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A European Super League? It’s a no from me…

“A team died in 1958 to play in Europe, and this is our history being thrown away for money, by owners who know nothing about Manchester.”Ian Sterling of Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST)

On Sunday, rumours were rife about a supposed European Super League and there were 12 European football clubs that were willing to break away from the standard structure of European football. Six clubs in the Premier League were involved; Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Three teams from La Liga in Spain; Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid and three teams from Serie A in Italy; AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. There were also suggestions of three more clubs being involved meaning 15 clubs would start up this new league. However, the figure seems to be stuck at 12.

United beat Burnley 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday but immediately this win was taken away because of this Super League. Former United defender and captain Gary Neville was not please on Sky Sports, showing his displeasure live during the half time break of the match involving his former club. Talk then spread at full time with another former captain and midfielder, Roy Keane airing his displeasure in the breakaway. Former City defender Micah Richards also spoke his mind about this money grab in football – as that is what it really is. The whole suggestion of it is disgusting. It rips the heart and soul out of the game.

The Glazer’s have never really been a great fit at United. They took over the club by leveraging a debt against the club and have continued to take money away from the club in dividends and share sales, giving nothing back from their own pocket. United are still in a substantial debt and this Super League that seems to be propped by by JP Morgan, will put them in more debt, seemingly selling the souls of the club to the greedy so they can take more money off the top, cutting the hard-working supporters out of the game. This is really the ugly side of football. A side that should be kicked out of the game.

Earning money is necessary in life but greedy football club owners are not needed at all.

The funny thing yesterday is that Sky seem to have found a bad taste in the plans for the Super League, climbing up their own Ivory Tower and calling the six Premier League clubs out. I mean, it is not as if Sky have profited massively from this game and they did not set to to do just that from the inception of the Premier League in its inaugural 1992/93 season! Granted, this is a different kind of greed and it will spoil the game for millions of supporters all over the world. The greed of the Glazer’s and their stooge, Ed Woodward has been seen for what it is now and it has played out live during a football match.

Manchester United supporters have a bond with the club. They have supported it for many years, sometimes most of their lives. They have learned the history of the club, the traditions, the success, the failure and the tragedy. This is the embodiment of a supporter of this club. The majority know the trajectory of the club through the years. The blood, sweat and tears put into the club. The survival of bankruptcy and the survival of the club after the Munich Air Disaster which saw eight players die on their way back home from a European Cup match in Belgrade. The history of the club has been upturned and shaken out just to earn more money.

United literally lost the majority of a team to play in a European competition, which later became the UEFA Champions League. For ten years, United fought back from the aches of Munich to lift that blessed trophy in the honour of those that died a decade before. Sir Matt Busby steered United from death to glory to the pinnacle of Europe. In the years following Busby, United stuttered, were relegated and then fought back to reach the top-flight of English football once more. The years later, the success of Sir Alex Ferguson in his near 27-years at the help of the club brought that fighting spirit back once again.

The Glazers are greedy, money-motivated owners that don’t deserve Manchester United.

When Malcolm Glazer took over Manchester United in 2005, a loan was taken out and leveraged against the football club. The Glazer family are clear of debt and for 16 years now, United have been stuck with a massive debt which is no closer to being paid off. Having a debt lowers taxes and that is a must for money-men like the Glazers. The history of this football club is just something they can market and profit from – they don’t care about the blood, sweat and the tears of the players, the supporters and the manager’s throughout the history of the club. They care about the strength of the love for the club, which is now dying in many places.

United have won many trophies during the Glazer’s ownership but that was down to one man; Sir Alex Ferguson. United have won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup in Ferguson’s time under the Glazers. Post-Ferguson, United have won one FA Community Shield, one League Cup and one UEFA Europa League. The success was not because of the Glazer’s – it was because of the merit of the manager (at the time), the players and the backroom staff. The Glazer’s don’t care about winning things, as has been seen post-Ferguson.

You see, the Glazers and Woodward celebrate impressions on social media, sponsorship deals and other commercial dealings which bring money to the club. More recently, the Glazers have ben celebrating the fact that United’s shares are at a high rate so they can sell some lower category shares to line their pockets some more – as if they have not taken enough already. The formation of this European Super League will create endless revenue streams for the Glazer’s, which is the success that seem to value. Cold hard cash. It will see the club turn its back on its traditions, history and more importantly, the future.

When history and tradition is eradicated from Manchester United, what is left?

Manchester United have a rich history and tradition. The club has always strived to create young players who rise into their first team and drive the team towards success. Granted, that does not always happen but there is a rich picking of youth coming through the ranks throughout the history of the club, winning trophies. Then there are special periods where players either succeeded or were stopped in their tracks by tragedy. The Busby Babes of 1958 were the ones that were stopped by tragedy but the Class of 1992 were the ones that went all the way to becoming the pinnacle of European football once again. On Sir Matt Busby’s birthday too.

United have a record which lasts more than 80 years having included at least one youth player that came through the academy in every league match. If United are no longer allowed to participate in the Premier League, or any other league in the land, that tradition stops right there – and there is a feeling that this tradition would continue for many years to come. United’s academy has some talented players in the ranks but what could happen with them. Surely many of them want to play in the Premier League, the Champions League, aiming to lift the famous trophies one day. What about their dreams? Let them achieve at another club?

You see, the Glazers have profited from the traditions and history of the club and they will presumably continue to do that in this Super League, but they will have ended those traditions and become a smudge in the very history of the club. Money is the route to all evils and that seems to be the very thing the Glazer’s want – money. These American owners don’t see to understand why leagues here have relegation, as they don’t in America. They don’t seen to understand the word competition. To do this would be a sad end to a once great football club. The Glazer’s will be the death of the club and they just don’t care about that.

What is being done to stop this greedy mess from ruining football for the United faithful and others?

It has been reported that FIFA and UEFA are against the formation of a European Super League. There are sanctions that can be brought against the clubs involved, but as sooner as that is said, the clubs can appear these sanctions in court – so there is no way to tell if the sanctions will be upheld or whether the breakaway clubs will win. UEFA has also suggested that clubs would be kicked out of UEFA led competitions; the Champions League, Europa League and the Super Cup. Players of the breakaway clubs could also be banned from playing for their countries in the UEFA European Championships and the FIFA World Cup.

There is a lot to lose for these clubs, all for a glorified friendly competition where a trophy with no history will be presented, plus bags of cash, which is the real prize the clubs are interested in. If these clubs are willing to bring an end to players striving to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, League Cup and qualify for European competition, they will be taking away hopes and dreams of the younger players too. The youth leagues will be affected. I very much doubt that United will be able to participate in the U18 Premier League, the FA Youth Cup, the Premier League 2 and the Papa John’s Trophy. What then? Abolish the youth teams and get rid of identity?

