MX23RW : Friday, June 18 03:56:22| >> :120:18603:18603:
Jan 29, 2016 at 7.55pm UK at Pride Park
DerbyDerby County
Man UtdManchester United
Thorne (37')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Rooney (16'), Blind (65'), Mata (83')

Preview: Derby County vs. Manchester United

Sports Mole looks ahead to Friday night's FA Cup tie between Derby County and Manchester United at the iPro Stadium.

The FA Cup fourth round gets underway on Friday evening when Derby County of the Championship play host to Premier League outfit Manchester United.

Both sides have endured tough times of late in their respective league campaigns, so they are likely to welcome the distraction provided by the world's oldest cup competition when they meet at the iPro Stadium.


Paul Clement manager of Derby County during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Middlesbrough at Pride Park Stadium on August 18, 2015© Getty Images

A 2-0 win over Fulham on Boxing Day sent the Rams to the top of the Championship standings.

For all intents and purposes, at that stage Paul Clement's men looked a safe bet to gain promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.

However, just two points have been collected from five outings since then, which in turn has seen them drop down to fifth position - seven points adrift of leaders Hull City.

While that run will certainly be a cause of great concern for Clement, he is bound to be particularly worried by the number of goals that his side have shipped in recent weeks.

A 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Birmingham City was followed up on Monday evening by a 4-1 loss away at Burnley.

They are at least able to boast a decent home record this term. The hammering inflicted by Birmingham was just the second time in the Championship that Derby have suffered defeat in front of their own supporters.

Recent form (all competitions): DLWDLL

Man United

Louis van Gaal appears prior to the game between Manchester United and Swansea on January 2, 2016© Getty Images

For weeks now journalists have had a story on file awaiting publication regarding Louis van Gaal's departure from Man United, but the Dutchman has so far defied the intense speculation and frustrated the eager hacks as he claws on to his job at Old Trafford.

He cut a forlorn figure following the 1-0 loss at home to Southampton last weekend, sparking rumours that his resignation would be placed on the desk of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

To the 64-year-old's credit, he was in bullish mood during his press conference ahead of the trip to the East Midlands. He hit out at the reporters that had suggested his time with United was coming to an end, branding the stories "awful and horrible".

Van Gaal will now be hoping that his players show a similar fighting spirit against Derby, while the travelling support yearn to see more attacking intent from their team.

After all, those that have attended United's last two fixtures - against Liverpool and the Saints - have seen the Red Devils record just one shot on target in each encounter. One of those - from Wayne Rooney - flew into the roof of the net at Anfield, while the other was a speculative strike from distance by centre-back Daley Blind that caused no trouble.

Recent form (all competitions): DWWDWL

Team News

Matteo Darmian of Manchester United on the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on September 26, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.© Getty Images

United's Italian full-back Matteo Darmian limped off following a collision during the game against Southampton and he will not recover in time to feature in this encounter.

His absence could see Guillermo Varela given another chance in the first team, while fellow youngster Cameron Borthwick-Jackson is in contention to start at left-back.

Experienced midfielders Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger are in line to return to the squad from injury and suspension respectively, but Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are all out.

As for Derby, boss Clement has no new injury problems to contend with.

Max Lowe, Craig Forsyth and Will Hughes are all long-term absentees, although new signing Marcus Olsson is available.

Derby possible starting lineup:
Carson; Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Thorne, Butterfield, Johnson; Ince, Blackman, Martin

Man United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Borthwick-Jackson, Smalling, Blind, Varela; Schneiderlin, Carrick; Herrera, Lingard, Martial; Rooney

Head To Head

When it comes to the FA Cup, it would be fair to suggest that Derby do not enjoy facing United.

They have lost all six of the ties between the two teams, including the most recent one in 2009 when United ran out 4-1 winners.

In all competitions, Derby have won only three of the last 19 games involving the pair in all competitions.

The Dugout Podcast

Hit play below to listen to Sports Mole's new podcast 'The Dugout' for our take on the week's biggest football talking points:

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We say: Derby 0-1 Man United

Those tuning in to see an entertaining FA Cup tie could well be left feeling short changed. Neither of these sides are pulling up any trees, so if it is going to be decided, one goal is likely to be enough. The experience is with the visitors, who should just about nick it, but don't be surprised if it ends 0-0.

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Matteo Darmian of Manchester United on the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on September 26, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
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