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Mourinho: I was expecting a difficult match, I was not expecting to win by four or five

Manchester United put a foot into a possible cup final at Wembley by beating Hull City 2-0 at Old Trafford in the semi-final first leg of the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening. An early second half goal from Juan Mata, assisted by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and a late header by Marouane Fellaini were enough to send United into the second leg in just over a fortnight’s time in good stead. It was not the greatest match we had seen, but nine victories in a row and the club extending their unbeaten streak to 15 matches is a great achievement, especially after the barren last three seasons. The EFL Cup may not be the one United really want to win, but a trophy is a trophy and that is all that matters.

Jose Mourinho on Marouane Fellaini’s goal, a player he celebrated with in the aftermath, being an important one:

“I was expecting a difficult match, I was not expecting to win by four or five. 1-0 for me would always be a good result but 2-0 is better. It doesn’t end the semi-final, we are not at Wembley, but the second goal is maybe the important goal.”

Mourinho on the first half not being the best half of football, which I have to agree was the case:

“Of course they were very well organised defensively [in the first half] like I was expecting and it was not easy for us. But I think we were a bit sloppy, we complicated things with always one more touch, always delaying the decision and giving them time to regroup. And it was not our best first half. I think in the first half the players have to do better, I have to do better, the fans – they also have to do better. In the second half, we all improved a little bit, just a little bit.”

Mourinho on the hug from Fellaini, which was a touching celebration from the burly Belgian:

“I think he wanted to show that he knows how much I supported him in a couple of difficult moments for him. It was probably because I told him you are going to score the second goal, I don’t know. It was nice for him to score in front of the fans and the second goal that can be an important goal.”

Mourinho on looking ahead to Sunday’s visit of Liverpool, the most important match of the week:

“Now this game is over, I think about Sunday. And Sunday, I need to do better, the players need to do better and the stadium has to do better too. Everybody likes big games – players, managers, fans… everyone loves big matches so let’s go for that one on Sunday.”

Mourinho on making it ten victories in a row in all competitions with a win against Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday:

“Yeah nine victories is obviously very important, six in the Premier League so let’s try 10, seven in the Premier League. But I think we all have to improve [on tonight] if we want that.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was missing from the victory over Hull City on Tuesday evening due to illness. When asked whether he was a doubt for Sunday’s match, Mourinho said:

“Zlatan is ill so I think no problem, I think he will be fine.”

Marcos Rojo limped off after just twenty minutes in the 4-0 victory over Reading in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday, missing from the match against Hull, Mourinho was asked if he could be back in action on Sunday, with United feeling the limits of their defence at this stage of the season with the absence of Eric Bailly, who is playing in the Africa Cup of Nations:

“I don’t know [if Rojo will be fit]. Marcos has a muscular problem, not big. I’m not saying he’s not ready to play, I’m saying that I have my doubts.”

Juan Mata named Manchester United’s Man of the Match:

Chris Smalling on the perfect preparation for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool:

Man of the Match Juan Mata on his all-important first goal against Hull City:

Henrikh Mkhitaryan on Manchester United winning streak:

Nine wins in a row in all competitions, 15 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Manchester United are in resurgent form:

What We Learned: Pogba raising his game, Mourinho wants trophies

Manchester United beat Hull City 2-0 in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final, putting one foot in the final at Wembley at the end of February. United have been playing some good possession-based and attacking football, threatening their opposition over the past nine games, which have all been victories for Jose Mourinho’s side. With tonight’s win, United not only stretched to a nine-match winning run but also extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches, which at this stage of the season is some great form and, building some great momentum at the same time. Sunday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool with be the match that many will be looking at now, the biggest test for United in their last 15 matches, one that they need to win in order to build that momentum further, cutting the scouse side’s lead from five points to just two, which will unlock United’s position in the title race, not that many expect Mourinho’s men to challenge Chelsea, who are on fire this season, but at this moment in time, you cannot just rule that out.

