Manchester United are still on course for glory in this season's FA Cup and tonight they will move a step closer to that goal by overcoming League One side Preston North End.
United haven’t had things all their own way in this competition and they needed a replay at Old Trafford to find a way past League Two outfit Cambridge United in the fourth round. Nevertheless, they will avoid any slip-ups tonight at Deepdale.
The Premier League title is effectively out of reach for the Red Devils and this tournament provides Van Gaal with the only real chance of securing any silverware this season.
Indeed, Manchester City and Chelsea are out of the competition and as such this is now effectively a three horse race between Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United and with the draw being made this evening, the Red Devils will know their opponents in the next round before the match kicks off, assuming of course that they win tonight.
We don’t think that will be too much of a problem however and despite the hosts looking to achieve one of their biggest ever triumphs tonight, we feel that there can only be one realistic outcome – a United victory.
Nevertheless, Preston could cause the visitors a scare. Simon Grayson’s men are flying high in the third tier, sitting in fourth position and they will be calling on Paul Gallagher, Kevin Davies and Neil Kilkenny to cause an upset.
Indeed, Grayson was responsible for Leeds United’s 1-0 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup five seasons ago and will be desperate to repeat this result at Deepdale.
United will see the return of Luke Shaw back from suspension, however Daley Blind and Phil Jones remain doubtful. Wayne Rooney will play deep with Ander Herrera and Angel Di Maria for company.
United will be free from complacency following their slip-up at Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium and will have sufficient strength to knock the League One side out of the competition.
Preston boast League One’s tightest defence and will likely frustrate United’s best efforts, however ultimately there can only be one winner. Surely.
Our betting tips
Manchester United win, both teams scoring – 888sport 27/10
Anytime Goalscorer, Robin van Persie – Paddy Power 6/5