Key Battles: Big challenge for former Manchester United youth James Weir

Jose Mourinho seems to love the League Cup, winning the competition three times in his tenures at Chelsea. On Tuesday he has the chance to all but secure a place in the final once more with Manchester United. Mourinho made changes to the side in the 4-0 FA Cup victory over Reading, presumably with this tie in mind. It seems the United boss is placing significant importance on this competition for United this season, and with good reason too, a win at Wembley in February may well go some way to instilling a winning mentality in this side. With this in mind, a strong side should be expected at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening. Staple names in Mourinho’s United side, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should return to the fold and it is the performance of these players who will determine how enjoyable an evening United fans enjoy at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan vs James Weir

Having been left out of the squad completely at the weekend, Mkhitaryan looks set to return to the side as United welcome Hull to the Theatre of dreams on Tuesday. Mkhitaryan has been the difference maker for the Reds since his return to the fold in November. It was in the last round of this competition at home to West Ham in which the Armenia captain put in the performance to announce himself in English football, stealing the show with two assists on that night. United will be hoping for a similar performance on Tuesday. With Elmohamady away at the African Cup of Nations, Mike Phelan had suggested, before his sacking, that it would be James Weir who would deputise on the right side of the defence. The former United reserve captain has struggled for game time at Hull this term but looks as if he will get his chance at the club he grew up at. The Prestonian showed time and time again in his time at United that despite playing more naturally as a midfielder, he is perfectly able to deputise at right back, a position he played very often in Warren Joyce’s U21 side. However, Mkhitaryan represents a calibre of opponent that Weir will not have faced in competitive action before.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Curtis Davis

Zlatan began 2017 with a goal at the London Stadium seven days prior to Tuesday’s semi-final and will look to emulate his obscene goal scoring form of 2016. The Swedish striker has been on fire of late, now scoring an impressive 18 goals in all competitions since his summer switch from Paris Saint-Germain. On Tuesday, Zlatan has the chance to fire his new club to a cup final. The man tasked with containing Zlatan will be Curtis Davis. The Englishman has endured a torrid season for Hull so far this season, in a side that has only kept one clean sheet all season, coming in late August. Zlatan can’t stop scoring, and Hull can’t stop teams scoring, it will take a mammoth performance from Davis on Tuesday to contain United’s number nine.

Ander Herrera vs Robert Snodgrass

A bright spark in an otherwise turbulent campaign for Hull has been Rivera Snodgrass. The Scot has found the back of the net 12 times for Hull this season, an impressive total for a player who operates in midfield, in a  side struggling the way Hull are. Snodgrass represents a large portion of Hull’s attacking threat, so he will need to be marshalled carefully. And the man who will likely become most engaged in battles with Snodgrass on Tuesday will be Ander Herrera. The Basque has been phenomenal for United this term, driving United forward with his energy and pressing. Snodgrass certainly won’t enjoy any kind of space at Old Trafford with Herrera snapping at his heels.

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