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Manchester United temporarily shift their focus on retaining the EFL Cup, now known as Carabao Cup as they travel to the Ashton Gate to face Bristol City in the quarterfinals on Wednesday evening.
The Red Devils managed to pull off a nervy 2-1 win against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Sunday to keep the pressure on the unstoppable league-leaders Manchester City, who thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 at home on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho, who won the EFL Cup last season by beating Southampton 3-2 at the Wembley stadium, will take the game against Bristol City seriously but is expected to make few changes to his starting XI with the festive period approaching.
Marouane Fellaini, Eric Bailly and Michael Carrick continue to be sidelined. Marcos Rojo, who was absent in the midweek game against Bournemouth but made a second-half appearance against West Brom, coming in as a substitute for Antonio Valencia, who according to Mourinho has a “December injury”. However, the Ecuador international provided a positive update via Social Media but is set to be rested on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Paul Pogba’s three-match ban is over and the France international could get back to action at Ashton Gate.
David De Gea, United’s No.1 goalkeeper surely needs rest and that could see Sergio Romero get a rare start. The Argentine stopper has performed really well whenever he’s been called upon, with Mourinho rating him very highly.
With Valencia expected to sit out, Darmian should get a chance at right-back. The Italian started in United’s last EFL Cup game against Swansea and provided an assist to Jesse Lingard.
The Swede has grown in confidence with his recent outings and will start against Bristol City.
Partnering Lindelof at centre-back should be Marcos Rojo. Rojo, who suffered a gruesome head-injury in the Manchester derby, played in the second half against West Brom with a headgear. Despite the fresh lacerations, he should be upbeat to start.
Two starts and two Man of the Match performances! That itself is enough to explain Shaw’s recent form since returning from injury. The marauding left-back’s confidence is sky-high and Mourinho will view the game against Bristol as another chance to ease him into his first-team plans. A sure-shot starter!
Despite being poor against West Brom, Herrera’s diligent work in the middle of the park is clear and as long as he does that, Mourinho should hand him a starting spot on Wednesday.
After his impressive first league start, against Bournemouth, McTominoy deserves to start again. Matic needs rest and the Scot is the right choice to replace him.
Martial’s pace and creativity will be quite useful against hosts Bristol City. A player of his quality should be seen more on the pitch and not on the bench.
Lingard bagged his 4th goal in 5 games at the weekend; further highlighting the form he is in at the moment. The energy and zest he brings to the team are really palpable.
With Mkhitaryan out of sorts and Lingard excelling as a No.10, Mata has found opportunities on the right wing, which is not his ideal position. The Spaniard could still work his magic at Ashton Gate.
It would be no surprise to see Rashford lead the line on Wednesday. The attacking trio of Rashford-Lingard-Martial could do wonders and Mourinho’s side will depend on their creativity and pace up front.