The Championship side have struggled of late, as they have fallen away in the Championship title race. On Monday night they were comprehensively beaten by title rivals Burnley, in a 4-1 drubbing at Turf Moor. Derby boss Paul Clement was very critical of his team’s defending, after going in all square Derby concede 3 goals in 12 second half minutes. County will need to improve on this otherwise it could be a long evening, as it looks like Manchester Utd’s only chance of silverware this season. Derby have only won once in their last 5 games, which was in the last round of the FA Cup when they only just got past league 2 Hartlepool. Derby’s slide in form is alarming, as they are now in danger of dropping out of the play-offs when 6 weeks ago they looked set for the Premier League. In the last 2 games they have conceded 7 goals, coupled with the Burnley goals Derby were beaten 3-0 at home by Birmingham. Derby have plenty of Premier League experience in their squad with: Darren Bent, Andreas Weinmann, Scott Carson, Ryan Shotton and Stephen Warnock all having played many times in the Premier League. With the attacking players in their squad, it’s hard to see why the goals seem to have dried up of late for Derby. Darren Bent has really struggled this season having only scored once in 15 games, captain Craig Martin has found it tougher this season only netting 9 times in 27 games
In seasons gone by Manchester Utd would be huge favorites for this game, but due to their form this season this looks like a 4th round banana skin. Under normal circumstances we would see Manchester Utd’s fringe players, and talented youngsters desperate for first team football but due to Utd’s form that would be a massive gamble to take. After last weekend’s home defeat against Southampton, the pressure is now at an all-time high on Manchester Utd boss Louis van Gaal. Utd were booed off at the weekend most of this was aimed at the Dutchman as the Utd faithful are fed up with his brand of football. Utd only managed 1 shot on target during 90 minutes. Manchester Utd have only scored 28 Premier League goals so far this season, which is the second lowest in the top half of the table. In the last round it took a late, late penalty that saw Utd past League 2 Sheffield Utd in yet another lackluster performance. Many think it’s time for Van Gaal to move over as they have fallen from second in the Premier League table, to now 5 points from a Champions League place. The thought of no Champions League football again at Old Trafford is unthinkable, and at the moment looks unlikely. Many of Manchester Utd flair players have looked frustrated of late in the style they have been asked to play, no more so than captain Wayne Rooney, who has only scored 6 Premier League goals so far this season.
The last time the 2 teams met was in the FA Cup in 2009, when Manchester Utd were 4-1 winners. At home Derby have only lost once in their last 6 games, winning 3 and drawing the other 2. They have netted 11 goals and conceded 6 during those games, but overall they haven’t won in their last 3 games. Away from Old Trafford Manchester Utd have only won once in their last 6 games, losing 3 and drawing the other 2. They have managed 8 goals but conceding 11, in those games which will be a concern for Van Gaal. It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for Utd, as they beat rivals Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield last time out on the road. This was mainly thanks to Keeper David De Gea, who has been Utd’s player of the season so far since his failed move to Real Madrid. Derby’s record against Utd jumps off the page, sadly for all the wrong reason as they have only won 2 of the last 9 meetings. The last time was in 2009 when they beat Utd 1-0 in the League Cup.
Derby boss Paul Clement will be without Craig Forsyth and Will Hughes. Both look set to miss the rest of the season after rupturing ACL ligaments earlier in the season. Losing Hughes was a bitter blow to County, as last season he was one of the brightest prospects in the Championship. With a host of Premier League clubs looking at the young midfielder, but for now his Premier League dream will have to wait.
Louis van Gaal will be without a host of stars for this FA Cup tie. Midfield duo Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger with both be missing, both picked up knee problems and will be out for between 4/6 weeks. Marcos Rojo (shoulder) Phil Jones (foot) and Matteo Darmian (hamstring) will all miss out, making the Utd backline look a lot weaker. Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are out for the rest of the season, Shaw with a broken leg and Young has just had groin surgery.
On paper Manchester Utd should win this 4th round tie, but we all know football isn’t played on paper. Derby will take heart from the way Sheffield Utd played against Utd, and will probably take a similar approach. They will sit with men behind the ball and make the Premier League team break them down, this is something they have struggled to do of late. The longer Derby can keep the score at 0-0 the better, as frustration will set in like it did at the weekend. Utd will be praying for an early goal to settle nerves, and make Derby come out of their shell. I think this will be a tight game, and a game that Manchester Utd can’t afford to lose. If they were to lose, it may force the Manchester Utd board’s hand, as it would be another season without silverware and their season would be in danger of completely derailing. I think Utd will just scrape by Derby as the home team’s form is far from inspiring!
Manchester Utd win and under 2.5 goals 11/4
Wayne Rooney to score first – 4/1
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