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Manchester United can avoid FA Cup shock

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.

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Match in Focus

13:00 TODAY BBC1

England v Panama

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • England are unbeaten in their last 11 matches
Expert verdict
There were plenty of positives for England to take out of their World Cup opener and they can follow it up with a much more comfortable success over Panama. England have been starting games at a very quick tempo and should soon gain the ascendancy against an ordinary Panama side, who have very little scope to improve.