Manchester United will be back in action on Tuesday evening, welcoming Manchester City to Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg. It is hard to be excited ahead of United matches of late as the squad is dwindling due to injury and is crying out for reinforcement, which seems to be played down by the manager, whether he has plans to delve into the January transfer market, we shall soon see but he needs to.
United have not won a match in 2020 – losing 2-0 to Arsenal on New Year’s Day and enduring a 0-0 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup not even registering a single shot on target in the match and now a replay will be played during a week which United were not scheduled to play which is the last thing the club needed at this time with so many player out injured and youth not being utilised as maybe they should.
Something will need to give at some stage which is why delving into the transfer market this month is needed as United are still struggling from the lack of reinforcement in the summer, especially in midfield with just Fred and Nemanja Matic the only experienced players in the position whilst Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay are injured. There is also a lack of creativity at the club which needs to be sorted. A big job to do.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish number one should be restored to the starting XI to face City on Tuesday evening in place of Sergio Romero, who faced Wolves in the FA Cup. The Argentinian looked as if he could not participate after suffering an injury, which is something United cannot afford to turn into something big at this stage of the season so treating him like he is injured and picking De Gea instead will stop anything from becoming nefarious. De Gea will be relishing the match against City with United looking to beat them again after their 2-1 win last month.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams
Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be recalled into the squad to face City steer being an unused substitute against Wolves at the weekend. His performance helped United beat City in their last match in December and he could do the same again. Brandon Williams needs to keep his place as in my opinion, he is the first-choice left-back at the club based on what he offers. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire (providing he recovers in time) could keep their places too, based on the lack of replacements in the central defensive position. Phil Jones could start ahead of Maguire though.
Midfield: Fred, James Garner
The midfield needs some nurturing at this moment in time as United are paying the price for not replacing Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini in the summer. With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba both injured and Nemanja Matic plating 90 minutes at the weekend, the likes of James Garner and/or Dylan Levitt may need to be brought into the squad. Garner should start in this scenario with Levitt involved in the squad, although with the likes of Andreas Pereira, he may not make the actual squad this time, which has happened before for him.
Attacking Midfielders: Mason Greenwood, Daniel James, Marcus Rashford
United need to find a better way to attack their opposition. There has been little creativity at stages this season and with United’s poor midfield shape, this is part of the problem. In this game, I feel Mason Greenwood could start on the right with Marcus Rashford on the left. Daniel James, who can play on either flank should be tested behind the striker, which could help United get something from the game – they need to. This might work for this match but going forward, United need to look at the transfer market as two or three more injuries could be costly.
Striker: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman has a lot to live up to if he is going to become one of the legendary strikers the club has seen over the years and he needs to do a lot more to carry the club, like his predecessors have. He’s in double figures at this stage of the season, which is good considering he had an eight-match injury layoff earlier in the season. Martial can be that player if he finds the right spaces behind the opposition defence but he needs creativity and that is a major problem at this moment in time.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Phil Jones, Diogo Dalot; Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Angel Gomes, Nemanja Matic
Solskjaer will need to utilise the bench in order to try and get a result against City. This will be a match with a aggregate scoreline so he could aim to see what happens on Tuesday and try and better it at the end of the month, like what happened in Paris last March. I expect Sergio Romero to be back on the bench and if he does not start in place of Maguire, Jones will be on the bench. Diogo Dalot could be the fullback on the bench. Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Angel Gomes and Nemanja Matic could also be available if needed.