Match Preview: Manchester United Vs Manchester City (Carling Cup semi-final)
On Wednesday United welcome (and I use the word loosely) Manchester City to Old Trafford for the second leg of the Carling Cup final. At stake is a place in the first domestic final of the season, local bragging rights and in United’s case – a bit of revenge.
Taking nothing away from City as it was a decent performance in the first leg, but I can’t believe United aren’t heading into this one on level terms, at least. So many chances were wasted late on and City were basically hanging on for the last 30 minutes or so, but that sometimes happens and at Old Trafford United stand a great chance with just a one goal deficit to recover.
As far as injuries go things have finally started to improve for Sir Alex Ferguson with just John O’Shea, Owen Hargreaves and Nemanja Vidic definitely ruled out for this one. Without Vidic available it looks as if Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans will link up again in the heart of the defence after keeping a clean sheet against Hull on Saturday.
City have greater problems in their own camp at the moment. Robinho is apparently heading off to Santos in Brazil after becoming unhappy with life at Eastlands, some reports are suggesting he might have even played his last game for City but there is still a chance he could play at Old Trafford. It looks as if Patrick Viera will miss this one with a calf injury, while both Roque Santa Cruz and Joleon Lescott will play no part. Striker Emmanuel Adebayor is ready to play again after spending time on compassionate leave, but whether Roberto Mancini will give him any game time remains to be seen.
United have the advantage of being at home for the second leg and the importance of the Old Trafford crowd in this fixture should not be underestimated. City will fancy their chances with a slender lead heading into the second fixture with a lead but United have come back from worse. Expect another open game between two sides who like to attack, I’m pretty sure Mancini won’t ask his side to defend a slender lead for an entire game at Old Trafford – never a great idea. The key men will be United’s Wayne Rooney, fresh from bagging four at the weekend, and City’s Carlos Tevez and I’m expecting both managers to tell their players to go for it and attack.
Manchester derby fixtures are always great occasions and with a place in the Carling Cup final to play for this one should be extra special. At Old Trafford I fancy United personally but anything can happen in cup fixtures and City have already proved they’re a dangerous team, although they’re not quite ready to challenge for the title, who can cause United problems. This game should be a cracking encounter, and hopefully one United will win.