United are a club that has these traditions in the DNA. They largely predicted players from the clubs academy, bringing them to first team standard. The Busby Babes, Fergie’s Fledglings and so on. Then there are the league titles, of which United have 20; 13 Premier League titles and seven First Division titles. This success will mean nothing if the Super League is allowed to start. Money is not really what supporters want to see clubs winning as miscreant owners don’t use that money within the club, they use it one themselves. As Sir Matt Busby one said; “Football is nothing without fans.”.

The Premier League is holding a meeting on Tuesday with the 14 Premier League teams not involved in the Super League. This could result in teams involved in the Super League being suspended from the league, which is the worst case scenario. It is something that needs to be carefully considered though as the league will be severely weakened with these six teams being removed permanently. What a mess this has created.

Written by John Walker

January Review: Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Paul Pogba all had a good month despite mixed results for United

Manchester United played nine matches in January making it just as busy as December, where the same number of matches were played. United started the month with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in the Premier League, which was a good start to the month. However, a 2-0 defeat in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup at the hands of Manchester City added some disappointment to the month. United then beat Watford 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup, earning a place in the fourth round against Liverpool. Next came a 0-0 draw against Liverpool in the Premier League, a frustrating match for both teams.

United then came from behind to beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League, putting more pressure on Liverpool this season, which would change as the month grew on. The FA Cup clash with Liverpool was a good match for United, resulting in a 3-2 victory, reaching the fifth round of the competition this season. Following that match, a 2-1 defeat to the worst team in the Premier League, Sheffield United came, which was a disappointment for United. The month was ended with a visit to the Emirates to face Arsenal, which resulted in a 0-0 draw, ending the month in a frustrating manner.

January Statistics:

Nine matches played; five wins, two draws and two defeats. 11 Premier League points won, a place in the fourth and fifth rounds of the Emirates FA Cup. 10 goals scored, eight goals conceded – four clean sheets. United entered 2021 in good form and were looking to get through another tough month in domestic competition. They were knockout of the Carabao Cup at the semi-final stage by Manchester City but reached the fourth and the fifth rounds of the Emirates FA Cup with victories over both Watford and Liverpool. In the league, United struggled at times with a defeat to Sheffield United and draws with Liverpool and Arsenal.

1 January – Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa – Premier League

Goals: Anthony Martial 40′, Bruno Fernandes 62′; Bertrand Traore 58′

Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 40′; Jack Grealish 58′

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford in the first Premier League match of 2021. Anthony Martial opened the scoring with a header in the 40th minute of the match (his fifth goal of the season), assisted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Villa then equalised in the 58th minute through Bertrand Traore, assisted by Jack Grealish. Minutes later, Paul Pogba was taken down in the box by Douglas Luiz and a penalty was given which Bruno Fernandes stepped up for, scoring his 15th goal of the season. Villa pressure United at the end of the match with United having chances to extend their lead.

6 January – Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City – Carabao Cup

Goals: John Stones 50′, Fernandinho 83′

Assists: N/A

Manchester United were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford. It was a pretty even first half with United starting well but City soon took control of the match. Both teams had the ball in the back of the net in the first half of the match but none were given. It took City 50 minutes, five minutes into the second half to draw first blood on United with John Stones scoring the first goal of the game. United had chances to get back into the game but did not take them. City doubled their lead through Fernandinho in the 83rd minute, earning a place in the first final of the season. Their go-to trophy.

9 January – Manchester United 1-0 Watford – Emirates FA Cup

Goals: Scott McTominay 5′

Assists: Alex Telles 5′

Manchester United beat Watford 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford. Scott McTominay, who captained United in this match, scored the only goal of the game in the fifth minute, assisted by Alex Telles from the corner. There were a few chances throughout the match but United seemed to be out of sorts, as were the visitors. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy to see his club into the fourth round of the FA Cup with the draw for that and the fifth round being drawn on Monday evening. United got back to winning ways after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup earlier in the week. Burnley next in the Premier League.

12 January – Burnley 0-1 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: Paul Pogba 71′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 71′

Manchester United beat Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor in the Premier League. It put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. Paul Pogba scored the only goal of the match after playing the ball out to Marcus Rashford on the right with the England forward playing back to the Frenchman whose effort was slightly deflected into the back of the net. Bruno Fernandes did not have the best of matches, but played a part. Anthony Martial will be a worry, coming off injured late into added time. The positivity is that United are top of the league and deserve it.

17 January – Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: N/A

Assists: N/A

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League. It was a game of few credible chances. Perhaps the best opportunity was from Bruno Fernandes after United won a free-kick in the first half of the match. The ball dipped towards the top far corner, just missing the target and seeing United frustrated. Marcus Rashford had a chance in the second half with Edinson Cavani splitting away from him, Rashford having the ball and the three defensive players and being marked off the ball with Cavani unmarked and in space which could have resulted in the first goal of the game, if he had it.

20 January – Fulham 1-2 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: Ademola Lookman 5′; Edinson Cavani 21′, Paul Pogba 65′

Assists: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa 5′

Manchester United beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League. Ademola Lookman scored the opening goal in the fifth minute as United saw themselves on the back foot from the start of the match. However, it took 16 minutes for United to get back into the match with Bruno Fernandes launching a ferocious shot on goal, hitting the inside of the post only for Fred to keep the attack in play. Edinson Cavani was the equaliser for United, scoring his fifth goal of the season for his club. Paul Pogba scored what turned into the winner for United, with a sublime finish which was good to see.

24 January – Manchester United 3-2 Liverpool – Emirates FA Cup

Goals: Mason Greenwood 26′, Marcus Rashford 48′, Bruno Fernandes 78′; Mohamed Salah 18′, 58′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 26′, Mason Greenwood 48′; Roberto Firmino 18′, 58’

Manchester United beat Liverpool 3-2 in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford. Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in the 18th minute of the match with Mason Greenwood equalising just eight minutes later. Marcus Rashford then put United ahead in the 48th minute with Salah striking once more in the 58th minute to level the score. From the bench, Bruno Fernandes found the winner from a free-kick which was such a great strike to beat Alisson for the third time in the match. This victory feels so good, not for Liverpool though. United will face West Ham United at Old Trafford in the next round.

27 January – Manchester United 1-2 Sheffield United – Premier League

Goals: Harry Maguire 64′; Kean Bryan 23′, Oliver Burke 74′

Assists: Alex Telles 64′; John Fleck 23′, John Lundstram 74′

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Sheffield United at Old Trafford. It was another bad day for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who had been knocked off the top spot in the Premier League table by Manchester City on Tuesday evening. Kean Bryan opened the scoring for the Blades in the 23rd minute of the match with Oliver Burke scoring the winner in the 74th minute of the match. Harry Maguire equalised in the 64th minute of the match but in terms of inspiration, United were not up for the challenge in a dreadful evening at the Theatre of Dreams. United will need to pick up the pieces before get face Arsenal on Saturday.

