In some other universe, Manchester United are striding into this League Cup tie in a fine mood. After attacking — and dismantling — Liverpool’s ropey defence at Anfield, they rolled over Benfica and Huddersfield in fine style and now, as the Carabao Cup rears its awkwardly-timed head, they can happily rotate the squad from a position of strength and confidence.
That universe is not this universe. In this universe, they’re playing miserably.
This probably won’t prevent Jose Mourinho from chopping and changing, at least a bit. A rampant Tottenham are waiting at the weekend, and United are going to need as many fresh legs as is feasible. But at the same time, there’s a real need for a clear-the-air performance against Swansea City tonight. Somewhere, probably the bus to Anfield, United’s momentum was misplaced. They need to find it again.
There are a few players in need of a decent performance as well. Ander Herrera hasn’t looked worthy of his place in midfield, Victor Lindelof has some making up to do, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s form has dipped dramatically. No idea if any of them will play, of course. But Luke Shaw might! Won’t that be fun?
Carabao Cup TV channel
In the UK, you can watch the game either on Sky Sports Main Event or on Sky Sports Football, depending on taste. In the USA, look for ESPN3. Everybody else, check on livesoccertv.com.
Carabao Cup streaming
You’ll need SkyGo in the UK, and WatchESPN in the USA.
Predicted lineup: [shrug emoji]
Oh okay then. Let’s embrace the squad, shall we? Joel Pereira; Axel Tuanzebe, Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw; Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay; Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard.
Well, we were close enough.
This will also be our livethread for the game, so do join us in the comments below.