.
Arsenal enjoyed a sedate 2-0 win when they hosted Reading in the EFL Cup earlier this season and a similar outcome may well yield profit for punters when Manchester United’s FA Cup campaign kicks off on Saturday afternoon.
Manchester United v Reading – Under 2.5 Goals (31/20 BetVictor)
Manchester United v Reading – Manchester United to win 2-0 (6/1 Unibet)
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