Michael Carrick

When Michael Carrick does not play for United, they miss something. Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera were paired up in midfield against Hull, but with Carrick, not only are you getting a good passer, a forward thinker, but a controller of the game. Carrick would rightly rested for the Liverpool match, a match he would be better utilised in, but when he is missing, United are missing that vital cog. Replacing Carrick is a big deal, as at the age of 35, he is not going to play on forever, and next season is still up in the air with the player out of contract. The likes of Sean Goss and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are mentioned as possible being replacements for Carrick, but they are not really like for like, with Goss the closer match, but also the player with lesser experience. Carrick is a great player for the team, a true winner of the ball and the game. A big problem for Jose Mourinho lies ahead, whether this summer or next, but replacing him will be a real problem to get right.

Taking chances

Against Hull, United had plenty of chances on goal, 21 in total, six of those on target, 11 off target and four being blocked. United could have been that much better in front of goal had the passes been better with some players just not getting into full effect during the match. Wayne Rooney’s chance which could have been his 250th goal was unfortunate, and could maybe have been taken better, had things gone to plan. Mourinho would have liked the semi-final to be over at this half-way stage, but the visit to the KCOM stadium will be more than a formality now that United only scored twice at home, but the clean sheet may benefit them, especially if they get an early goal, which will effectively end the tie, unless Hull find some form in the next couple of week, wich when looking at their injury woes, seems unlikely. Perhaps United were saving everything for Sunday’s match against Liverpool

Paul Pogba is raising his game

The French midfielder has grown the more he has played this season. Back in August and September he was being criticised by the media and the ABU supporters, with nearly every team having a better player than Pogba on their team, but looking at his statistics, they were pretty similar to last season, when he was playing for Juventus in Serie A, which not only demonstrates that he has been consistent but was now playing in a more competitive league. Pogba may not have lived up to his £89 million price tag just yet, and may never equate to a player capable of changing the outcome of matches like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but being the scorer of 40-50 goals a season is not the only achievement in football. Without players like Pogba, are Messi and Ronaldo complete players, able to fill every position on the pitch themselves, meaning could they reproduce that kind of form without the likes of Andres Iniesta, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric et al? Paul Pogba is a player that offers Manchester United what they need, his price tag matters less than that. Many will judge by price tag, when they should judge by what the end product is, and Pogba’s is starting to show.

Jose Mourinho wants to win trophies

The EFL Cup may not be the most prestigious of trophies, something Sir Alex Ferguson gave youth a chance in, but this season, under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, all silverware is being treated with a priority. The EFL Cup will buy United a place in Europe next season, not the competition they want to be in, but insurance should everything go wrong like it did earlier in the season. Not taking the opportunity to win it could well be rued. It is better to be safe than sorry. At this stage of the season, just past the halfway point in the Premier League, United lie in sixth place, just five points away from second place, which could well be cut further this weekend, or extended – or even filled by another team, dependant on results. United winning trophies is what the supporters want, especially after the barred three years which has produced the Emirates FA Cup and two FA Community Shields. United have one foot in the door to what could be their first final this season, and a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup, with a further chance to defend their title won last season, aiming to beat Warren Joyce’s Wigan Athletic in the fourth round.

Juan Mata offers something, but not always playing alongside Wayne Rooney

Juan Mata or Wayne Rooney, that should be the decision. When played together, play can be a bit slow as both are not the quickest of players but can think ahead. Playing with pace alongside them is key. Mata is a player that offers United some great things and has done for the past three years since he moved from Chelsea in fact. His opener against Hull on Tuesday evening showed that his thinking, combined with his positioning, burying his shot into the back of the net to take the frustration away from 55 minutes of play without being able to score. Mata has not been a regular starter recently, but has come off the bench at times, helping United get the better of their opposition – a key player in Mourinho’s squad, even though he was tipped to be the first player out of the door this summer, being that Mourinho was the new manager and he sold him whilst at Chelsea. It just goes to show that two and two occasionally make a number other than four.

