Tuesday 10th January 2017 – 20.00 – Sky Sports 1 HD
After a weekend of FA Cup action, attention turns to another cup competition, this time the EFL Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Hull City.
This, the first of a two legged tie, will be a match United will want to put to bed early with a massive game against Liverpool coming up in the league at the weekend.
The two teams go into this game in completely different situations. For Man United, they are in the best run of form since 2009 having won their last 8 games in a row. They have finally started to finish off chances, that a couple of months ago were not being put away. In this period they have also only conceded 3 goals, more evidence that Jose Mourinho is really starting to get the best out of the squad he has at his disposal.
Following the 4-0 victory over Reading in the FA Cup at the weekend, Jose Mourinho confirmed we would see a return to the starting XI for players like Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. David De Gea could return in goal, although Sergio Romero continues to impress when deputising. Romero has only conceded 1 goal in 5 games this season and that was a penalty against Northampton.
Marcus Rojo picked up an injury against Reading, and will miss this game, but it was confirmed it wasn’t a muscle injury and he should be in line for a return against Liverpool. Luke Shaw is fit again so may get a run out.
It’s yet to be seen if Mourinho will stick with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial who both impressed against Reading at the weekend. There is also the chance of Wayne Rooney breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal scoring record for United. Jose has a selection headache, but one he will be pleased with as his team look to turn the screw in the second half of the season.
For Hull City, the story couldn’t be more different. They currently sit bottom of the Premier League having recorded only 3 wins from 20 league games this season. They haven’t won in the Premier League in 10 games and as a result recently parted company with manager Mike Phelan. Whilst results were not good enough, you have to feel sorry for him given the mess he walked into at the start of the season with 11 recognised players fit. He wasn’t even given one transfer window to try and save the club from relegation. But as he left, the club quickly appointed Marco Silva who takes on Man United in only his 2nd game in charge of Hull.
He got off to a good start with a 2-0 FA Cup win over Swansea at the weekend. The cup could act as a respite from the pressures of the Premier League. Silva said Hull City must ‘stay in the game’, and try to win the tie at home. This could indicate a very defensive set up, however they do have a bit of defensive crisis in their hands so this could be a risky strategy.
Michael Dawson was taken off with a shoulder problem at the weekend and adds to the injury issues at the heart of the defence, that already includes Curtis Davies who has a hamstring injury and Alex Bruce who is yet to feature this season. Ahmed Elmohamady and Dieumerci Mbokani are at the Africa Cup of Nations with Moses Odubajo and Will Keane are missing.
This is a tough ask for Marco Silva who has a real test on his hands with Hull City. Perhaps he will feel he has nothing to lose, but they will be huge underdogs. For United, they will go into this game full of confidence and will expect to win and perhaps put the tie beyond Hull. One foot in the cup final will be the perfect preparation for Liverpool in at the weekend.
By Michael Thatcher