Down The Wings

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Carabao Cup Preview : Manchester City vs Manchester United

Manchester United enter the second leg of this Carabao Cup semi-final 3-1 down, with a depleted squad, and a strong feeling of pessimism around the club. However, following The Reds’ 6-0 drubbing of Tranmere Rovers at the weekend, and with the prospect of signing Bruno Fernandes, fans may have something to smile about. Just not in this game, against an in-form, high flying Manchester City side.

How Do Manchester United Look?

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been hit time and time again with injuries this season, and with the lack of investment in squad depth over the summer and seemingly the January transfer window, it seems things may get worse before they get better.

United’s injury list just keeps getting bigger, with various reports saying Nemanja Matic may not be available, after he had to leave the pitch after 45 minutes at Prenton Park. If this is the case, the club’s midfield options will be even more sparse, with Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay still out with long-term issues. 

The state of United’s attack doesn’t paint a much prettier picture. Marcus Rashford appears to be out for the season, putting a heavy reliance on Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James. Relying on a relatively inexperienced front line is a risk for Solskjaer, who could do with bringing in a more seasoned forward before the transfer window slams shut on Friday evening. However, with the lack of movement and concrete news surrounding this, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

Opposition: Manchester City

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Unfortunately, City have looked back to their best as of late. The noisy neighbours are unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions, and with centre back Aymeric Laporte slowly coming back into the team, their defence will be upgraded massively, and they will not be as susceptible to mistakes at the back. 

In complete contrast to United, City boast an embarrassment of riches in terms of squad depth. They have the luxury of choosing between Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero to lead their front line, and can pick one of Fernandinho, Rodri and Gundogan to sit in the hole in midfield. 

United simply don’t have the numbers to do that, and are, as a result, running their players into the ground, causing even more injuries. 

As for the way they play, The Blues pressed United off the pitch at Old Trafford in the first leg earlier in the month, forcing a high number of errors from Ole’s side. Their high energy, positive, attacking, free-flowing football is regrettably everything United fans want to see from the Red Devils.

Key Stats: City vs United

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The last time United were two goals down following a first leg home defeat in a cup competition was last season against PSG. We all know what came from that- arguably United’s greatest night since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, where Marcus Rashford smashed home a late penalty to put his side through to the next round. Could United do it again? It seems unlikely, but perhaps…

The last time United visited the Etihad was in December, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer masterminded a counter attacking 2-1 victory, with goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. No one expected much of United that day, and they came out on top. United perform best when the odds are stacked against them, when no-one gives them a chance. 

Prediction

Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United, with goals from Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial. City to go through 4-3 on aggregate.

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