Manchester United face Tranmere Rovers in an FA Cup fourth-round tie which could show what the rest of the season may hold for the Red Devils. They currently look to have no point to their attack following the injury of Marcus Rashford, and with no transfers looking particularly likely this window, United may be relying on just the current squad to get the through the rest of the season. This game will be an insight as to whether what we saw in their previous game against Burnley, the inability to put away the few chances, will be a recurring theme or whether it was a one-off.
Manchester United Face Tranmere Rovers in FA Cup
Manchester United’s recent form is anything but good. Since the new year, United have won just two of their seven games, which include losses to Manchester City and Burnley. With the Clarets being both their most recent game and probably their worst performance, United’s lack of Rashford will be up for analysis once again, this time against slightly lesser opposition in the form of Tranmere.
Currently in the relegation zone of League One, Tranmere Rovers are in rather dismal form as well. Their last league win came against fellow relegation battlers AFC Wimbledon, and you have to go back to the beginning of November to find a league win before that. This made it all the more shocking when they pulled off their incredible FA Cup upset beating Watford. This set up a dream home tie where Manchester United will travel to Tranmere. They will play in the Superwhites’ home, Prenton Park, which has a higher capacity than Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.
While neither team is hitting this game in tremendous form, the stats will give both of them hope.
Since the beginning of the Premier League era, no team to have ever played in the division has knocked out more top-flight opposition than Tranmere, with seven. Furthermore, the Superwhites have not lost in their last four fourth-round FA Cup fixtures. They last lost in the 1994/95 season against Wimbledon.
Tranmere may have a good record in the fourth round, but United’s is better. The Red Devils have gotten through on 14 of the last 15 occasions, their only loss coming against Liverpool late into Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. United also do not tend to lose to opposition from lower leagues in this competition. In their last 52 FA Cup matches against these teams, Manchester United have lost just one, against Leeds United.
Although Tranmere Rovers don’t go into this game with many injury troubles, United certainly do.
Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba are long term absentees, and Marcus Rashford recently joined them. Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe are also out having been sidelined for some time. Timothy Fosu-Mensah will have a late fitness test and may feature.
Victor Lindelof has recently returned from illness but may be rested for the trip to Tranmere.
It seems highly likely that Tranmere will absorb United’s pressure and try to hit them on the break. This could turn out to work perfectly for the Superwhites.
Manchester United will struggle to break Tranmere Rovers down without creative midfielder Pogba and top scorer Rashford. There are two routes this game is most likely to take.
If Manchester United manage to score an early goal, it will be hard for Tranmere to get back at them with their defensive plan. They managed to come from three down, however, to draw with Watford and set up a replay. While it may be slightly harder to do this to United, it is not entirely out of the question.
This game could also prove frustrating for the Manchester side. Tranmere’s defensive strategy may prove effective and could see United failing to break it down. Tranmere have shown that they can score against Premier League opposition twice against Watford, and they may be able to hit the Red Devils with a late goal.
Despite being such a big occasion for Tranmere, this game may be more important for United. They need to show that they can perform with their best players out, and if they can’t against a side from League One, then they will struggle even more in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men need to prove that they can play well without key players, and they will attempt to do so when Manchester United face Tranmere Rovers in this decisive clash.