30 January – Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: N/A

Assists: N/A

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the stronger team with Arsenal suffering with a few injuries. It was a game of few credible chances, something that will unnerve United, who have been playing a poor brand of football in their last two matches, resulting in a defeat and a draw. Arsenal will be the happier of thereto teams, winning four points and keeping two clean sheets against United this season. However, the gap between the two teams is still ten points, so Arsenal have a lot of work ahead of them to close the gap.

Luke Shaw – eight appearances (seven starts), 638 minutes, one MOTM award.

January was an impressive month for Luke Shaw. He made eight appearances, starting seven times, playing 638 minutes in total and winning the Man of the Match award in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League. Whilst it initially looked like Alex Telles would take the left-back role from Shaw earlier in the season, the English left-back has soon risen in stature to make the position his own. It is good to see him in form again, which has been ruined in the past with injury, fatigue and fitness issues. The player seems to have turned a corner at the club, which is great for both the player and the club.

Harry Maguire – nine appearances (eight starts), 765 minutes, one goal.

The Captain has been one of the most important players for the club in January. He made nine appearances, starting eight times, playing all but 45 minutes for the club in January. Harry Maguire played a total of 765 minutes during January, coming off the bench at half time against Watford in the FA Cup. He scored United’s only goal in the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United, a former club of the defender. United kept four clean sheets in January, three of those in the Premier League, which was important for United to continue their improvement, which stuttered at the end of the month.

Paul Pogba – eight appearances (eight starts), 720 minutes, two goals and two MOTM awards.

December was a positive month for Paul Pogba, but January was something he built because of the prior month. The Frenchman missed just one match, the FA Cup victory over Watford. Pogba’s best performances in January came in the Premier League, scoring goals against Burnley and Fulham and being named the Man of the Match in both of those matches. Against Aston Villa at the start of the month, Pogba won a penalty, which Bruno Fernandes scored, enabling the Red Devils to win the match which was a great start for the club in January. Pogba will be seeking to make February a positive month for the club too.

Notable Mentions: Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Scott McTominay

Eric Bailly had a good January, in the matches that he did play in, playing a total of 315 minutes in four appearances during the month and earning one Man of the Match award for his performance against Aston Villa in which United won 2-1. Bailly could be a good partner for Harry Maguire at the club, providing he can stay fit. Alex Telles was another notable mention, making two appearances, playing a total of 172 minutes on the pitch and assisting twice. Scott McTominay was the final notable mention, making eight appearances, playing 453 minutes of football, scoring one goal and winning one Man of the Match award – against Watford.

Who is your Player of the Month for January 2021?

A look at what lies ahead in February…

United will play eight matches in February, one less than in both December and January. United will continue their efforts in the Premier League, facing Southampton (H), Everton (H), West Bromwich Albion (A), Newcastle United (H) and Chelsea (A), also vying to reach the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup, providing they beat West Ham United (H). Solskjaer’s side will also play their first matches in the UEFA Europa League, facing Real Sociedad both away and at home in the round of 32 stage of the competition, hoping to reach the round of 16 stage, following their group stage exit from the UEFA Champions League.

2 February – Southampton, Old Trafford – Premier League

6 February – Everton, Old Trafford – Premier League

9 February – West Ham United, Old Trafford – Emirates FA Cup

14 February – West Bromwich Albion, The Hawthorns – Premier League

18 February – Real Sociedad, Anoeta Stadium – UEFA Europa League

21 February – Newcastle United, Old Trafford – Premier League

25 February – Real Sociedad, Old Trafford – UEFA Europa League

28 February – Chelsea, Stamford Bridge – Premier League

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Henderson, Lindelof, Pogba, Fernandes, Martial and Rashford start against City in the Carabao Cup semi-final

Manchester United will go head to head with Manchester City once again in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to push his team into their first final. This evening, it will be the second Manchester derby of the season at the Theatre of Dreams with United reaching the same stage of the competition that they did last season, seeking to get further this season – it being the fourth semi-final Solskjaer has managed the club, losing the previous three. Last season, this was a two-legged match but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a one off tie this season.

The final this season has been delayed until April, giving supporters a chance to be at Wembley instead of the match being played behind closed doors, as is the case in the country at this time. The match will kick of at 19:45 GMT and will be broadcast live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports. United have seemingly turned a corner this season with an uptick in form and results, being that Solskjaer’s side are undefeated in their last six matches, winning five and drawing once, which was against Leicester City on Boxing Day. United and City drew 0-0 at Old Trafford some weeks ago too.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred, Pogba;

Fernandes;

Martial, Rashford

Substitutes:

De Gea; Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe; Mata, James, Matic, Van de Beek; Greenwood

Manchester City:

Steffen;

Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko;

Fernandinho, Gundogan;

Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden;

Sterling

Substitutes:

Trafford; Walker, Mendy, Harwood-Bellis, Mbete; Rodrigo, Nmecha; Jesus, Aguero

United and City have met 18 times in domestic cups (FA Cup and League Cup). United have won 10 times, drawing once times and losing seven times. United have scored 29 goals against with City scoring 26 goals. United have kept five clean sheets against their noisy neighbours in cup competitions. United have faced City nine times in the FA Cup and nine times in the League Cup (now the Carabao Cup). In the League Cup, United have won four times, drawing once and losing four times, scoring 11 goals and conceding 14. In the FA Cup, United have won six times, losing three times, scoring 18 goals and conceding 12. United and City last met in a cup competition last season.

In the Carabao Cup during the 2019/20 season, United and City were drawn against each other at this same stage, the semi-final. Back then, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, this was a two-legged fixture. In the first match, which was played at Old Trafford, City won 3-1 with Bernardo Silva (17), Riyad Mahrez (33) and an Andreas Pereira own goal (39) all coming in the first half. Marcus Rashford got a consolation goal in the 70th minute. In the second leg, played at the Etihad, it was a 1-0 victory for United with the only goal of the match scored by Nemanja Matic in the 35th minute with United losing 3-2 on aggregate, which was a shame. United will be seeking to avenge that first semi-final defeat last season, aiming to win this one.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-1-2-1-2] Wan-Bissaka and Telles to provide width with Pogba controlling the midfield and Fernandes supporting the attack?

Manchester United will go head to head with Manchester City once again in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to push his team into their first final. On Wednesday evening, it will be the second Manchester derby of the season at the Theatre of Dreams with United reaching the same stage of the competition that they did last season, seeking to get further this season – it being the fourth semi-final Solskjaer has managed the club, losing the previous three. Last season, this was a two-legged match but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a one off tie this season.

