Can the Reds bounce back from last week’s disappointment?

Match Preview Manchester United

Manchester United will be hoping to put the bitter disappointment of Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle United behind them when they take on Huddersfield Town in Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash at the John Smith’s Stadium. Defeat at St James’ Park left the Reds trailing league leaders Manchester City by 16 points and reduced the gap with third-placed Liverpool to just two.

Manager Jose Mourinho will undoubtedly be looking to bounce back against the Terriers and secure his side’s place in the famous competition’s quarter-finals. These two sides met just two weeks ago, with United running out 2-0 winners at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, who was making his home debut for the Reds. That result confined David Wagner’s to the bottom three and whilst they have since been able to get out of the relegation zone, just one point separates them and 18th-placed Southampton.

United suffered no further injuries during last weekend’s defeat, although Mourinho is likely to make a number of changes as he seeks a much-improved performance this time out. Fresh scrutiny will be placed on Chris Smalling, following the defender’s disappointing showing at St James Park and fellow centre-back Marcos Rojo could be brought into the side as the England international’s replacement. Whether Mourinho will continue to select Ashley Young at left-back remains to be seen, although Luke Shaw’s impressive performances in the last few months suggest that the 22-year-old is more than capable of making that position his own.

Much has been made of Paul Pogba’s contribution to the United cause in recent weeks and the Frenchman could once again find himself on the substitute’s bench on Saturday, as he did when the Reds took on the Terriers at the start of the month. At Newcastle, Pogba put in a sub-par performance before being replaced by captain Michael Carrick shortly after United fell behind, with the Englishman making his first league appearance of the season. Carrick, whose experience and calmness on the ball could prove to be vital in the coming months, may be handed a starting berth this weekend.

Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford both missed the trip to Newcastle last weekend and could be involved on Saturday. The latter, who up until last weekend had been involved in every United game this campaign, could add a little bit of spark and imagination to the Reds’ attack, something that has been missing in the last few outings. There could also be a recall for fan’s favourite Juan Mata, who was left out of the starting XI at St James’ Park before taking the place of Jesse Lingard, whose goalscoring touch has deserted him of late.

Saturday’s clash is one of huge importance to the Reds, just days before they travel to Spain to take on Sevilla in their Champions League round of 16 first-leg clash. With the title race all but over, United must try to salvage their season by securing silverware in the cup competitions. The FA Cup arguably represents the Reds’ best chance of success this campaign and they will be looking to make it all the way to Wembley Stadium to lift the famous trophy for the 13th  time in their illustrious history.

About the Author

Alex DeMarco
23-year-old University student from Malta, currently studying Communications and starting out in the world of football journalism. Lifelong Manchester United fan with a passion for all things football.