28th October 2015, 20:00 GMT
After playing a stalemate in arguably the most dull and lifeless Manchester Derby of recent times, Manchester United will host Middlesbrough FC in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday. Although Louis van Gaal’s priority is the Premier League, the Dutchman is likely to see this competition as a great chance to lift his first piece of Silverware as United boss.
Manchester United come into the match at the back of a disappointing draw in the derby, and Louis van Gaal’s men will want to get back to winning ways by knocking off their Championship opponents but will be wary of their opponents after defeats to Arsenal And Chelsea.
Middlesbrough, on the other hand, will travel to Old Trafford full of confidence after their victory over Manchester City at the Etihad last season. The Northeast outfit will be eager to compete against the Red Devils, as they seek a return to top flight football.
Team News, Tactics and Lineups
United have the luxury of a full squad being available for selection, barring Luke Shaw who suffered a horrific injury in the Champions League group stage tie against PSV. However, the Red Devils are not looking like they are firing on all cylinders despite going on a spending spree this summer.
Wayne Rooney was recently jeered at by United fans after an anonymous performance for the umpteenth time this season, and it is only a matter of time before he is seen on the bench.
Defensively, Van Gaal’s men have been rock solid, conceding just two goals and keeping five clean sheets this season.
Man United suffered a shock defeat at the hands of MK Dons in the second round last season, and Van Gaal must know there are no underdogs in this competition. The hosts are expected to make a few changes to the team that drew against Man City, and although Van Gaal would want to ensure a spot in the fifth round of the Capital One Cup, he be aware of the importance of resting key players.
Probable Starting lineup : De Gea; Darmian, Jones, Smalling, Rojo; Fellaini, Schneiderlin; Depay, Ander Herrera, Lingard; Martial.
The Northeast outfit have had a mixed start to their campaign, but they ended a three-match winless streak after emerging victorious against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the weekend. Aitor Karanka’s men had won six matches in a row before losing to Reading at the start of the month.
Boro made it to the fourth round with away wins against Oldham Athletic, Burton Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Christian Stuani has been a pivotal figure to their success this season, with the Uruguayan scoring four goals so far.
Middlesbrough last won this trophy in 2004, and have progressed beyond the fourth round only once in their previous twelve attempts. Aitor Karanka will be aware that his team need to raise the bar to go past Manchester United.
Probable starting lineup : Dimi; Kalas, Ayala, Amorebieta, Friend, Nsue, Clayton, Leadbitter, De Pena, Fabbrini, Nugent.
Key Facts :
- United have dominated the fixture winning 62 of the matches, compared to Middlesbrough’s 33, while 28 of the encounters have been draws.
- Middlesbrough last won at Old Trafford in 2004, in the days of Juninho, Gaizka Mendieta and Bolo Zenden.
- Aitor Karanka was a defender in the Real Madrid team who beat United in the 1999/2000 Champions League quarter-finals, drawing 0-0 at the Bernabeu before winning 3-2 in the second leg at Old Trafford.
Player to watch out for : Anthony Martial
Martial has been deployed on the left by manager Louis Van Gaal, but could start in the no. 9 position in Wednesday’s tie. Pace being his lethal weapon, Martial can stretch the field of play to telling effect, and he could be at the heart of every United attack against Middlesbrough.
Prediction : Manchester United 3-1 Middlesbrough
While everyone would be expecting Van Gaal to put out a much changed lineup against Middlesbrough, the Dutchman could name a strong eleven in his quest for a spot in the fifth round.
With a solid defence, Manchester United are difficult to break down, and will be too hot to handle for the visitors.
Blast from the past :