" Tranmere Rovers vs. Manchester United

Preview: Tranmere Rovers vs. Manchester United – prediction, team news, lineups

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Twelve-time FA Cup winners Manchester United face a second trip to Merseyside in the space of a week when they take on League One Tranmere Rovers in the fourth round of the competition on Sunday.

The Red Devils will be looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s chastening 2-0 home defeat to Burnley on what is their first ever trip to Prenton Park, whereas Tranmere go into the game off the back of an upset against Watford on Thursday night.

Match preview

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks dejected on January 22, 2020© Reuters

A first home loss at the hands of Burnley since 1962 felt like the final straw for a lot of Manchester United fans, who voiced their displeasure at the way the club has been run in recent years before evacuating Old Trafford in their thousands before full time.

Ed Woodward and the Glazer family were the main targets of the vitriol from the stands, but questions have also been asked of the players and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Reports suggest that there are no plans to sack the Norwegian, but he has lost more league games than he has won since his permanent appointment last March and another defeat away to a struggling League One outfit this weekend would pile a huge amount of extra pressure on his shoulders.

It was just a week ago that United were beaten 2-0 by Liiverpool on Merseyside and, while that result offered more positives than defeat by the same scoreline against Burnley, it does leave United facing the prospect of losing three games in a row for the first time since April.

The fact that losing to Tranmere is such a realistic possibility speaks volumes about United’s current plight, and anything other than victory would only further darken the mood ahead of a difficult run which sees them face Manchestter City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea in their next three games after this.

Tranmere Rovers manager Micky Mellon celebrates after the match on January 23, 2020© Reuters

Rovers were still a National League team when United made it to the final of this competition two seasons ago, but back-to-back promotions – via the playoffs both times – have lifted the Merseysiders back up to the third tier.

Sixty places still separate these two teams in the football pyramid, though, with Tranmere sitting in the League One relegation zone having won just one of their last 10 league games stretching back to the beginning of November.

Nevertheless, the hosts will go into Sunday’s match full of confidence having claimed the scalp of Watford on Thursday night, overcoming their Premier League opposition in extra time after drawing 3-3 in the initial tie at Vicarage Road and then seeing the replay postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Watford did field a youthful side showing 11 changes as the Hornets focused on their Premier League survival bid, but it was still a significant result for Tranmere and set up Sunday’s money-spinning tie with English football’s most decorated club.

Whether facing two Premier League teams in the space of three days proves to be too much for Micky Mellon’s men remains to be seen, but they will certainly smell the possibility of an upset considering United’s form and their home advantage.

Tranmere FA Cup form: DWWDW
Tranmere form (all competitions): LDLDLW

Man Utd FA Cup form: DW
Man Utd form (all competitions): DLWWLL

Team News

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof pictured with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in August 2019© Reuters

Solskjaer has confirmed that Victor Lindelof is available again after illness, and he could be joined at centre-back by Eric Bailly.

The Ivorian is yet to feature this season due to a serious knee injury, but he has been stepping up his fitness in behind-closed-doors matches and could be set for a competitive runout this weekend.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Axel Tuanzebe and Marcos Rojo remain sidelined, while Marcus Rashford is also out for the foreseeable future and United are yet to score since his injury was announced.

Mason Greenwood is expected to start in an effort to end that drought, and he could be joined in the starting XI by fellow youngsters Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong.

Both played when United’s Under-23 team lost to Tranmere in the EFL Trophy in December, with Chong scoring both of his side’s goals, although the uncertainty surrounding his future could play a part in his selection.

Tranmere, meanwhile, could be without injury doubts Ishmael Miller, Mark Ellis and Evan Gumbs, while 38-year-old Peter Clarke may be rested rather than starting two games in such quick succession.

Paul Mullin, who scored home and away against Watford including the extra-time winner on Thursday, will hope to have done enough to earn a starting role this time around.

Tranmere possible starting lineup:
Davies; Caprice, Nelson, Monthe, Ridehalgh; Danns, Perkins; Morris, Jennings, Taylor; Mullin

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
Romero; Dalot, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw; Garner, Matic; Chong, Lingard, Gomes; Greenwood

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