Manchester United will make the 160 mile journey to Cambridge looking to avoid an FA Cup upset in Friday night’s fourth round tie. Despite the bizarre scheduling, the hype is already building around the Abbey Stadium, and talk of a giant killing has already begun. Cambridge are currently sitting 12th in League Two, and will go into the game full of confidence after dispatching Newport County 4-0 at the weekend. The U’s only reached League Two last season after being promoted via the play-offs.
Despite Manchester United only losing once in their last thirteen competitive matches, their recent form has been poor. An unconvincing win against lowly QPR last Saturday followed a disappointed home defeat to Southampton, who overtook them in the league standings in the process. The main point of discussion has been Louis Van Gaal’s insistence of playing 3-5-2. Gary Neville, Michael Owen and the travelling Manchester United fans have all questioned Van Gaal, who of course responded defiantly.
Another sub-plot to Friday’s encounter is (ex-Manchester United man) Luke Chadwick’s chance to knock his former employer out of the FA Cup. Chadwick never managed to hold down a regular place at Old Trafford, and made just twenty-five appearances before being sold to West Ham after several loan spells in 2004. Now 34, Chadwick isn’t guaranteed a spot in Cambridge’s starting eleven however, after scoring just one goal in eight starts so far this season.
Cambridge go into the match with no new injury worries, and a full squad to choose from. It’s likely that Richard Money may start with the same team that won their last match so comfortably. Striker Tom Elliott has scored five goals so far, and is likely to be paired with nineteen year old (and brilliantly named) Sullay Kai-Kai, with top scorer Kwesi Appiah expected to miss out.
Manchester United’s Ashley Young will definitely miss out, while there are doubts over striker Robin Van Persie and full-back Rafael. Radamel Falcao may get another chance to impress up front, with Marouane Fellaini, James Wilson and Ander Herrera all in contention to start. New signing Victor Valdes could make his debut in goal for the Red Devils with David De Gea rested altogether from the squad.
Cambridge United have won their last three matches in all competitions.
On loan midfielder Cameron McGeehan scored twice against Newport on debut. He is just nineteen.
Cambridge have scored 39 times in the league this year – second only to table toppers Wycombe, who have 40.
Former West Ham player Jack Collison was on Cambridge’s books as a youngster.
Manchester United have only lost one of their last thirteen matches.
The Red Devils are aiming to win the FA Cup for the twelfth time in their history.
When Ander Herrera has scored for United this season, so too has Angel Di Maria in the same match.
No team has ever won the FA Cup on a Friday night. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Cambridge United: Cameron McGeehan
McGeehan is just nineteen years old, and currently on loan from Championship side Norwich. He made an explosive debut, scoring twice has Cambridge thrashed Newport County at the weekend. McGeehan was also a success in his previous loan spell at Luton Town. McGeehan scored three times in eighteen appearances for The Hatters last season, and is already on the way to bettering that tally. Friday will be the biggest test of the young man’s career so far, and he is likely to be up against a star studded midfield, regardless of the team that Louis Van Gaal opts for.
Manchester United: Radamel Falcao
Falcao is still finding his way to the match sharpness that made him so prolific for Atletico Madrid and Monaco. Van Gaal may well send him out as a confidence building exercise. On the flip side, if Falcao fails to impress against lowly opposition, then the knives will be out for him once more in the media. Falcao may be partnered with James Wilson, with Angel Di Maria dropping back into a more familiar midfield berth. The Colombian will certainly be hoping for goals to kick start his stuttering career at Old Trafford – he’s scored just three goals so far – but he may just have the quality to put on a show that even fans of Cambridge United will appreciate.
Manchester United were less than impressive against a determined Yeovil in their last FA Cup outing, and their manager and fans will be hoping for a much better display this time round. Cambridge on the other hand will be full of confidence and may relish the ‘no pressure’ atmosphere that this match will create. I back Cambridge to make it tough for Manchester United, however I fully expect The Red Devil’s quality, particularly in front of goal, to be decisive.