The FA Cup is back and on Saturday, in the fifth round, twelve-time winners will make a short trip to West Yorkshire and take on fellow Premier League side Huddersfield Town.
Premier League survival may understandably be the highest priority for David Wagner but on Saturday, the Terriers can fancy themselves to cause a mighty upset by taking down Manchester United at home – for the second time this season and seal progression to the last 8. Wagner’s side recovered in spectacular fashion – by comprehensively beating Bournemouth at the weekend and it is important that they don’t lose the momentum gained in the process. Given the sudden dip in form of their opponents, they should be chomping at bits for Saturday’s interesting encounter, where a win can mean more than just getting to the next stage of the competition.
Having fallen 16 points behind their neighbours and rivals at the summit – after the defeat at St. James’s Park, Manchester United must turn their attention to the cups and the FA Cup in particular – looks their best opportunity to win a trophy this season. Jose Mourinho has won the FA Cup once in his career with Chelsea and must be determined to continue his hunt for silverware at United now that winning the Premier League this season appears beyond his or anyone’s reach.
The Red Devils are also in need of some encouragement following a couple of defeats in their last three games which has dented United’s hopes of cruising to second place, with Liverpool and Spurs breathing down their neck. A win on Saturday for United could be crucial to restoring some of the confidence that has evaporated in the last two weeks.
Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy is doubtful after suffering a knee injury in the victory over Bournemouth, Christopher Schindler is back from injury after starting for the team in the weekend fixture. Striker Laurent Depoitre, Elias Kachunga and Chris Lowe all face and race against time to be available for Saturday’s clash.
Manchester United have no fresh injury concerns, however, both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly remain out of the squad with respective injuries. Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford did not travel to St James’ Park and are both doubts with the pair nursing muscle injuries.
Steve Mounie – Huddersfield Town
Mounie put in a Man-of-the-Match performance as the Terriers took Bournemouth apart last weekend. The Beninese striker scored two goals and provided an assist and was also on target as the Terriers beat Birmingham 4-1 in the previous round of the cup. The 23-year old seems to have completely recovered from the injury problems which hampered him in the early part of the season and could be a real handful for the United’s unsure defence.
Phil Jones – Manchester United
Given Mounie’s form and the kind of threat he would bring against Manchester United in set plays, it is imperative that their centre-halves don’t make glaring errors if they were to have a good chance of sealing the tie. Mourinho’s side has conceded the least number of goals in the country so far, yet strangely enough, the Red Devils’ back four have rarely looked assured this season. Phil Jones, however, has been the best defender at United for weeks now and has managed to stay fit for a good length of time. He will prove integral to the remainder of the season.
This is going to be a horrible game for both sides – but there is a feeling that United will want to win on Saturday a tad more than their opposition – which tips the balance in their favour.