The Reds face the Royals at the first FA Cup hurdle for the second time in three seasons as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to maintain his faultless start as interim Manchester United boss with victory in Saturday’s lunchtime kick off at Old Trafford.
In-form United will start as red hot favourites against the
Championship strugglers and Ole is set to make a whole raft of changes
including starts for recent sub Romelu Lukaku and the fit-again Alexis
Man Utd last faced Reading at this stage in 2017 as Jose Mourinho's side beat the second tier visitors - then under the command of United legend Jaap Stam - 4-0 through Anthony Martial, a Marcus Rashford double and Wayne Rooney's record-equalling goal.
A Portuguese named Jose returns to Old Trafford but not in a way that you might think. Like United, Reading are also under the tutelage of a new man having
made a managerial change after a poor start to the season. Jose Gomes is
the new boss in the hotseat as he attempts to overturn the Berkshire side's slump that sees them sit second-from-bottom in the Championship and facing a fight to avoid a first ever League One season.
United will be looking to maintain the winning start under caretaker
manager Solskjaer, by earning a fifth consecutive victory in
all competitions, while the ultimate aim is to go one better than last
term in the FA Cup. If the Reds can go from being runners-up to Chelsea
in the final to winners at Wembley this May, it would see the club
equalling Arsenal's all-time record of 13 triumphs.
Solskjaer confirmed that recent sub Romelu Lukaku and the fit-again Alexis Sanchez will both start the third round tie.
Eric Bailly is suspended whilst Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling (knee) both remain sidelined. Paul Pogba is a doubt having picked up a knock against Newcastle in midweek. This game could give Ole a chance to give youth its chance, with the likes of Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, James Garner and Ro-Shaun Williams pushing for involvement. Sergio Romero, Diogo Dalot, Marouane Fellaini, Fred and Matteo Darmian are all set to feature.
visitors will be without Leandro Bacuna and former United defender
Tyler Blackett – both of whom are suspended following red cards against
Millwall. Chris Gunter and Liam Moore could return and ex Red John O'Shea - who played just shy of 400 games for us - will hope to start.
Long-term absentees Paul McShane (another former United man), Saeid Ezatolahi and Jordan Obita will also miss the game through injury.
Solskjaer said: "They'll get a chance, some of them that are itching to play. Lukaku
will get a start, Sanchez will get a start. That's important for them
because they need more game time.
"We're about winning trophies and the FA Cup final is such a fantastic final to play in.
we end up winning, that's what we hope for. Whatever competition you're
in, you want to win. It's more or less what you expect at a big club
Form guide: Man Utd L L W W W W Reading L D L L D L
Match odds: Man Utd 1/10 Draw 17/2 Reading 24/1
Referee: Stuart Attwell