Manchester United v Reading. After a tricky few months, it seems that Jose Mourinho is finally putting his stamp on the Manchester United squad. Six Premier League wins in succession have seen them close the gap to the top four, whilst they are in the semi-finals of the League Cup and the last-32 of the Europa League. The league title looks beyond them, with Chelsea appearing unstoppable, though Mourinho would dearly love to win the FA Cup trophy for the club once more – Louis van Gaal departed last summer with the trophy as a parting gift; an honour the club had not won since 2004.
For Reading, Jaap Stam – a United legend – returns to Old Trafford as manager. The unmistakable Dutchman has his side doing well in the Championship, currently they are third. As well as the play-offs being a very realistic proposition, the club have also won their last three matches and will aim to pose the hosts problems.
It is likely that the home side will make substantial changes as they seek to refresh a squad that had a hectic schedule over the festive period. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – the club’s top scorer with 18 goals – is one player likely to be rested. The Swedish veteran has been in majestic form since his summer arrival but could make way for Marcus Rashford.
Unlike the Red Devils, Reading have not had to play two games in three days, so head north the fresher of the two sides. A disciplined performance will be needed to get any result; the Royals have lost their past four meetings with United. They last met in in 2013, when the Berkshire side were last in the top tier.
Despite being holders of the trophy, Manchester United a fourth favourites with Tipbet at 8.25, behind Chelsea (6.25), Liverpool (7.25) and Manchester City (8.00).
However, they are big favourites to advance to the next round. The Reds are available at 1.22 to win at Old Trafford. A draw (6.25) would see a re-match in Reading; the replays are scrapped from the quarter-final stage onwards this season. An away win (13.2) may appear unlikely, but seven years ago Leeds United caused a massive upset when Jermaine Beckford famously knocked out their great rivals at the same stadium.
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Odds 04.01.2017 – 12:00 PM (no guarantee for the accuracy of the statistics and odds, odds subject to change, livestreaming depends on the TV rights of the countries, there is no guarantee to activate streams in some countries)