Report: Mata and Fellaini seal 2-0 victory over Hull

Manchester United beat Hull City in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg 2-0 at Old Trafford with two second-half goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini. It was maybe not the result Jose Mourinho wanted, but United go into the second leg in just over a fortnight with a good lead, needing a goal, or two to seal their first cup final of the season at Wembley. United extend their winning run to nine consecutive matches, stretching their unbeaten run to 15 matches. Bring on Liverpool.

Jose Mourinho made seven changes from his side which beat Reading 4-0 in the Emirates FA Cup at the Theatre of Dreams. Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the tie due to illness. Morgan Schneiderlin was absent amid reports of his impending move away from the club close to being sealed, to Everton, despite interest from West Bromwich Albion. United started the match in resurgent form, almost finding an early goal, failing but still having the lion’s share of the ball. Hull, despite their injury woes, did not sit back and hope for the best, they did try an attack through Harry Maguire, which was unlikely to trouble United.

In the 16th minute of the match, Hull lost Markus Henriksen after he shoulder barged Paul Pogba, lost the challenge and seemed to be carrying a shoulder injury, leaving the pitch with Hull temporarily down to ten men. United had a great chance before the substitution with Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan combining with the Armenian firing towards goal, wide of the target. Abel Hernandez replaced Henriksen. Hull were defending deep in their own half, not by choice. United were pressing them deeper and deeper with chances being created thick and fast, nothing breaking the deadlock at this stage in the match, though.

In the 28th minute of the match, Paul Pogba had an effort on goal from range, hitting the target, but Eldin Jakupovic stopped it, thwarting another chance for the home side to take the lead. United had another chance moments later with Marcus Rashford dipping his striker from 20-yards, which was just over the crossbar. Just past the 30 minute mark, Hull had a credible effort on goal through Adama Diomande, from a header, hitting the post, saving United’s blushes, which may not have counted as he looked to be in an offside position. United had their scare of the tie, time to case a few of their own.

After hitting the post, Hull seemed to develop some confidence, having some rare possession inside United’s area. That was short-lived though with United winning back the ball and creating some pressure of their own. Maguire received the first yellow card of the match after he took out Mkhitaryan with a sliding challenge, not even close to winning the ball. United took the free kick, created more pressure in the Hull area, but nothing that was enough to take the lead, unfortunately. United went into the break still needing something to settle the match, which ideally should be over this evening, with the second leg just a formality.

At the start of the second half, United made no changes, but looked to pick up from their form in the first half, vying for a goal. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a chance in the opening minute of the half, running at goal but Jakupovic raced off his line to collect the ball, thwarting the attack. The best chance came after just five minutes through Wayne Rooney, who drifted wide and was not picked up by Hull, firing his shot from an angle, wide of the mark. That could have been his 250th goal for Manchester United. United took the lead ten minutes into the second half with a simple tap in from Juan Mata, from a Antonio Valencia cross, which was headed towards goal by Mkhitaryan, with Mata prodding the ball into the back of the net.

Wayne Rooney made way for Anthony Martial in the 59th minute of the match, ending the chance of his 250th goal against Hull, but possibly against Liverpool on Sunday, should Rooney play a part in that match, which would be a better club to break a record against. United continued playing well, pressuring Hull in their own area and creating chances, which were not really threatening the visitors. United won a corner in the 69th minute of the match, which was dealt with by Hull. Valencia won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area after being fouled, , with amounted to nothing. Jesse Lingard was readying himself to come on, replacing Mkhitaryan.

Minutes after the substitution, United have another free-kick with Paul Pogba taking it, and hitting the post, which was unfortunate. United still on top in the game, the scoreline may not be what was expected, Hull have done well and United had not been taking their chances throughout the game. Marouane Fellaini replaced Mata as United’s third substitute this evening, may not be a fans favourite, but was brought on for a specific job, making himself a nuisance in the Hull box, something he has been good at in the past. Rashford really took his chance against Hull, showing his qualities, especially his pace in the final ten minutes of the match.

