Manchester United v Reading: Jaap Stam homecoming to halt The Red devils streak?
By: Timothy Dehinbo
It’s a big welcome today in Manchester as former Man united star defender, Jaap Stam returns to Old Trafford as Reading travel to Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Stam spent three seasons as a player at Manchester United from 1998 to 2001, during which he won the FA Cup, the
Champions League and three Premier League titles.
He took charge of Reading at the start of this season and has led them to third place in the Sky Bet Championship.
“One of our strengths is the belief we have in ourselves and the possession football we play,” Stam said. “We will have the same approach as we usually have for a league game – we’re not going to do anything different in our preparation.
“And we believe in what we do and it’s been working for us this season. It won’t be easy against players of the quality they have. But we’re going to give it a shot and we’ll see at the end of the game how well it has gone.”
Manchester United have won their last seven games in a row in all competitions and are unbeaten in 13 matches, their longest run since March 2013.
They lifted the FA Cup last season under Louis van Gaal after coming from behind to beat Crystal Palace in the final at Wembley.
Wayne Rooney will return to Manchester United’s starting line-up after three games out with a thigh injury, and he needs one goal to equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time scoring record of 249 at Manchester United.
Sergio Romero will start in goal instead of first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea, while Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay will not be considered while their futures remain unresolved. Defender Eric Bailly is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be rested, though Luke Shaw may feature and Bastian Schweinsteiger will be in the squad.
Reading will be without winger Callum Harriott after he suffered a hamstring injury in the abandoned game against Fulham last Friday.
Stephen Quinn and Anssi Jaakkola are also out due to knee problems, along with Deniss Rakels who has an ankle problem.
Manchester United have advanced from all but one of their last six third-round ties, falling only to Swansea in 2013/14.
Reading’s last win over Manchester United in the FA Cup dates back to 1927, drawing two and losing six of their eight meetings since.
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 24 FA Cup meetings with second-tier sides (W20 D4), last suffering defeat in 1981/82 against Watford.
Each of Reading’s last two away defeats against top-tier opponents in the FA Cup have come in Manchester (0-1 against City in 2010/11 and 1-2 against United in 2012/13).
Juan Mata has scored in three consecutive FA Cup games for Manchester United, including in the final at Wembley last season (2-1 v Crystal Palace).
Mourinho’s men should definitely extend their unbeaten run today to 14 and Winning streak to 8 in all competitions, but Reading should get a goal.
PREDICTION: MANCHESTER UNITED 3-1 READING