Manchester United v Reading: Key battles

Jesse Lingard was the hero of Manchester United's FA Cup triumph last May, when he scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.
Jesse Lingard was the hero of Manchester United's FA Cup triumph last May, when he scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.PHOTO: REUTERS

JESSE LINGARD V TYLER BLACKETT

Lingard's career highlight is clear: the 110th-minute volley that flew past Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey at Wembley last May. Now the man who secured United's first FA Cup in 12 years may face a former FA Youth Cup-winning team-mate. Blackett, an early favourite of Louis van Gaal, made 12 appearances for United. Mourinho offloaded him.

WAYNE ROONEY V PAUL MCSHANE

Rooney has missed United's last three matches and ended last year with just four goals in his last 33 club games. This should be a chance to ensure 2017 is better as he is set to lead the line. The committed, if accident- prone, Ireland international McShane was a 2003 FA Youth Cup winner with United but never made a first-team appearance.

CHRIS SMALLING V YANN KERMORGANT

Smalling became the first Englishman ever to be sent off in the FA Cup final in May. If Phil Jones or Marcos Rojo are rested, he could begin this game and must hope to end it.

The 35-year-old Kermorgant, a good friend of Arsenal's Olivier Giroud, has found form with three goals in two games. He isn't quick, but offers an aerial threat.

Richard Jolly

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2017, with the headline 'Manchester United v Reading: Key battles'. Print Edition | Subscribe