Hull stretched United in their own half in the 83rd minute, with United finding a way to avoid an equaliser. A resulting corner amounted to nothing for the visitors and United then regained possession, pressuring Hull in the final third. Paul Pogba, who hit the post with a free-kick earlier in the match, had done so seven times this season in all competitions, which is unfortunate but takes some skill to do. United doubled their lead through Fellaini in the 87th minute of the match after Martial and Darmian combined for the Italian to cross the ball into the box, for Fellaini, on the rise to head into the back of the net. United threatened moments later, failing to get a third goal.

Goals: Juan Mata 56′, Marouane Fellaini 87′

Assists: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 56′, Matteo Darmian 87′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Herrera, Pogba; Mata (Fellaini 79′), Rooney (Martial 59′), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 71′); Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Blind, Fosu-Mensah; Carrick

CONFIRMED: Mata, Herrera and Pogba all start against Hull

Manchester United face Marco Silva’s Hull City at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg this evening. United are currently on a 14 match unbeaten run, of which they have won their last eight matches, six of those in the Premier League. United are a team on the road to recovery, especially in the league where they have clawed back an 11 point lead by Arsenal, cutting it to just two points. Tonight’s match will do little for United’s league place but will keep their momentum going for Sunday’s crucial Premier League clash with Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams, which could see United cut Liverpool’s five-point lead, down to just two points. United are a resurgent side, making up for their disastrous three-match losing streak earlier in the season, and the unfortunate draws against Burnley, Stoke City, Everton, and Arsenal, among others which could have changed their current league position, putting them in a title race position with Chelsea. Still, this season has been a good one, much better than the previous three post-Sir Alex Ferguson, despite some still suggesting Jose Mourinho is not the right man for the job, which leaves questions as to whether they are the right supporters for this club!

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Darmian;

Herrera, Pogba;

Mata, Rooney, Mkhitaryan;

Rashford

Substitutes:

Romero; Blind, Fosu-Mensah; Lingard, Carrick, Fellaini; Martial

Hull City:

Jakupovic;

Robertson, Maguire, Huddlestone, Tymon;

Henriksen, Meyler, Mason, Clucas;

Snodgrass;

Diomande

Substitutes:

Marshall; Clackstone; Maloney, Weir; Hernandez, Bowen

Starting XI Prediction: Manchester United looking to down Marco Silva’s Hull City

Manchester United face Hull City at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup on Tuesday evening at Old Trafford, just three days after beating Reading 4-0 in the Emirates FA Cup. United have now been unbeaten in their last 14 matches, winning their last eight, six of those in the Premier League alone. United have developed into a resurgent side trying to get back to the days gone by where the fear factor was present in each and every opponent. That seems to be something Jose Mourinho have instilled into his squad, grinding out the results on a match by match basis, aiming to claw back the deficit from the teams above them in the league.

United may not have change positions in the past six matches in the league, but when Arsenal once had an 11 point lead, to now just two points, shows just what United have done. The EFL Cup is a different competition, one which could see silverware at the Theatre of Dreams this season, providing United make it through the two-legged semi-final and win at Wembley, a match which could be against either Southampton or Liverpool, with the latter doing a pretty good Southampton impression in amassing most of their players and still wanting more. Hull City have been a good side in the competition this season, despite their poor form in the Premier League, but a resurgent United could be too much for them.

Starting XI Prediction (4-2-3-1):

Goalkeeper – David De Gea

Rested against Reading in the Emirates FA Cup this weekend, David De Gea will probably return against Hull City. Two game out of action is relatively unheard of for De Gea, unless he is injured so keeping him out ot the starting XI in the run up to the Liverpool match at Old Trafford next Sunday may not be the best decision. I am sure he will be thankful of the rest this weekend, and that will go a long way into getting him prepared for a busy week, and rest of the month. De Gea is the best goalkeeper at the club, even though Sergio Romero is not a bad backup for him. Having De Gea behind United’s back four, which looks set to be without Marcos Rojo, a player who has combined well with Phil Jones recently, will add more strength.