The final this season has been delayed until April, giving supporters a chance to be at Wembley instead of the match being played behind closed doors, as is the case in the country at this time. The match will kick of at 19:45 GMT and will be broadcast live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports. United have seemingly turned a corner this season with an uptick in form and results, being that Solskjaer’s side are undefeated in their last six matches, winning five and drawing once, which was against Leicester City on Boxing Day. United and City drew 0-0 at Old Trafford some weeks ago too.

How United have faired against Manchester City in the domestic cups (FA Cup and the League Cup).

United and City have met 18 times in domestic cups (FA Cup and League Cup). United have won 10 times, drawing once times and losing seven times. United have scored 29 goals against with City scoring 26 goals. United have kept five clean sheets against their noisy neighbours in cup competitions. United have faced City nine times in the FA Cup and nine times in the League Cup (now the Carabao Cup). In the League Cup, United have won four times, drawing once and losing four times, scoring 11 goals and conceding 14. In the FA Cup, United have won six times, losing three times, scoring 18 goals and conceding 12. United and City last met in a cup competition last season.

In the Carabao Cup during the 2019/20 season, United and City were drawn against each other at this same stage, the semi-final. Back then, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, this was a two-legged fixture. In the first match, which was played at Old Trafford, City won 3-1 with Bernardo Silva (17), Riyad Mahrez (33) and an Andreas Pereira own goal (39) all coming in the first half. Marcus Rashford got a consolation goal in the 70th minute. In the second leg, played at the Etihad, it was a 1-0 victory for United with the only goal of the match scored by Nemanja Matic in the 35th minute with United losing 3-2 on aggregate, which was a shame. United will be seeking to avenge that first semi-final defeat last season, aiming to win this one.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson has played in all of United’s Carabao Cup matches this season and this should be no different. David De Gea has an important part to play for United in the Premier League and beyond so in the cup matches, Henderson should be given the chance. Of course, with this match being against City, it is possible that De Gea will start, leaving Henderson for the Watford match in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday, so there is still an option for him to play a part in the cup competitions. Personally, seeing De Gea play ahead of him, having seen United get this far, keeping three clean sheets, would not be great.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence has stepped up their game this season. Eric Bailly has been a stand out performer in the past couple of matches since Victor Lindelof has been on the sidelines through a lower back injury. Against City, I would expect both Bailly and Harry Maguire to start in the centre of the defence flanked by Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles. Wan-Bissaka has been a defensive rock the majority of the time for United with calls, even from myself, for him to do more in attack. Telles’ experience will be welcome against City, whilst will hopefully see him turn a corner after some bad performances so far this season.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred, Paul Pogba

A three-man midfield against City could go a long way to putting United into their first final under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. United have played in three semi-finals, losing them all so far and will be seeking to turn this one around after being beaten at the same stage by City last season, 3-2 on aggregate. This being a one-off match could see a much different result. Fred should play as the defensive minded player with Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba playing a more midfield game, connecting the defence to the attack, which will see Wan-Bissaka and Telles play the width going forward.

Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes is the man in form this season, scoring 15 goals and 11 assists so far this season – 26 goal contributions. Those that are jealous of the player will mock his penalty scoring to try to suggest United have been cheating but VAR has been at play and it is perfectly fine the United are winning penalties. It is not as if another team, Leicester City, have been rewarded well this season too, is it? Fernandes is a baller and despite the odd poor match where he doesn’t score or assist, he plays a passive part and leads from the front. Some say he should be the captain, but he’s one of the leaders in the team, which is fine the way it is.

Forwards: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Anthony Martial has now scored five goals this season with Rashford scoring 14 – 19 goals between them. The duo have assisted four times each, making 27 goal contributions between them. United rarely play with two forwards at the moment but I believe this enhances the squad, given that Mason Greenwood, Odion Ighalo and the suspended Edinson Cavani are amongst the ranks, for the rest of this month at least in respect of Ighalo. United should be able to thrive with Rashford and Martial being fed by Fernandes and even Pogba, which should see United reign in the Carabao Cup this season, at least getting to the final.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic; Mason Greenwood, Odion Ighalo

The Carabao Cup have announced that all teams in the semi-final stage of the competition will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench, as is now the case in the Premier League, using five of them, which is great as United have just come out of a tough December and could face a tough January with as many as nine matches to be played and as few as eight. David De Gea should be on the bench, just in case he is needed against the noisy neighbours. In defence, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe should be sufficient. In midfield, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic could all be options with Mason Greenwood and Odion Ighalo in the bench in an attacking sense, if United need them late in the match.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Manchester United -v- Manchester City – Carabao Cup – United to push City aside to earn place in the final?

Manchester United -v- Manchester City

Carabao Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 6 January 2021, KO 19:45 GMT

Referee: Martin Atkinson  Assistants: Harry Lennard, Nick Hopton

Fourth Official: David Coote

VAR: Jonathan Moss Assistant VAR: Lee Betts

Manchester United will go head to head with Manchester City once again in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to push his team into their first final. On Wednesday evening, it will be the second Manchester derby of the season at the Theatre of Dreams with United reaching the same stage of the competition that they did last season, seeking to get further this season – it being the fourth semi-final Solskjaer has managed the club, losing the previous three. Last season, this was a two-legged match but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a one off tie this season.

The final this season has been delayed until April, giving supporters a chance to be at Wembley instead of the match being played behind closed doors, as is the case in the country at this time. The match will kick of at 19:45 GMT and will be broadcast live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports. United have seemingly turned a corner this season with an uptick in form and results, being that Solskjaer’s side are undefeated in their last six matches, winning five and drawing once, which was against Leicester City on Boxing Day. United and City drew 0-0 at Old Trafford some weeks ago too.

Manchester United: WWDWWW

Aston Villa 2-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Leicester City 2-2 D, Everton 2-0 W, Leeds United 6-2 W, Sheffield United 3-2 W

Manchester City: WWWWDD

Chelsea 3-1 W, Newcastle United 2-0 W, Arsenal 4-1 W, Southampton 1-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 1-1 D, Manchester United 0-0 D

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford have score 29 goals between them this season with 55 goals scored in all competitions. City have scored just 45 with Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres scoring seven goals each.

Manchester United Goals: 15 – Bruno Fernandes, 14 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Edinson Cavani, 3 – Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay, 2 – Daniel James, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 1 – Own Goal, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

United have scored 16 goals, conceded seven, kept two clean sheets, winning five and drawing one of their last six matches. United have seen themselves rise to second in the Premier League, which is a good example of the way things have chanced over the course of the season so far. United exited the UEFA Champions League in December, falling into the UEFA Europa League but this seems to have made the players more determined of achieving something this season. There is positivity to be seen in this squad of players but some seem to ignore that, concentrating on the negativity and their agendas. Sad really.

