The first semi-final of the 2019-20 EFL Cup pits local rivals Manchester United and Manchester City against each other at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is looking to dethrone the champions, who have lifted the trophy in four of the last six seasons including both of the last two.
Preview and Stats
What looked on paper like a difficult January has proven to be exactly that for Manchester United so far, with the Red Devils still looking for their first win and first goal of the new year.
Things do not get any easier with the visit of Man City either, although it was against Pep Guardiola’s side that United produced arguably their best performance of the season to date.
The frustration for United fans has been their inconsistency, with a tendency to suffer a hugely disappointing setback just when it looks as though they have turned a corner.
That affliction has not yet cost them in this competition, although their route to the EFL Cup semi-finals has not been entirely straightforward.
Rashford was on the scoresheet again during a 3-0 victory over Colchester United in the last round, although this derby is sure to be their toughest test yet as they chase a sixth League Cup crown.
That would see them draw level with Man City’s tally, four of which have come in the last six seasons as the club has dominated this competition.
Guardiola’s side is bidding to become the first team since Liverpool from 1981 to 1984 to lift the trophy three years in a row, and with the Premier League now surely out of reach, every other piece of silverware takes on that extra level of importance.
City safely secured their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday courtesy of a 4-1 win over Port Vale, making it three wins in a row across all competitions since their costly defeat to Wolves.
The result continued a relatively routine passage through the cup competitions so far this season, with City having scored three times in each of their EFL Cup games this term.
United were the last team to inflict an EFL Cup defeat on Man City, and they went on to lift the trophy themselves that season too.
Should they do the same again then they will fancy their chances of beating either Leicester City or Aston Villa in the final.
Manchester United still have a lengthy injury list heading into this match, with Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo and Timothy Fosu-Mensah all absent.
Solskjaer’s options could be further limited by a bout of illness which has swept through the squad, with Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw all doubtful.
Sergio Romero is likely to keep his place in goal, while other fringe players could also get another chance after the FA Cup outings at the weekend.
The likes of Fred and Rashford will be hopeful of coming back into the side, though, with Solskjaer likely to field a slightly stronger team than the one which drew with Wolves.
Guardiola named a relatively strong side against Port Vale with Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Bernardo Silva among those included, but there could be some rotation for this match.
Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez could come back into the side, while Ederson is expected to be available having missed the last two games through illness.
Nicolas Otamendi will be handed a late fitness test and maybe in contention himself, but Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain sidelined.