The FA Cup is back, and twelve-time winners Manchester United will make a short trip to West Yorkshire on Saturday to take on fellow Premier League side Huddersfield Town in the fifth-round.
Huddersfield: survive or attack?
Understandably, Premier League survival may be the highest priority for David Wagner. On Saturday, though, the Terriers could cause a mighty upset by taking down Manchester United at home. It would be the second time this season and would also seal their progression to the last eight.
Wagner’s side recovered in spectacular fashion by comprehensively beating Bournemouth at the weekend and it is important that they don’t lose the momentum gained in the process. Given the sudden dip in form of their opponents, they should be chomping at the bits for what will prove to be an interesting encounter on Saturday. A win can mean more than just getting to the next stage of the competition.
United must reach for FA Cup
Having fallen 16 points behind their rivals (and neighbors) at the summit (after the defeat at St. James’ Park), Manchester United must turn their attention to the cups. The FA Cup, in particular, looks like their best opportunity to win a trophy this season. José Mourinho has won the FA Cup once in his career—with Chelsea. He must determine to hunt for silverware at United, especially now that winning the Premier League appears beyond this season’s reach.
The Red Devils are also in need of some encouragement following a couple of defeats in their last three games. With Liverpool and Spurs breathing down their neck, those losses dented United’s hopes of cruising to second place. A win on Saturday could be crucial to restoring some of the confidence that has evaporated in the last two weeks.
Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy is doubtful after suffering a knee injury in the win over Bournemouth. Christopher Schindler is back from injury after starting for the team in the weekend fixture. Strikers Laurent Depoitre, Elias Kachung, and Chris Löwe are all racing against time to be available for Saturday’s clash.
Manchester United have no fresh injury concerns, however, both Zlatan Ibrahimović and Eric Bailly remain out of the squad with respective injuries. Also, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford are both doubtful since they did not travel to St James’ Park and are both nursing muscle injuries.
Huddersfield Town’s Steve Mounié
Mounié put in a Man of the Match performance as the Terriers took Bournemouth apart last weekend. The Beninese striker scored two goals, provided an assist, and was also on target as the Terriers beat Birmingham 4-1 in the previous round of the cup. The 23-year-old seems to have completely recovered from the injury which hampered him in the early part of the season and could be a real handful for United’s unsure defense.
Manchester United’s Phil Jones
Given Mounié’s form (and the kind of threat he would bring against Manchester United in set plays), it is imperative that their center-halves don’t make glaring errors. That is if they are to have a good chance of sealing the tie. Mourinho’s side has conceded the least number of goals in the country so far. Ye, strangely enough, the Red Devils’ back four have rarely looked assured this season. Phil Jones, though, has been the best defender at United for weeks now and has managed to stay fit for a good length of time. He will prove to be integral for the remainder of the season.
This is going to be a horrible game for both sides, but I predict that United’s craving for a win on Saturday will tip the balance in their favor.
Huddersfield Town 0-1 Manchester United