Manchester City Goals: 7 – Raheem Sterling, Ferran Torres, 6 – Phil Foden, 5 – Ilkay Gündogan, Riyad Mahrez, 4 – Gabriel Jesus, 3 – Kevin De Bruyne, 2 – Sergio Agüero, 1 – Nathan Aké, João Cancelo, Liam Delap, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker

With have scored 11 goals, conceding three, keeping three clean sheets, winning four and drawing twice in their last six matches. City sit fifth in the league and will have two games in hand over both Leicester City and Liverpool before they kick a ball against United in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. It has not been the best season for City, who were unstoppable over the past few years but seem to be easy to stop this season, unless you are Chelsea or Arsenal, who both got destroyed by the club. This season could be different for City, who need to do well on the pitch to even challenge Liverpool for the Premier League title this season.

Team News: Six players missing for City and four players missing for United ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final. City’s coronavirus test positives could give United an advantage, not that they did Chelsea much good.

Phil Jones (knee), Victor Lindelof (lower back) and Marcos Rojo (calf) are all ruled out of the clash with City on Wednesday evening. Edinson Cavani was banned last week for three matches, sitting out the first in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, also missing the clash with City in the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup clash with Watford. The Uruguayan Football Association released a statement on Monday to contest the treatment of Cavani, but it is unlikely that the FA will do anything about it. Still, it is only two matches and he will be back ready for the Liverpool match, which is the important one this month.

Aymeric Laporte (thigh), Ederson Moraes, Kyle Walker, Ferran Torres, Gabriel Jesus and Eric Garcia (Covid-19) are likely to miss the clash with United on Wednesday, however, negative tests could result in the affected players being allowed to resume training, providing they are fit to do that. Ilkay Gundogan was on the sidelines with a foot injury prior to Sunday’s victory over Chelsea, him scoring the first goal of the match, so this means he should be fit to face United, after a longer period of rest because of postponed matches because of coronavirus. City have won the Carabao Cup for the last three seasons.

Predicted Starting XI: Dean Henderson to continue playing in the Carabao Cup this season? Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles to start in defence?

Solskjaer has a few options ahead fo the City clash in the Carabao Cup but will be without Edinson Cavani, who received a three-match suspension for his tweet after the victory of Everton earlier this season. It has been announced that teams in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup will be able to name nine players on the bench, using five of them throughout the match. I think the formation will chance to a 4-1-2-1-2 with Dean Henderson keeping his place in the Carabao Cup this season. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles will start in defence. Fred, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba will start in midfield with Bruno Fernandes playing just behind both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

Match Prediction: 18 matches played in the domestic cups between United and City. United have won 10, drawing once and losing seven times. United have scored 29 goals, conceding 26.

United and City have met 18 times in domestic cups (FA Cup and League Cup). United have won 10 times, drawing once times and losing seven times. United have scored 29 goals against with City scoring 26 goals. United have kept five clean sheets against their noisy neighbours in cup competitions. United have faced City nine times in the FA Cup and nine times in the League Cup (now the Carabao Cup). In the League Cup, United have won four times, drawing once and losing four times, scoring 11 goals and conceding 14. In the FA Cup, United have won six times, losing three times, scoring 18 goals and conceding 12. United and City last met in a cup competition last season.

In the Carabao Cup during the 2019/20 season, United and City were drawn against each other at this same stage, the semi-final. Back then, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, this was a two-legged fixture. In the first match, which was played at Old Trafford, City won 3-1 with Bernardo Silva (17), Riyad Mahrez (33) and an Andreas Pereira own goal (39) all coming in the first half. Marcus Rashford got a consolation goal in the 70th minute. In the second leg, played at the Etihad, it was a 1-0 victory for United with the only goal of the match scored by Nemanja Matic in the 35th minute with United losing 3-2 on aggregate, which was a shame. United will be seeking to avenge that first semi-final defeat last season, aiming to win this one.

Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Cavani and Martial score to knock Everton out of the Carabao Cup; another clean sheet for Henderson

Manchester United beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening, earning a place in the semi-final of the competition. It was a big first half for United, who could have scored multiple goals having more chances in the half. It took 88 minutes before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side found the back of the net with Edinson Cavani opening the scoring. Both Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford had opportunities to double United’s lead, missing their chances but Anthony Martial scored the second goal at the death to secure the victory.

United started their second match of the season at Goodison Park on good stead, attacking from the very start of the match. Edinson Cavani was the first player to be praised for his thinking as he had many opportunities to carve a lead for United in the first 25 minutes of the match. United pushed Everton into their own half for much of the half, carving out chance after chance. Paul Pogba could have opened the scoring inside the first 30 minutes after an Alex Telles header found the Frenchman, who headed directly at the keeper as he could not get enough power on his effort on goal.

In the 37th minute of the match, Everton won a free-kick with Gylfi Sigurdsson stepping up to take it. He hit the target but Dean Henderson, who started once again in the Carabao Cup, made a great save to deny the midfielder, giving away a corner which United dealt with. It was a positive half, more so for United who had ten shots on goal, four of those on target and more than 60% of the ball, doing a lot more than their hosts with it. Everton had four shots on goal, three of which were on target. It was all still to play for in the fixture with both teams looking to find the back of the net in the second half.

Inside the first ten minutes of the second half, Richarlison seemed to be caught between both Eric Bailly, who was rising for the ball and Bruno Fernandes, who was protecting Bailly and the defence. Richarlison seemed to be winded and unable to continue and was then replaced by Bernard. Paul Pogba was booked in the 57th minute for a challenge, which looked like nothing in my opinion. United had a good chance through Fernandes in the 61st minute, but he was well off target and seemed annoyed with himself. Solskjaer was getting ready for a double substitution the 64th minute of the match with United wanting to win this match.

Solskjaer made his double substitution in the 67th minute with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial replacing Donny van de Beek and Mason Greenwood. United had a few opportunities after the substitutions to make the difference but with eight minutes of the match left, it was still 0-0 with both teams trying to do enough to get that elusive goal to win the game and put the winning team into the semi-final of the Carabao Cup. Solskjaer made his final substitution in the 84th minute with Luke Shaw replacing Telles. United found the back of the net in the 88th minute of the match.

