|By PAUL GOUGH
Manchester United can take a step closer towards pulling off a second treble - of the English Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup - when they host league battlers Reading in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday.
The Red Devils famously became the first English club to pull off the prestigious treble in 1999, and veteran manager Sir Alex Ferguson has his team primed to do so again in 2013.
The league title for this season already looks won, with United now prohibitively short at $1.06 with Betfair to regain the crown from Manchester City after opening up a 12-point lead at the top of the table over their local rivals.
And ahead of this weekend's fifth round FA Cup ties - completed by Reading's visit to Old Trafford on Monday - United were also the $3.80 favourites at Betfair to win this season's FA Cup.
The Champions League of course will be much harder, but United took a significant step towards reaching the quarter-finals when they held Spanish giants Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday, with the second leg to come at Old Trafford.
However, United only remain the $11-equal fourth favourites at Betfair, along with Italian club Juventus, to win the Champions League this season.
|Man United to win v Reading at $1.28 at Betfair
||Man United to win 3-1 v Reading at $11.50 at Betfair|
Reading have never beaten United in seven previous meetings but have surprisingly troubled the Red Devils in the past - with United only winning their league meeting this season 4-3.
In 2007, Reading also went to Old Trafford for the fifth round of the FA Cup and secured a 1-1 draw before losing the replay 3-2 at home.
However, despite their much improved recent form [with six wins in their past nine matches across both the league and FA Cup], the punters give Reading little chance of earning a draw this time, which is priced at $5.75 at Centrebet, $6 at sportsbet.com.au and $6.80 at Betfair.
As for correct-score betting, United to win 2-0 is the favoured option at Betfair at odds of $9 in early markets.
But given the fact they have scored at least one goal in each of their past nine games, Reading could well give United a fright in this game at some stage and look good value to score at least one goal.
* Note prices subject to change