Match preview: United v Middlesbrough
Manchester United kick off an exciting-looking weekend of Emirates FA Cup fourth-round ties on Friday, when we host Middlesbrough at Old Trafford.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the meeting with Chris Wilder's side...
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE MATCH?
The game at Old Trafford kicks off at 20:00 GMT on Friday and it will be broadcast live on ITV in the UK. MUTV's coverage will begin when Matchday Live goes on air at 18:55 GMT - the show will include pre-match build-up, live match radio commentary and post-match analysis. You can also can follow the game with live updates via ManUtd.com and our Official App.
Why does Robbo think the FA Cup is so important?
United legend Bryan Robson joins The Debate to discuss Middlesbrough and Friday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie…
Paul Pogba may be in line to play for the first time since November, with the France international recently having returned to training following a thigh injury. Ralf Rangnick will also hope to be able to select Aaron Wan-Bissaka (illness) and Luke Shaw (injury) once more, while Jadon Sancho and Victor Lindelof both missed the win over West Ham for personal reasons. Eric Bailly and Hannibal should be in contention to figure in February after Ivory Coast and Tunisia were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations, but we expect the German to provide an update on his squad in Thursday’s press conference.
Alex Telles, Fred and Edinson Cavani have been in South America in World Cup qualifying action.
New Boro addition Riley McGree won’t be able to make his debut at Old Trafford, with the midfielder testing positive for COVID-19 while away with Australia on international duty. The Teessiders had their attacking ranks boosted in January, with Aaron Connolly and Folarin Balogun arriving on loan from Brighton and Arsenal respectively.
United beat Brighton and West Ham prior to the international break and, after overcoming Aston Villa in the third round last month, boast an impressive record of 10 consecutive Emirates FA Cup wins at Old Trafford – a run that stretches back to January 2017.
Friday’s visitors overcame Mansfield Town at the previous stage and have benefited from the appointment of former Sheffield United boss Wilder in November. The Teessiders were in mid-table and contemplating a sixth successive campaign in the second tier when the 54-year-old arrived, but after seven wins and just two defeats, now occupy the final Championship play-off spot.
Boro's last visit to M16 featured lashings of late drama, as Anthony Martial and Pogba struck in the final five minutes to turn a 1-0 defeat into a 2-1 victory on New Year's Eve in 2016. United completed the league double over Boro the following spring, in their only top-flight campaign since 2009. Back in 2015, the north-east side did cause a shock at Old Trafford when knocking out Louis van Gaal's Reds on penalties, after a goalless League Cup fourth-round tie.
ONES TO WATCH
Middlesbrough’s recent revival has been based around a strong defence, with Dutchman Anfernee Dijksteel, local boy Dael Fry and former Red Paddy McNair the three central defenders in Wilder’s system. Captain Jonny Howson offers experienced steel in the middle of the park, but Boro have lacked a clinical striker so far this season, with Andraz Sporar the club’s top scorer with seven goals from 23 games. Wilder will hope the acquisitions of Connolly and Balogun boosts the figures, although it was Sporar who netted the only goal during Saturday’s home win over Coventry.
WHO'S THE MANAGER?
Seen as something of a promotion specialist, Wilder won League Two with Northampton in 2016 before adding the League One crown with Sheffield United at the first time of asking. The Blades impressed after rising to the Premier League in 2019, although Wilder departed prior to relegation last year. The automatic spots are probably out of Boro's reach after a slow start, but the play-offs are a realistic possibility and fans can take heart from the job Wilder did with Oxford, guiding the Us back into the league in 2010 via the Conference play-offs. The 54-year-old, who played top-flight football for Sheffield United during a 15-year playing career, is known for a 3-5-2 formation with the unusual tactic of overlapping centre-backs.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistant Referees: Gary Beswick and Darren Cann
Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Additional VAR: Neil Davies
FRIDAY 4 FEBRUARY
UNITED v Middlesbrough (20:00 GMT)
SATURDAY 5 FEBRUARY
Chelsea v Plymouth (12:30 GMT)
Kidderminster v West Ham (12:30 GMT)
Crystal Palace v Hartlepool
Everton v Brentford
Huddersfield v Barnsley
Manchester City v Fulham
Peterborough v QPR
Southampton v Coventry
Stoke v Wigan
Wolves v Norwich
Cambridge v Luton (17:30 GMT)
Tottenham v Brighton (20:00 GMT)
SUNDAY 6 FEBRUARY
Liverpool v Cardiff (12:00 GMT)
Nottingham Forest v Leicester (16:00 GMT)
Bournemouth v Boreham Wood (18:30 GMT)