Edinson Cavani slotted home superbly after being played in by Martial with a great pass. The Uruguayan got his fourth goal for United effectively putting them into the semi-final of the competition with rivals Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Championship side Brentford. United did have a further chance in the five minutes of added time through both Fernandes and Rashford, but were unable to cement the victory. In the last minute of added time, Martial, played on by Rashford, scored the second goal of the match. It was a good fitness test for United and a better win after they found the back of the net.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Made a great save to deny Sigurdsson in the first half of the match.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Broke forward a lot of the time in the opening stages of the match and even broke into the box but could not gather the ball to find an advantage.

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3 Eric Bailly

Looked to have been injured in the match after a collision with Richarlison in the second half, but he continued, which was a good sign after his injury record being dreadful at United.

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5 Harry Maguire

Led the side well against Everton and did everything he could to keep the home side at bay in this Carabao Cup quarter-final clash.

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27 Alex Telles

His crossing of the ball is impeccable and an improvement on Shaw's efforts. The Brazilian continued to play well against Everton and saw a good free-kick sail over the crossbar. He was replaced by Shaw in the 84th minute of the match.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Started once again but despite United carving chances, especially in the opening stages of the match, the Dutchman just did not seem to get a mark on the match. He was replaced by Rashford in the 67th minute of the match.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Played well against Everton. There was nothing to write home about but he protected the defence, who kept another clean sheet in the Carabao Cup this season.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played well. His quick reaction with a header from a corner showed his reading of the game.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

He won't be happy with his misses on a frustrating night in Liverpool. He was once again one of the main players in the match, aiming to propel his side forward. He was very happy that Cavani scored in the 88th minute.

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11 Mason Greenwood

He was not perhaps the liveliest player on the pitch but he did what was needed against Everton. He was replaced by Martial in the 67th minute of the match.

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7 Edinson Cavani

Had many chances on goal and was perhaps unlucky to not score in the first 25 minutes of the match. He did find the back of the net in the 88th minute of the match, opening the scoring in the match and putting United ahead. It was a great finish too.

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Substitutes

9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Greenwood 67'. Came on at add more attacking intent and will be thankful of the break he got by not starting. Scored United's second goal at the death, which secured the victory.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Van de Beek 67'. Came on like Martial at add more attacking intent and did just that. He got another assist for Martial's finish, making him one of the players to score and assist many goals this season (12 goals four assists).

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23 Luke Shaw

Replaced Telles 84'. Came on late in the game. Booked for a challenge. Did what he needed to do in the victory.

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Goals: Edinson Cavani 88′, Anthony Martial 90+6′

Assists: Anthony Martial 88′, Marcus Rashford 90+6′

Manchester United: Henderson; Tuanzebe, Bailly, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 84′); Van de Beek (Rashford 67′), Matic, Pogba; Fernandes; Greenwood (Martial 67′), Cavani

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Fosu-Mensah; Lingard, Fred

Bookings: Paul Pogba 57′, Axel Tuanzebe 90′, Luke Shaw 90+4′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer names team to face Everton in Carabao Cup quarter-final

Manchester United will take a break from the Premier League this evening as they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton for the second time this season, this time in the Carabao Cup quarter-final. United topped the Merseyside club on Sunday with a 6-2 victory over Leeds United in the Premier League – their biggest scoring victory in the league this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get his team to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup this season in bid to win his first trophy as manager of the club, which has so far avoided him, losing three semi-finals so far. United may need to rotate some players for this match.

United will take on Leicester City in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day (Saturday), kicking off at 12:30 GMT. It is important that United continue to keep winning in the league and resting some important players, keeping them fresh for the remaining three matches, after Everton, which are to be played between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Everton could be a tough team to beat, although at Goodison Park on the 7 November, United won 3-1 with a brace from Bruno Fernandes and a late goal scored by Edinson Cavani, who is fit once again for United and could perhaps start this match?

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Tuanzebe, Bailly, Maguire, Telles;

Van de Beek, Matic, Pogba;

Fernandes;

Greenwood, Cavani

Substitutes:

Grant; Shaw, Fosu-Mensah; Lingard, Fred; Martial, Rashford

Everton:

Olsen;

Coleman, Mina, Keane, Godfrey;

Doucoure, Gomes;

Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison;

Calvert-Lewin

Substitutes:

Pickford; Kenny, Holgate; Davies; Tosun, Bernard, Gordon

United and Everton have met 15 times in domestic cup competitions, 12 times in the FA Cup and three times in the League Cup. United have won seven times, lost eight times and drawn once (which led to a defeat on penalties which is included in the losses). United have scored a total of 13 goals, conceding 14 and keeping six clean sheets. The last time United met Everton in a cup competition was in the FA Cup semi-final on the 23 April 2016, winning 2-1 with Marouane Fellaini opening the scoring in the 34th minute, Chris Smalling scoring an own goal in the 75th minute and Anthony Martial scoring the winner in the 90th minute.

In the Premier League it is a different story with 57 matches being played with United winning 37, drawing 11 and losing nine. United have scored 15 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four. Everton have scored 54 times, winning four penalties, scoring three. United have kept 24 clean sheets with Everton keeping just nine. Earlier this season, United beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park. Bernard opened the scoring in the 19th minute then Bruno Fernandes scored a brace in the 25th and 32nd minutes with Edinson Cavani scoring the winner two minutes into added time. United will be looking for a similar result on Wednesday evening.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Cavani, James, Van de Beek and Greenwood to lead the line against Everton; Pogba, Bailly and Henderson to start too?

Manchester United will take a break from the Premier League on Wednesday as they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton for the second time this season, this time in the Carabao Cup quarter-final. United topped the Merseyside club on Sunday with a 6-2 victory over Leeds United in the Premier League – their biggest scoring victory in the league this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get his team to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup this season in bid to win his first trophy as manager of the club, which has so far avoided him, losing three semi-finals so far. United may need to rotate some players for this match.

United will take on Leicester City in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day (Saturday), kicking off at 12:30 GMT. It is important that United continue to keep winning in the league and resting some important players, keeping them fresh for the remaining three matches, after Everton, which are to be played between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Everton could be a tough team to beat, although at Goodison Park on the 7 November, United won 3-1 with a brace from Bruno Fernandes and a late goal scored by Edinson Cavani, who is fit once again for United and could perhaps start this match?

How United have faired against Everton in domestic cup competitions and the Premier League.

United and Everton have met 15 times in domestic cup competitions, 12 times in the FA Cup and three times in the League Cup. United have won seven times, lost eight times and drawn once (which led to a defeat on penalties which is included in the losses). United have scored a total of 13 goals, conceding 14 and keeping six clean sheets. The last time United met Everton in a cup competition was in the FA Cup semi-final on the 23 April 2016, winning 2-1 with Marouane Fellaini opening the scoring in the 34th minute, Chris Smalling scoring an own goal in the 75th minute and Anthony Martial scoring the winner in the 90th minute.