Back Four – Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw

The defence has been something many have worried about this season, at various points. United will be without Eric Bailly for the remainder of the month and probably into February, which leaves Jose Mourinho with little options should things go wrong. The injury sustained to Marcos Rojo on Saturday against Reading only adds to that, not that we know how long he will be out of action for. It could be nothing to worry about. Needless to say, the defence is the most important part of the team, especially in that United are starting to look better on the attack, which is all a product of a strong defence. Antonio Valencia will come back into the side on Tuesday alongside the partnership of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Luke Shaw was supposed to play against Reading, but illness stood in his way, which should see him recover to make his first appearance since the 4-1 victory over West Ham United in the EFL Cup at the end of November.

Midfield – Ander Herrera, Bastian Schweinsteiger

Michael Carrick will most likely be rested against Hull City as he will be needed against Liverpool on Sunday. United have strength in-depth in the midfield currently, even with Morgan Schneiderlin’s impending move away from the club. I think Bastian Schweinsteiger will make a start against Hull, paired alongside Ander Herrera, who will be looking to get some action before Liverpool arrive at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday. The pairing will add some insurance in front of the back four, and the tracking nature of Herrera, who has his mind sent on winning the ball back and constantly chasing down his opposition, something which may dog Hull and allow United to unleash their full force, which I do not think has been seen, at least properly, this season.

Attacking Midfield – Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan

This is where United are starting to look the part this season, the three behind the striker. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba are both players who have added a lot to United play this season. Anthony Martial is another, dazzling against Reading at the weekend with United dominating the Championship side into submission. The Armenian may play on the left, which could see Jesse Lingard play on the right, with Pogba in the middle. This adds pace on both sides, running at their man and able to supply the striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic with some great passes, also to each other. United have been magical on the attack at times, and doing that in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final could end the tie at Old Trafford, with the visit to Hull only a formality. This trio may not be the best United have to offer, but allowing players to recover in time for the match after this one is key, giving strength across the squad, which is something Mourinho is handling very well this season, even though it did not look that way after the first hurdle earlier in the season when United fell to three successive defeats in the Premier League and the UEFA Europa League.

Striker – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The veteran Swedish striker has scored 18 goals this season, which is a feat that many are amazed about, especially those writing the player off, even before his arrival in Manchester. United have been missing this type of striker since Robin van Persie, in his first season, almost single-handedly delivered the Premier League title, the first in his career. That season saw some magnificent goals, which is the same thing we are seeing now with Zlatan. At 35, he really is a fine specimen in the game, able to continue playing week in and week out, being rested against Reading, as he will be expected to face Hull City and Liverpool in the coming matches, which will be important for United to continue their resurgence this season. United have a massive chance to put the three barren years behind them, raising their game and putting their rivals on the back foot.

Preview: Mourinho to recall quartet to face Hull City

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:

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 3-0 Hull City

Mourinho pleased with the result and the performance against West Ham

Manchester United beat West Ham United 4-1 in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, earning a semi-final clash with Hull City in January, a two-legged clash. United will be dreaming of another visit to Wembley, which could become a reality by the end of January, which looks to be a busy month for the Red Devils as their defence in the Emirates FA Cup will also start that month. United played well against the Hammers, a team they battered from the start of the match, but by half-time, found themselves level, coming straight out in the second half and regaining the lead inside three minutes. Both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial scored braces, Henrikh Mkhitaryan assisted twice with Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera assisting the other goals for the evening. Former Manchester United Academy striker Ashley Fletcher put the Hammers back into the match ten minutes before half-time, but that meant nothing after the break.

Jose Mourinho was suspended for this match, watched it in a ‘secret’ location with Old Trafford, spoke to Sky Sports after seeing his side do him proud, saying:

“I’m pleased with the result, because the performance is something that we’re used to. We are playing very, very well at home and today was more of the same.”

