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Starting XI: Norwich City vs. Manchester United

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The Reds turn their attention back to the FA Cup

Manchester United v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Saturday’s match:

(1) Manchester United travel to Carrow Road this weekend with a place in the FA Cup semifinal on the line. And considering Norwich City’s dire form this season, it’s looking pretty good for the Reds. To reach this point, United outlasted Wolves in a January replay, before breezing past lower-level competition like Tranmere Rovers and Derby County into this weekend’s quarterfinal.

(2) On Wednesday, Anthony Martial bagged a hat trick in the 3-0 win over Sheffield United. That result extended Manchester United’s unbeaten run to thirteen and briefly moved them to within two points of Chelsea. The Blues, though, restored their five-point advantage with a 2-1 win over Manchester City on Thursday. Wolves remain even on points with United and could even move ahead when they play at Aston Villa this weekend.

(3) With Manchester United still right in the thick of the race for a Champions League spot, Saturday brings the perfect opportunity for rotation. There are plenty of Premier League matches to come in the weeks ahead and finishing fifth (or higher) must be considered the club’s top priority. Plus, even a second-choice side should be enough to knock off Norwich.

(4) Even if Champions League qualification comes first, Marcus Rashford desperately wants to add another FA Cup to the club’s trophy case:

I think [we can win the FA Cup]. That’s our mentality — to go and win trophies.

It’s a fantastic tournament to win as I did in 2016. Hopefully, we can have a good run and win a trophy at the end of the season. For a young squad like us, winning big games and trophies help us to mature on the football pitch.

(5) Some FA Cup housekeeping: No replays in the quarterfinals, so this match will be decided on the night. If Manchester United take care of business and win on Saturday, the draw for the semifinals will take place at halftime of Sunday night’s Newcastle vs. Manchester City match.

(6) Norwich City continued their long march back to the Championship with their third straight loss on Wednesday (1-0 vs. Everton). The Canaries haven’t scored in either match since the season restarted last week and now find themselves well and truly cut adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table. Seven points separate them from Aston Villa in 19th. Not good.

(7) Even with Norwich’s survival hopes on life support, Daniel Farke must prioritize league play over the FA Cup. The Canaries cannot afford to risk even their slight chance at staying in the top flight for a similarly slim chance at FA Cup glory. In a perfect world, hoisting a cup would mean more than scraping by in 17th place, but the financial implications of another season in the Premier League are just too massive to ignore.

(8) If Norwich play their first string, keep an eye on Emi Buendia. The 23-year-old right winger would look great in a red shirt — and might be available if Norwich face the drop.

(9) For the most part, Farke has floated above the fray this season as his squad crashed and burned. Few blamed him for the dire results and there have even been frequent reports of clubs around Europe keeping tabs on him in case he leaves Norwich this summer. After last week’s 3-0 loss to Southampton, though, the knives are out.

(10) Earlier this week, Farke hit back at the criticism:

My coaching staff were labeled as blind because we didn’t react, not proactive, not flexible, stubborn, naive, inexperienced. I never heard a poorer analysis of the game. We changed our base formation for this game. You can’t be more proactive. We changed four times during the game. We played with different base formations with and without the ball. I am not sure if people realize this. Max Aarons played three different positions during this game.

My coaches are working their socks off and I am not concerned about myself, but I am angry when my players or coaches are accused of not seeing the obvious. That is pretty disrespectful. I accept it. The coaches showed me the article and they were pretty down. But this is how football works.

(11) While Norwich have fizzled in Premier League play, they’ve defeated two top-flight rivals to reach this stage of the FA Cup. In January, the Canaries traveled to Turf Moor — always a tough place to get a result — and beat Burnley 2-1. They followed that up with a huge upset in the fifth round over Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester United do not want to become the third Premier League side knocked off by Norwich in this competition.