On Monday evening, for the first time since 1972 Preston North End will take to the pitch at Deepdale to face Manchester United. Both sides are looking to progress to the quarter finals of the FA Cup, and this season’s FA Cup has shown that it really could be either side that progresses. Simon Grayson is no stranger to facing United as he led his former side Leeds to victory against United in the competition in 2010. Meanwhile, United boss Louis Van Gaal has made it very clear that his side are out to win the FA Cup this season. With the Premier League title seeming more than a reach for United at this stage it could be LVG’s only chance of winning a trophy in his first season with the Manchester side. Having already been eliminated from the Capital One Cup by lower league opposition this season, United will be out make sure they progress to the Quarter-Finals as is expected of them. So United have eliminated both Yeovil Town and Cambridge United on route to Deepdale, you would think by now their superstars will know what’s needed to see off a side two divisions below them. Preston meanwhile will look to the motivation provided by the fairytale victories of both Bradford and Middleborough in the last round, as they seek to continue the theme and create their own giant killing story this FA Cup campaign.
Preston head into the clash with very little worries in terms of injuries. Calum Woods is the Lilywhites’ only definite injury as he isn’t set to return from his hamstring injury for at least another week. Meanwhile, new loan signing Jermaine Beckford is a doubt heading into the game, the striker will be hoping he can be cleared for the match as he has previous in putting United out of cup competition from his Leeds United days. Forward Callum Robinson is also doubt heading into the Monday evening clash at Deepdale
It hasn’t been very often that Manchester United head into a match this season with a near clean bill of health. For the FA Cup match on Monday they will continue to be without veteran midfielder Michael Carrick, whose calf injury should see him continue to be out of action till the end of the month. After the side’s victory over Burnley in midweek, the Premier League giants are monitoring 3 of their players fitness. Phil Jones (shin)and Daley Blind (head) both left the pitch with injuries during the home tie, while striker Robin Van Persie is having an eye kept on him as he looks to shake off a knock picked up during the victory.
- The last time the two sides met at Deepdale, was also the last time the two sides met full stop. It was an FA cup fixture in February 1972 which Man United won 2-0
- The last time Preston North End beat Manchester United was in September 1959. Preston ran out 4-0 winners at Deepdale
- The first time the two sides met, was way back in January 1890. Preston North End beat Manchester United, then still called Newton Heath, 6-1 in an FA Cup tie.
- Both clubs have faced off on 75 occassions. United have one 31 of the matches, while Preston have won 22 and the other 22 have finished as draws
- 9 of those games have been in FA Cup competition. Preston have won 2 of those matches, while United have won 5
- 38 of the previous encounters have been played at Deepdale
Preston North End: Joe Garner
In order ot have any hope of progessing in cup competition you are going to need goals at some point. The defence can do all the hard work to keep the opposition out, but at the end of the day you need someone putting the ball in the net for you to advance. That’s why on Monday night Preston fans at Deepdale will be looking for a big performance form their top goalscorer for the season so far, Joe Garner. Garner has 14 goals to his name so far this season that form will need to continue if his side are going to cause another historic cup upset and dump United out of England’s premier cup competition. Potentially partnered up top by Premier League veteran Kevin Davies, he will give garner opportunities against United. The former Bolton man may be a bit long in the tooth now, but you can bet that he will fancy a shot at United’s ‘soft’ defence on Monday carving out a few chances for himself and Garner to feed off. On Tuesday night the striker warmed up for the tie perfectly netting twice away to Chesterfield, the home crowd will be hoping that he brings those scoring boots with him to Deepdale on Monday evening
Manchester United: Marcos Rojo
After a shaky start to his United career, it would appear Rojo is winning over the United supporters. The Argentine defender has had some of his season disrupted with injury but now seems to be finding his feet among United’s back line. Capable of playing at both full-back and centre-back Rojo’s versatility has proved invaluable for United during an injury ravaged campaign thus far. He is a player that does have a tendencies to lose his concentration and perhaps try a bit more than a defender should on the ball, but as of late he seems to be cutting the errors out of his game proving to be arguably United’s safest defensive option. His composure on the ball is a massive asset for the team, while his athleticism allows him breathing space when it comes to some of the mistakes he makes, his speed allows him to catch up with opponents he loses and strength and bravery allows him to negate their threat. Potentially lining up against former Bolton striker Kevin Davies could prove an education for the Argentine, not many defenders get their way against the Preston target man. One thing Rojo as shown is he is not intimidated by an opponent and his confidence in his ability to perform. In a potentially tough away day in the cup United could looking to build from the back and Rojo could the player his side look to for that.
After Van Gaal’s bold proclamation to the United fan’s following his side’s victory over Cambridge United in the last round, you would like to think United will see off a side 2 division’s their inferior. However, there is always the ‘beauty of the FA Cup’. United did see off Cambridge United last round as was expected, but it wasn’t as easy a task as it read on paper. The league minnows forced a replay at Old Trafford and also nearly took the lead in that replay. Preston North End are a division up from Cambridge and could pose a threat to LVG’s cup glory ambitions. Also, the Preston manager is no rookie when it comes to cup ties against Manchester United. Grayson was in charge of the Leeds United side that famously beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford back in 2010 in the FA Cup. So he has the pedigree, the question is does his squad of lilywhites have the character and quality necessary to topple a United side who according to their manager, have eyes only for cup glory. I believe United will win the tie, but as is the theme of United games as of late it will not be a comfortable one