Man United made it three wins in their last four matches in all competitions when they beat West Ham United 1-0 before the break, with Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp winner securing a vital three points for the Red Devils, who currently occupy fourth position in the Premier League table.
Ralf Rangnick’s side also overcame Brentford in the league on January 19, while they booked their spot in the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup courtesy of a 1-0 success over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
Off-the-field matters involving Mason Greenwood means that the build-up to this match has been overshadowed, but the players will be raring to go following a short break, and the Red Devils are still fighting on three fronts this season, with the first leg of their last-16 Champions League contest with Atletico Madrid due to take place at Wanda Metropolitano on February 23.
Man United are the second-most successful side in the history of the FA Cup, winning the competition on 12 occasions, the last of which was in 2016, while they lost in the quarter-finals to Leicester City last season and Chelsea in the semi-finals of the 2019-20 campaign.
Friday’s contest will be the first time that the 20-time English champions have faced Middlesbrough since a Premier League contest in March 2017, with the Red Devils running out 3-1 winners at the Riverside Stadium courtesy of goals from Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia.
Middlesbrough will certainly be the underdogs heading into Friday’s contest, but the visitors should be full of confidence, having in excellent form since the end of November.
Indeed, Boro have won eight of their last 10 matches in all competitions, suffering just one defeat in the process, which includes a 3-2 success over Mansfield in the third round of the FA Cup on Januar
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Chris Wilder’s side beat Coventry City 1-0 on January 29 to move into sixth spot in the Championship table, and they will certainly have their eye on a possible return to the Premier League for next season.
Wilder’s impact at the Riverside Stadium has been huge, winning eight of his 12 games in charge, and while the league is the priority for the 54-year-old this season, the chance to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of Man United is not an opportunity that comes around too often.
Middlesbrough – back in Championship action against Queens Park Rangers on February 9 – have never won the FA Cup, but they did reach the final in 1997, suffering a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Wembley