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Carabao Cup Preview: Manchester United vs Manchester City

Manchester United vs Manchester City | Carabao Cup Semi-Final | Old Trafford | KO 19:45 GMT | Sky Sports

Manchester United find themselves second in the Premier League, level on points with Liverpool, with a game in hand.

Although focus is rightly on the league at the moment, United have the small matter of a derby day Carabao Cup Semi Final to contend with, knowing a win will send Solskjaer to his first final as United boss, and give him a chance to win a vital first trophy as manager of The Reds.

Manchester City have also found themselves in decent form in the league, setting up a scintillating spectacle of semi-final football on Wednesday evening at Old Trafford.

How do Manchester United Look?

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United managed to escape the hectic festive period in relatively good shape.

Phil Jones, as has been the case for months, is the only player unavailable due to injury, and still has no expected return date.

Edinson Cavani will miss the clash due to his ongoing suspension, with the match being his second of three-game suspension.

Throughout the competition, Solskjaer has played a somewhat rotational squad, with Dean Henderson starting in each of the other rounds so far.

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The Englishman is expected to start again, although David de Gea is returning to form, so playing him in a bid to give United the best chance of progression, would not be a bad idea.

The likes of Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Brandon Williams have all seen limited game-time recently, so if Solskjaer is looking to rotate, they could be in line to play.

How seriously the boss is looking to take the Carabao Cup, and whether he wants to focus more on the Premier League, will dictate the amount of rotation, if any, that will be seen on Wednesday night.

Opposition: Manchester City

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Since mid-November, Manchester City are unbeaten in all competitions, and are slowly creeping up the Premier League and are looking like genuine title challengers.

The addition of Ruben Dias in summer has vastly improved their defensive woes, and it is now surprisingly the attacking side of City’s game that appears to be lacking.

Sergio Aguero has been injured for the majority of the season, and Gabriel Jesus has failed to fill his boots, leading to The Blues being linked to many strikers in the January transfer window.

There was a COVID-19 outbreak in the City camp last week, meaning that many players are out of the clash due to self-isolation.

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Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson is expected to miss the match for this reason, as are Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus, but Aguero will likely start, hoping to keep up his good record against The Reds.

Key Stats

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Manchester United reached three Semi Finals last season, losing all three. They will be desperate to reach a final this year, and win a cup; the Carabao Cup will be the first and possibly best chance of winning a piece of silverware this season.

A win for United will see the Solskjaer’s men take on Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in April’s cup final.

Prediction

Manchester United 3-1 Manchester City. Goals from Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Tribute to Colin Bell
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At the time of writing, it has been announced that Manchester City legend, Colin Bell, has died at the age of 74, and a moment of reflection and remembrance will be held at Old Trafford before kick-off.

May he rest in Peace. 

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