Manchester United v Manchester City | League Cup Preview

Manchester United v Manchester City | League Cup Preview

It’s the second installment of the Mourinho-Guardiola act at Old Trafford, this time in the league cup with a place in the quarterfinal on the line.

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The moods at both camps cannot be more different to what they were before the last time these two sides met in the Premier League. Both teams had enjoyed a 100% win record in the opening three games before the international break which stood between the Manchester Derby in early September that City won (their 50th derby win in all competitions) on the day.

Manchester United were brought crashing down to earth by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the weekend in a 4-0 humiliation after a 6 game unbeaten streak. Mourinho suffered his heaviest defeat in a ground where he enjoyed a lot of success in his career and questions were raised as to the lack of application and pattern of play from United that Chelsea were able to show, on the day, under new manager Antonio Conte. With only one win in the last 6 PL games at Old Trafford against Manchester City, it will be interesting to see if the Portuguese can turn the fortunes around and get the campaign up and running.

Pep Guardiola suffered similar problems against his former club FC Barcelona in the Champions League, a 4-0 defeat away at the Nou Camp, but their problems seemed to have compounded with every game they fail to win in the Premier League. City have failed to win a single game in the league in October and in fact they are without a win in five consecutive games, something that Guardiola has experienced only once in his managerial career. Another win at Old Trafford could only spark a good run of form, which they need to go on, ahead of a crucial December for them.

Team News 

Eric Bailly and Marouane Fellaini are the two high profile casualties from the defeat to Chelsea and the former is set to miss most of the football in the next 12 weeks. The Belgian is nursing a knee injury while captain Wayne Rooney is still recovering from a muscular injury that kept him from travelling to London on the weekend. Phil Jones remains sidelined and Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be involved for the first time since the last Manchester derby.

De Bruyne suffered a slight knock, but manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed that the 25-year old will feature on Wednesday. But full backs Zabaleta and Sagna are definitely out of contention with the pair recovering from a foot and hamstring injury respectively which will prevent them from getting involved for another week at the least.

Interesting Numbers 

  1. This is the 173rd Manchester derby played between United and City with United winning 71 and City winning 50 of those.
  2. Wayne Rooney is the all-time top scorer in these matches with 11 goals and Sergio Aguero is not far behind with 8 goals to his name.

Key Men 

Juan Mata – Manchester United 

Mata may not be one of the first names of Mourinho’s team-sheet but his influence on Manchester United going forward is undeniable. With Juan Mata in the starting line-up United have picked up 13 out of 15 points while only 1 out of a possible 12 were accrued without him starting the game. It is telling and with the game played at Old Trafford, United are expected to take the initiative and attack meaning the little Spaniard will be vital to United doing well to turn their season around.

Ilkay Gundogan – Manchester City 

There is always a certain weight of expectation of the supporters that comes with being the first signing of a new manager. Ilkay Gundogan was Guardiola’s first signing at Manchester City and it’s easy to see why. The German midfielder is as quick with the ball on his feet as he is in his head in finding spaces and creating opportunities for his teammates. Having already opened his account for the blues, he will be relishing the chance to show what he can do at the home of their biggest rivals making him the most important player for the visitors.

Prediction 

With both teams not looking confident enough going into the game, expect a cagey affair in the first 30 minutes. But Old Trafford has been one of Sergio Aguero’s favorite grounds and City should have enough quality to edge this one. A controversial red card in the second half is worth a punt, with Mike Dean refereeing this one.

Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City