Manchester United and Manchester City will resume their rivalry in the fourth round of the 2016-17 EFL Cup on Wednesday, as the two clubs face off at Old Trafford.
The Citizens bagged a 2-1 win the last time these two sides met early in September, but City have since fallen on some hard times, failing to win any of their last five matches across all competitions. United have had similar struggles, headlined by Sunday’s embarrassing 4-0 loss at Chelsea.
With both clubs searching for some momentum, the latest installment of this heated rivalry couldn’t come at a better time. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming clash.
Date: Wednesday, October 26
Time: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, Eric Bailly is a major doubt for the hosts, as the centre-back picked up a knock in the loss against Chelsea. According to United manager Jose Mourinho, it could be serious:
Jose Mourinho on Eric Bailly: "He's injured & I'm afraid he's badly injured. In his knee, in the ligament area, he feels it is really bad." pic.twitter.com/9FTuB70K9P
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 23, 2016
Marouane Fellaini is also out of Manchester United’s EFL Cup clash after picking up a knee injury against Chelsea, according to The Mirror.
Per the Manchester Evening News, City are likely to be without a key player, as Kevin De Bruyne was spotted limping after the draw against Southampton. The Belgian was replaced at half-time.
Predicted United XI: David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Predicted City XI: Claudio Bravo, John Stones, Vincent Kompany, Aleksandar Kolarov, Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho, Nolito, David Silva, Jesus Navas, Kelechi Iheanacho
The EFL Cup usually provides top teams like United and City with the perfect opportunity to rest some of their key starters, But this week’s clash is no ordinary match.
Apart from the fact the two teams share a long and bitter rivalry, both the Red Devils and the Citizens desperately need a result.
While much has been made of Mourinho’s dreadful return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, City’s poor run can’t be overlooked, either. Per Sky Sports News HQ, manager Pep Guardiola rarely faces these kind of runs:
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) October 24, 2016
Both Mourinho and Guardiola will have some tough choices to make on Wednesday, especially when it comes to team selection. With UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches on the horizon, giving a few players the chance to rest may not be such a bad idea.
Then again, losing the local derby would be a major blow for either manager, with both finding themselves in tough situations entering the match.
Whatever tactical plan Mourinho came up with for Sunday’s match against Chelsea, it fell apart inside the first minute, with Pedro punishing an error from the defence and David De Gea.
Comical errors were a recurring theme against the Blues, but United’s lack of intensity or clear attacking vision played a big part in the loss as well.
Even veteran footballer Eidur Gudjohnsen took a shot at the former Real Madrid boss:
— Eidur Gudjohnsen (@Eidur22Official) October 23, 2016
Mourinho proved he can come up with the right plan to shut down an explosive attack earlier this month, however, as Liverpool repeatedly ran into a wall at Anfield. With the right intensity, a similar approach could work against Guardiola’s possession-based philosophy.
The likely absence of De Bruyne is a big blow for the Citizens, who rely on his creativity in the attacking third. They have plenty of attacking depth, however, and youngster Kelechi Iheanacho should have the opportunity to continue his strong run.
In all likelihood, he and his team-mates will face a defence weakened by the absence of Bailly, by far the team’s top option at the back so far. Daley Blind has done well as an emergency option in the past, but it’s far from an ideal situation.