A two-legged Manchester derby — with a spot in the Carabao Cup final on the line — kicks off Tuesday night at Old Trafford. Here’s everything that you need to know ahead of the match.
(1) The weekend’s FA Cup opener ended 0-0 at Molineux. Not a terrible result at a tough place to play, but the performance didn’t exactly set hearts racing. In fact, Manchester United ended the match without a single shot on goal. Even worse, the bore draw means a replay at Old Trafford next week. Adding another game to January’s fixture pile up won’t make the club’s top four challenge any easier.
Zero shots on target. Manchester United finish this game with 0 shots on target against Wolves. What an absolutely horrific attacking display. Terrible game. Replay at Old Trafford.— Devils of United (@DevilsOfUnited) January 4, 2020
(2) With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay sidelined for the foreseeable future, Manchester United could ill afford any more missing pieces. Unfortunately, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard both left Friday’s training session due to illness and sat out the next day against Wolves. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on their chances for a quick return:
I hope so. They’ve had a night or two in their own beds and, hopefully, some Bovril or paracetamol. We’ll check on Monday probably or maybe some of them will be in [Sunday].
(3) And that’s not the end of it. Harry Maguire suffered an injury in the first half at Wolves and must be considered a doubt for the Manchester City match. Maguire nearly came off at halftime on Saturday, but convinced Solskjaer to leave him on for the second half. If Maguire can’t go, Phil Jones would likely partner Victor Lindelöf at center back.
(4) Of the players rested over the weekend, expect Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw (unfortunately), Fred, and Marcus Rashford to be back in the starting eleven on Tuesday. In goal, too, it will be interesting to see what Solskjaer has planned. Sergio Romero has been great throughout the entire Carabao Cup competition this season — but, since he played at Wolves on Saturday, will David De Gea come back in for this one?
Find your team a backup keeper like Sergio Romero pic.twitter.com/IbsktT2Ojl— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 4, 2020
(5) Last month, Manchester United traveled to the Etihad and recorded their best result of the season with a 2-1 derby victory. The Reds scored twice in six first-half minutes — with Marcus Rashford converting a penalty and Anthony Martial using some fancy footwork to beat Ederson at the near post. Nicolas Otamendi pulled one back in the 85th minute, but United were well worth all three points.
(6) No doubt the Carabao Cup pales in comparison to the other competitions, but Solskjaer and his Reds shouldn’t turn their noses up at any opportunity to add more silverware to the club’s cabinet.
(7) Manchester City, winners in 2018 and 2019, are shooting for a Carabao Cup three-peat. United last won this competition in 2017 under José Mourinho — the fifth League Cup in club history. In all, the two Manchester sides have won four straight League Cups and five of the last six.
(8) Aymeric Laporte is nearing a return for City. Sidelined since August with a knee injury, the defender resumed training last week. He’s unlikely to feature on Tuesday, but Pep Guardiola cannot wait to get him back:
He feels good. I think [this] week he will complete all the training sessions with us. I don’t know [when he will play again]. You think about it, but I think he will dictate with how he feels. He has been out for four months and needs time. So it is not like he can immediately play 90 minutes.
(9) While Manchester United struggled to a draw against Wolves, Manchester City eased past Port Vale 4-1. Guardiola, much like Solskjaer, rotated heavily on Saturday — preferring to keep most of his first-team regulars fresh for the derby. Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, and Gabriel Jesus were all on the bench, while Kevin de Bruyne, Benjamin Mendy, and Fernandinho weren’t even in the squad.
(10) After the Wolves draw, Solskjaer spoke about the need for rotation:
We’re in a phase of the season where we know how we want to play, but it’s just about recovery. We need that time to prepare tactically. I think we’re ready tactically for these games and we can tweak things on the board and in the meeting rooms. It’s just about having fresh minds and fresh legs. Some have played and are tired — some haven’t played and felt the effects of that towards the end.
(11) And, to end on a happy note, a quick look at the state of Manchester United’s midfield...
Manchester United's midfield players in the Premier League this season:— 360Sources (@360Sources) January 5, 2020
Fred 0 goals 0 assists
Pereira 1 goal 3 assists
Mata 0 goals 0 assists
McTominay 3 goals 1 assist
Pogba 0 goals 2 assists (injuries)
Lingard 0 goals 0 assists (useless)