After the drama, controversy and contentious manner of Sunday’s victory Manchester United make the trip back to London for round two. This time, however, Ferguson and Di Matteo will likely make major changes to their line ups which should result in a much calmer affair – on the pitch at least. Who can guarantee how the stands will behave after Sunday’s chair throwing, coin launching, steward injuring débâcle?
Anders Lindegaard was sat on the bench on Sunday afternoon but may well be in line for a call up as De Gea begins to tighten his grip on the number one jersey leaving Lindegaard evolving into a capable understudy; a cup ‘keeper. Rumours around the club are suggesting that Lindegaard may not be fully fit, however, and Ben Amos will be at the ready.
Most of the injuries to hit United this season (and last) have come in the central defence areas. Ferdinand and Evans have been playing well whilst ensuring that at least two senior defenders are fit but they are very likely to be rested tomorrow. Chris Smalling has been back in training recently and may be given the chance to get some game time under his belt. Scott Wooton and/or last year’s Reserve Player of the Year, Michael Keane, will also be looking forward to getting a match. We all hope, however, that Michael Carrick is not asked to play there! Vermijl could find himself starting at right back but Valencia could also be an option, if Rafael is, as is likely, rested. At left back I’d be greatly surprised to see anyone other than Buttner play.
In midfield I’m hoping that Anderson is given an opportunity as he, also, needs game time. Giggs, Powell, Lingard could also come into the reckoning and a lot will depend, as it did on Sunday, as to what formation Ferguson lines up with. If he goes with wide men I, for one, will be hugely interested in who plays. I was shocked to see Young start on Sunday and it makes Nani’s position at the club look increasingly under threat. I’m wondering if Ferguson is finally losing patience with the man who can be brilliant one minute and then worse than me the next!
Welbeck will likely start up front and who partners him is anyone’s guess. Macheda may get a game whilst many fans will be excited at the idea of seeing Angelo Henriquez start in a big fixture.
John Terry serves another match of his suspension so unless they call up some youngsters it’s likely that Cahill and the erratic Luiz will play at the back. Ivanovic is suspended after his last man tackle on Young so we’d expect to see Azpilicueta at right back and Ryan Bertrand may be afforded the chance to play in a bid to rest Cole. Lampard is still injured and Torres is suspended after his theatrics on the weekend so Romeu and Sturridge will fancy their chances. Will Di Matteo risk the trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar in such a competition?
If, as expected, both clubs rotate massively from their Sunday line ups I can see United winning this one as their strength in depth is greater than their rivals. However, after Sunday’s match Di Matteo may be looking at this fixture as a chance to gain instant payback for what he would have seen as an unjust match and play a stronger than expected team. This could be a tough fixture indeed for United. Only one person may find it tougher – Lee Mason, the match official for the day.
Fancy a Flutter? (all odds with WilliamHill)
- Nick Powell to score first 12/1
- Red card in the match 5/2
- Anderson to score first in a 3-1 victory 425/1