By Felix Law.
Ahead of the Manchester derby between Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the 4th round of the League Cup this evening, Jose Mourinho is expected to name a strong starting line-up after the embarrassing defeat 4-0 defeat he suffered against Chelsea on Sunday. This is the second time City and United are playing this season as United suffered a home league loss (2-1) against an almost impeccable City in September.
United had earlier struggled to beat a Northampton side in the 3rd round and will have to improve impressively against an all attacking Manchester City side. Mourinho will need to work so hard to harness the full potential of his team considering how they have struggled of recent having collected just two points from three games against the likes of Stoke City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Although the League Cup game is one generally reserved for youngsters and players struggling for game action, this is not the case this evening as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola really need a win to boost their confidence having been on a free fall of recent.
The Special One is expected to persist with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation which has been his style since his Inter Milan days. In goal, David De Gea is expected to retain his spot with Darmian replacing Antonio Valencia (had an abysmal game against Chelsea), Chris Smalling will continue in central defence with Argentine Marcus Rojo deputising for injured Eric Bailly who is out for two months after injuring his knee against Chelsea. At left-back position, Luke Shaw is likely to get back his spot with Daley Blind rested after having a torrid evening against Chelsea’s Pedro who ran him haggard on Sunday.
In the centre of the park, Michael Carrick is expected to play as the main defensive midfielder, shielding the back four with Paul Pogba playing close to him but given the freedom to roam the midfield and move high to wreck havoc when the need arises. In attack, Ashley Young will start on the right as his pace and physicality is expected to rattle the City back-line and push them deep, with Marcus Rashford playing on the opposite flank due to his pace, ability to win spot kicks, cut inside and cross low balls to the main striker and trickery inside the opposition’s 18 yard box. Juan Mata will start slightly behind the main striker as the No. 10 after his cameo impressive appearance against Chelsea which helped United retain more possession and play at their pace before N’Golo Kante’s devastating fourth goal.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will retain his place in the team as Mourinho and United’s fans expect him to regain his early season’s form which saw him score three goals in his first four league games before suffering a barren form having failed to score in his last five Premier League games which represents his career’s longest goal drought.
United will do well to win this game to reduce the pressure on their Portuguese manager who has been reported to have refused to take charge of the club’s training sessions since Sunday’s embarrassing defeat to Chelsea, instead opting to stay back in his office and allow assistant Faria take charge. United are 7th in the league table and are on 14 points from nine games , six points behind Wednesday’sopponents City who are league leaders.