With so little success for lower league sides against the Premier League anything other than a comfortable away win would be a major surprise. Louis van Gaal has certainly lucked out with the FA Cup as United face their third lower league opponent, who is also their weakest, after matches against Sheffield Utd and Derby in the previous two rounds.
Shrewsbury got a much needed win last weekend as they held off a fightback to beat Blackpool 3-2. However, they are still just three points above the drop zone in League One and they’ll surely be outclassed here. They’ve lost four of their last six home games and haven’t reached the 6th Round since 1982. In fact they’ve generally been knocked out before the 3rd Round so haven’t played a top-flight side since being thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea in 2003.
League One teams have actually lost less than half their 79 home games against Premier League sides since 1993 and even in 5th Round matches they have an excellent record of W3-D4-L3. However, the Shrews are towards the bottom of League One while Man Utd are near the top of the Premier League and in our gradings we have a large 65 points between the teams. Looking at FA Cup matches since 1993 where there was a 50-80 point gap in our gradings we have 156 matches with the superior side winning 80% and losing less than 6%. On the road these teams have a W49-D18-L4 record, which is pretty much in line with the current match odds, while 58% have had at least three goals which suggests some value in Over 2.5 Goals.
Of course watching Man Utd this season would probably be enough to put punters off the goals market. However, seven of Shrewsbury’s last 10 matches have had at least three goals as their defence has been the third worst in League One. United have won just two of their last 10 away games but they’ve scored in all but one of the last 11. 11 of their last 15 away games in the Cup have had at least three goals and since 1993 the Red Devils have a superb record travelling to lower league opposition. They’ve won 13 of 15 unbeaten trips and only twice have they failed to score at least twice as two-thirds of the games had at least three strikes.
United might not be the force of old but they should still have enough firepower to blow away struggling Shrewsbury. However, while they may cover the goals line on their own their current struggles, which have seen just one clean sheet in 11 away games and now includes an extensive injury crisis, means we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Shrews find the net and Over 2.5 Goals looks a good bet.
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