Manchester United booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Fa Cup last night thanks to a 3-1 victory over Preston North End at Deepdale. The draw for the quarter-finals was made before the game so United and Preston both knew that they would face Arsenal in a home game in the next round. Manchester United started the game with Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia returning to the starting line-up in the full-back positions and Chris Smalling came in to the team in place of Phil Jones to partner Marcos Rojo in the centre of defence. Wayne Rooney was restored to the centre forward position to partner Falcao with Fellaini playing behind these two in the number ten role. Blind was once again at the base of the diamond with Herrera and Di Maria playing as the two central players in the midfield diamond.
In the first-half United dominated possession but failed to create any chances and Preston were very comfortable in defence. The play from United was very predictable, the thing missing from this United attack is pace, especially in Falcao. When we signed Falcao on the last day of the summer transfer window, I like many other United fans was so excited to see this player in a United shirt. This is a player who is billed as one of the best strikers playing in Europe and a player I who saw scoring goals galore for Atletico Madrid a few years ago. He suffered a knee injury last season that saw him miss the World Cup. I thought we he first signed he would probably need some game time to get back up to pace but sadly I now believe he is not the player he was, which is sad for him and us United fans because I really believe he wanted to play for United and wants to help the club to success.
Preston took the lead in this game a few minutes into the second-half thanks to a goal from Scott Laird who was played in on the right hand side of United’s defence, with Valencia caught slightly out of position and as he tried to block the shot from Laird it took a deflection off his foot that clearly caught De Gea as he failed to save the shot. This game changed on the hour mark when Ashley Young came onto the pitch to replace Falcao. With this change United to a flat 4-4-2 with Fellaini playing alongside Wayne Rooney in attack and Young and Di Maria playing as wingers with Blind and Herrera in the central midfield positions. This change added more pace to the United attacks with Young and Shaw combining down the left hand side and Di Maria and Valencia combining down the right hand side of the pitch.
Three minutes after the change and United were back level when Young played the ball into Herrera, who fought off the challenges of Preston defenders to get his shot away, on its way into the net the ball just evaded Rooney who was stood close to goalkeeper, Preston claimed Rooney was interfering with play but the goal stood. United took the lead on 72 minutes through Fellaini after a cross to the far post from Valencia on the right flank, Fellaini won the header which was saved by the Preston keeper but Fellaini was first to the rebound and volleyed it into the net. United sealed the win thanks to a Rooney penalty in the 87th minute. Rooney had won the penalty when he ran onto the ball on the left hand side of Preston’s penalty area and the Preston keeper claim flying out and although he never touch Rooney, it was still a foul as Rooney had to evade the challenge and anywhere else on the pitch would a free-kick.
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