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BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE

2015/2016 Season

POS TEAM W D L PTS
4 Man City 19 9 10 66
5 Man Utd 19 9 10 66
6 Southampton 18 9 11 63
View Full Table »

Manchester United's Chris Smalling hoping for FA Cup success this year

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol reacts to Inter Milan director Bedy Moratti's claim that Jose Mourinho is 'going to Manchester'.

Chris Smalling has described the FA Cup as "massive" for Manchester United because of the disappointments the club have suffered this season.

United's struggles have been well documented, with Louis van Gaal's side currently six points off the Premier League's top four, while their last outing saw them suffer a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of FC Midtjylland in the Europa League.

Smalling, 26, admits that the Red Devils have not matched other teams' aggression in recent games and said they have to rectify that against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday.

It remains to be seen how many regular first-team players will start at the New Meadow, given United face a crucial return game against Midtjylland on Thursday and then Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

They will, however, be hungry to improve on their recent FA Cup disappointments, having not won the trophy since 2004.

"This competition is massive for us, particularly because we're not fighting at the top of the league like we expected to be," Smalling told MUTV. "The FA Cup is an opportunity to win some silverware and a competition we've done well in so far this season. We'll go to Shrewsbury as favourites and we need to control that tie.

Chris Smalling wants to help Manchester United to their first FA Cup since 2004.

"The aggression that you start the game with is something you need to match with the other team, something that I don't think we have done recently. We need to make sure we win our battles and our second balls and then when it starts to die down we can overcome them with our football."

Ahead of the match at League One side Shrewsbury, Smalling will take heart from United's track record against teams outside the Premier League.

They have beaten lower-league opposition six times during Van Gaal's tenure, including wins over Sheffield United and Derby County in this season's FA Cup.

"We can expect a terrific atmosphere on Monday, but that is something we always seem to rise to," Smalling said. "We have done well in recent years against lower-league sides away from home and we know what to expect.

"It's surprising how long this club has gone since winning the FA Cup, but I think that makes everyone hungrier. A competition like this shouldn't be away from us for this long."

Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him @ARejSport

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