Manchester United take on Manchester City this week in a Carabao Cup semi-final.
It is a repeat of last year’s semi-final, although the circumstances are very different.
This is over one leg and not two, with five substitutes permitted. There will be extra time and penalties if required.
United do not have a midfield or defensive injury crisis this time either, unlike last year’s XI which saw Phil Jones start the first leg at centre-back and Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard in midfield.
In addition to being able to field a far stronger team this time around, here is a look at three reasons United can beat City this week…
Recent strong record v City
The injury-hit home defeat in the semi-final last season was an anomaly from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s recent record up against Pep Guardiola.
Solskjaer has beaten Guardiola three times in the past 13 months and has lost just one match of the last five.
United are unbeaten in the last three games, winning two and drawing the most recent one at Old Trafford last month.
This will give United plenty of belief that City’s impressive recent Carabao Cup record could come to an end.
No reason to hold back
In the last match with City, United held back. It was a drab 0-0 draw with neither side showing much ambition. City were there for the taking.
United were in a weak spot in the early December meeting, days after elimination from the Champions League.
It was more important not to lose and a draw was acceptable, while there were big questions still over Paul Pogba after his agent’s comments, while Anthony Martial was not deemed fit enough to start.
This time United have to win, and Pogba and Martial are both back in form and expected to play key roles.
Confidence and motivation
The draw with City provided a platform for United to launch an unbeaten run since.
Having gone into the City league game with just one home win at Old Trafford preceding it, United have gone onto rack up three since.
Motivation will be a big factor this week. For United, this is a major chance to wipe away the memories of three semi-final exits a year earlier and start afresh.
A win would be a fantastic way to begin the new year and put the team just one victory away from silverware. This will shown progression and the players will be desperate not to taste defeat again.
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