Old Trafford, Manchester
EFL Cup 2016/17
Tuesday 10th January 2017 – KO 20:00 [Live on Sky Sports]
Manchester United will continue their resurgence this season by entertaining Hull City at Old Trafford in the semi-final first leg of the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening. United have started a bit of a run so far, being unbeaten in their last 14 matches in all competition, winning their last eight, six of those in the Premier League. This is the best run United have amassed since 2009, which shows a massive change in fortune under the guidance of Jose Mourinho in his debut season, just weeks after the media were suggesting that United had not done any better than under David Moyes in the 2013/14 season, which is not the case today. For weeks, United have been in the sixth position in the Premier League, grinding out result after result and clawing back what was an eleven point gap between them and Arsenal, who today sit above United with a two-point cushion, which to me would suggest maybe Arsenal were still not worthy of the position they were currently occupying.
United are the only Premier League team competing in four competitions this season, with a place in the round of 32 in the UEFA Europa League, a fourth round place in the Emirates FA Cup after defeating Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday, scoring four goals, and now a semi-final place in the EFL Cup, which could see them face either Southampton, or their second-coming, Liverpool in the final, should they dispatch Hull City, of course. United’s new-found dominance in the league has shown their rivals that they may have been down, but were certainly not out, which could cause a title charge during the remainder of the season. Next weekend’s match against Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams will be key to that, cutting their five-point cushion, to just two points with a victory over Jurgen Klopp’s side, who today managed a 0-0 draw against Plymouth Argyle, a team no less than 68 places below them in League One. Mourinho confirmed that four players rested against Reading, two of those being on the bench, will come back into the team against Hull City, saying:
“I play with the players that didn’t play today. I played with fresh players and I don’t want to say anything about first choice or second choice but we played with fresh players, the players who didn’t play against West Ham.
“In the next match against Hull City we are going to play again with fresh players. So it’s easy to know our team – Zlatan, Pogba, Herrera, Valencia. The guys that didn’t play today.”
Mourinho is well aware of the importance of Sunday’s visit of Liverpool in the Premier League, a match which is seen as key to clawing back their position and using it to propel themselves with a better chance of breaking into the top four this season.
“Hull face a semi-final, also a big occasion for them, and I don’t know maybe for them, it’s more important the match they have to play three or four days later in the Premier League [against Bournemouth].
“We play against Liverpool, a big match for us, but we want to be in the final. So we are going to face this Hull match with everything we have, all the power we have, as we know it’s two legs but the second leg is away. If we can do something in the first leg that gives us the advantage, so we will try to do that.”
Manchester United Form: WWWWW
Reading 4-0 W, West Ham United 2-0 W, Middlesbrough 2-1 W, Sunderland 3-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-0 W
Manchester United have been playing some great attacking football for weeks now, and against Reading, despite nine changes by Jose Mourinho, that continued, which showed that United have the squad depth to be able to compete on all four fronts like they currently are this season. January will be a tough month for the Red Devils, having to play just three league matches, two Emirates FA Cup matches and two EFL Cup matches, which will mean they will have played seven matches by the end of the month, which could define their season, which will be a good thing. After Hull, United face Liverpool at Old Trafford after the two sides drew 0-0 at Anfield, with United aiming to cut Jurgen Klopp’s side’s lead of five points, down to just two, virtually ending their title challenge, maybe starting their own.
Hull City Form: WLDLL
Swansea City 2-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 3-1 L, Everton 2-2 D, Manchester City 3-0 L, West Ham United 1-0 L
Hull City have not had a great season, starting with Mike Phelan as their interim manager, then for him to be named the manager, now Marco Silva coming in to lead his side to safety in the Premier League this season. Hull may have been a different team in the EFL Cup this season, earning a semi-final berth, but United are quite a different team than the one that just beat them at the start of the season at the death. Hull sits rock bottom in the Premier League this season, with much to learn and lots to do in order to change that. Silva’s side are six points from safety, which is achievable to get out of, providing they win matches, of course, which is a major doubt looking at their list of injuries.
Manchester United Top Scorers:
18 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 6 – Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, 4 – Wayne Rooney, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 1 – Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling
Hull City Top Scorers:
9 – Robert Snodgrass, 4 – Michael Dawson, Adama Diomande, 2 – Abel Hernández, Ryan Mason, 1 – Markus Henriksen, Jake Livermore, Harry Maguire, Shaun Maloney, David Meyler, Josh Tymon
Manchester United Squad;
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Joel Pereira
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Injuries and Suspensions: Marcos Rojo (muscle)
Hull City Squad:
Manager: Marco Silva
Goalkeepers: Allan McGregor, Dušan Kuciak, Eldin Jakupović, David Marshall, Will Mannion
Defenders: Andrew Robertson, Alex Bruce, Harry Maguire, Curtis Davies, Michael Dawson, Josh Tymon, Brian Lenihan, Josh Clackstone, Harvey Rodgers, Bradley Maslen-Jones
Midfielders: Moses Odubajo, David Meyler, Tom Huddlestone, Robert Snodgrass, Sam Clucas, Jake Livermore, Shaun Maloney, James Weir, Ryan Mason, Ahmed Elmohamady, Daniel Batty, Ellis Barkworth, Greg Olley
Forwards: Abel Hernández, Dieumerci Mbokani, Will Keane, Adama Diomandé, Markus Henriksen, Jarrod Bowen, Greg Luer, Johan Ter Horst, Ben Hinchliffe
Suspensions/Injuries: Michael Dawson (shoulder), Curtis Davies (hamstring), Harry Maguire (hip), Will Keane (ACL), Moses Odubajo (knee), Greg Luer (knee), Alex Bruce (Achilles), Allan McGregor (back)
Predicted Starting XI:
Manchester United 3-0 Hull City