Derby County vs Manchester United Preview: Solskjaer's side must progress in FA Cup
Photo by Jan Kruger via Getty Images 

Manchester United continue their search for silverware on Thursday night, as the Reds travel to Pride Park to take on Derby County in the 5th round of the FA Cup.

United got to this stage after beating Tranmere Rovers about a month ago. Up against weaker opposition, the Red Devils put the game away early, and were able to get almost everyone on the scoresheet.

Harry Maguire broke the deadlock after only 10 minutes, unleashing a shot from distance that deflected before flying into the top corner. Diogo Dalot doubled the advantage only a few minutes later, cutting inside before picking out the bottom corner with a shot of his own.

The Red Devils made it three within 15 minutes, as Jesse Lingard curled a shot from the edge of the area into the back of the net.

They would get two more right before the end of the half. Phil Jones of all people would get in on the fun, heading home a well-taken corner from Andreas Pereira. Up next was Anthony Martial, who drove forward on the ball before seeing his shot deflect off a defender into the back of the net.

United would score one more before the day was done. Tahith Chong was taken down in the area, leaving the referee with no other choice than to point to the spot. Mason Greenwood stepped up and converted the resulting penalty, bringing the total amount of goals up to six to close out the contest.

Derby had a tougher time qualifying for the 5th round, but still managed to advance with relative ease.

Taking on League 2 side Northampton Town, the Rams opened the scoring at the half hour mark through defender Andre Wisdom, who reacted first to a loose ball in the area to poke home from close range. 

They would make it two only a few moments later, as Duane Holmes broke free on the counter attack before slotting past the goalkeeper. 

Northampton responded well, and grabbed one back minutes after the halftime break. Paul Anderson broke free down the wing before picking out Nicky Adams with a low cross, who made no mistake with the finish from a few yards out.

Derby didn’t let that phase them, as Jack Marriott headed home before Wayne Rooney rifled a penalty into the bottom corner.

Sam Hoskins scored a penalty of his own near the end of the game, but it was too little too late, as the Rams held on to book their spot in the 5th round.

Last time out

The last matchup between these two teams came about a year and a half ago in a different cup competition, as Derby knocked the Red Devils out of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford

It would be United who actually took the lead after only three minutes. Some really nice build-up play led to Juan Mata getting the ball on the ride hand side, and the diminutive Spaniard finished off the move in style, curling a shot into the bottom corner.

That goal would be upstaged at the hour mark, however, as the Rams equalized in stunning fashion. Winning a free-kick from about 35 yards out, Harry Wilson stepped up to take it. Instead of whipping in a cross, he took a shot that swerved around in the air before nestling into the top corner, leaving the goalkeeper helpless.

A moment of madness from Sergio Romero would put the Red Devils down a man, as he committed a blatant handball outside of the box to stop a counter-attack, which led to him seeing red. 

Derby thought they had made the most of the advantage when Jack Marriott pounced on a rebound late on, but Marouane Fellaini equalized in stoppage time, heading home in typical fashion.

Penalties would be needed to decide a winner, and it would be Scott Carson who was the hero on the day, denying Phil Jones to send the Rams into the next round of the tournament.

Predicted lineups

Derby County: Hamer, Bogle, Wisdom, Clarke, Forsyth, Bird, Rooney, Waghorn, Lawrence, Knight, Martin

Manchester United: Romero, Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams, Fred, Matic, Pereira, Mata, Igahlo, James

What to watch for

An old friend turned foe

After a brief spell in the United States with MLS side DC United, Wayne Rooney returned to England this past January, joining Derby as a player-coach. His signing has been a success for the club, as he’s already scored three times while bringing plenty of crucial experience to a young team building for the future.

All eyes will be on Rooney on Thursday night, as he takes on his former club. Making his name at Manchester United, the player was a star for over a decade at Old Trafford, and eventually became the Red Devils’ all-time leading goalscorer before his tenure was done.

That’s all in the past, however, and Rooney will now be focused on knocking out his old employers and dragging Derby into the quarterfinals of the FA Cup. There’s a decent chance they can pull off the upset, as United have been inconsistent this season, especially against teams who can sit back and hit on the counter.

He certainly wouldn’t celebrate it much, but it’s very likely that Rooney will be trying his best to score against United and knock them out of the tournament.

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