How the Bookies See it:
- Winner: Manchester United 1/5, Draw 5/1, Reading 14/1 - Bet365
- First Goalscorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (MUN) 3/1, Marcus Rashford (MUN) 10/3, Wayne Rooney (MUN) 7/2 - William Hill
- Correct Score: Man Utd 2-0 11/2, Man Utd 3-0 7/1, Man Utd 1-0 7/1 - Paddy Power
- Manchester United may have stuttered in the early stages of Jose Mourinho’s reign, but the Red Devils look to have hit a rich vein of form under the tutelage of the Portuguese manager. The Old Trafford club are on a run of six straight wins in all competitions and are unbeaten since the opening week of November. Recent hard fought victories over Sunderland, Middlesbrough and West Ham have propelled United to within two points of fourth place Arsenal, while last season’s FA Cup triumph will only make the team hungry for further success.
- Reading’s season started sluggishly, but a run of positive results have seen the Royals fly up the Championship table. Currently occupying third spot, the Berkshire club are amongst the favourites to secure a playoff spot come the end of the season, and three straight wins over the Christmas period have helped enhance their case massively. However, a questionable defensive record could be their downfall in both the league and cup, with the former Premier League side shipping 37 goals in all competitions this term.
Manchester United enter this tie as the overwhelming favourites to secure a spot in the fourth round, as they go in search of a second consecutive FA Cup trophy win. Mourinho's men should have too much for their Championship opponents, with a win priced at 1/5. For better odds, it might be worth looking at a win to nil for the home side, available at 10/11 with SkyBet.
With such short odds being offered on a United victory, it might be worth delving into the goalscorer markets. The Red Devil’s main threat this season has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the towering Swede netting six times in his last seven outings. Given this impressive run, a first FA Cup strike looks favourable for the 35-year-old, with William Hill offering odds of 3/1 that the former Barcelona and PSG hitman will open the scoring, while a goal at anytime is available at 3/4.
However, given the hectic Christmas schedule, Mourinho may opt to rest his side’s top scorer, especially with games against Hull City and Liverpool to come, instead favouring Anthony Martial. The young Frenchman has found his first team opportunities limited this season, but a place in Saturday’s starting XI could help him rediscover his form in front of goal. A strike at any point in a win for United is priced at 29/20 with William Hill.
The FA Cup third round is notorious for shock results and unlikely heroes, as teams from the lower reaches of the Football League aim to topple the giants of the game. This tie will be no different, as Reading set themselves the task of becoming the first team since Arsenal in March 2015 to beat Manchester United in this famous cup competition. The Royals are priced at 14/1 to secure the win, although a more likely outcome could be a draw that would see Jaap Stam’s men force a lucrative replay with the Manchester outfit - 5/1 with Betfred.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Anthony Martial to score anytime in a Manchester United win - 29/20 with William Hill
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.