Manchester United welcome Frank Lampard’s Derby County to Old Trafford on Tuesday for a third round Carabao Cup tie. The Reds hope to bounce back after a disappointing home draw against Wolves at the weekend.
That 1-1 stalemate snapped United’s three-match winning streak. Joao Moutinho’s second-half goal for the visitors canceled out Fred’s opener and, although both sides had plenty of chances to claim all three points, they ultimately shared the spoils.
Needless to say, José Mourinho was not impressed. “I think we didn’t deserve more than a draw and I think Wolves deserved to leave the pitch with that result as compensation for the hard work they put in,” the manager said afterwards. “We were not intense enough in our defensive work.”
“We didn’t press in an intense way. We gave them too much time to be comfortable on the ball and we were not creative enough in the last third with many players not sharp with that fire you need in the last third to beat an organized block of seven players.”
Now it’s another quick turnaround for the cup match on Tuesday. Expect some changes to the United lineup. Last season, neither Romelu Lukaku nor Nemanja Matić started any of the club’s Carabao Cup games. While Mourinho has won this competition four times in his career, he’s obviously not afraid to use his full squad in the early stages.
That might mean minutes for Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira, or Scott McTominay. All have found playing time hard to come by in recent weeks and could use strong cup performances to make their cases for bigger roles.
In defense, Victor Lindelöf has played in all seven matches this season (starting six of them) with Chris Smalling his partner in the last five. Tuesday could be the perfect chance to give the pair a rest, while bringing Phil Jones and Eric Bailly back into the side.
Mourinho already announced one change — Diogo Dalot will make his second start. “He plays again on Tuesday,” he said. “To play for Manchester United is difficult enough for a kid who is 19 years old, coming from another country, and after an important injury and surgery. He doesn’t need to face more difficulties because of an accumulation of matches.”
Rotating the right back spot serves a dual purpose for the club — keeping an aging Antonio Valencia healthy and easing Dalot into English football. The 19-year-old Portuguese defender impressed in his debut against Young Boys, looking especially dangerous when pushing up field. He won’t start every match, but Dalot looks certain to see lots of playing time this season.
In suspension-related news: Marcus Rashford serves the final match of his suspension on Tuesday, while Nemanja Matić is available for selection after missing the Wolves game.
For the second match running, Mourinho will share the touchline with one of his former players. Frank Lampard, one of his top midfielders at Chelsea, took over the Derby County hot seat this summer when Gary Rowett left for Stoke City.
The Pride Park job is Lampard’s first managerial post and, so far, is going pretty well. Derby County sit 6th in the Championship, only two points behind league leaders Leeds United and Middlesbrough. The Rams lost in the semi-finals last season and hope to go one better this time around.
At the weekend, Derby County defeated Brentford 3-1. Mason Mount, a 19-year-old loanee from Chelsea, scored the club’s final goal of the day, capping off a strong start to his loan. He’s already established himself as one of Lampard’s strongest players.
Besides Mount, Derby boasts an assortment of great Championship players who have Premier League experience. The likes of David Nugent, Scott Carson, Tom Huddlestone, and Curtis Davies won’t be intimidated by this match or the prospect of playing at Old Trafford.
Lampard agrees, seeing Tuesday’s cup tie as a no-lose proposition for his club. “It’s a great opportunity for us to go against a very good Manchester United team,” the first-year manager explained. “Everything is against us. That’s going to be good for us because we can take on that challenge. People will expect us to lose that game.”
“We go there with a desire to give everything we can to get through to the next round,” he continued. “It’s a test for all of us. It’s a test for me, it’s a test for the players, and it’ll be a good atmosphere. We must see it as a test we want to rise to.”
With their league title chances dwindling, José Mourinho and his players would be wise to take any cup competition very seriously. No one at Old Trafford wants another trophy-less season. The Carabao Cup obviously pales in comparison to the Premier League or the Champions League, but would still be a valued addition to the club’s honor roll. Let’s get this cup run started with an emphatic win on Tuesday.