Huddersfield v Manchester United
Saturday 17 February, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 2
Corner turned for the Terriers
Following their 4-1 FA Cup fourth round replay win against Birmingham at St Andrews, the Terriers beat Bournemouth by the same score at the John Smith's Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday. That was the first time they'd won back-to-back matches since August, so they come in to tomorrow's fifth round tie in some sort of form.
Prior to the Birmingham win, Huddersfield's sole success in 2018 had been a 2-1 victory in round three at Bolton and their 2-0 loss at Old Trafford at the start of the month was their fifth league defeat in-a-row. Knowing they needed to inject some impetuous, David Wagner picked a fairly strong side for the replay at St Andrews, recalling Tom Ince, Arron Mooy and top-scorer, Steve Mounié, and it did the trick.
Momentum was carried forward nicely against Bournemouth, with January signing, Alex Pritchard, getting off the mark and influencing the game and this tie comes at just the wrong time. Wagner has been a pack shuffler when it comes to the cup competitions and he's faced with the decision of trying to maintain the fragile momentum or making sweeping changes to predict the squad for the survival battle ahead. Staying in the Premier League must be the priority and I suspect he'd rather be carrying the new-found form into a vital league match instead of an FA Cup clash.
Massive match for Mourinho's men
Defeats against Spurs and Newcastle have all but ended any chance United had of catching Manchester City in the Premier League and even their most ardent fans would imagine Champions League success somewhat implausible, so this is far and away their most realistic chance of a trophy this season.
Mourinho didn't mess about in rounds three or four, fielding strong sides to see off Derby at Old Trafford and Yeovil at Huish Park and we can expect to see the big guns out here too, but preparations haven't been ideal. Injures to Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford are a hindrance and rumours of a rift between the manager and Paul Pogba can't be construed as a positive.
With a Champions League round of 16 tie away to Sevilla looming large on Wednesday and a trip to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League also on the horizon, it's important that United get back on track but it isn't going to be easy.
Nothing to fear for the home side
The Terriers have more than held their own at home against both Manchester clubs of late, so they won't be fearing the visit of United. They held City to a 0-0 draw at home at this stage of the FA Cup last season, before losing the replay 5-1, and they beat United 2-1 in the Premier League in October before they gave the runaway leaders an almighty scare the following month.
A Nicolas Otamendi own goal on the stroke of half-time saw the Terriers leading at the break (the only time City have trailed in the Premier League at halftime this season) before a Sergio Aguero penalty and a somewhat fortuitous late Raheem Sterling strike cruelly denied the home side.
United too short at long odds-on
Huddersfield haven't reached the FA Cup quarter-finals since the 1971-72 campaign, losing each of their last five fifth-round ties, and Man Utd have progressed past the fifth-round on each of the last eight occasions they've reached this stage, so the stats are very much on the side of the favourites but whether they're worth risking at long odds-on is debatable.
United's form hasn't been terrific of late and this is a genuine chance for a Cup upset. It's tempting to take on the Red Devils but not knowing whether Wagner will rest key players for the all-important Premier League run-in or whether he'll keep the side strong to try and maintain momentum makes this a tricky match to evaluate and I'd rather look at the side markets for value.
Cagey start expected
All three of Huddersfield's FA Cup matches this season have begun slowly and so have United's two ties.
The Terriers were drawing 0-0 at Bolton before winning 2-1 in round three, they drew 0-0 at home against Birmingham in round four and that was the score at the break at St Andrews in the replay before the game ended 1-1.
United led Yeovil 1-0 away in round four at halftime but it took until the 41st minute for the deadlock to be broken and they didn't score against Derby in the third round until the 84th minute.
The 2/1 about a 0-0 score line is attractive given four of the five FA Cup games these two teams have been involved in this season have ended goalless at the break and an examination of their Premier League records doesn't put me off either.
The Terriers have been involved in 11 games that have been goalless at halftime and ten of United's 27 games have been 0-0 at the break.