Sunday 21 February 2016

FA Cup preview: Shrewsbury v United (Monday)

All the ingredients appear to be in place for an intriguing battle at Greenhous Meadow in a maiden meeting with Micky Mellon's Shropshire strugglers in the fifth round. 

United head to League One Shrewsbury for the first of five matches in 14 games looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat at the end of another tortuous week for besieged boss Louis van Gaal.

United will be the strong favourites for a place in the quarter-finals but in front of a sold-out New Meadow (capacity: 10,200) against a side whom have already beaten two Championship sides to get this far nothing can be taken for granted.

David de Gea's injury does not seem to be as bad as first feared but the keeper looks unlikely to feature, with Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo among those on United's 14-man casualty list.
Right-back Donald Love, promoted to the first team fold of late due to depleted numbers- is cup-tied. 

United defender and stand-in captain in Rooney's absence, Chris Smalling, said the side need a "strong and confident" start to overcome the third-tier side.

"The aggression that you start the game with is vital and something you need to match with the other team, that's something I don't think we've done recently and it allows the opponents to push us on the back foot.
"We need to make sure we win our battles and the second balls and then look to try and dominate by playing quickly and taking control- we need to start with confidence and show our strengths.
"This competition is massive for us, it's surprising how long the club have gone without winning it and it's a very good opportunity for us to win silverware this season.
"We can expect a terrific atmosphere on Monday but we've done well against lower league sides so we know what to expect" said the defender. 

Shrewsbury currently reside in the League One drop zone- albeit only on goal difference- but Mellon's side have beaten second tier sides Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday (with an injury time Jack Grimmer winner) on route to the fifth round

The Shrews have reached the quarter-finals twice in the competition's history (in 1979 and 1982) and were promoted from League Two last term. 

LVG's men have already seen off two lower league sides in Sheffield United and Derby respectively to reach the fifth round. 

Form guide: Shrewsbury W L W L D W United L W W D L L
Match odds: Shrewsbury 8/1 Draw 9/2 United 2/5
Referee: Robert Madley 

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