This midweek, the League cup (now called Carabao cup) will see the holders Manchester United take a trip down to South Wales to play Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in the round of 16. This will be United’s second trip to Wales this season following an impressive 4-0 win at Swansea in the league in August.
The Swans have endured a difficult start to the new season under Paul Clement after remarkably escaping the clutches of relegation last campaign. Two wins, two draws and five defeats from the nine games have seen the Welsh side hovering at 15th – with only goal difference separating them and the relegation zone. Their recent form in the Premier League has been cause for concern with 3 defeats in the last five games.
Considering their position in the league table and the next few fixtures coming against sides in the bottom half of the table (barring Arsenal), Clement is expected to rotate his side for Tuesday’s visit of Manchester United to prevent any key injuries to his best eleven, going into November and the busier Christmas period.
Manchester United have hit a snag this season and it had been coming for the Red Devils. A draw at Liverpool killed all the momentum they had accrued over a period of scoring goals for fun at lesser sides but the defeat finally came against Huddersfield Town – who had not managed to win a game themselves, since August. Manchester United suddenly look less creative in the final third – for a side that had racked up the goals in the first few weeks so much so that they are still the league’s second highest goal scorers, only behind their neighbours across town.
With Mourinho publicly questioning and criticizing the players’ attitude for the first time in his 16-month spell at United, the cup game on Tuesday has now gained more importance than it would have otherwise. United need to get back in winning ways – and find their scoring boots as soon as possible and they could not have asked for a kinder fixture than that, give the current state of affairs.
Wilfried Bony is a major doubt ahead of the cup encounter but the Swans will have the rest of the squad available for selection.
Phil Jones joined Man United’s bulging injury list – as the defender suffered a knock that forced him off midway through the first half in the defeat at Huddersfield. With Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick all ruled out – it is likely that the squad rotation in midfield could come in the form of Scott McTominay with Axel Tuanzebe also expected to start at the back. Luke Shaw is fit for selection and could feature at left-back on Tuesday.
Alfie Mawson – Swansea City
Swansea City have suffered four defeats in five games at home – and their most recent setback came against 2015-16 champions Leicester City. The defender scored in the weekend – his first of the season but was unable to prevent his side from going down in a hotly-contested affair against the Foxes.
The 23-year old has been one of the better players for the Swans this season, at the back where they cannot let their standards slip on Tuesday – against a wounded Manchester United side, if they were to stage an upset and seal progression to a cup quarter final.
Marcus Rashford – Manchester City
Marcus Rashford has been consistently brilliant this campaign under Mourinho – both on and off the ball. His development has been a joy to watch – with the forward now contributing more often than he did last season. United look better with him running the opposition defences ragged and that is all United need to do now – reproduce the kind of football that made them a force going forward in the opening two months of the season and regain the lost momentum back – ahead of the more crunch fixtures in the league.
The visitors will shade what promises to be a tight game under the lights and a bit of rain.
Swansea City 1-2 Manchester United