Evening all! Sports Mole
's FA Cup
coverage continues from the iPro Stadium as Derby County
welcome 11-time winners Manchester United
in the fourth round of the competition. As the pressure builds on Louis van Gaal
, the Man United boss can ill afford defeat tonight. It should be a real cracker from the most famous cup competition in English football! Championship meets Premier League tonight.
It will not come as much of a surprise to learn that Man United have dominated the overall meetings between the two teams. The Red Devils have won 11 of their last 19 matches against Derby, losing just three times in the process. What's more, Derby have lost all six of their previous FA Cup meetings with Man United – the last of which was a 4-1 fifth-round defeat in February 2009.
Right, let me bring you up-to-speed with the team news from the iPro stadium. Have Man United managed to get a back four together or will I need to step in? Let's take a look shall we...
DERBY: Carson; Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Johnson, Butterfield, Thorne; Ince, Martin, Blackman
UNITED: De Gea; Varela, Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson; Fellaini, Schneiderlin; Lingard, Mata, Martial; Rooney
So there we have it. Derby boss Paul Clement has somewhat surprisingly named an unchanged team from the one that lost 4-1 against Burnley on Monday, meaning that new signing Marcus Olsson will have to wait for his debut. Chris Martin will once again lead the line with support from both Tom Ince and Nick Blackman, while the vastly experienced Stephen Warnock captains the hosts from left-back.
As for Man United, head coach Van Gaal has made two changes from the 1-0 defeat against Southampton last time out. Guillermo Varela replaces the injured Matteo Darmian at right-back, while Juan Mata
comes in for Ander Herrera. Wayne Rooney
will captain the side from the tip of the attack once again, while Adnan Januzaj and Memphis Depay have both been named on the bench.
So there we have it. The two teams are in and we are now around 35 minutes from kickoff on this mild evening in the north of England. As expected, there is already a wonderful atmosphere inside and indeed outside the stadium and the home supporters have every right to be confident ahead of the match. This is a wounded Man United, however, who could be ready to respond in style. Maybe Van Gaal will send out a free-flowing and attacking team tonight? No? Does not sound right does it!
Derby's sole success in the FA Cup came 70 years ago, with the Rams beating Charlton Athletic in the 1946 final. They were knocked out of last season's competition by fellow Championship side Reading, but advanced to the fourth round this time around courtesy of a 2-1 victory at Hartlepool United in round three. Just a reminder that there is a new face in the Derby squad tonight...
Clement's side are currently in a sticky run of form, however, and will enter this match off the back of a 4-1 defeat at Burnley in the Championship on Monday night. That result left them in fifth position in the table, but they are just seven points off first, which is currently occupied by Hull City.
The Rams had an excellent November and December, only losing once over the two months, but they have only won one of their five matches in 2015 and that was the victory at Hartlepool in the last round of the cup. In the league, they have been beaten by Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and Burnley.
Derby have only lost two of their 14 home games this season, however, recording seven wins in the process. There is no question that gaining promotion from the Championship is their main focus this season, but the chance to get one over on Man United and advance into the fifth round is a huge carrot for the club. The stadium continues to fill up as kickoff edges closer here!
Man United boss Van Gaal faced the media ahead of this match on Thursday and was forced to deny reports that he has offered to resign on three separate occasions since last month. The Dutchman also spoke of the support from vice-chairman Ed Woodward, suggesting that the experienced manager is safe in the Old Trafford hot-seat, despite reports claiming that he is under severe pressure.
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That said, the fans are painting a different picture and defeat tonight would raise more questions. The Red Devils have actually only lost one of their last 44 FA Cup games against lower-league opposition, however, and only Arsenal (12) have won this competition more times.
The Premier League giants have not won the FA Cup since the 2003-04 season, however, when they beat Millwall 3-0 in the final. Last season, they were knocked out by Arsenal, but will feel that they have a chance of going all the way this time around. It is unlikely that they will challenge for the league title, leaving the FA Cup and Europa League as the two major trophies on offer.
Whatever way it is dressed up, it has been a poor season for Man United in the league. Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Southampton left Van Gaal's side in fifth position in the table – five points off the top four and 10 points off the league leaders Leicester. They have only won 10 of their 23 league games this season and scored just 28 times, which is incredible for a Man United team.
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Man United also needed a late Rooney penalty to overcome Sheffield United in round three of the FA Cup. It has been a pretty good 2016 for Van Gaal's side on paper – winning three of their five matches and losing just once, but the performances continue to raise question marks.
It is a massive few weeks for the 20-time English champions, who will welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford in the Premier League next Tuesday, before travelling to Chelsea next weekend. Then comes a trip to Sunderland in the league, before their Europa League challenge gets underway against Midtjylland.
Can Man United afford to lose this match? No. Will they? Not for me. I am not expecting a classic end-to-end match, far from it, but I just think that the visitors will do enough to pick up the win. We shall learn about their character tonight, that is for sure. United 2-1.
