Whilst it may not be the most glamorous competition in the world, the Carabao Cup offers Premier League clubs their first chances of a trophy for the season. The showpiece finale in early March can often be the catalyst for further success and really set up a platform for the rest of the campaign.
And the one team standing in Manchester United’s way, is arch-rivals and noisy neighbours Manchester City. With the first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will no doubt be hoping that the Red Devils stamp their authority on the occasion and get a result that will hold them in good stead for the return leg at the Etihad.
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Having beaten City in their own backyard in the Premier League in December, United will no doubt have some confidence of pulling off yet another win. So whilst the busy festive period has taken its toll, Solskjaer’s intentions will be clear with the kind of line-up he puts out. Below is a look at the team the Norwegian should think about playing.
Having played in the FA Cup, Sergio Romero will undoubtedly be looking at the the game against City as a chance to start in a cup competition once more. But with the stakes a lot higher now, David de Gea should surely make his return to the line-up.
In front of him, Aaron Wan-Bissaka should replace Ashley Young at right-back, whilst Brandon Williams, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire (injury permitting) must keep their places. And with Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba still out injured, Fred has to come in to replace Andreas Pereira, following the Brazilian’s dire performance in a deeper-lying midfield position against Wolves.
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If Anthony Martial recovers from his injury, the Frenchman needs to come in to spearhead the attack, with Mason Greenwood moving out to the right-hand side and Marcus Rashford returning to the left-hand side. That will leave Solskjaer with the choice of potentially going for the safer option of Pereira in the number ten role, or perhaps be bolder and trust Angel Gomes. The latter could be the kind of inspirational decision that changes the tide.