Deepdale will be a full house this evening, as a sold out fixture sees the lilywhites of Preston take on the red devils of Manchester for the first time in 43 years.
That match, back in 1972, saw another FA Cup thriller between the two local sides, as United won 0-2. Does it bode for a similar outcome this evening?
The visitors, managed by Dutchman Louis Van Gaal, boast of a team of an approximate £374million total value, with the likes of Robin Van Persie, Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera expected to feature in the clash. However, Prestons’ team, although lower in value, have plenty to boast about themselves in the form of star-man Joe Garner, set-piece specialist Paul Gallagher and in form Paul Huntington, to name but a few.
Manchester United have already drawn lower-league teams in previous rounds. They left it late to see off Yeovil Town with a Herrera – Di Maria double. Cambridge United also forced a 0-0 draw at home to set-up an Old Trafford replay, where United eventually prevailed with a 3-0 win over the lowest ranked side. So, it may not be a walkover for the Premier League giants, and a Preston win would not be the first FA Cup shock of the competition.
Preston, on the other hand, seem to have given themselves a shock in setting up this momentous tie. They beat Havant and Waterlooville with a 3-0 victory, before a gentle 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town. Their biggest shock was a 2-0 home victory over Norwich City with a weakened side due to injuries. North End then shared a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United forcing a replay with the Blades, an away fixture many North End fans dread following recent results there, but after going 1-0 down, Preston showed good heart to overcome the cup specialists in a 3-1 win.
Simon Grayson and Louis Van Gaal are managers of very different calibre, which is expected as Manchester United sit third in the Premier League and Preston fourth in League One, but one thing is for sure, both will be hunting for a solid win tonight.
Only four Premier League teams remain in the competition, so Manchester United will be hoping to join them, but a spot in the last eight for PNE would be a dream for both players and fans, especially with tonight’s match marking a year since Preston legend Sir Tom Finney passed away. Finney’s anniversary was just two days ago, but the City of Preston will make sure he is remembered in such an important match by clapping on the 7th minute as a mark of respect for the “Phantom Winger”.
The final eight of the FA Cup are:
West Browmwich Albion
Preston North End/Manchester United
Preston v Manchester United is live on BBC One from 7:30pm with the quarter-finals draw taking place at Deepdale and is expected to commence at around 7:35pm.