Writer: Nick Sellers
Date:Tuesday October 29 2013
I can't help but feel a bit for Chris Hughton.
Our playing style has come on leaps and bounds since last season, but no matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to find where the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle goes: The one that gets the goals.
Ok, so we've found the net a few times this season already, but not nearly as often as we should. But it's down to a combination of things, and David Marshall's performance at his old stomping ground on Saturday didn't exactly help matters much.
It's hard to criticise the team for not scoring in spite of having so many opportunities. Marshall had an unbelievable game, and there wasn't much more the lads could've done. They certainly tested him on plenty of occasions, but sometimes you have to hold your hands up and give credit where it's due.
The goals ARE coming, but you can also understand the frustration of the fans.
I'm one of many who've been saying "If we keep playing like that, we'll be fine." That wait seems to be getting longer by the day, and having to play the Manchester heavyweights in back to back games away from home means that wait might even take a little longer.
So, how to best address the situation?
My tonic: More of the same. Hughton is clearly making progress from a tactical viewpoint and we must also take into account that our fixtures of late have been far from easy. We met Chelsea and Arsenal when both of them were in blinding form for a start.
The key is to persevere. A game such as this at Old Trafford without points on the line might just be the answer.
A win here will almost certainly gee the lads up that little bit more for the big game against Man City at the weekend. Actually, it might even gee them up for the rest of the season.
No points does mean less pressure, even with Old Trafford being the venue for this one. Getting to play in that arena without the added burden of make-or-break league points might just be the perfect platform to allow the lads to express themselves.
Anything but a drubbing would be lovely. And if we do get hammered, it means nothing in the grand scheme of things, so you'd hope it wouldn't add much more fuel to the fire in terms of the "Hughton out" brigade.
Said brigade isn't quite gathering full steam yet, but things need to pick up by the end of November at least, or then the crowd will well and truly be calling for his head.
Thankfully, he's still got some time to turn things round and is encouraging the team to get forward as much as possible. All good signs, and here's hoping he turns things round back in his favour.
Here's your other preview bits and bobs....
Hernandez and Zaha are both poised to start for United with Rooney and Van Persie only set to appear on the bench at best.
For City, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel is still struggling with his toe and Alex Tetty is also a doubt. Hughton, like David Moyes, is also expected to make plenty of changes.
Last time we met
City were on the end of a 4-0 drubbing on their last visit to Old Trafford, but United were fully in their stride en route to winning the league in Sir Alex Ferguson's last season in charge.
A Shinji Kagawa hat-trick to go along with a stoppage time effort from Wayne Rooney made sure there'd be no repeat of an upset like we had at Carrow Road in the reverse fixture.
Head to head stat
Here's a promising one for you: the two clubs have met three times in the competition, and City are unbeaten against them! Let's make it a foursome, shall we?
What's in store this time?
My take on the cup is this: After winning the last two games in the competition, we then went on to win our league game in that same week, carrying over the positive momentum to see us over the line. With this being a Manchester double, that task is somewhat more difficult to achieve this time round.
Still, United are beatable right now. And look at the past: If Crystal Palace can go there as a Championship club (As they were back then) and get a result, why can't we? With United almost certain to rotate the squad as they traditionally do for this competition, why can't we spring a surprise and knock out one of the favourites?
All I hope for is to see more of the same in terms of how we've been getting forward. Treat it as target practice too; throw everything at United's goal.
Like throwing pasta against the wall, lets see what sticks.
Date:Tuesday October 29 2013
City To Face Fulham in FA Cup (Sunday December 8 2013)
Stats: West Brom v Norwich City (Sunday December 8 2013)
City's Raid On The Hawthorns (Sunday December 8 2013)
Savvy's Stats - West Brom (Saturday December 7 2013)
The West Brom Preview (Saturday December 7 2013)
The View From The Hawthorns Q&A (Saturday December 7 2013)
Drubbing Still Fresh In Clarke's Mind (Friday December 6 2013)
Hughton Demanding A Reaction (Friday December 6 2013)
RvW On The Comeback Trail (Thursday December 5 2013)
Yet Another Away Day Horror Show (Thursday December 5 2013)
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