There will be no repeat of last year’s Carling Cup final as Sir Alex’s young team face Harry Redknapp’s high-flying Spurs in the quarter-finals…
Form guide: Tottenham will be travelling to Old Trafford with high hopes. They are unbeaten in three games, including a 9-1 mauling of Wigan a little over a week ago, and lie in third place in the Premier League table. Perhaps, after many years of false dawns, Spurs may finally be making a serious challenge for the top four. United are back on track in the league, but Sir Alex is likely to field a similar young side to the one that lost out to Besiktas last week, with sections of the media believing the Reds have a point to prove after a below-par Champions League performance.
Ins and outs: Redknapp will be missing three key players on Tuesday, but they are all long-term injuries with no fresh worries from the weekend. Ledley King is out with a hamstring problem, Luka Modric continues to nurse a fibula injury sustained in August, and Carlo Cudicini will be out for the foreseeable future after fracturing both wrists in a motorcycle accident. For the Reds, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans are again both doubts, while Rio Ferdinand continues to suffer from a back injury. It is still too early for Owen Hargreaves, who is making good progress in his recovery from a knee operation. Sir Alex is likely to opt for youth, as has been his wont in the Carling Cup.
Star man: Jermain Defoe is scoring goals left, right and centre, and is a good bet to be on the plane to South Africa in the summer. He hit five in the demolition of Wigan and is the Premier League's joint top scorer with Didier Drogba.
Manager: Redknapp has worked his usual magic and propelled Spurs up the table. They were bottom when he took over last season but was able to lead them to a top-half finish. This year Spurs topped the table early on and, despite a couple of wobbles against the top sides (Liverpool aside), are right in the hunt for a Champions League place. Former Portsmouth, Southampton and West Ham boss Redknapp continues to impress.