Friday, 16 February 2018

FA Cup preview: Huddersfield Town v United

United face the Terriers for the second time in as many weeks after two successive away defeats sandwiched by the Old Trafford win over David Wagner's side. We travel across the Pennines to the John Smith's Stadium - scene of arguably the shock of the season - for a place in the FA Cup quarter finals. Huddersfield famously inflicted our first league defeat of the season on us back in October so we have a score to settle this time. 

The 2-0 win at Old Trafford 13 days ago saw Alexis mark his home debut with a goal as United remembered Munich on an emotional afternoon. 

With a difficult Champions League away tie looming large in Sevilla on Wednesday, this is the Reds second of three consecutive fixtures on the road, and, despite the hectic schedule, United manager Jose Mourinho looks set to name a near full-strength side. Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera will again both miss out through injury, as they did against Newcastle, and Marouane Fellaini remains sidelined. Eric Bailly is back in training after ankle surgery. The Ivorian has been absent since November but is fit and available for this fifth round tie, with his timely return a much needed boost at the back. Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return before the month is out. For the hosts, key man Aaron Mooy will miss the next two games, while Michael Hefele is ill, Chris Lowe and Sean Scannell are out injured and Alex Pritchard cup-tied. Alexis Sanchez is set to play for the Reds as he did not feature in Arsenal's third round exit against Nottingham Forest. 

Both sides have seen off lower league opponents to get this far as the Reds beat Championship Derby and League Two Yeovil 2-0 and 4-0 respectively. Huddersfield have overcome two second tier sides so far, but struggled in both. After a 2-1 win at relegation-threatened Bolton, they set up this visit of United with an extra-time victory over Steve Cotterill's Birmingham following a 4-1 replay win at St Andrew's. The Terriers arrested their recent slump in form against Bournemouth last time out, and have bigger things to occupy them than the FA Cup.

Jose rubbished rumours of a rift with Paul Pogba amid speculation the Frenchman is unhappy and wishes to leave United. 
The boss said: "It's a big lie that our relationship is not good, in this moment the player is not in good form but we agree with his positions and his dynamic within the team. 
"It's easy and honest to say that Paul did not play well against Newcastle and accepts that he has not be, but Paul is happy here, no problem - he plays on Saturday.
"He had a big injury, he was playing phenonemal before that and played phenomenal after that. He had a red card in his best performance against Arsenal, the team needs him at a good level, the team is not as good as the team is when he plays phenomenal. I think it happens with every team when the best players, the most crucial players for some reason are not performing." 

United are bidding for a place in the FA Cup quarter finals for the fourth season in a row as we chase a record equalling 13th success in the competition. 

 Form guide: Huddersfield Town L D L L W W United W W W L W L 
Match odds: Huddersfield Town 7/1 Draw 15/4 United 15/8 
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

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