Birmingham Vs United Preview
Manchester United look to return to winning ways on Saturday against Birmingham after their shock FA Cup defeat to Leeds United and despite recent bad weather, the fixture has been given the green light to go ahead.
The reds travel to St Andrews knowing that McLeish’s men are not only top of the form table but also unbeaten in twelve games. The blues’ run also includes draws against: Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool and their home record is even more impressive as they are unbeaten since September.
The reds, meanwhile, have been plagued by an inconsistent run in recent weeks. Last Sunday Sir Alex’s men went out of the FA Cup at the hands of Leeds United: less than a week earlier, United put five past Wigan and, on Boxing Day, three past Hull City.
Although United’s injury crisis has eased in recent weeks Rio Ferdinand (back), Owen Hargreaves (knee) and John O’Shea (thigh) are still out with their respective injuries but Ferdinand is only two weeks away from a possible return. Owen Hargreaves has recently also returned to training with the reserves. Sir Alex had another blow after the defeat against Leeds United when Nemanja Vidic (leg) was told he’d been out for ten to twelve days. Edwin Van Der Sar is also still on Compassionate leave but his wife has successfully recovered from her condition so the Dutch goalie will be back soon. Likewise, Birmingham have also got severe injury concerns with Lee Carsley (ankle),Stuart Parnaby (back), Gary O’Connor (hip) and long-term lay-offs Teemu Tianio (knee) and David Murphy (knee) all out.
Birmingham’s recent good form has been based on a very successful back five which all starts from goalkeeper Joe Hart. The on loan Manchester City stopper has been very consistent in recent weeks but Hart will have to be on top form if he’s to keep the red’s forward line from scoring.
Likely Line Ups
Man Utd: Kuszczak, Neville, Brown, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs, Rooney, Owen.
Birmingham City: Hart, Carr, Dann, Johnson, Ridgewell, Murphy, Larsson, Bowyer, Ferguson, Jerome, Benitiez
Mark Clattenburg. The Tyneside official has taken charge of United twice already this season, both times at Old Trafford. In those games – v Tottenham in the Carling Cup and v Bolton in the league – he’s not issued a single caution. Let’s hope there’s no need to reach for the cards on Saturday, either.