Mourinho praised Henrikh Mkhitaryan for his display in the victory over the Hammers, saying how happy he was about his evolution at the club. Mourinho said:

“I’m so happy today because today was against a Premier League team with Premier League qualities and characteristics. That really showed his evolution because against Feyenoord we could think that it was a different profile, but today was against a proper and typical Premier League team. We are really happy, because we know the reason why we bought him; we were waiting for his adaptation and it looks like it’s coming.”

Mourinho speaks about his lack of concern at the break with the two side drawing 1-1 at the time. He said:

“The performance is something we are used to. We are playing very, very well at home and I think today was more of the same, that we had 10 minutes where we felt it deeply and the players on the pitch, they couldn’t hide that, because West Ham’s first shot they equalised.

“But in the second-half, the team got the confidence to play and to win comfortably playing beautiful attacking football, which is something the fans like but we needed the result.

“I told them forget the goal, 1-1, we are playing so well that we have to keep confidence, so forget the undeserved goal, forget at half-time we should be winning and we aren’t, so let’s go from here with confidence.

“And in the second-half we had the goals, so goals plus performance means the real happiness.”

Manchester United were drawn against Hull City in the semi-final of the EFL Cup this season, avoiding Liverpool, who were drawn against their feeder club, Southampton. Speaking of the draw, Mourinho said:

“I was calm with the draw. If the teams arrive here, it’s because they put a lot on the competition. The two legs take a little bit out of the draw with the situation you play at home or away – it doesn’t exist any more as you play both home and away.

“I’m sure Hull City have an amazing memory from Wembley last season [the Championship play-off final win over Sheffield Wednesday] and I’m sure they are going to try everything to be there again. Manchester United, we were there last season, and in August, and it’s something a club like United is used to – going back to Wembley on a regular basis.

“So we’re going to try but it’s in January so we now we forget the semi-final that we have to play when hopefully we can reach the final.”

What We Learned: Mkhitaryan and Martial running the show, Zlatan bagging goals

Manchester United sorted themselves out in their second match against West Ham United in fours days, knocking the Londoner’s out of the EFL Cup with a 4-1 scoreline. It was the same old story for United, who this time took the lead in the first two minutes with Henrikh Mkhitaryan back-heeling Zlatan Ibrahimovic a great ball inside the box with the Swede finding the back of the net, before receiving a studs-up challenge from Adrian right on his knee, which kept his down for a while, recovering to continue the match. United had some great chances with Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney coming close to scoring, the latter from a neatly placed free-kick, which did not beat the keeper. United then found themselves being pegged back by the Hammers, who equalised in the 35th minute through Ashley Fletcher after David De Gea could not keep hold of Dimitri Payet’s shot, putting it straight into the path of United’s former youth player, who left in the summer. United struck back in the second half though with Anthony Martial putting United back in the lead three minutes into the second half, assisted by Mkhitaryan, then scoring his second of the night, which was assisted by Antonio Valencia. United scored their fourth in the dying seconds of the match through Ibrahimovic, assisted by Ander Herrera. Great result for United, who face Hull City in the semi-finals of the competition.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Two assists for the Armenian, who was also named the EFL Cup Man of the Match. It is a great comeback for Mkhitaryan, who initially looking like he would not play for United again, but Jose Mourinho knew what he was doing, it was the media putting these differing stories out there, with many supporters opting to go with the media’s side of the story. Mourinho and Mkhitaryan knew the full story, that is all that matters. The Armenian is on fire, assisting twice in the match, his first since April, which was whilst he was at Borussia Dortmund. Mkhitaryan is a great player and now seeing him shine is great. He will be confident ahead of United’s busy period, where him being fully fit, settled and in form is going to be good for United, his teammates, his manager and more importantly, the fans.

