On February third, League Two Cambridge United travel to Old Trafford to take on the mighty Manchester United in a fourth round FA Cup replay. In a round with plenty of surprises Cambridge being able to hold on for a 0-0 draw against a nearly full strength Manchester United side was still one of the biggest shocks of the round. Now the team just back into the Football League this season will get the chance to travel to Old Trafford to take on the 20 time English Champions on their own turf. Manchester United will look not to be embarrassed by a lower league side at home like Manchester City and Chelsea were earlier in the round. Louis Van Gaal will need to make sure his players are totally focused to avoid embarrassment at the hands of the lowest ranked side left in the FA Cup.
After being riddled with injuries in the early part of the season, Manchester United nearly have their full squad back and fit. Louis Van Gaal only has three men missing for this match. Ashley Young is still recovering from his long term injury, but should be back for their weekend fixture against West Ham. Michael Carrick has picked up a new injury that will keep him out for an extended period. Their only other missing player will be Jonny Evans who is still recovering from a knock and doesn’t look like he will be fit. Cambridge don’t have any real injury issues to deal with at the moment. They will be able to field a full strength side apart from their leading goalscorer, Kwesi Appiah, who’s loan spell ended and is currently playing in the African Cup of Nations anyway.
Manchester United have never lost to Cambridge United. The sides have only played three times with the two sides drawing twice and United taking a 3-0 win in the first leg of a League Cup tie in 1991. The U’s have done a good job of spreading goals around this season with eight players scoring three goals or more. Despite sitting 14th in the league, only Northampton have scored more goals in League two than Cambridge. While Manchester United have struggled on the road this season, the Red Devils have excelled at Old Trafford dropping points in only three matches at home. Cambridge United are set to make £1.7m from this replay, about at much as they normally earn in an entire year.
Manchester United: Radamel Falcao
After being unable to score at the Abbey Stadium, Manchester United will need one of it’s goalscorers to step up for them at Old Trafford. A prime candidate to do so would be their Colombian loanee, Ramdamel Falcao. The on loan Monaco man missed some chances in the match at the Abbey, but he scored against Leicester City on the weekend to get his confidence back. Louis Van Gaal will hope he uses this confidence and show his class to help his side get past the minnows from League Two.
Cambridge United: Josh Coulson
As magical as this trip to Old Trafford will be for Cambridge, lets not get it twisted, the U’s are going to be defending for their lives for most of the match. Their entire team will need to defend well, but their centerbacks like Josh Coulson will need to provide a powerful spine in the back of their defense. If Cambridge want to score against Manchester United, set pieces are likely the League Two sides best bet. Coulson had a gilt edged chance in the first leg from a set piece, but he put it over the crossbar. If he gets a similar chance in this match, he has to score or Cambridge stand little to no chance of going through.
The FA Cup is a tournament that has made it’s name on giant killings throughout the years. The other results in this round prove that the FA Cup can still deliver some results that shock everyone. However, I just don’t see Cambridge beating Manchester United. I’d guess that the Premier League side will cruise ti victory over their League Two opponents.
Prediction: 3-0 Manchester United