The FA Cup has once again thrown up an intriguing fixture, possible banana skin, and a game that could not have come at a worse time for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. The under-fire Norwegian takes his Manchester United team to Prenton Park on Sunday to face League One Tranmere Rovers in the fourth round of the oldest cup competition in the world.
Here we preview the game and offer the best live betting tips.
Tranmere currently sit in the League One relegation zone, having won just five of their 25 league games since promotion from League Two last season. Their last league win was a 1-0 victory against AFC Wimbledon at home in December, and they had been on a run of seven games without a win in all competitions.
However, they enjoyed success on Thursday night when they beat Premier League, Watford, in their third-round replay. In the original game at Vicarage Road, Tranmere had found themselves 3-0 down at half-time, but fought back brilliantly to draw 3-3 in the final few moments thanks to goals from Connor Jennings, Emmanuel Monthe and Paul Mullin.
The replay was equally dramatic after going to extra-time. Monthe had given Tranmere a first half lead, but Kaylen Hinds equalised to extend the tie by 30 minutes. However, Paul Mullin was the hero again, heading the winning goal to set up the fourth-round game against United for Micky Mellon’s side.
Manchester United have lost three of their last four Premier League games 2-0, including a humbling defeat against Burnley at Old Trafford in midweek. They still sit in fifth place, but are six points off a top four place, and with unrest continuing to grow amongst the home faithful, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is coming under increasing pressure.
United were also taken to a replay in the third round of the FA Cup after a forgettable 0-0 draw with Wolves at Molyneux. The replay wasn’t particularly exciting either, but Juan Mata scored for the Red Devils with just over 20 minutes remaining to book their place in the fourth round.
These two clubs have only met once before in their history. It was a second round League Cup match in 1976. Goals from Gerry Daly (2), Stuart Pearson, Gordon Hill and Lou Macari earned United a 5-0 win at Old Trafford in front of a crowd of 37,586.
Tranmere did face United’s Under-23 side in December 2019 at Prenton Park in the Football League Trophy, winning 3-2.
Tranmere have not won any of their last eight games within 90 minutes in all competitions, drawing four and losing four. In the FA Cup, they have lost just one of their previous 10 games, although it was a 7-0 defeat to Tottenham at Prenton Park last season.
In eight of Rovers last nine games in all competitions, both teams have scored, however, Tranmere have only kept two home clean sheets all season.
Manchester United have won the FA Cup 12 times, but they have only won two of their last nine games away from home this season, and average just one goal per away game in the Premier League this campaign.
Emmanuel Monthe has scored three goals in four FA Cup appearances, whilst also picking up three yellow cards in this season’s competition.
A game that nobody at Manchester United, from the supporters up to the board, would have wanted. A cold January Sunday at a packed out Prenton Park on a pitch that is far from what United are used to playing on. Watford, who have been in excellent form in the Premier League, came unstuck there on Thursday, and it could now be the turn of Manchester United.
Rovers have nothing to lose, whilst their low in confidence visitors have almost everything to lose. We expect a tight, tense game, and can see this going to a replay.
Get the 1-1 draw @17/2 with xxx
Paul Mullin to score anytime is 7/2 with xxx
Anthony Martial to score 2 goals or more is 4/1 with xxx
Get over 1.5 first half goals @7/5 with xxx
Anytime own goal is 8/1 with xxx