The history of this match up does not yield much hope for us Wanderers. The last time we won at Old Trafford was in September of 2002 by the slender margin of 1-0. We lost every game there since. Even at home, we haven't fared well, and overall we've lost 10 of our last 12 meetings with the Red Devils. Yes, if you base your prediction of games off recent history, things don't look to go well for us at all. However, some circumstances have changed since our last trip to Old Trafford. Most obviously, we have St. Owen now, and everyone knows he's the messiah. There is also United's injury list, as long as Fergie's trail of gum wrappers, which we will get to later. Finally, our good recent form (six wins in our last eight) combined with their poor results (three losses in their last five) means that our trajectories look to be very different.
Contrary to what was originally reported, Fergie will be watching this match from the stands of his Theatre of Dreams, but not to worry, he will have at least 10 of his outfield players to cuddle with, possibly 12. The squad is looking quite small indeed at this point, even more so considering that United also have two other competitions still to think about. It will certainly be interesting to see what team takes the field against us. This is a fixture that usually terrifies me, in spite of any bravado shown to Manchester United fans, but this season looks the one to break our duck.
On our side of things, Mark Davies seems to be the only addendum to the injured list, although Steinsson isn't 100% due to a virus he caught this week. There are of course all the long termers still sitting out, but we have been chugging along without them. The biggest question in terms of team selection is whether Coyle will finally start Chung-Yong again. This week he gave an interview in which he explained the decision to continually start Elmander on the right wing, despite him clearly being less adept at the position than Chungy. Coyle is (rightly) worried that constant play over the past two years will burn Lee out too soon. While I agree that resting him is important, there are games that we simply can't risk having the weak link of Elmander in that position.
This is a big game, but not an impossible one. Old Trafford would be an amazing place to keep our momentum going, and Manchester United are a wholly beatable team this season. If Coyle fields his strongest team, and that team plays their strongest game, I have no doubt that we could at least get our share of the points. Come on you white men!