United travel to Tranmere in FA Cup

Manchester United travel to Merseyside on Sunday for an old fashioned FA Cup tie as they face Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park. 

On Thursday night League One Tranmere shocked Premier League Watford in their FA Cup third-round replay to set up a tie against 12-time winners Manchester United.

In a game rescheduled from earlier in the month because of a waterlogged pitch, Rovers capitalised on a hugely under-strength Hornets and best navigated a dire, sand-covered Prenton Park surface to finally settle the tie in extra time.

The pitch may well play to Tranmere’s advantage as United will not be used to playing on a surface like the one that waits for them at Prenton Park. 

For Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer he may well have a dilemma as if he plays some key players on that pitch he may be left with more injuries. But if he plays a changed squad he runs the risk of being knocked out of the FA Cup in embarrassing circumstances. 

It has not been a good week for United as they come into the game on the back of a humiliating 2-0 loss at home to Burnley who looked the much better side on the night. The Reds were booed off by the fans and speculation has been growing as to whether Solksjaer is the right person for the job. Manchester United find themselves 33 points behind league leaders Liverpool who have a game in hand so the FA Cup may be a nice distraction for the club and a real chance at winning some silverware. 

Rovers caused an almighty cup shock after defeating Premier League (PL) Watford in extra-time in their FA Cup third-round replay on Thursday. This sets up their first meeting with Manchester United since 1976, but one concern for Micky Mellon’s team will be that they’ve failed to win any of their last eight inside 90-minutes (D4, L4).

Rovers have lost just one of their previous ten FA Cup ties, although that was 7-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur last year. This season, Tranmere have seen eight of their last nine at home (all competitions) feature both teams scoring, whilst they’ve only kept two home clean sheets all season.

Manchester United will be without Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzabe, Marcos Rojo but they could have Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly back. 

Tranmere have a full squad available. 

Players to watch: 

Emmanuel Monthe scored for Tranmere in both cup ties versus Watford, meaning he has three goals, and three yellow cards, in his last four appearances.

United playmaker Juan Mata has 11 FA Cup goals across his career, including in the 2015/16 final.

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