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The oldest cup competition Newport County vs Manchester United: Preview

The FA Cup, the oldest cup competition in the world Newport County vs Manchester United, is set to resume its action this week with the fourth round. This competition highlights the David vs Goliath matches, where fans can witness small teams taking on the giants. One such match will take place between League Two minnows Newport County and giants Manchester United. The match will be held at the Rodney Parade ground and promises to showcase the uniqueness of the FA Cup.

The Newport County fans and players will be thrilled to have a significant match in the FA Cup against a prestigious opponent. This will be the first time these two teams will compete, and a place in the fifth round is at stake. Even though the Exiles are the underdogs in this game, Manchester United’s turbulent season may provide them with hope of causing a major upset.

It is not unheard of in knockout competitions, and the FA Cup especially has a knack of kicking up a surprise every now and then. Newport were last in action against Wrexham away in the league, winning 1-0 after taking an early lead in the game. The hosts were reduced to 10 men just past the half-hour mark which made the task easier for the Exiles and they held on to their lead for a valuable three points. They now sit just six points off the last playoff spots, and fans are hoping they can make up the ground to put their name in the hat for an unlikely promotion push.

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Manager Graham Couhglan, a self-confessed United fan, has insisted that Sunday’s game will be the biggest game in Newport County’s history, and that the Red Devils will have to endure a tough and hostile atmosphere at Rodney Parade on Sunday.

The Exiles find themselves in some good form with a run of seven games without defeat in all competitions and just two defeats in the last 14 games in all competitions. They have won the last two FA Cup rounds through replays, drawing against Barnet in the second round before defeating them 4-1 in the replay, and drawing to National League side Eastleigh in the third round before a replay win set up their clash against Manchester United.

All the talk about Man United coming into this game have been about their off-field appointments, as INEOS took charge of the footballing side of the club by naming Manchester City’s Chief of Football Operations, Omar Berrada as their new CEO. In the days following the announcement of the appointment, many high-level executives have also been relieved of their duties by INEOS, putting forth a statement of intent and heralding a new era at the club.

On field, Manchester United have more pressure on them than ever heading into the tie, as the FA Cup remains their only realistic chance at silverware this season. Their dismal start to the season means that they have already crashed out of Europe and the Carabao Cup, and are a whopping 16 points behind league leaders Liverpool at the halfway stage of the season.

Man United are in danger of missing out on a top-four spot as well, sitting 11 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, and Erik ten Hag’s men will have to get their act together as soon as possible if they are to challenge for a UCL spot for next season. However, for now they turn their attention to the FA Cup, as a trip to South Wales awaits them this weekend.

The Red Devils have been afforded a cool two-week break before their cup game and with several players returning from long-term injuries, Erik ten Hag may be tempted to name a strong lineup at Rodney Parade. United are in a poor run of form right now, having won only two of their last eight games in all competitions, with their last win coming against League One strugglers Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup third round.

Their last game was against Tottenham Hotspur at home as they produced a much better display, but could not prevail over Ange Postecoglu’s side. The hosts twice took the lead, only to be pegged back minutes later, and the spoils were ultimately shared at Old Trafford on a cold January night.

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WHEN AND WHERE?

Date: Sunday, 28th January 2024.
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport, South Wales.
Time: 4.30 pm GMT.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: David Coote.
Assistant referees: Timothy Wood & Craig Taylor.
Fourth official: Andrew Kitchen

TEAM NEWS

For Newport County, only defenders Josh Seberry and Declan Drysdale are confirmed absentees, with manager Graham Coughlan set to have a near full-strength squad to choose from. Kyle Jameson is a doubt for the game, but should recover in time to make the squad on Sunday.

Manchester United have received several boosts this month, with various long term absentees returning. Prime among them were defender Lisandro Martinez, who came on as a substitute two weeks ago against Tottenham Hotspurs, and midfield juggernaut Casemiro who was an unused substitute in the same again. Besides them, defenders Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire also returned to full training in the last week, providing Erik ten Hag with a few more options for his defense on Sunday.

However, Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount and Victor Lindelof remain out for some more time, whereas Anthony Martial will be sidelined till April after United confirmed the Frenchman had undergone surgery amidst rumors that he will leave the club in the January transfer window. Further, with the AFCON underway simultaneously, both Andre Onana and Sofyan Amrabat will be out for atleast one more game. That means second-choice keeper Altay Bayindir may be in line to make his debut for the club, having not made a single appearance since his arrival in September.

KEY PLAYERS

Rasmus Højlund

A goal and assist in his last outing against Tottenham Hotspurs, Højlund has started to show why United paid around €75 million for him, and why he is one for the future. The 20-year-old has shown a knack for getting in to good positions inside the box and has showcased his dribbling skills, tricking defenders with his devilish pace and quick feet.

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Despite ending the UCL group stage as the overall top-scorer, he found it tough to find the net in the Premier League, and went 14 league games without a goal, before finally scoring against Aston Villa in a 3-2 comeback win on Boxing Day. He then scored his second in two games against Tottenham Hotspurs inside the first three minutes as he gave Manchester United a crucial lead. With Anthony Martial out of action till April, it falls upon the young shoulders of Højlund to lead a United attack that has been out of sorts this season.

He remains the only recognized striker at the club that is fit, and Erik ten Hag will be hoping he can be available and injury-free for the rest of the season.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Newport County XI: Nick Townsend; Shane McLoughlin, Ryan Delaney, James Clarke, Scot Bennett, Adam Lewis; Bryn Morris, Henry Charsley, Aaron Wildig; Seb Palmer-Houlden, Will Evans.

Manchester United XI: Altay Bayindir; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw; Kobbie Mainoo, Casemiro; Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Rasmus Højlund.

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