• FA Cup preview

United's Treble hunt continues

ESPN staff
February 15, 2013
Greatest FA Cup comebacks

The FA Cup ties of Luton v Millwall, Manchester City v Leeds and Manchester United v Reading are all exclusively live on ESPN. Click here for details on how to subscribe

The FA Cup hits the fifth round stage and it's now starting to get serious. We've had shocks aplenty on the run to this stage, but Wembley is certainly in sight now.

Three of the biggest ties of the round in 2013 will be shown live on ESPN, with both of Manchester's big guns falling under the glare of the ESPN cameras - while the competition's fairytale team - Luton Town - will look to pull off another shock.

Luton v Millwall - Live on ESPN

Form: Luton are the one remaining side from outside the league structure in the competition and they have made waves all the way through, notably taking the scalp of Premier League opposition in Norwich in the previous round. Since that win, though, it's fair to say the Hatters have taken their eye off the ball. They've lost three and drawn one and are now seventh in the Blue Square Premier table. A crumb of comfort for Luton is that Millwall are in worse form. Since beating Aston Villa, they've lost three on the spin.
Key battle: Alex Lawless returns from suspension for Luton and the midfielder's dynamic play will be a potent weapon. He scored the winner against Wolves in round three and Millwall's midfield will have to be on alert. In James Henry, the Lions have a dynamic midfield force of their own and whoever sees most of the ball could be key.
Player to watch: Scott Rendell. The forward has 11 goals to his name this term, notably the winner against Norwich in round four, which he summed up as saying "it was a better feeling than sex." Who are we to argue? Luton fended off interest in Rendell in January but he has ambitions to play league football and the ESPN cameras will provide a showcase.
Talking point: No matter how hard these two sides have tried to focus on the game, the spectre of 1985 still hovers. An FA Cup sixth round meeting 28 years ago saw one of British football's ugliest moments as the Kenilworth Road riot, as it became known, saw hordes of Millwall supporters clash with police and Luton fans. 47 people were injured, 33 of them police officers. Let's hope the post-game talk is about events on the pitch.
Bet of the day: Rendell is a man on a mission in the FA Cup and he is 14/1 with bet 365 to bag two or more goals with bet365.
Prediction: 2-1

Manchester City v Leeds United - Live on ESPN

Form: Form is not really a topic City boss Roberto Mancini will want to talk about as they have dropped off the title pace of Manchester United after taking just two points from the past nine available. It's been a season of upheaval for Leeds, with a change of ownership, and since beating Tottenham in the previous round they have lost two and drawn one.
Key battle: This is City's only realistic chance of silverware this season and Mancini is likely to field a strong side. They have looked fragile defensively but Vincent Kompany is likely to be back in the fold, having been sidelined by a calf problem, to add some steel. With Luciano Becchio having moved on, Luke Varney will carry the attacking threat for Leeds and his direct play will be the main worry for City.
Player to watch: Mancini could make life difficult by making wholesale changes, but it is expected he will field a strong side. Carlos Tevez was absent for the loss to Southampton due to family reasons, but he is back in the fold and his never-say-die attitude could be just what City need in their bid to avoid a major shock.
Talking point: Thirteen years ago these two sides met in the FA Cup and it was role reversal at the turn of the century. At that time, Leeds were battling for Premier League glory and City were languishing way down the football ladder. Leeds romped to a 5-2 win. Don't expect a repeat, but any kind of shock could see the noose tighten round Mancini's neck as he desperately needs to take something from this season.
Bet of the day: City have had some surprise defeats this season but don't expect a repeat and Carlos Tevez is the man in the frame to bag the first goal, 3/1 with bet 365
Prediction: 3-0

Manchester United v Reading - Live on ESPN

Will Javier Hernandez get the chance to showcase his scoring talent in front of the ESPN cameras? © Getty Images

Form: United have bigger fish to fry, notably the battle with Real Madrid in the Champions League, but the 12-point lead in the Premier League allows Sir Alex Ferguson the luxury of being able to field strong sides in the FA Cup. The Reds Devils are top of the form table and you have to go back to the start of December for their last defeat in any competition. United may be the hottest side in the country, but Reading are not too far behind. They do not have the resources of United, but prior to their loss to Stoke last week the Royals had been on a six-game unbeaten run (five wins).
Key battle: Ferguson has confirmed he will shuffle his pack so expect to see plenty of changes from the team that drew with Real Madrid. Nemanja Vidic sat out the game in Spain, with Ferguson not prepared to risk the Serb, but expect him to be involved. He will likely have his hands full as Adam Le Fondre has been in red hot form for the Royals. He has seven goals in his last seven games and will look to expose any fragility in Vidic.
Player to watch: Javier Hernandez has found starts tough to come by since the arrival of Robin van Persie but his ability in front of goal is undiminished. Ferguson could let the Mexican loose on Reading and if he does expect him to make it clear that he is primed and ready for duty.
Talking point: Back in 1999, Manchester United made off with the Treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup. The Premier League is virtually in the bag, while they are well placed to progress to the quarter-finals in Europe. So Treble talk is on, but will Reading crash the party?
Bet of the day: For all United are in sizzling form, they have conceded an alarming number of early goals. Take United to win after falling behind, 6/1 with bet 365
Prediction: 3-1

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