Yeovil aim to pull off a memorable FA Cup giant killing when they host Manchester United at Huish Park on Friday (7.55pm live on BBC1).
The teams are separated by 87 places in the league ladder, with Man Utd second in the Premier League and Yeovil down in 21st in League Two. The budgetary difference is so vast that Yeovil’s annual wage bill is at least 100 times smaller than that of United.
Those are difficult odds to overturn, and that is reflected by the fact that Yeovil can be found at as long as 25/1 to defeat United on Friday. It is necessary to go back to 2010 to find the last time United lost to a lower-league team in the FA Cup, in a 0-1 loss to third-tier Leeds, and before that way back to 1984 when they were defeated by Bournemouth.
Yeovil will take hope from the exploits of fellow League Two sides Coventry and Newport County, who respectively defeated Stoke of the Premier League and Championship side Leeds in this year’s third round. They also gave a good account of themselves when, as a League One side, they held out for just over an hour before eventually falling to a 0-2 defeat at home to United in the third round in 2015.
These have, though, been a rough few years for Yeovil. They took 108 years to make it out of non-league football before finally rising to the fourth tier as Conference champions in 2003 and even made it as high as the Championship in 2013. But consecutive relegations saw them fall back down to League Two, and they now find themselves on the edge of relegation zone for demotion back to the non-league ranks.
In the circumstances, the attitude has to be that there is little to lose from Friday’s match. The club will benefit financially, and for the players it is a chance to take on one of England’s most famous teams and try to pull off a shock result. It is an occasion no one wants to miss and it is therefore unsurprising that the club have appealed the red card that Otis Khan, a former Manchester United trainee, received in Saturday’s defeat to Chesterfield.
It would probably be fair to say that few of United’s star players are as keen to be involved. As the riches of the Premier League, and to an extent the Championship, create a bigger and bigger gap between those at the top of the English football pyramid and those at the bottom, these kind of cup ties are beginning to feel increasingly anachronistic. A trip to Somerset to play in front of less than 10,000 supporters on a cold January evening isn’t particularly enticing.
Huish Park will, however, most probably provide the unlikely venue for the debut of Alexis Sanchez in a Manchester United shirt. The Chilean international completed his move from Arsenal, in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, on Monday and will be eligible for Friday’s match as he didn’t take part in Arsenal’s third round defeat to Nottingham Forest. He could be one of a sprinkling of first-choice players in a mixed-strength starting XI.
The FA Cup will certainly not be Man Utd’s priority between now and the end of the season, but Jose Mourinho is a coach who relies on trophies to justify his approach and it does remain the club’s most likely route to silverware given Manchester City’s sizeable lead in the Premier League title race and the greater difficulty of triumphing in the Champions League.
United’s third-round victory over Derby, secured with late goals from Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku, saw Mourinho rest a few of his normal starters. He did, however, press Paul Pogba into action and has sufficient quality throughout his squad to put out a side on Friday who should be capable of comfortably securing his team’s progress to the fifth round.
The atmosphere is sure to be great, and Yeovil will do everything they can to equalise the gap in quality between the sides, but even if it turns out to be more of a slog than they would hope, United can still be expected to eventually emerge victorious.
Our Preview’s Yeovil vs Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
Here are our preview’s recommended betting tips, with reference to the best odds available from the best of the UK online sports betting websites:
- Bet on Jesse Lingard to score at any time @ best odds of 4/3 with Unibet.
- Back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ 21/20 with Boylesports.
- Click for FA Cup Outright Winner Betting Odds from Top Bookies.