Anthony Martial

Another success story under Jose Mourinho this season. Only days ago he was criticised for not taking his chances, with Mourinho saying if you do not take your meat, someone else will, or words to that effect. The player obviously listened to that, or the fact he would have heard it from Mourinho first-hand before we did, getting that chance this evening and paying him manager back for it. Martial was on fire, taking the challenge to his man, winning them more often than not, getting himself on the scoresheet twice, which will only fill him with more confidence. United now head into December with seven matches on the cards, a busy period with three or four matches being played over the festive period. Having Martial fit and raring to go will only help United. If they can claw back some of the deficit from the teams above them, playing Tottenham Hotspur early in the month, facing Everton, who are below United, this weekend. December could see United in form, which may see rival teams noticing them.

Chances galore

Manchester United are creating chances, playing well, but it would seem that sometimes, despite dominating in matches, it can go against them. Manchester United are work in progress, doing well in putting the last three years behind them. The fact that Mourinho has his side playing positive football is a turning point – gone are the days of the boring possession rich matches under Louis van Gaal, now we get to see exciting attacking displays. The fact that both Mkhitaryan and Martial are looking good is a great sign, not to great for United’s opposition, though. Winning in the Premier League is the next checkpoint to reach, beating Everton, making up some ground in the league as Manchester City and Chelsea face each other in the league this weekend, with West Ham entertaining Arsenal, so there could be a chance for United to claw back some of the gap come Sunday afternoon. United are playing good football, they look good defensively, despite lacking strength there with the injuries to Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly. The midfield is looking good and the forward like seems to be working right now. Two goals for Anthony Martial and another two for Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks good on paper, and in reality. United may not yet be back fully, but it is coming.

CONFIRMED: Mkhitaryan and Rooney start against West Ham

Manchester United face West Ham United in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford this evening. The two teams faced each other in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday, earning a 1-1 draw in what seemed like a struggle for United. United are without both Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini this evening, and Jose Mourinho will be in the stands after being charged by the FA, getting a one-match suspension and a £16,000 fine. United will be looking to return to winning ways, earning a semi-final place in the EFL Cup this season, which could see them head to Wembley once again this season, should they get to the final of course. United will be looking for a performance like they had against Feyenoord last Thursday night, in which they played some very good attacking football, scoring four goals and putting themselves in good stead for a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League this season, which can be earned with a point against Zorya Luhansk in just over a weeks time. Here are the starting XI and list of substitutes for both clubs this evening:

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw;

Carrick, Herrera;

Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial;

Ibrahimovic

Substitutes:

Romero; Blind; Mata, Lingard, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Rashford

West Ham United:

Adrian;

Ogbonna, Reid, Kouyate;

Antonio, Feghouli, Obiang, Cresswell;

Fernandez, Fletcher, Payet

Substitutes:

Randolph, Nordtveit, Lanzini, Zaza, Noble, Collins, Masuaku

Preview: Mourinho to instil passion, confidence and fight into his side?

Old Trafford, Manchester

EFL Cup 2016/17

Wednesday 30th November 2016 – KO 20:00 [Live on Sky Sports]

Referee: Michael Jones

Assistant Referees: Richard West and Adrian Holmes

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

Manchester United face West Ham United in the EFL Cup for the second time in three days on Wednesday evening at Old Trafford. Sunday’s match saw United concede a goal inside the first two minutes of the match and Jose Mourinho sent to the stands for the second time at home this month. United once again played well, creating a number of chances and shots on goal with West Ham’s goalkeeper really putting in a performance against the Red Devils, something he really needs to be doing each match for his club, but isn’t. The Hammers fans will be happy with the draw in the league, as it stopped them from falling into the relegation places in the league, really being a different West Ham side this season. It is a shame their players were not funded by the taxpayer, like the rest of the club. What a shambles that is. Not to mention that fact that many of their fans need locking up for their poor behaviour, even within their new ‘funded’ stadium.

