There is no such thing as a low key ‘derby’ as Manchester United prepare to host rivals Manchester City in the fourth round of EFL Cup on Wednesday under the floodlights. After events of last weekend, the Manchester derby will offer more thrills and spills and is expected to be even more intense than usual.
Two of the richest clubs in the world are controlled by two of the finest managers in the world and neither side can afford to lose as a lot of pride is at stake. Another loss and the level of criticism increases, which directly might affect the dressing room.
Speaking about the hosts first, Jose Mourinho’s United thrashed Fenerbahce 4-1 in the Europa League, but found himself in trouble after Sunday's 4-0 humiliation at former club Chelsea. It is good that United have another chance to bounce back so soon after the Stamford Bridge setback, although Mourinho prefers to be playing another league game.
After the Chelsea drubbing, Mourinho said: "I am 100 per cent for Manchester United. Because of that, I feel deeply about the situation. But there is only one answer: training, and keep fighting."
Mourinho’s adversary—Pep Guardiola—is winless in five games for the first time since March 2009, the most recent of which was a 1-1 home draw with Southampton at the weekend and definitely in a worst shape. But the Spaniard will be buoyant to pick up another win after their 2-1 victory earlier in the Premier League season.
‘’Derbies are always special. We are going to try to play seriously and try to win the game. I always expect the best from United. They are strong team with quality. They are six points behind - just two games,’’ Guardiola said ahead of the heated clash.
In terms of team news, City are without Kevin De Bruyne and Pablo Zabaleta is also unlikely to feature. Bacary Sagna could also miss out, while skipper Vincent Kompany fitness is in doubt, which leaves Guardiola with quite a few selection issues.
Despite Claudio Bravo being the first-choice goalkeeper, the manager knows he can’t play every single game, and could bring in veteran Willy Caballero against United. Also, with Caballero set to face Barcelona next week at the Etihad, it could be a good practice for the Argentinian.
Mourinho will be without defender Eric Bailly, who was forced off during the Chelsea game and will be out for two months. Marouane Fellaini is also out for the clash, while doubt remains over the fitness of skipper Wayne Rooney.
Both managers made nine changes for their third round ties of this competition, but the clash being a derby, they will come out with a strong squad.
The last time the two sides met in this competition, it was in 2010 when Rooney’s injury-time strike at Old Trafford guided United to semi-finals of the competition as they won 4-3 on aggregate.
Presently, both Mourinho and Guardiola, two so very different managers, find themselves in very similar positions. Both Manchester clubs are in limbo, but a derby has all the spice and a win for either side will be measured in gold. There's plenty at stake in this one!
Tune into Ten 2 and www.tensports.com for live streaming the match between Manchester United and Manchester City on October 27.