Manchester United-Reading Preview: Managerless Royals have not beaten the hosts since 1927
Against a team they boast a superb record, Sir Alex Ferguson's side can once again concentrate on Premier League football after Champions League and FA Cup disappointments
By Ryan Benson
Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra
Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Young
Rooney, Van Persie
Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte
McCleary, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu
Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that full-backs Patrice Evra and Rafael were knackered after the 2-2 draw with Chelsea last Sunday, but are not expected to be rested after nearly a week off between games.
Darren Fletcher (bowel condition) will miss the remainder of the season, while Nani (hamstring), Paul Scholes (knee) and Phil Jones (ankle) are all doubtful and will undergo late fitness tests.
Ahead of his first match in charge of Reading's first team, caretake boss Eamonn Dolan has a few injury concerns to contend with ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.
Goalkeeper Adam Frederici (ankle) looks set to be out until the end of March and he is joined by Jimmy Kebe (groin) and Pavel Pogrebnyak (three-match suspension).
Jason Roberts (hip) continues to miss out, but Alex McCarthy has been back in training and looks to be touch-and-go due to a lack of match fitness.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Following Brian McDermott's (pictured right) sacking, academy coach Eamonn Dolan will take charge of his first match for Reading's senior side on Saturday.
The Royals have not beaten Manchester United since 1927 when they triumphed over the Red Devils in the FA Cup.
Reading come into this match on the back of five consecutive defeats in all competitions.
The Royals have already lost twice to United so far this season, losing 4-3 at the Madejski Stadium in the league and 2-1 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.
United have come out with three points in 14 of their last 16 Premier League matches.
The only team to beat the hosts in their last 20 fixtures is Real Madrid.
- Reading have completed the least amount of passes in the league with 69 per cent meeting the intended target.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side, on the other hand, have completed 85.7% of their passes, a stat bettered only by Arsenal.
Robin van Persie has scored just one goal since the end of January, coming against Everton over a month ago on February 10. He is 15/8 with bet365 to score two or more goals on Saturday.
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Top 3 Predictions
Man Utd. 3-0 Reading
- 22.19 %
Man Utd. 4-0 Reading
- 15.47 %
Man Utd. 3-1 Reading
- 11.12 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Mar 16, 2013||Man Utd. 1 - Reading 0|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Feb 18, 2013||Man Utd. 2 - Reading 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 1, 2012||Reading 3 - Man Utd. 4|
|Dec 10, 2013||Man Utd. 1 - Shakhtar Donetsk 0||UCL|
|Dec 7, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Newcastle 1||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Everton 1||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Tottenham 2 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Nov 27, 2013||Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0 - Man Utd. 5||UCL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|14||Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez||Striker|
|9||Adam Le Fondre||Striker|
|Robin van Persie|
Van Persie's first Premier League season with United has certainly been a success with a tally of 19 goals in 28 appearances, but he has looked considerably jaded over the last two months. A week off for United would suggest that they will be refreshed and Van Persie will be raring to get back on form after scoring just one goal since early February.
Reading have not managed a clean sheet in the Premier League since December 29, therefore it would be a brave man to bet against that run continuing at Old Trafford on Saturday. With recent disappointments potentially spurring United on, Adrian Mariappa will have to be alert to help prevent Van Persie & Co. from blowing Reading away. Keeping things tight early on could be essential.