Manchester United will be looking to secure their spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup tomorrow night when they host Championship side Middlesbrough.
The Reds beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the previous round whilst their opponents overcame Mansfield Town.
Ralf Rangnick’s men made it three wins in their last four matches in all competitions when they narrowly beat West Ham United in injury time last weekend. Marcus Rashford’s last gasp winner ensured United’s place in the top four and clinched a vital three points.
Off the field matters have overshadowed the build up to this one but the players should be raring to go following a short two week break. The Reds are still fighting on three fronts this season, with the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid set to take place at the Wanda Metropolitano on February 23.
United are the second-most successful side in the history of the FA Cup – winning the prestigious competition on 12 occasions. The last triumph came under Louis Van Gaal in 2016, when Jesse Lingard’s extra-time thunderbolt handed United a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.
Friday night’s contest will be the first time that the two sides have played each other since March 2017 where the Reds came out 3-1 winners at the Riverside thanks to goals from Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia.
United are on one of the club’s longest trophy droughts in modern times with the last piece of silverware being won by Jose Mourinho back in 2017. Rangnick will be keen to bag some silverware before moving into his expected consultancy role this summer.
Middlesbrough will certainly come into this one as the underdogs, but the visitors should be full of confidence having been in fine form since the start of December.
Boro have won eight of their last ten matches in all competitions.
Chris Wilder’s side beat Coventry City 1-0 on January 29 to move up to sixth spot in the Championship and they will surely have an eye on returning to the Premier League next season.
Wilder’s impact has been clear to see and after winning eight of his 12 games in charge, the league will be the priority for the 54-year-old this season but a chance to knock Manchester United out of the cup is not an opportunity that comes round too often.
Middlesbrough have never won the FA Cup but narrowly missed out on the trophy in 1997 when they lost 2-0 against Chelsea in the final.
The game presents an opportunity for both teams to progress and keep their cup hopes alive.
Rangnick confirmed earlier today that Paul Pogba will definitely be in the matchday squad and he may even be ready to start. Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles and Fred are unlikely to feature due to their international commitments. Jesse Lingard will also not feature after asking Rangnick for time off to ‘clear his mind’. Eric Bailly has also returned from AFCON duty but picked up an injury so is unlikely to feature. Jadon Sancho and Victor Lindelof could return after both missed the previous fixture against West Ham for personal reasons. It was also confirmed that Luke Shaw would be starting due to Alex Telles’ absence.
New Boro addition Riley McGree won’t be able to make his debut at Old Trafford with him testing positive for coronavirus while away on international duty with Australia. The Teesiders had their attacking ranks boosted in January with Aaron Connolly and Folarin Balogun arriving on loan from Brighton and Arsenal.
United overcame Brentford and West Ham prior to the international break and after defeating Aston Villa in the previous round, they boast an impressive record of ten consecutive FA Cup wins at Old Trafford – a record that goes back to 2017.
Tomorrow’s visitors overcame Mansfield Town in the last round and have benefited from the arrival of former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder. Before his arrival, Boro were sat in mid-table and contemplating another season in England’s second tier but after seven wins and just two defeats, now occupy the final Championship play-off spot.
De Gea, Dalot, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Matic, Rashford, Fernandes, Elanga, Ronaldo.
Manchester United 2-0 Middlesbrough.