KICKOFF! Here we go then - both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. As expected, there is a wonderful noise inside the stadium. Would it actually be that much of a shock if Derby won tonight? Not really! Right, it is the home side that get the action underway...
... both sets of supporters are in fine voice in the early moments here and it will not come as much of a surprise to learn that Man United have had most of the ball in the opening two minutes.
Fellaini attempts to burst away down the left and the Derby fans enjoy the Belgian running the ball straight out. Man United have more than 5,000 fans here tonight and the message is clear from the stands - the support will always remain. It has been a better start from the away side.
CHANCE! Man United have a wonderful chance to open the scoring as Rooney sets up Martial inside the box, but the Frenchman curls his effort over the crossbar!
All Man United early on here as they pass and probe in Derby's half of the field.
Plenty happening in the middle of the park in the early moments as both teams battle for possession. Tom Ince managed to break away down the left, but the attacker could not evade the challenge of Schneiderlin. Down the other end, Mata cannot find Martial with a searching pass.
Pass, pass, pass from Man United as they look for gaps in the final third of the field.
Johnson looks to get Blackman away down the left for the home side, but the through pass is too strong and De Gea is out to clear. Derby are happy to sit in and absorb the pressure at the moment, but Man United do seem to be finding space, particularly in wide areas with Martial.
Half-chance for the home side as Christie meets a loose ball outside the Man United box, but his effort was always straight down the throat of De Gea, who quickly releases down the left.
Man United continue to slow the game down in the final third as they look for that eye-of-the-needle pass, but Derby have bodies back and continue to clear down-field. Teams continue to frustrate Man United and it is not much of a surprise that Derby have adopted that tactic tonight.
Half-chance for the away side as Rooney lines one up outside the box, but his effort hits a defender before the offside flag is raised. The visitors are in control at the moment here.
GOAL! Derby 0-1 Man United (Rooney)
Oh my word what a goal! Rooney sends Man United ahead as the England captain collects a pass from Martial before settling and bending one into the far corner. It is a sensational strike!
There was a hint of offside about the goal, but the advantage is supposed to go with the attackers and therefore he might have been just on. Man United are good value for the lead.
Derby are just struggling to get in the game at the moment as Man United continue to crowd the space all over the park. The home side need to find a way of getting both Blackman and Ince in the match because the two wingers have not really been involved in the opening 21 minutes here.
SAVE! De Gea is forced to drop to the ground and keep out a powerful header from Blackman, who had risen above Varela at the far post. That has raised the home supporters!
Man United break immediately, but Martial's strike is deflected into Carson's arms.
You just get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - could be vital in terms of the final result. If Man United can score a second then I would find it difficult to see Derby responding, but a home goal would raise the supporters and place the Rams on the front foot.
The away supporters have not stopped singing in the opening 27 tonight and their team are in full control of matters at the moment. Man United needed a positive start in this match and that has indeed been the case as they continue to move the ball quickly in the final third of the field.
Giggsy has spotted something interesting...
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Not an awful lot to report in terms of action in the last few minutes, with Man United dominating possession all over the park. Derby just cannot get out at the moment and when they manage to steal the ball, there are not many options in the final third. All going Man United's way at the moment.
Man United, backed by their vocal support, continue to threaten in the final third as Martial breaks away down the left, before Varela beats his full-back on the opposite side. Neither attack comes to anything, but the threat is very apparent. Derby are just not in this football match here.
Super football from Man United as Martial, Mata and Rooney all combine, but the former's first touch is just too strong and Derby survive. Much better work in the final third of the field.
Little under 10 minutes of the first period remaining and the only thing missing for the visitors is a second goal. Derby have not had a single chance of note since Blackman tested De Gea.
Another half-chance for the visitors as Varela sets up Martial at the far post, but the Frenchman's volley strikes a defender and Lingard cannot fashion anything from the rebound.
GOAL! Derby 1-1 Man United (Thorne)
Derby level the scores in the 37th minute as Thorne collects a chipped pass from Martin before poking the ball past De Gea. A goal completely against the flow of this match!
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Man United as Martial drives down the left and delivers right onto Rooney's boot, but Warnock comes from nowhere to clear! Some defending!
The home supporters have woken up in the last few minutes and why not? Their team has started to become involved in this match. Man United's character will again be tested tonight, but it has been a decent response since they conceded to that smart finish from Thorne.
Smalling is forced to produce a wonderful challenge on Martin after Mata lost possession outside the box. Derby are really pressing the ball at the moment as we approach the break.
CLOSE! Blackman swings a strike just wide of De Gea's post!
HALF-TIME: Derby 1-1 Man United
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 1-1. Man United, who have dominated much of the first period, took the lead in the 16th minute when Rooney bent an unstoppable effort into the top corner, but Derby found a leveller in the latter stages of the half when Thorne poked the ball past De Gea after some poor marking from Man United.
