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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Man United should avoid second lightning strike

Huddersfield's FA Cup run looks doomed

Alexis Sanchez celebrates his goal against Huddersfield
1 of 1

FA Cup fifth round
BT Sport 2, 5.30pm Saturday

It's a myth that lightning cannot strike twice in the same place but it may pay to back Manchester United to avoid suffering a shock in their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Huddersfield.

United were embarrassed at the John Smith's Stadium in October when the Terriers defied odds of 10-1 to land a deserved 2-1 triumph and favourite backers were blown away by Storm Brian.

That was United's first domestic defeat of the season - and even Jose Mourinho admitted it was fully deserved as punishment for a poor performance - but when the teams met again earlier at Old Trafford earlier this month Huddersfield were lucky to avoid a hammering in a 2-0 loss.

One shot in the entire 90 minutes was all that Huddersfield mustered and last week's success over Bournemouth was a rare bright spot in a fairly miserable 2018 for Town.

Alex Pritchard, who opened the scoring in that win, is cup-tied, while key midfielder Aaron Mooy picked up an injury late on in that game too and before that Huddersfield had lost five Premier League matches in a row by an aggregate 14-1.

David Wagner's side have been victorious only four times in the Premier League since their famous slaying of United and their general record against the elite is understandably shoddy given the respective budgets available.

Huddersfield's eight games against the big six this season have tended to be mismatches with four goals scored and 23 conceded. Seven ended in defeat, six by at least two goals, and that points to United comfortably gaining revenge for their October horror show.

Mourinho was talking up his love for the FA Cup in his pre-match press conference and suggested he will pick a strong side, which is no great surprise given he did exactly the same in their triumphs over Derby (2-0) and Yeovil (4-0).

Their Champions League tie against Sevilla is not until Wednesday and their next Premier League game is on the Sunday before an eight-day break so it's not as if the squad is being pushed.

Last week's 1-0 defeat at Newcastle must be considered a negative, although home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka was inspired and on another day Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez could quite easily have filled their boots.

Paul Pogba was awful but he is a confirmed starter for this clash and despite this week's negative reports about the Frenchman and the Red Devils are usually a better side when the midfielder is involved.

United were only 4-11 to win the league game at Huddersfield and the 1-2 offered now seems fair enough given Pogba missed that game and Alexis Sanchez has since been added to the squad.

Manchester United -1 on Asian handicap
1pt 7-9 188Bet

Premier League standings

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Team news
Tommy Smith and Laurent Depoitre return but Aaron Mooy, Chris Lowe, Sean Scannell and Elias Kachunga are out. Alex Pritchard is cup-tied and Michael Hefele is doubtful because of illness.

Manchester United
Paul Pogba is a confirmed starter and Eric Bailly returns to the squad. Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marouane Fellaini are out.

Key stat
Huddersfield have conceded 23 goals in eight matches against the big six this season.

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Huddersfield's eight games against the big six this season have tended to be mismatches with four goals scored and 23 conceded
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