Your essential guide to United v Reading
Manchester United kick off the club's Emirates FA Cup campaign when Championship side Reading travel to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
The Reds also faced the Royals in the third round in 2016/17 and ran out 4-0 winners, thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford (2).
United will be looking to maintain the winning start under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, by earning a fifth consecutive victory in all competitions, while the ultimate aim is to go one better than last term in the FA Cup. If the Reds can go from being runners-up to Chelsea in the final to winners at Wembley this May, it would see the club equalling Arsenal's all-time record of 13 triumphs.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off…
WHAT'S THE TEAM NEWS?
Solskjaer has confirmed that Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez will both start on Saturday and he will make "a few changes" to the side to make full use of the strong squad at his disposal. Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo are still sidelined and fellow defender Eric Bailly will sit out the second game of his three-match ban, following his red card against Bournemouth last weekend. Paul Pogba is a doubt after picking up a knock against Newcastle and Ole is hopeful that fellow midfielder Marouane Fellaini comes through Friday's training session in order to be available.
HOW ABOUT READING?
The Royals could welcome back defenders Chris Gunter and Liam Moore. The latter returned from injury in their last outing against Swansea City but was only fit enough for a place on the bench, while Gunter has not played since a 1-1 draw against Rotherham on 15 December. However, the visitors will be without Leandro Bacuna and former United defender Tyler Blackett - both of whom are suspended following red cards against Millwall. Long-term absentees Paul McShane, Saeid Ezatolahi and Jordan Obita will also miss the game through injury, while Dutch midfielder Pelle Clement left the club on Wednesday to join PEC Zwolle in his homeland. Ex-Red John O'Shea is expected to be involved.
HOW ARE THE ROYALS DOING?
Reading are struggling in the Championship and are currently 23rd in the table, having picked up just 20 points from their 26 league games so far. Last time out, the Royals were beaten 4-1 at home by Swansea City - their third defeat in the last four matches. In fact, Reading’s last win came way back on 3 November - in a 3-2 victory against Bristol City.
WHO IS THEIR MANAGER?
Saturday's tie will represent a fourth match in charge for Jose Gomes, who replaced Paul Clement in the hotseat at the Madejski Stadium last month. The Portuguese coach has drawn one and lost two of his previous three games in charge. Gomes has an extensive CV that has seen him manage in Portugal, Hungary, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
WHAT'S OUR RECORD AGAINST READING?
We have previously faced the Berkshire outfit on 20 occasions in all competitions - the first of which came in the FA Cup third round back in 1912. The Reds have beaten the Royals 12 times, while there have been seven draws and just one win for Reading. Incidentally, 14 of the previous meetings have been in the FA Cup, with the other six coming in the Premier League. As mentioned earlier, the last encounter came two years ago at Old Trafford when Reading were under the management of former United defender Jaap Stam and Rooney became our joint all-time leading scorer, matching Sir Bobby Charlton's record with his 249th goal for the club. Relive the highlights of that match below...
How we beat Reading in the 2017 third round
Rashford (2), Martial and Rooney all scored when Reading visited in the 2017 third round! Feast your eyes...
This will be the seventh time United have been paired with Reading in the FA Cup third round. The Reds also met the Royals at this stage of the tournament in 1912, 1927, 1936, 1937, 1955 and 2017, and knocked them out of the cup in different rounds en route to reaching the final in 1996 and 2007; in the latter campaign, United won 3-2, with Solskjaer netting the third and decisive goal.
ONE TO WATCH
Yakou Meite has been in impressive form so far this season. The attacker has scored six goals for the Royals in 2018/19, including strikes in victories against Millwall and Bristol City earlier in the season. Meite can operate as a winger or as a central striker and is a tireless worker.
SOME FAMILIAR FACES
The Old Trafford faithful will give former defender John O’Shea a warm welcome back this weekend. The Irishman made 393 appearances for the Reds and won five Premier League titles, the Champions League, the FA Cup and two League Cups during his 12-year stint with the club. The afore-mentioned Blackett and McShane also came through United's youth system.
Stuart Attwell will take charge of proceedings on Saturday. The 36-year-old oversaw our only other domestic cup match of the season - the defeat on penalties to Derby County in the Carabao Cup in September. Darren Cann and Andy Garratt will be assistant referees, while David Coote will fulfill the role of fourth official. For the second year in a row, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be in use in the FA Cup, and Old Trafford is one of nine grounds where the system will be in operation this weekend. Jon Moss, who refereed our Boxing Day win over Huddersfield Town, will assume the role and he will be assisted by Stephen Child.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER THIRD-ROUND TIES?
The FA Cup third round is one of the busiest weekends in the football calendar with 32 ties across the entire weekend. This year, the games will be spread across four days and will feature teams from the Premier League all the way down to the National League South. Here's the schedule in full…
FRIDAY 4 JANUARY
Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur (19:45 GMT)
SATURDAY 5 JANUARY
12:30 GMT kick-offs:
Bournemouth v Brighton & Hove Albion
Burnley v Barnsley
Manchester United v Reading
Sheffield Wednesday v Luton Town
Shrewsbury Town v Stoke City
West Bromwich Albion v Wigan Athletic
West Ham United v Birmingham City
15:00 GMT kick-offs:
Accrington Stanley v Ipswich Town
Aston Villa v Swansea City
Bolton Wanderers v Walsall
Brentford v Oxford United
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest
Derby County v Southampton
Everton v Lincoln City
Fleetwood Town v AFC Wimbledon
Gillingham v Cardiff City
Middlesbrough v Peterborough
17:30 GMT kick-offs:
Blackpool v Arsenal
Bristol City v Huddersfield Town
Crystal Palace v Grimsby Town
Newcastle United v Blackburn Rovers
Norwich City v Portsmouth
SUNDAY 6 JANUARY
14:00 GMT kick-offs:
Fulham v Oldham Athletic
Manchester City v Rotherham United
Millwall v Hull City
Preston North End v Doncaster Rovers
Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United
Sheffield United v Barnet
Woking v Watford
16:30 GMT kick-off:
Newport County v Leicester City
MONDAY 7 JANUARY
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool (19:45 GMT)
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