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Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan, Pogba and Rashford lead the attack against Hull

Manchester United face Hull City in the Premier League at Old Trafford this evening, a week after losing 2-1 in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg, their first defeat in a few months. United got back to winning ways beating Wigan Athletic in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Sunday evening. United need to be taking advantage of their rivals this evening, ensuring Hull leave the Theatre of Dreams without any points from the match. Liverpool and Chelsea drew 1-1, Tottenham Hotspur drew with Sunderland and Arsenal lost to Watford which leaves United in a good position to claw back some of the void of points above them, seeing them with a good chance of getting back into the top four in the coming weeks.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Blind;

Carrick, Herrera;

Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Rashford;

Ibrahimovic

Substitutes:

Romero; Smalling; Mata, Martial, Lingard, Young; Rooney

Hull City:

Jakupovic;

Meyler, Maguire, Dawson, Robertson;

Huddlestone, Clucas;

Markovic, Evandro, Tymon;

Niasse

Substitutes:

Marshall, Hernandez, Ranocchia, Elabdellaoui, Maloney, Diomande, Bowen

United have a good record against Hull City in the 31 matches they have played in the history of both clubs. United have won 21 matches, drawn four and lost six – which should suggest United will be ready to get the better of Marcos Silva’s side, but I do not think it will be an easy encounter as the visitors will be looking to cause an upset knowing that they beat United a week ago in the EFL Cup, but that would have felt like a defeat knowing that they did not do enough to get to the EFL Cup final at Wembley at the end of the month.

Report: United defeated by Hull, but earn a place in the EFL Cup final

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Hull City in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final, but earned a 3-2 aggregate victory, heading through to the final to meet Southampton at Wembley.

Jose Mourinho made five changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Stoke City last weekend with Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick, Jesse Lingard, and Marcus Rashford replacing Antonio Valencia, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. United beat Hull City 2-0 just over a fortnight ago and keeping that the case after tonight’s match will set up an EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley on Sunday 26th February 2017. Hull kicked off the match trying to look for an early goal to get them back into the fixture with United holding well in the opening few minutes.

In the tenth minute of the match, Hull has a chance to get something from the tie with a corner, which found its man in the box, but the resulting shot was well off target and not likely to cause any problems for United. Seconds later, Phil Jones gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box, getting booked at the same time. Samuel Clucas took the free-kick, which David De Gea punched clear with United then going on the attack with Marcus Rashford being fouled by David Meyler, earning a free-kick with no yellow card shown to Meyler, which was a talking point early in the match. Ander Herrera took the free-kick, which went through the box and out for a corner.

United had a spell of possession the threatened to cause Hull some problems, building up their play in Hull’s final third. After some good passing, Marcos Rojo had a shot on goal, which was wide of the mark and could have been better. United seemed to look like they were getting started, looking to capitalise on a first half goal, which could give Hull too much to do in this match. In the 25th minute of the match, a moment the home fans applauded for Ryan Mason who suffered a fractured skull at the weekend, Rojo gave a corner away, which threatened United with a shot on goal, which De Gea deflected then Hull were given another free-kick, which came to nothing.

Hull were awarded a penalty in the 35th minute of the match for a questionable foul in United’s box. Tom Huddlestone took the resulting penalty, putting Hull back in the side. I must say it was (another) poor decision by Jon Moss, who has shown he’s even lesser of a referee that I actually thought. United nearly got back into the match through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose shot was on target, but David Marshall parried the shot for a corner, which amounted to nothing for United. The half ended with United trailing 1-0 (1-2 on aggregate) with Mourinho’s side needing some inspiration from somewhere to settle the tie, or find themselves in a position whereby another goal could make a difference for the home side.

United stuttered for the early stages of the second half, still needing a goal to regain their two-goal cushion on the tie. Chris Smalling was denied a penalty after being fouled in the box, but Jon Moss did not want to know about it – seemingly another poor decision from the so-called referee again this evening. United levelled the score through Paul Pogba with Marcus Rashford deep inside the box, seemingly setting up the French midfielder, but the ball was passed to him from Huddlestone. United were 3-1 up on aggregate and seemingly on their way to Wembley to face Southampton.

