Manchester United’s Emirates FA Cup campaign will resume on Saturday with a fifth-round tie against Huddersfield Town and, as ever, there is plenty to talk about ahead of kick-off. Here are five pertinent questions up for discussion…
United suffered a shock Premier League loss at Newcastle on Sunday and the squad is determined to respond in the best way, by producing a winning performance at the John Smith’s Stadium. The evidence is encouraging, too, considering that Jose Mourinho’s men have won six out of seven matches that have followed defeats this campaign. A victory at Huddersfield won’t come easily, though, because the Terriers are on a high after a 4-1 win over Bournemouth at the weekend. There’s also the small matter of their win over us in October...
That major upset in West Yorkshire back on 21 October was Huddersfield’s first victory over a United team in 65 years and it ended our unbeaten start to the current season. Aaron Mooy and Lauren Depoitre scored first-half goals for the home side in the 2-1 triumph, with substitute Marcus Rashford finishing for United on 78 minutes, and Mourinho was honest in his assessment afterwards. He admitted
“the best team won”and said
“I have to give them credit”. It was a tough day for everyone of a red persuasion, and those memories will provide added inspiration this Saturday evening. Victory is needed, with the two remaining cup competitions representing our best chances of silverware in 2017/18.
The match in photos Gallery
Scroll through the standout images from United's shock 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield.
That seems likely following the defeat at Newcastle, but the number of alterations remains to be seen and Mourinho may provide a clue during his press conference, or MUTV interview, on Friday afternoon. One of the main talking points that has stemmed from Sunday’s result is the fitness of Paul Pogba, who had apparently limped out of the warm-up before starting the match and then exited the fray during the second half. However, the boss later declared the Frenchman to be fine, which is obviously great news. Elsewhere, it is plausible that Luke Shaw may return at left-back due to the boss regularly rotating between him and Ashley Young, and it remains to be seen if two other key players will be available for selection…
We’ll have to wait and see. Ander and Marcus were left out of the squad at James’ Park on Sunday due to minor muscular injuries, but it’s encouraging that the boss did not believe their problems were serious when he spoke before the game. The only confirmed absentee is Marouane Fellaini while Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who have been missing for several months, are edging closer to a return.
This FA Cup tie is clearly the priority and the squad is 100 per cent focused on its outcome, but us fans are allowed to cast an eye on next Wednesday’s return to UEFA Champions League action against Sevilla, who are also in action on Saturday. They’re currently sixth in La Liga and have a midday kick-off against 18th-placed Las Palmas, who need a positive result in their fight to avoid relegation.