The magic of the FA Cup is well and truly back with one of its classic third round David versus Goliath clashes pitting two football teams with starkly contrasted backgrounds in Yeovil Town and Manchester United at the Huish Park in Somerset. The home side will be certainly relishing the prospect of welcoming a footballing side as massive as Manchester United which would eventually benefit the Glovers from a financial perspective with the influx of several thousands of TV money, something the manager and the board would be rubbing their hands about. Yeovil Town, languishing at the bottom of League One football, are known for their giant-killing nature and their manager Gary Johnson sounded out his side’s intent to have a proper go at the opposition and not be starstruck ahead of the fixture. He said,
“Being starstruck by Manchester United is a concern and you can’t stop human nature. This is a one-off game, which some of the lads aren’t going to have again. I’m sure they will think: ‘Can I get Wayne Rooney’s boots?’ You know that’s going to happen. But we need to make sure we get into game mode. I don’t mind it after the final whistle, but I will have the raging hump if my players swap shirts before then. I don’t want the lads having selfies with Wayne Rooney. We are going into battle and trying to stop one of the best teams in the world. So there won’t be any selfies while I’m around.”
For Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal, they will just want to avoid another MK Dons embarrassment and take the game serious enough and field a balanced side that can go and get the job done on the day. The Red Devils were ousted at home to Swansea in the same stage last season under David Moyes and will be hoping for a better run this time around, all the more, with no Champions League football. The visiting team are on a solid ten game unbeaten run at the moment and with a few players coming back from injuries, we can expect the Dutchman to field a stronger side than he did against MK Dons.
The Glovers have had a few injury problems of their own with Kevin Dawson, Kieffer Moore and Joel Grant missing out on league football in recent weeks contributing to their poor form in the league where they’ve lost their last 3 games. Goalkeeper Jed Steer and defender Ben Nugent, on loan from Aston Villa and Cardiff City respectively, are the only players with Premier League experience, while veteran forward James Hayter is expected to partner Moore.
Squad: Steer, Smith, Ofori-Twumasi, Moloney, Nugent, Arthurworrey, Edwards, Foley, Gillett, Hayter, Leitch-Smith, Eaves, Krysiak, Moloney, Brooks, Inniss, Smith, Berrett, Ralph.
Possible starting lineup: Steer; Smith, Ofori-Twumasi, Nugent, Arthurworrey; Edwards, Foley, Gillet; Hayter, Leitch-Smith, Moore. (4-3-3)
Another injury blow struck the away side at the Britannia in the form of a hamstring problem to Ashley Young who will be facing up to 6 weeks on the sidelines. Marcos Rojo (thigh), Daley Blind (knee) and Marouane Fellaini (illness) are also unlikely to feature, but Angel Di Maria could return to the fold.
Squad: De Gea, Lindegaard, Amos, Vermijl, Blackett, Shaw, Thorpe, Smalling, Evans, Jones, McNair, Rafael, Pereira, Fletcher, Herrera, Valencia, Lingard, Anderson, Carrick, Januzaj, Di Maria, Mata, Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie, Wilson, W Keane.
Possible starting lineup: Lindegaard; McNair, Blackett, Evans; Rafael, Fletcher, Herrera, Shaw; Rooney; Januzaj, Wilson. (3-4-1-2)
Yeovil Town: WWLLL
Manchester United: WDWDD
These two sides have met each other twice – both FA Cup meetings – and the last time came in 1949, when an 8-0 rout saw the Reds eliminate the Glovers with ease, at Maine Road, and there was an enormous crowd of more than 81,000 to see them do it.
Kieffer Moore – Yeovil Town
Yeovil Town have been struggling for goals this season as is evident by the fact that they are the lowest scorers in the division with just 19 goals to their name in 23 games, averaging less than a goal per game. Kieffer Moore, who was playing for Dorchester Town in the Conference South two years ago is now plying his trade at the Huish Park and has scored 4 goals this season for the Glovers, the highest in his team. The forward also managed to get himself on the score sheet in this tournament with his goal coming against Accrington Stanley in a 2-0 win which was nothing but a playoff to decide who was going to host Manchester United the following round. If anyone can spark a massive upset on Sunday then it could be this man from Devon.
Ander Herrera – Manchester United
This will be the Spanish midfielder’s first taste of the oldest football competition in the world and he would absolutely love to make a mark on it by all accounts. Herrera started the season very brightly, then faded away in November and December to be fair due to a back problem which he’s completely shaken off now, and will be looking to play a vital role between now and the end of the season. He’s been a sharp passer, and has managed to maintain a staggering 87% pass accuracy using which he’s managed to create 13 chances from open play. He’s scored twice in the league and has shown the ability to make that late run into the box to exploit the goal scoring opportunities he could get in the process. Now that he’s fit, Herrera holds the key to orchestrate a dominating Manchester United performance at the Huish Park thereby building a platform for United to kick on in the tournament.
A dominating Manchester United win for a change.