Manchester United will go head-to-head with local rivals Manchester City in one of the two legs of the semi-final of Carabao Cup on Tuesday at Old Trafford.
It has been a roller-coaster of a season for Manchester United; a trial by fire for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. While he has proved himself against the top teams, the league table shows that the season is much more than just doing so. A chance at silverware; Solskjaer would look to use the Carabao Cup as a message that United are on the right track.
For Manchester City, it’s mostly about self-preservation. The Citizens are far behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race and while one can never say no to a potential slip-up or twist in the tale, Pep Guardiola would look to avoid going trophy-less and instead, focus on the cups, starting with the first leg of their semi-final on Tuesday.
United may have an upper hand recently, thanks to their record against top teams. But, their defeat to Arsenal showed that there is a way for the big clubs to play around Ole’s philosophy. Before the two teams meet at Old Trafford, we take a look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pressing injury concerns going into the tie. Paul Pogba isn’t fit yet while Scott McTominay is also a few weeks away from returning, which means the midfield is down to its bare bones. Defence has its own personnel issues, with Marcos Rojo, Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly out while Harry Maguire is also a doubt for the derby.
We should see David de Gea return in goal, with Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka certain to feature in the starting lineup. Maguire could be fit in time to start against Manchester City, lest we could see Phil Jones come in for his fellow Englishman. Ashley Young should start on the left.
Fred and Matic are likely to be the designated midfield pairing in the absence of Pogba and McTominay. The front four is certain to feature Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James. The number 10 role should be reprised by Jesse Lingard, who is being profusely linked with an exit.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; Fred, Matic; James, Lingard, Rashford; Martial
Leroy Sane is the only lengthy casualty left on the injury table for Manchester City. Aymeric Laporte is on the mend, but the game comes too soon for the Frenchman. Pep Guardiola, though, is close to full strength and should field an optimum lineup. Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker will be on full-back duty. But, the centre-backs should be an interesting choice.
Guardiola could ideally field Fernandinho in the centre with youngster Eric Garcia partnering him in central defence. Rodrigo and Kevin De Bruyne are certain starters in midfield and should be accompanied by David Silva to complete the midfield three.
Riyad Mahrez has been in some form and should start on the right. Sergio Aguero will lead Manchester City’s attack while Raheem Sterling will as usual be a threat to Manchester United out from the left wing.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Garcia, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodrigo, David Silva; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling
1. Manchester United have won just one of their last five encounters with Manchester City at Old Trafford.
2. In the five meetings between Manchester United and Manchester City, the away side has come out victorious in four of them.
3. Raheem Sterling has scored a brace twice in his last five games in all competitions.
4. Kevin De Bruyne has been directly involved in six goals (3G, 3A) in his last five games for Manchester City.
5. Marcus Rashford has six goals in his last 10 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United.
Player to Watch
Testing times for Lingard, who could be auditioning for clubs with this match. The Englishman has teamed up with super agent Mino Raiola to sort his future out and it likely means an exit from Manchester United. But, he needs to showcase a better form in order to get some big European clubs interested.
Perhaps, Lingard would also want to provide a good parting memory to the Manchester United fans along with one final trophy at his boyhood club. For that, Manchester United need to win against Manchester City and Lingard will be key, with his pressing and energy.
Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City
Ideally, Manchester United come into the game as the favourites, with Pep Guardiola’s footballing style prone to that of Ole’s. But, Manchester City have too much quality in their attack to not score at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Expect goals in this encounter from both ends especially with the potential centre-back pairing of Eric Garcia and Fernandinho for Manchester City.
Manchester United should do well to gain a slight upper hand, albeit not without conceding a crucial away goal. We expect United to earn a narrow lead going into the second leg, but with City not out of the match. A 2-1 win for the hosts.