United were unlucky not to take the lead in the match with Marcos Rojo rattling the crossbar and minutes later Hull did the same, which could have put the home side back into the fixture. In the 83rd minute, United’s goalscorer Paul Pogba had a shot on goal but was ruled offside. United were still doing enough to keep their two-goal lead on aggregate, earning that final place next month. Hull got their second goal in the 85th minute through Oumar Niasse, which puts them ahead on the night but still needing goals to earn a place in the Wembley final. Rojo was shown a yellow card, United’s second this evening for a foul, which may have been questionable.

Goals: Paul Pogba 66′

Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian, Jones, Smalling, Rojo; Carrick, Herrera; Lingard (Rooney 78′), Pogba, Rashford (Fellaini 90+2′); Ibrahimovic

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Shaw, Fosu-Mensah; Mata, Mkhitaryan

Bookings: Phil Jones 11′, Marcos Rojo 87′

Written by Ryan Beecham

Ibrahimovic, Lingard, Pogba and Rashford start against Hull

Manchester United face Hull City in the semi-final second leg of the EFL Cup at the KCOM Stadium this evening. Just over a fortnight ago, United earned a 2-0 victory over Marco Silva’s side at Old Trafford and stand in good stead to earn their first Wembley cup final this season, where they could face Southampton – the team that beat Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool with a 2-0 aggregate victory at Anfield on Wednesday evening. Klopp’s side have won one match in 2017 against Plymouth Argyle – and that was after a replay! United are still unbeaten, despite drawing their last two Premier League matches against Liverpool and Stoke City. Tonight could see United get back on track this season.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Darmian, Jones, Smalling, Rojo;

Carrick, Herrera;

Lingard, Pogba, Rashford;

Ibrahimovic

Substitutes:

Romero; Shaw, Fosu-Mensah; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Fellaini; Rooney

Hull City:

Marshall;

Meyler, Maguire, Dawson, Tymon;

Niasse, Huddlestone, Clucas, Maloney;

Bowen, Diomande

Substitutes:

Kuciak, Robertson, Hernandez, Elabdellaoui, Weir, Evandro, Markovic

Manchester United and Hull City have met 30 times in the history of both clubs with United winning 21 matches, drawing four and losing just five – the last on the 23rd November 1974, which would suggest it would be a tough night for Silva’s side against Mourinho’s men this evening. Jose Mourinho has won on trophy during his reign as United manager, the FA Community Shield at Wembley in August, but he will be looking to aim for a second, with a victory this evening, setting up a date against Southampton at Wembley on Sunday 26th February 2017 – hoping to add more success during his first season as Manchester United manager.

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

Starting XI: Hull City v Manchester United – Premier League 2016/17

Manchester United take on Hull City in the Premier League at the KC Stadium this evening. Both United and Hull are undefeated so far this season, winning both of their league matches, with one of the teams likely to lose that record today. I am sure Jose Mourinho will not be holding out for a draw, and neither will Mike Phelan. United have a good squad this season and seem to be in the right mentality to continue the club’s success, which so far seems to be good. United will be utilising more of their player as the weeks go on with the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League commencing next month. Here are the starting XI’s and list of substitutes for both teams today.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw;

Fellaini, Pogba;

Mata, Rooney, Martial;

Ibrahimovic

Substitutes:

Romero; Smalling; Young, Herrera, Mkhitaryan, Schneiderlin; Rashford

Hull City:

Jakupovic;

Elmohamady, Livermore, Davies, Robertson;

Meyler, Huddlestone, Clucas;

Snodgrass, Hernandez, Diomande

Substitutes:

Kuciak, Maguire, Maloney, Bowen, Olley, Clackstone, Hinchliffe

copyright: JW