Manchester United v Reading Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews
January 03, 2019
Old Trafford - FA Cup
Manchester United host Reading in FA Cup action on Saturday, looking to make it five wins out of five under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Royals have been in dismal form of late, and with a relegation battle looming, will have little to gain from a cup run.
United hammered Reading when the sides met in the cup, two years ago, almost to the day. Marcus Rashford bagged a brace, with Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial each notching one.
Solskjaer is expected to make wholesale changes to his side this weekend, with fringe players joining Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, who are both in need of match fitness. With defensive options short however, the manager may have to stick with the centre-back partnership of Viktor Lindelof and Phil Jones.
Jose Gomez may also field a widely different side to usual, with the manager focusing on the league, and a number of players reportedly on their way out of the club. With Tylor Blackett and Leandro Bacuna suspended, Reading may bring a few youth-team players into the squad for their trip to Old Trafford with Andy Rinomhota starting in midfield.
Manchester United v Reading Preview and Predictions
Reading's fortunes have gone from bad to worse in the last 18 months, with the 2017 Play-Off finalists currently lounging second bottom of the Championship. Five points clear of safety, the Royals could really do without a trip to Old Trafford in the busiest period of the season.
The mood in Manchester could not be more different, with interim-for-now manager Solskjaer winning his first four games, levelling Matt Busby's record. Even more importantly, the team has rediscovered their confidence and style, with record signing Paul Pogba looking more and more like the player they signed from Juventus.
Much has been said of the Frenchman's relationship with former coach Jose Mourinho, however, Pogba is not the only player to have seen a rapid improvement since his departure. Marcus Rashford, perhaps most notably, has taken up the mantle in Romelu Lukaku's absence, whilst Ander Herrera looks a man reborn.
All this points towards a difficult afternoon for Reading on Friday, who have seen their fortunes fall since firing United legend Japp Stam, and more recently Paul Clement. The new manager, Gomez, has picked up just one point from his first three games, with the Royals last win coming back in November.
The former Rio Ave boss may be tempted to use this game to rest key players, whilst getting a better idea of the squad available to him. With a cup run just likely to distract from the objective of staying in the Championship, Reading should focus on their upcoming trip to Nottingham Forest.
This being said, FA Cup third round matches often throw up surprise results, as do early kick-offs. Furthermore, despite Reading's off-pitch chaos, the players are out-of-form rather than low on ability. Just maybe a change of scenery may allow them to put up a fight against a Manchester United side that currently looks unbeatable.
Manchester United to win to nil at 4/7
United have been playing their best football of the season and should be too much for Reading.
Over 3.5 goals scored at 2/5
Lukaku will be keen to earn his place back with Rashford in great form.