Preview: Manchester United vs. Reading

Preview: Manchester United vs. Reading

Twelve-time FA Cup winners Manchester United welcome Championship outfit Reading to Old Trafford for a fourth-round tie on Saturday night.

The Red Devils secured a 3-1 victory over Everton in the third round to set up a contest with the Royals, who beat fellow second-tier side Watford 2-0 on home soil.

Man United have moved one step closer to winning their first trophy since 2017 after securing a 3-0 away victory against Nottingham Forest in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night.

January loan signing Wout Weghorst scored his first goal for the club either side of strikes from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes to give the Red Devils a commanding three-goal advantage heading into the second leg at home next week.

Focus now shifts to the FA Cup for Erik ten Hag’s side, who enter Saturday’s contest in fine form on home soil after winning each of their last 10 games at Old Trafford across all competitions, scoring 26 goals and conceding only four in the process.

Man United, who sit fourth in the Premier League table, are also unbeaten in their last 14 home matches in the FA Cup, including two third-round victories against Reading in the last six years – winning 4-0 in 2017 and 2-0 in 2019.

The Red Devils have in fact progressed from nine of their 10 FA Cup ties against the Royals, but they cannot take their Championship opponents lightly on Saturday, after being eliminated on penalties by second-tier side Middlesbrough in the fourth round last season.

Since beating Watford in the FA Cup third round three weeks ago, Reading have failed to win their last two Championship games and have conceded six goals in the process, with a 2-2 draw at home to Queens Park Rangers followed by a 4-0 thumping by Stoke City last weekend.

The Royals, who have spent the last 10 years in the second tier, have subsequently slipped to 14th in the table and five points behind the playoff positions, while there are no immediate fears of relegation as they sit 11 points clear of the bottom three.

Paul Ince will return to familiar territory on Saturday when he takes his Reading side to former club Man United, where he spent six years as a player and won 10 trophies, including two FA Cups in 1990 and 1994.

Reading have never lifted the FA Cup in their 151-year history and have failed to progress beyond the fourth round in five of the last six years, including an embarrassing third-round exit to non-league side Kidderminster Harriers last season.

Hopes of causing an upset against Man United on Saturday appear to be slim for the Royals, who have lost seven of their last eight FA Cup ties against Premier League opposition, while they have only won one of their previous 22 meetings against the Red Devils across all competitions – that victory was in the FA Cup, though, winning a third-round replay 2-1 back in 1927.

Manchester United FA Cup form:
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Manchester United form (all competitions):
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Reading FA Cup form:
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Reading form (all competitions):
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We say: Manchester United 3-0 Reading
Man United will be regarded as firm favourites to progress to the fifth round, even if Ten Hag does decide to rest a number of first-team regulars.

Ince will hope that his Reading side rise to the occasion at Old Trafford, but coming out on top against the Premier League giants seems a tall order, with a routine win on the cards for the Red Devils.

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