In the Premier League it is a different story with 57 matches being played with United winning 37, drawing 11 and losing nine. United have scored 15 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four. Everton have scored 54 times, winning four penalties, scoring three. United have kept 24 clean sheets with Everton keeping just nine. Earlier this season, United beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park. Bernard opened the scoring in the 19th minute then Bruno Fernandes scored a brace in the 25th and 32nd minutes with Edinson Cavani scoring the winner two minutes into added time. United will be looking for a similar result on Wednesday evening.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Everton in the Carabao Cup at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson did not exactly have the best match against his former loan club Sheffield United, a match which saw him concede two goals, although United won 3-2, taking all three points in the Premier League. The 23-year-old was on the bench against Leeds United on Sunday, a match in which United scored six goals, conceding two – rising to third in the Premier League. With David de Gea playing a lot of football recently, and the fact United will travel to Leicester City in the early kick off on Boxing Day, resting the Spanish number one for this match could be a good choice with Henderson needing minutes to bed himself in at the club.

Defenders: Brandon Williams, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence will need somme rotation this week with another three matches to play after the Everton match up until New Year’s Day. Solskjaer has a few options. He could start Brandon Williams in the right-back position (Tim Fosu-Mensah could also be called upon). At left-back, Alex Telles could start ahead of Luke Shaw, who was ill in the running up to the clash with Leeds and came off after an hour. In the centre of defence, Eric Bailly could start once again with Harry Maguire, but the manager also has the likes of Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi, who could both be available to start this week.

Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

The midfield is an area that needs a lot of focus, especially when there are trophies on the line, as is the case with the Carabao Cup. United would like to be in the semi-final draw and will try their best in order to get there. On Sunday against Leeds, Scott McTominay scored a brace inside three minutes but was injured at the end of the match, therefore is likely to miss this one. Fred also played and may require a rest to continue playing so often. Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic were both rested, so could start this match in the pivot roles, which could set United up well against Everton for the second time this season.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Donny van de Beek, Daniel James

United will need to be at the top of their game in the attacking areas. Marcus Rashford (12) and Bruno Fernandes (13) lead the goalscoring charts at the club at this stage of the season but could both be on the bench, giving them a slight break ahead of the trip to Leicester on Boxing Day. Mason Greenwood could start on the right-wing, which has been a problem position for United over the years with Daniel James on the left-wing, after his goal against Leeds at the weekend. In between the duo, Donny van de Beek could play in place of Fernandes as he seeks to show his manager what he has to offer for his new club.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani has to start this match against Everton. In his last visit to Goodison Park, he scored United’s third goal in the match sealing the victory for United. He has been injured of late and might miss some matches in January depending on the result of his charge by the FA after that social media post which seems to have been taken out of context. Cavani is capable of doing well for United, despite his age. His three goals already this season matches those of Anthony Martial, who could be rested for this match to keep him fresh for the weekend with United seeking to continue their rise in the Premier League table.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Tim Fosu-Mensah, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Facundo Pellistri; Marcus Rashford

In the Premier League, nine players are now allowed to be named on the bench but in the Carabao Cup only seven players can be named on the bench with a maximum of three being used in the competition. David De Gea could be on the bench, just in case he is needed in goal. In defence, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe could be called upon should there be a requirement for them. In midfield, the experience of Juan Mata and Bruno Fernandes could be good with the raw talent of Facundo Pellistri. In attack, Marcus Rashford could be there in case the forwards that start the match are not able to do the job needed.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Everton -v- Manchester United – Carabao Cup – United aiming to beat the Toffees to get closer to cup glory?

Everton -v- Manchester United

Carabao Cup

Goodison Park, Liverpool

Wednesday 23 December 2020, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Andrew Madley  Assistants: Edward Smart, Adrain Holmes 

Fourth Official: Andre Marriner

Manchester United will take a break from the Premier League on Wednesday as they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton for the second time this season, this time in the Carabao Cup quarter-final. United topped the Merseyside club on Sunday with a 6-2 victory over Leeds United in the Premier League – their biggest scoring victory in the league this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get his team to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup this season in bid to win his first trophy as manager of the club, which has so far avoided him, losing three semi-finals so far. United may need to rotate some players for this match.

United will take on Leicester City in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day (Saturday), kicking off at 12:30 GMT. It is important that United continue to keep winning in the league and resting some important players, keeping them fresh for the remaining three matches, after Everton, which are to be played between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Everton could be a tough team to beat, although at Goodison Park on the 7 November, United won 3-1 with a brace from Bruno Fernandes and a late goal scored by Edinson Cavani, who is fit once again for United and could perhaps start this match?

Manchester United: WWDLWL

Leeds United 6-2 W, Sheffield United 3-2 W, Manchester City 0-0 D, RB Leipzig 3-2 L, West Ham United 3-1 W, Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 L

Everton: WWWDLW

Arsenal 2-1 W, Leicester City 2-0 W, Chelsea 1-0 W, Burnley 1-1 D, Leeds United 1-0 L, Fulham 3-2 W

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford have scored 25 goals between them this season with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring 14 goals himself this season. United have 12 different goalscorer with Everton having 11 – one of which is no longer at the club.

Manchester United Goals: 13 – Bruno Fernandes, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 3 – Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 2 – Daniel James, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 1 – Own Goal, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

United seem to have turned a corner after their poor start to the Premier League season. Still with a game in hand over many of the clubs in the league, United sit in third place, which is where they finished last season. They are five points adrift of league leaders, Liverpool. Solskjaer’s side have done well this season, finding their form and grinding out results, often coming from behind to win all three points. This may not be idea but the squad is work in progress and still has some problems which need to be fixed. In the coming few months, United could start to silence some of their critics but they will just find something else to moan about.

Everton Goals: 14 – Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 5 – Richarlison, 3 – Michael Keane, James Rodríguez, 2 – Bernard, Moise Kean, Yerry Mina, Gylfi Sigurdsson, 1 – Abdoulaye Doucouré, Mason Holgate, Alex Iwobi

Everton started the season in fine form and topped the league table on a few occasions. However, recently, their form has been inconsistent but they are seeking to overcome that. In their last six matches, the Toffees have won four, drawn once and lost once, with United having won three, drawn once and lost twice. United sit just above Everton in the Premier League table, on goal difference, which shows that there is something positive happening at both clubs this season. This match will be entirely different though. Everton hold the cards against United in cup competitions, winning eight and losing seven of the 15 ties played so far.

Team News: Two players definitely out of action for United with McTominay a doubt. Everton have four players on the sidelines with Rodriguez a doubt at this moment in time – but that could change before Wednesday’s clash at Goodison Park.