United really need to start finding some form as people are suggesting that nothing has changed since Louis van Gaal managed the club, when in actual fact, the football has changed massively. Gone are the day of possession football, not United are keeping the ball, for much of the time at least, and doing something with it, whether that be creating chances, or taking them. Not all chances are goalscoring opportunities, though, with the current problems at the club, few seems to be goalscoring opportunities, that is the only thing that needs to change, in my opinion anyway.  Some players need to be shown the door, with others being given chances from the club’s Academy, or Mourinho bringing some more players to the club in the January transfer window. One thing is for sure, the team Mourinho has is not his team and attempts to make them his team do not seem to be working, so more changes will be in the offing.

West Ham did very little against United on Sunday, they had some chances, but nothing special. Their fans are happy as they avoided defeat at Old Trafford, something that has been the case the last three times in the Premier League and the FA Cup. Winning at Old Trafford is a different kettle of fish, as that has not happened for some years, and in their current form, I doubt they are capable of doing so. West Ham may see themselves as one of the biggest clubs in London, but in terms of success, they are not even on the radar. This season might end up taking them off the Premier League radar altogether, which is something they deserve, but that will mean they will be funded by the taxpayer even more. Slaven Bilic has a great West Ham side last season, but this season, with the same team. United seem to be suffering from similar problems, players bottling out of chances, and that is something that will need to improve.

Manchester United Form:- DWDWL

West Ham United 1-1 D, Feyenoord 4-0 W, Arsenal 1-1 D, Swansea City 3-1 W, Fenerbahçe 2-1 L

Manchester United played some good football against Feyenoord at Old Trafford on Thursday evening, yet when it came to West Ham United in the Premier League, everything gained from that big victory, the biggest under Jose Mourinho, was forgotten. United conceded inside the first two minutes after conceding a free-kick on the edge of the area, then not defending it properly. United then battled to get back into the game, did so through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then struggled to get ahead, despite the chances being created, but not taken by the players. United need to sort this out. creating chances is all well and good, but when they are not being taken, that is the difference between winning and losing matches.

West Ham United Form:- DLDLW

Manchester United 1-1 D, Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 L, Stoke City 1-1 D, Everton 2-0 L, Chelsea 2-1 W

West Ham United were a team to beat last season, this season, they are a beaten team. The move to the tax-payer funded London Stadium seems to have been the kiss of death to the coin throwers, which is even funnier to watch. Three wins in the Premier League this season show that the only scrap the London side could have this season is a relegation battle, which would not be a huge loss if they ended up back in the Championship. Slaven Bilic’s West Ham just do not seem like they are pushing for anything, which must be frustrating for their fans. West Ham were on top at times against United on Sunday, they need to stay on top of them, of the same thing will happen on Wednesday.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

9 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 5 – Juan Mata, 4 – Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney, 2 – Anthony Martial, 1 – Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

West Ham United Top Scorers:

6 – Michail Antonio, 3 – Cheikhou Kouyaté, Manuel Lanzini, 2 – Mark Noble, Dimitri Payet, 1 – James Collins, Sofiane Feghouli, Edimilson Fernandes, Own Goal, Winston Reid, Diafra Sakho

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

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: Eric Bailly (knee), Chris Smalling (foot) – Paul Pogba (one match), Marouane Fellaini (one match)

West Ham United Squad:

Manager: Slaven Bilic

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Adrián, Raphael Spiegel

Defenders: Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Álvaro Arbeloa, James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, Sam Byram, Doneil Henry, Arthur Masuaku, Reece Oxford, Declan Rice

Midfielders: Håvard Nordtveit, Sofiane Feghouli, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Manuel Lanzini, Pedro Obiang, Mark Noble, Gökhan Töre, Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio, Domingos Quina, Djair Parfitt-Williams, Marcus Browne, Moses Makasi

Forwards: Andy Carroll, Simone Zaza, Diafra Sakho, André Ayew, Ashley Fletcher, Jonathan Calleri, Antonio Martinez

Injuries and Suspensions: Reece Oxford (ankle), Gökhan Töre (thigh), Sam Byram (hamstring), Arthur Masuaku (knee), Andy Carroll (knee) Daifra Sakho (hamstring)

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United

copyright: JW