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Preview: Manchester United to shoot down the Robins in the Carabao Cup

Bristol City -v- Manchester United

Carabao Cup 2017/18

Ashton Gate, Bristol

Wednesday 20th December 2017; KO 20:00 GMT

Live on Sky Sports Football HD in the United Kingdom

Manchester United travel to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol City in the fifth round of the Carabao Cup this evening.United have turned a corner after losing the Manchester derby against Manchester City, beating both Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion in their next two league matches. United will need to keep on winning, keeping the momentum and hoping they can chase City during the remainder of the season, which could see them under pressure for the next 20 league matches. City beat Leicester City on penalties in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening with Arsenal beating West Ham United. Chelsea and Bournemouth will be pitted against each other tonight in the other match, which could see only Premier League teams in the semi-finals.

Jose Mourinho will be boosted with the return of Paul Pogba, who had sat out the last three domestic matches after being sent off in the victory over Arsenal at the start of the month. The Portuguese manager will most likely rest David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nemanja Matic as there are three more Premier League matches after this game which will see the club end December, with another match playable on New Year’s Day. United’s festive period will be full of matches, meaning rotation will need to happen to keep the squad fit for their opposition. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in contention after sitting out of the last six matches, last making an appearance in the 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion last month.

Previous Matches: Manchester United have a good record against Bristol City, but with their giant-killing in the Carabao Cup, Mourinho’s side need to be wary!

Manchester United and Bristol City have faced each other 35 times in the history of both clubs; the first match being played on the 21st September 1901 – a 1-0 victory for United in the old Football League Division Two. United have won 15 of the matches played, drawing ten and losing ten. It has been over 37 years since the two sides last played – a 4-0 victory for United on the 23rd February 1980 which saw a Bristol City own goal, a brace from Joe Jordan and a Sammy McIlroy goal seeing United take the points in the old top flight of football. The last defeat to Bristol City came over two years before the last game, a 3-1 defeat with Jimmy Greenhoff scoring United consolation goal in that game. United will be looking to extend their three-match unbeaten run against the Robins starting this evening.

Form: They have not played for 37 years but Bristol City will be a big threat for Manchester United!

Manchester United have played 18 matches in the Premier League this season and currently sit in second place. United have won 13 times, drawn twice and lost three matches, earning 41 points, 11 points adrift of the league leaders, Manchester City. United have scored 39 goals and conceded just 12, meaning they have a goal difference of 27. In the Carabao Cup, United are in the fifth round and looking to defend the trophy they won last season. In the UEFA Champions League, United are into the round of 16 after winning five and losing one of the six group stage matches played. United will face Derby County in the Emirates FA Cup in January.

Bristol City have played 22 matches in the Championship this season and currently sit in third place – the play-off zone of the table. The Robins have won 12 matches, drawn seven and lost just three times in the league this season. Lee Johnson’s side have scored 36 league goals and conceded 23 – giving them a goal difference of 13. Bristol have won their last four league matches in a row. In the Carabao Cup, Bristol have beaten Plymouth Argyle, Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace – beating three Premier League teams – scoring 14 goals and conceding just three. The Robins will face Watford again this season in the Emirates FA Cup in January.

Team News: Manchester United on good shape heading into the busy festive period

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be in contention to face Bristol City in the Carabao Cup this evening after missing out for the last six matches in all competitions. The manager, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“He [Mkhitaryan] can [be back]. I am making a few changes for the match, but not many because Bristol City are one of the best teams in the Championship.

“For me now, the Championship is not the Championship of five or 10 years ago. The Championship is now high-quality teams with lots of players that could be playing in the Premier League easily. So we need to take the game really seriously. I am going to make a few changes and it is possible Micki is involved.”

When asked about the Armenian sitting out the last few matches, the manager said:

“At the moment, we are playing [Juan] Mata, [Marcus] Rashford, [Jesse] Lingard or [Anthony] Martial and [Romelu] Lukaku. So, on the bench, we have [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic and one of the other ones, Martial or Rashford. So there is no space for everyone because you need balance on the bench too.”

Sergio Romero could be back in action with Mourinho seeking to rest David De Gea. Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nemanja Matic could all be absent from the side as the Portuguese manager looks to keep his side fresh for the rest of the festive fixtures in this busy period. Paul Pogba is a boost as he will be eligible to play after his three-match suspension and Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe could both play a part, possibly even other youth players such as Tosin Kehinde, who has been training with the first team recently.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Martial to lead the line supported by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford…

Match Prediction: Manchester United to reign supreme at Ashton Gate?

Bristol City 1-3 Manchester United

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