The Blues have one foot in the Carabao Cup final, following a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford in the first leg, and Pep Guardiola’s men are in pole position to reach their third consecutive final appearance in the competition.
Manchester City are in good form and are undefeated in 2020 – the Blues have also won seven of the previous eight fixtures, whilst Manchester United have won just three of their previous eight matches and will be without top scorer Marcus Rashford.
Should the Blues progress to the final, Pep Guardiola’s men will become the first team of the 21st century to reach the League Cup final three times in a row, and given the contrasting form of the Manchester sides, perhaps this is a probability rather than a possibility.
City and United both cruised past lower-league opposition at the weekend to qualify for the fifth round of the FA Cup, with both teams naming relatively strong line-ups despite the inferior opponents. An early Fulham red card resulted to a straightforward victory for the Blues, and meant that Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero were not called upon from the substitutes bench. On the other hand, Manchester United took the opportunity to substitute Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic off the field relatively early in the game, with the tie against third-tier strugglers Tranmere effectively over after just 20 minutes.
In the Premier League, City sit 17 points ahead of the Trafford outfit and barring a substantial drop in form, City look set to finish ahead of United for the 8th consecutive season. However, despite the apparent gap in quality between the two squads, Manchester United did win 2-1 the last time the two sides met at the Etihad, and City may be in for a more difficult game than initially expected.
Leroy Sane remains unavailable, although he is close to returning to the Manchester City side, after being photographed in training with the rest of the first-team on Monday morning. Aymeric Laporte’s involvement is ‘doubtful‘, with Pep Guardiola describing the Frenchman as ‘fatigued‘. The in-form Riyad Mahrez picked up a knock in the victory over Fulham, as did Joao Cancelo, and Pep Guardiola has suggested that both players may struggle to recover in time for the fixture.
For Manchester United, club captain Harry Maguire is fit after missing the first-leg through injury, whilst fellow defenders Axel Tuanzebe and Marcos Rojo are unavailable for the fixture. Furthermore, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford will also miss Wednesday night’s derby, with the latter recently suffering from a back injury.
Neither team has any suspensions going into the fixture.
Head to Head
Wednesday’s semi-final will be the 181st meeting between the two clubs and the fixture is one that rarely disappoints. Manchester City first encountered Manchester United in October 1891, when under the name of Ardwick FC, and the two clubs have since faced off 179 times, with City picking up 54 victories.
The Blues have won four of the previous six encounters, whilst Manchester United have won twice – both at the Etihad Stadium.
Typically, Manchester United are a side that play on the counter but with the Reds going into the match two goals down on aggregate, United will likely attack from the off in the hope of quickly re-establishing themselves in the tie.
Notable for consistent line-up rotation, Guardiola is unlikely to name the same line-up as he did in the first-leg. In recent weeks, Pep has occasionally strayed from his favoured 4-3-3 formation into a 3-4-2-1 – a formation that allows for the wing-backs to bomb forward more, whilst also giving more freedom for Kevin De Bruyne to roam forward and terrorise the opposition.
The last time the sides met, Guardiola surprisingly opted to not field a recognised striker, however, this decision proved dividends with City racing into a three-goal lead before half-time. Manchester City’s dominance in the first-half forced Solskjaer to substitute the ineffective Jesse Lingard for the defensively astute Nemanja Matic. The Serbian’s introduction altered the complexion of the game and United were arguably the better side in the second half.
With that in mind Solskjaer will surely start Matic on Wednesday to prevent Manchester City from easily dismantling United’s defence again.
Andre Marriner will oversee Wednesday’s Manchester derby. The select group one official last took charge of a Manchester City match on New Year’s Day, when the Blues defeated Everton 3-1. Marriner will be joined by assistants Simon Long and Richard West, while Peter Bankes will be the fourth official.
Unlike in previous rounds of the tournament, VAR will be in operation and will be utilised by officials at Stockley Park. The officials have not been named by either the Referees’ Association, nor the EFL themselves.
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