Phil Jones (knee) will be out of action until next year, not that he was named in a playing squad this season anyway. Marcos Rojo (calf) could be back in action in early to mid-January but he has not played any football so far this season. Luke Shaw (illness) came off on the hour mark, so could be a doubt for the Everton match and Scott McTominay (groin) came off in the final minutes in the 6-2 victory over Leeds United at Old Trafford on Sunday and will need to be assessed in the coming days. He has a 25% chance of featuring against Everton on Wednesday at this moment in time.

Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf/shin), Fabian Delph (thigh), Lucas Digne (ankle/foot) and Allan Marques Loureiro (thigh) all look set to be ruled out of the Carabao Cup clash with United at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening. James Rodriguez (calf/shin) has been out of action for the past three Premier League matches and has a 50% chance of featuring for his club against United this week. Other than that, Everton look to have a full squad, which could be a benefit for them with United playing more matches than them recently, which again could be an advantage or a disadvantage.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani, Daniel James, Donny van de Beek and Mason Greenwood to lead the attack against Everton?

Solskjaer will need to keep some freshness in his team ahead of the remainder of the fixtures during the Festive period. United will play every three days until New Year’s Day, before they have a longer break of seven days before they face Watford in the Emirates FA Cup. Edinson Cavani, Daniel James, Donny van de Beek and Mason Greenwood could lead the line with Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic in midfield. In defence, Brandon Williams, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles could all play in front of Dean Henderson, who should continue in United’s Carabao Cup pursuit this season.

Match Prediction: 15 Matches played in domestic cup competitions between United and Everton with United winning seven and Everton winning eight.

United and Everton have met 15 times in domestic cup competitions, 12 times in the FA Cup and three times in the League Cup. United have won seven times, lost eight times and drawn once (which led to a defeat on penalties which is included in the losses). United have scored a total of 13 goals, conceding 14 and keeping six clean sheets. The last time United met Everton in a cup competition was in the FA Cup semi-final on the 23 April 2016, winning 2-1 with Marouane Fellaini opening the scoring in the 34th minute, Chris Smalling scoring an own goal in the 75th minute and Anthony Martial scoring the winner in the 90th minute.

In the Premier League it is a different story with 57 matches being played with United winning 37, drawing 11 and losing nine. United have scored 15 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four. Everton have scored 54 times, winning four penalties, scoring three. United have kept 24 clean sheets with Everton keeping just nine. Earlier this season, United beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park. Bernard opened the scoring in the 19th minute then Bruno Fernandes scored a brace in the 25th and 32nd minutes with Edinson Cavani scoring the winner two minutes into added time. United will be looking for a similar result on Wednesday evening.

Everton 2-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Player Ratings: United beat Brighton 3-0; Mata MOTM, Pogba took free-kick well, Henderson’s fine performance

Manchester United beat Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. Scott McTominay opened the scoring at the end of the first half with Juan Mata doubling United’s lead in the 73rd minute of the match before Paul Pogba scored from a free-kick in the 80th minute of the match. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy with the victory which sees United into the quarter-final draw which will happen after the Liverpool v Arsenal match on Thursday evening, which is the day United also find out their fate in the UEFA Champions League this season.

It was a similar match against Brighton as the match against Luton Town last week. There was not a lot going on in the first half, then at the end of the half, United manage to open the scoring. United won a free0kick with Juan Mata taking it with his left foot. Scott McTominay was there unmarked to head the ball across goal and into the back of the net scoring his first goal for the club since that long-range goal against Manchester City at Old Trafford before the coronavirus lockdown.

Despite being 1-0 up in the game, United were not getting the better of this Brighton side in a game that was a polar opposite to the match at the same stadium at the weekend. Solskjaer made a double substitution in the 69th minute with Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba replacing Odion Ighalo and Daniel James. United doubled their lead through Mata in the 73rd minute with an assist by Donny van de Beek with Mata starting the move, playing the ball to Brandon Williams with Van de Beek getting the flick to fins Mata for his to score United’s second of the game.

United tripled their lead in the 80th minute after Joel Veltman became the second player of the match to be booked after taking Rashford out giving United a free-kick, Pogba took the set-piece which took a heavy deflection from the Brighton wall then in off the post to put United 3-0 up in the game, which seemed to be game over for Brighton. It was a polar opposite of Saturday’s match which saw United score three goals, one after the full time whistle was blown. It would seem United had done enough to get into the draw for the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Thursday.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Solid display from the 23-year-old making his second appearance for the club. His save to deny Trossard will be something he will be happy with.

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Diogo Dalot

Made some forward bursts during the match but it was not a performance to suggest he should be playing ahead of Wan-Bissaka.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Booked in the second half. It was an easier match for United than the match on Saturday but he still looked flustered.

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3 Eric Bailly

A great displayed from Bailly who should have put himself into contention to replace Lindelof against Spurs on Sunday.

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33 Brandon Williams

It was a good game for Williams. He may have cut inside too often but I am sure he will have learned from that.

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39 Scott McTominay

Had a good game for United and got himself a goal which was assisted by Mata, who also got one for himself. It was good to see him back to the ability we all know he has.

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17 Fred

Kept the midfield ticking over but in terms of what he offered, he should be putting a bit more so he can get back in contention to take the place of Matic, or Pogba in the midfield regularly. Replaced by Lingard in the 81st minute of the match.

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8 Juan Mata

Man of the Match for me. Most creative player for United with a goal and an assist. His pace is not quick but his mind is.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Made some nice touches of the ball throughout the match and linked in well for United. maybe it is time to get excited about what he could offer the club going forward. Got an assist for Mata's goal.

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21 Daniel James

Struggled. Seems to be out of sorts and a great distance away from the form he started in at the club. Rightly replaced by Pogba in the 69th minute of the match.

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25 Odion Ighalo

Missed a good chance to get United going. The Nigerian does not seem to be performing well for United, which is alarming with the transfer window about to close and United not reinforcing their attack in any way, shape of form.

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Substitutes

10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Ighalo 69'. Made some excellent runs into the box and won the free-kick which Pogba scored the third goal of the game.

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6 Paul Pogba

Replaced James 69'. Scored a great free-kick in the 80th minute of the match to put United 3-0 up in the game and into the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Fred 81'. Had little involvement in the game and what he did was typically frustrating, as has been the case from Lingard.

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Goals: Scott McTominay 44′, Juan Mata 73′, Paul Pogba 80′

Assists: Juan Mata 44′, Donny van de Beek 73′

Manchester United: Henderson; Dalot, Lindelof, Bailly, Williams; McTominay, Fred (Lingard 81′); Mata, Van de Beek, James (Pogba 69′); Ighalo (Rashford 69′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Fosu-Mensah, Mengi; Greenwood

Bookings: Dan Burn 43′, Joel Veltman 79′; Victor Lindelof 86′

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW