United to do what United do

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: February 18 2013, 16:54 GMT

Ben Coley is backing Manchester United to keep their treble hopes alive by edging past an improved Reading side on Monday.

Javier Hernandez could return to the United side
Javier Hernandez could return to the United side

The Royals arrive at United on the back of defeat at Stoke but that shouldn't hide what's been a very good run of results, and they can be relied upon to make life difficult for the hosts.

However, this is a United side who know how to get the job done and we expect them to do exactly that.

Manchester United v Reading (2000 GMT)

Come Monday evening there could be thousands of punters wanting a United win to complete their FA Cup accumulator and it's hard to see them being left disappointed.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side continue to march relentlessly towards the title and Wednesday's Champions League draw in Madrid means hopes of a second treble remain very much alive.

United have come in for some criticism this season with some seemingly unwilling to accept that they're the best the Barclays Premier League has to offer but while the personnel may not look vintage this side has the crucial quality which has underpinned success at Old Trafford over the last two decades: they get the job done.

And it's that ability which makes leads me to the advised bet, which is United to win by exactly one goal at 7/2 with Ladbrokes.

We've been here before, but revisiting a successful policy is the most straightforwardly profitable way to gamble if bookmakers fail to latch on to trends established over time, so that's what we'll do.

For those who may not be familiar with the stats, United have won 28 games in all competitions this season. Eighteen of those victories have been by exactly one goal.

That includes their 4-3 win over Reading earlier this season, as it does their third round replay success over West Ham and four of their last six wins in all competitions.

Of course, there are certain circumstances which would steer us away from this bet, such as extremely weak opposition or a full-strength United line-up, but neither will be in place on Monday night.

Reading have turned their season around in 2013, winning six of their last nine, and suffered their first defeat in seven last time - one which conveniently came by exactly a goal at Stoke.

And while United may not have a midweek fixture to distract them, surely changes are likely given the effort applied by those who lined up at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

That doesn't mean they won't run riot as we know they can, but everything we know about this game and what's happened this season means that victory by a goal must be considered the most likely outcome.

Verdict: Manchester United 2 Reading 1

  • Preview posted at 1200 GMT on 16/02/2013.