Manchester United are away to Championship side Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday night.
Wayne Rooney has been making the headlines since joining the Rams at the start of the year, dragging them from relegation contenders to mid-table. The former United star has been playing a central midfield role for Phillip Cocu’s side, putting in a number of man of the match performances for the East Midlands club.
The 34-year-old has three goals and two assists in his 11 Championship starts, and also scored a free kick in the 4-2 win over Northampton Town in their fourth round replay to setup this tie.
However, Derby County have little else to shout about. Martyn Waghorn is the club’s top scorer but several of his 12 goals have actually come from the penalty spot. Former United youngster Tom Lawrence has a further nine goals from midfield, though is a very inconsistent players.
Derby’s achilles heel is their defence. They are without a clean sheet in their last six Championship matches and have conceded 49 goals in their 36 matches to date. Captain Richard Keogh departed back in October following an embarrassing incident for the club. They have been left with Curtis Davies, Matthew Clarke and then full-backs Craig Forsyth and Andre Wisdom spending time in the middle of a back four.
Cocu’s side lack an outright defensive midfielder to protect their back four either. Teenager Max Bird has impressed here but remains very inexperienced. Tom Huddlestone, Graeme Shinnie and George Evans have played here without being defensive minded. Club record signing Krystian Bielik is injured.
We’ve found our form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the signing of Bruno Fernandes at the end of January. A top four finish in the Premier League, success in the Europa League and/or winning the FA Cup are all real possibilities. Seeing off Derby County at Pride Park on Thursday night should be no problem at all…