It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, so the last thing either coach probably needed was an all-Manchester clash in the Round of 16 of the EFL Cup. With both sides having suffered 4-0 defeats in the last seven days, who will be able to console themselves with a derby win come Thursday morning?
Make no mistake, the pressure is really growing on Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. The nature of the 4-0 capitulation at Stamford Bridge on Sunday will have confirmed many supporters worst fears that the 2015/16 version of Mourinho who was sacked from Chelsea was not just an imposter. What is certainly evident is Mourinho does not know his best side, and many players are operating way below their normal high levels, perhaps as a consequence of not knowing in which position they will find themselves the following match? Big summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba have been disappointing, but they are far from the only ones who have failed to light up a lacklustre campaign for the Red Devils thus far. 7th-placed United now sit six points behind neighbours City in the Premier League table and defeat at the hands of their bitter city rivals in the cup on Wednesday night might just be too much for the red half of Manchester to bear.
After a flying start for Pep Guardiola at City, the last few results have come as a nasty shock. It’s now three games in a row without a win in the Premier League after Sunday’s disappointing home draw with Southampton, and a heavy defeat at Barcelona in the Champions League will hardly have helped confidence. Defensive mistakes have a been a feature of City’s performances in recent weeks, while a lack of potency at the other end of the pitch – City have only scored twice in their last four games – has only compounded matters. A victory at Old Trafford would certainly go a long way to banishing doubts as well as underlining the fact that things are far from gloomy at the Etihad so early on in Guardiola’s tenure. City, after all, are still top of the league.
Head-to-head and team news
United are four times winners of the League Cup, last claiming the trophy back in 2010, while Mourinho won the competition three times as Chelsea boss, in 2004/05, 2006/07 and 2014/15. City of course are the holders after defeating Liverpool on penalties in last season’s version, and also claimed the trophy back in 2013/14, likewise making it four wins in total. This will be the fifth time the two Manchester sides have been paired together in England’s second cup competition, with both teams progressing twice. The last time the two met in 2010, Wayne Rooney scored a 90th minute goal which ensured United progressed to the final, 4-3 on aggregate.
In the last round, City put out a young side which ultimately overcame Swansea City 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium, Aleix Garcia scoring his first senior goal for a line-up which had a much-changed look to the regular Premier League outfit. United, in contrast, put out a strong side in struggling to overcome League 1 Northampton Town, but it remains to be seen what kind of teams the two opposing coaches will put out on Wednesday evening with victory meaning so much to both sets of supporters. For the home side, both Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini are fitness doubts, while Eric Bailly seems destined for a long spell on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury sustained at Stamford Bridge. For the visitors, Kevin De Bruyne may well be protected after coming off with a knock against Southampton.
Manchester United, Wednesday 26/10/16 at 20.00 GMT
Manchester United 2.40, Draw 3.40, Manchester City 2.90
All odds courtesy of bet365 and correct as of 15.00 GMT on 24/10/16
By: Steve Paget