Wednesday 26th October 2016 Kickoff: 2000hrs
Manchester United v Manchester City
Football – England – EFL Cup
Despite only coming to the end of October, Wednesday plays host to the second Manchester derby of the season as United meet City for a place in the quarter final of the EFL Cup. The red half of the city will be looking for some revenge following a 2-1 defeat in the league back in September.
Anybody expecting United to have immediate success with the arrival of Jose Mourinho will be suffering from something of a reality check at this point in time. Having been in the wilderness somewhat since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, the club went all out to get Mourinho to replace Louis Van Gaal during the summer and there was a belief that the former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach would have an instant effect on the club’s fortunes. That belief was further strengthened when he acquired some big name players (and personalities) that appeared to have been lacking under the previous two managers. Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, amongst others, were the high profile players that United supporters craved, and hoped would get them back to the top of the tree in England this season. Fast forward a couple of months and the smart money is on the turnaround at Old Trafford is going to take slightly longer. Sunday’s defeat to Chelsea would have been a humbling one for all concerned, particularly Mourinho against his old club, but it was also an illustration of how limited this United team remain when having to chase games. Few can compete with the Portuguese man when it comes to frustrating opposition teams, but losing a goal so early in the game was their downfall and one they could not recover from.
Ten wins from the first 10 games of the season looked to have City on track to fulfill their own supporters’ expectations of this season. With Pep Guardiola arriving at the club, along with a host of big money signings, there was huge optimism surrounding the club and they could not have started the season in better form – both domestically and Europe. The last five games, however, have brought them back down to earth with a bump and there is a need for a significant improvement if they are to have the success that so many predicted. City remain winless in the month of October having lost to Tottenham and Barcelona, and drawn at home to Everton and Southampton. There’s no doubt that they have suffered some bad luck along the way and could easily have more points on the board than they currently possess, but there remains a naivety to how the team defend and that is being exploited at every opportunity. Guardiola has enjoyed overwhelming success everywhere he’s went but there is some suggestion that he is trying to overcomplicate matters early in his City career with certain player selections and tactics, not least leaving Sergio Aguero on the bench against Barcelona last midweek.
Mourinho has been critical of the performances of some of his players already this season and he would have been angry with the manner of the defeat against Chelsea on Sunday. Despite their early season troubles, United remain just six points off the league leaders and are definitely within reaching distance. However, the concern has to be around their overall performances which have been far from convincing, especially in attack. The arrival of Zlatan was expected to solve their goal scoring problems, in the short term at least, but he has struggled over the last six weeks, scoring just one goal in his last nine appearances. His last goal in the league actually came when these two last met at Old Trafford in September. Without him scoring regularly there has been a distinct lack of goals in general, as United have managed to score more than one goal in just four of those games.
With Champions League qualification far from assured at the halfway stage, and with their league campaign faltering, Guardiola has understandably stated that there will be some changes ahead of this EFL Cup match. Despite being drawn away to their biggest rivals, this competition still ranks as the least important of the three they are currently contesting and it will provide an opportunity for some of his fringe players to get a run out, at the same time affording key players some rest. Kevin De Brunye is ruled out through injury but we can expect several more changes to the team that faced Southampton on Sunday. Nevertheless, considering the run they are on at the moment, all concerned will be hoping that Wednesday night is a return to winning ways as City try to spark their season back into gear.
Manchester United v Manchester City Betting Tips
When the two met in the league back in early September, City looked to be a superior outfit for long spells but the match could easily have been drawn late on. Whilst this week’s game will not carry the same significance, it remains a derby and one that both managers will want to win, even if they are likely to freshen their teams up ahead of important league and European fixtures in the next week.
Although it may not have the array of stars that would normally bestow this fixtures, there will be plenty of talent on show and a number of match winners on both sides. I often think that this competition allows teams to play with a bit more freedom as it is not the same prestige or importance that others carry. As that’s the case, we should expect to see Mourinho play with less restrictions that he normally may and as Guardiola tends to play a similar way all the time, I can see this being another entertaining encounter – similar to the 2-1 game which City edged. The visitors have not kept a clean sheet since the middle of September whilst United have only managed to shut out on opposition team at Old Trafford since August, and that came in the Europa League to Zorya. Both teams to score looks a reasonably safe bet, here, at tempting odds.
Both teams to score 3/4 @ Betfair