Semi-final match preview: United v City
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to progress to his first final as Manchester United manager when we host Manchester City in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final.
The Reds made it to the last-four stage in three separate competitions last season, but failed to progress to the final on each occasion.
Should United defeat our cross-city neighbours at Old Trafford in this one-off tie, it would not only ensure a place in the Wembley cup final in April, but City’s monopoly over the competition would also be brought to an end.
Ahead of what is sure to be a dramatic night at the Theatre of Dreams, we have all the essential pre-match information…
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE GAME?
The match kicks off at 19:45 GMT and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK. United fans will also be able to follow all the action on ManUtd.com and in our Official App, where you can also track in-game data using our Match Centre. MUTV will provide build-up, live radio commentary and post-match reaction, as well as showing full reruns of the game the following day.
Given the fixture congestion caused by the COVID-19 pandemic this season, the EFL have opted to implement single-legged semi-finals in 2020/21. Should the game finish level after 90 minutes, we will have 30 minutes of extra-time and, if necessary, penalties.
Following consultation with the four clubs remaining in the competition, nine substitutes can now be named in the matchday squad, with five permitted to take to the pitch during the 90 minutes and extra time if applicable. Each team is only permitted a maximum of three in-game opportunities to make substitutions during normal time. However, if a tie goes to extra time, an additional opportunity to use a substitute(s) will also be permitted, but only from the five substitutes allowed.
VAR will also be in operation on Wednesday. The winners of the derby will face either Tottenham Hotspur or Brentford - a match that takes place on Tuesday night - in the final, which last month was rearranged for the later date of 25 April.
Ole is in the rare position that he has five days to prepare for Wednesday’s game, two more than City, who played on Sunday. Victor Lindelof remains a doubt with a back problem that has kept him out for the last two matches, while Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are long-term absentees. Edinson Cavani will serve the second of his three-match ban.
As for the visitors, their recent preparations have been disrupted due to a coronavirus outbreak among the squad. Ederson, Kyle Walker, Eric Garcia and Gabriel Jesus missed the recent game against Chelsea after contracting the virus, while there were also reports that Ferran Torres - who wasn’t included in the squad at the weekend - is currently self-isolating. With Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte also doubts through injury, Pep Guardiola’s squad has been stretched thin in recent weeks. American Zack Steffen deputised in goal against Chelsea, while Sergio Aguero stepped up his recuperation from a recent injury when he was introduced late on at Stamford Bridge.
United head into this one on the back of five wins from our last six in all competitions since the league meeting on 12 December. We extended our excellent recent form with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on New Year’s Day. The Reds have won our last three at the Theatre of Dreams and haven’t lost a domestic match in over two months. Ole’s men progressed to this stage of the competition after eliminating Luton Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and Everton.
Meanwhile, City have won the last four in all competitions, including Sunday’s 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge. The Blues haven’t lost any of their previous 10 and have scored nine in the last three games. City made it to the semi-finals following wins over Bournemouth, Burnley and Arsenal in the previous rounds.
This will actually be City’s fourth visit to the Theatre of Dreams in the last 12 months. The first occurred almost a year ago to the day, when Guardiola’s side won 3-1 in the first leg of last season’s League Cup semi-final, on 7 January 2020. It was United who won the reverse leg, but City qualified on aggregate. The Reds did enact some revenge on our rivals when we hosted them in March, as goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay fired us to a 2-0 victory. City also made the short trip to Old Trafford last month, as the two sides played out a goalless draw. Following Wednesday’s game, Ole will have faced Guardiola the joint-most times of any opposition manager during his time at United (seven meetings). A win in the semi-final would also move him on to four wins against the former Barcelona coach, a tally he has reached against just one other manager while Reds boss (Graham Potter).
Kevin De Bruyne is more often than not the mastermind in this City side. The Belgian was at his brilliant best against Chelsea on Sunday, playing in an unconventional centre-forward role. Ilkay Gundogan also shone in central midfield and was voted Man of the Match in the 3-1 victory. Guardiola’s side, so regularly lauded for their attacking displays, have actually conceded fewer goals in the Premier League this season than any other club. That’s due much in part to the excellent displays of John Stones and Ruben Dias, who have established a formidable partnership at at the heart of defence.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant Referees: Harry Lennard and Nick Hopton
Fourth Official: David Coote
Video Assistant Referee: Jonathan Moss
Additional Video Assistant Referee: Lee Betts