Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that he will select a strong side for the visit of struggling Liverpool after claiming to have erred last season in “picking the wrong team” after the Red Devils were knocked out in the third round by Leeds United.
Two men who definitely miss out are John O’Shea and Paul Scholes, while Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar remain doubts. Javier Hernandez, meanwhile, may have forced his way into the starting XI with two goals in his last two games.
Possible starting XI: Kuszczak; Rafael, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson; Berbatov, Hernandez.
Caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish has virtually a full squad to pick from for the trip to Old Trafford, aside from the injured Jamie Carragher.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos is expected to miss out in favour of Daniel Agger in defence whilst Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles should also return, which means Dalglish has something of a selection headache in midfield for his first game in charge.
Possible starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Konchesky; Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas, Gerrard, Cole; Torres.
Hosts aiming to pour more misery on Reds
The FA Cup may not be anywhere near the top of Manchester United’s priority list this season, but the fact that they been paired with bitter rivals Liverpool in the third round - added to last season’s early exit from the competition - means this is a match they will be taking very seriously indeed.
Sir Alex Ferguson will surely also be licking his lips at the chance to dump yet more misery on his arch-rivals, particularly in a season where his team are currently on target to surpass Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles.
Reds hoping for some FA Cup magic
They say that form goes out of the window in the FA Cup, and in derby games too for that matter, and Liverpool will travel to Old Trafford praying that really is the case. The Reds are under fire after a dismal season, and recent defeats to Blackburn Rovers, Wolves and Newcastle United means Kenny Dalglish has his work cut out in his first game in charge.
Yet the Merseysiders should need little motivation for this game, and a quick glance at the history books will give them hope. The last time the two sides met in the competition, in 2006, the Reds beat United in the fifth round courtesy of Peter Crouch’s first-half goal.
History also dictates that in every FA Cup tie between these two sides since 1985, the winners of the tie have gone on to lift the trophy. Motivation, indeed, if any were needed.