Manchester United’s tour of the lower leagues in this season’s Fa Cup continues as Louis Van Gaal and his players travel to Deepdale to face Preston North End on Monday night in the 5th round. In the 3rd round United travelled to Yeovil and negotiated that tricky tie with a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals from Herrera and Di Maria. They then faced Cambridge United in the 4th round and it took a replay at Old Trafford for United to book their place in the 5th round.
The first game finished 0-0 at the Abbey Stadium and United won the replay 3-0 courtesy of goals from Mata, Rojo and Wilson. Preston have had to play four rounds to reach this stage of the competition having entered in the first round, they beat Havant & Waterlooville 3-0 in the 1st round before facing Shrewsbury in the 2nd round and winning 1-0. In the 3rd round Preston faced Championship side Norwich and came out 2-0 winners before knocking out fellow League one team Sheffield United in the 4th round. Like United Preston needed a replay to see off their opponents in the 4th round and secure the tie against United.
Preston North End are one of the founder members of the Football League and in its first season they were crowned Champions and completed the season unbeaten and also won the Fa Cup to complete a double. Preston were relegated to the second division in 1961 and haven’t competed in the top flight of English football since, they did though reach the Fa Cup final in 1964 but lost to West Ham United. Preston’s most famous player is Sir Tom Finney, he played for the club between 1946 and 1960 and is still regarded as one of the games greatest ever players. Finney remains the club’s top goalscorer to this day with 187 goals from 433 appearances. There are several links between the two clubs.
Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton had a spell as the manager at Preston after his retirement from playing, between 1973 and 1975. Preston were relegated in his season in charge and he left the club early in the 1975/76 season after a disagreement with board over transfer policy. David Beckham had a spell on loan at Preston in the 1994/95 season before making his breakthrough into the United first team. He played 5 games and scored 2 goals, most notably scoring directing from a corner. Whilst at Preston Beckham would have played with future Preston and United manager David Moyes. Moyes joined Preston as a player in 1993 and was appointed the manager in January 1998 with Preston struggling in Division two and threat of relegation hanging over the club. Moyes guided Preston to safety and led them to the Division two championship in 1999/2000 season. He guided Preston to the brink of promotion to the Premier League on several occasions before leaving for Everton in March 2002.
Manchester united go into this game with doubts over Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Robin Van Persie. Jones and Blind both went off in United’s last game against Burnley on Wednesday night, Jones went off with a knee injury in the first few minutes while Blind suffered concussion and left the field shortly before half-time. Van Persie played the full game against Burnley but Van Gaal revealed in his pre match press conference on Friday afternoon that Van Persie had picked up a knock in the game. Though with the game not being until tomorrow night it gives those players a few extra days to recover, therefore I expect Blind and Van Persie to recover in time but the Jones injury may be more serious.
Luke Shaw is available again after suspension so I expect to see him restored to the starting xi, enabling Marcos Rojo to move back into the centre of the defence and probably partner Chris Smalling at the centre of United’s defence. As for the midfield I hope to Ander Herrera given an opportunity after replacing Blind against Burnley and again impressing, it begs the question, why isn’t he getting more game time in the United midfield? Up front we will probably see two from three of Falcao, Van Persie and Wilson, with Rooney probably being deployed in a midfield position once again. I feel Wilson deserves a run in the team after impressing in recent chances he’s had coming off the bench and especially after scoring in the previous round against Cambridge.
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