Back Manchester United to tame the Shrews and ensure FA Cup progressPublished February 13, 2016
This is a dream FA Cup draw for League One Shrewsbury Town financially and a game which, given Manchester United’s current problems, is one that they will consider they have a realistic, albeit slender, chance of winning.
Shrewsbury have already accounted for two Championship teams in their run to the 5th round, with a 1-0 victory away to Cardiff City in the 3rd round being followed by an excellent 3-2 win at home to in-form Sheffield Wednesday, during which they twice came from behind and scored twice in the final three-minutes to progress.
League form is more mixed and despite Saturday’s 3-2 win away to fellow strugglers Blackpool, they are only three-points above the drop-zone. They’ve also lost a league high 10 of their 15 home matches to date. Greenhous Meadow Stadium has been no fortress this season.
For Manchester United this is the last of four successive away fixtures. They were a tad unfortunate to only take a point from a 1-1 draw at Chelsea, but then reverted back to their bad old ways with a lacklustre second-half performance in going down 2-1 at relegation-threatened Sunderland on Saturday. On Thursday night they travelled to Denmark for Europa League action against FC Midtjylland where they were beaten 2-1. Just to put that defeat into perspective. Midtjylland had not played competitively for 2 months (winter break) and had won once in ten games before that.
The Europa League is probably the Red Devils primary goal as things stand but, presuming he hasn’t lost his job in the meantime, Louis Van Gaal certainly can’t afford to take the FA Cup lightly. Defeat at Shrewsbury would be unthinkable from the viewpoint of the supporters and the club’s hierarchy and would surely spell the end of Van Gaal.
The Dutchman has selected strong teams in each of the last two rounds against lower league opposition (Sheffield United in the 3rd round and Derby County in the 4th round), so he isn’t going to change now.
Taking into account Shrewsbury’s poor home record and the fact they have leaked 51 goals in 31 League One games this season, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and co. should have too much for Micky Mellon’s men. The importance of FA Cup progress to Van Gaal and Manchester United really should see them home with something to spare, even if there are a few uncomfortable moments along the way.
It’s difficult to see an upset here and backing Manchester United at -1.5 on the Asian Handicap looks a reasonable shout. It pays out on any Manchester United victory by a two-goal margin or more.