STATS! Man United have dominated the possession with 67%, while they have had six attempts - two of which were on target. Derby, meanwhile, have hit the target with three of their four attempts. No yellow cards thus far and in truth, there has hardly been a challenge of real note at the iPro.
BENCH WATCH! Derby are not exactly flush with attacking options on their bench tonight, but new signing Olsson is available alongside Hendrick and Russell. Man United, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Depay, Herrera, Januzaj and Pereira. Plenty in reserve for Van Gaal!
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RESTART! Here we go then - both sets of players re-join us on the pitch for the second period. Will there be more goals at the iPro Stadium? We shall see. Man United resume the action here...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops here.
Martial's pace again takes him away from Christie and the Frenchman delivers towards the far post, but there are no red shirts in that area. Martial's turn of foot is just sensational.
It has been a strong start to the second half from Man United, with the visitors in control of the possession inside Derby's half of the field. Martial is again the target for another break forward, but this time the pass is just too strong. A little bit slow from the home side at the moment.
Blackman breaks down the left for Derby and manages to force a corner from Varela, but the resulting set piece is headed clear by Smalling, who gets a whack in his face for his troubles.
You just get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - could well decide the outcome tonight. This place would explode if Derby managed to turn it around!
CHANCES! Christie delivers a sensational ball into Ince, but it is just too strong for the Derby attacker. Blackman picks up the pieces, but his effort curls wide of the post.
BOOKING! Warnock (Derby) is booked for a poor challenge on Varela.
Both sets of supporters are having a bit of banter at the moment, but it is the Derby fans that will be happier at this stage of proceedings. Man United should have put this game to bed in the first period, but scoring goals has been their problem throughout the season, that is for sure.
Martial again sets up Rooney inside the Derby box, but the striker's shot is blocked!
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Man United to score a second as Lingard sets up Mata with a super cross, but the Spaniard heads just and I mean just wide of the post!
DERBY SUB! Camara replaces Blackman for the home side.
Little under 30 minutes of normal time remaining and both teams continue to commit players in the final third of the field. Martial, in particular, is causing Derby all sorts of bother here.
SCRAMBLE! Lingard has one deflected wide of the post after a short corner brought a scramble inside the Derby box. Cannot take your eyes off this one at the moment! From the resulting corner, Fellaini heads straight into the arms of Carson, who takes a moment or two.
Man United continue to build down the left with Martial, but another attack comes to an end when Borthwick-Jackson is muscled off the ball. It is a super game at the moment here.
Pass, pass, pass from Man United as they look to find space in the final third.
GOAL! Derby 1-2 Man United (Blind)
What on earth is Blind doing up there! Man United regain the lead in the 65th minute as Blind converts a low cross from Lingard. The centre-back somehow found himself inside the box!
In truth, Man United deserve to be ahead here. They have been the better side, there is no doubt about that. Derby, however, will still feel that there is something in this game for them.
SCRAMBLE! This time there is a scramble inside the Man United box and Derby have a shout for a penalty, but the referee is not interested and De Gea punches clear!
Not an awful lot to report in terms of chances in the last couple of minutes, but Derby have had the opportunity to threaten on the counter attack on more than one occasion. Still 2-1 United.
Super defending from Varela as the Man United right-back gets down to clear an Ince cross.
Half-chance for Butterfield, but his effort is over De Gea's crossbar.
MAN UNITED SUB! Carrick replaces Schneiderlin.
Derby are still committing players in the final third of the field, but Man United are pretty comfortable defensively at the moment and have a lot of pace on the counter attack.
DERBY SUBS! Hendrick and Russell replace Thorne and Johnson.
Martial again shows wonderful speed to drive away from a whole host of players down the left, but his final touch is just too strong. Martial has been excellent for his team tonight.
Fellaini has been a very strong presence at the back from set pieces tonight and the Belgian proves his worth with another super header as Man United clear another Derby corner. You just get the feeling that there is going to be one more big chance for the home side tonight.
GOAL! Derby 1-3 Man United (Mata)
Man United are home and dry now as Martial, who has been stunning tonight, once again beats his full-back before finding Mata, who places his effort into the bottom corner - excellent!
MAN UNITED SUB! Herrera replaces Mata.
Derby have been second best tonight and Man United deserve to be ahead.
As expected, the away supporters are in wonderful voice as we approach the final moments of this match. Pass, pass, pass from Man United and that has been the case throughout the night.
Three minutes of added time here.
Christie delivers a dangerous cross into the United box, but Varela is on hand to clear.
Late rally from Derby here as they threaten to score a second, but Hendrick cannot fashion a shot after beating two defenders inside the box. Bit of late pressure for Man United.
FULL-TIME: Derby 1-3 Man United
So there we have it. Man United book their spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup following a 3-1 win at Championship side Derby. In truth, it was fairly comfortable for Van Gaal's side, who impressed in the second period. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Until next time!