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Preview: Manchester City vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Manchester United.

Manchester City host Manchester United in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday night holding a 3-1 advantage over their fierce rivals.

Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an own goal from Andreas Pereira have put Pep Guardiola's side on the brink of a third successive appearance in the final.

Match preview

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on January 26, 2020© Reuters

With City realistically out of the Premier League title race, Guardiola has placed extra priority on successfully defending the trophies which were won in the domestic cups last season.

While the club have coasted through to the last 16 of the FA Cup courtesy of home wins over Port Vale and Fulham, a two-legged tie with United in the semi-final of this competition instantly raised the stakes.

United would have fancied their chances of establishing a lead ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium, especially having overcome their neighbours just a month earlier.

However, City were outstanding during the first half at Old Trafford, and they squandered opportunities to be further than three goals ahead at half time.

There would have been disappointment over letting United back into the tie during the second half, although Guardiola and his squad will feel that they already have one foot in February's final.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates Andreas Pereira's own goal with Bernardo Silva during the EFL Cup game between Manchester United and Manchester City on January 7, 2020© Reuters

Aware of the importance of getting one over their struggling rivals, Guardiola rested Kevin De Bruyne at the weekend, a move he would have felt was necessary with the Belgian having already started five times since the turn of the year.

During those outings, De Bruyne has contributed just three assists, but the presence of the 28-year-old will be enough to put United on the defensive during the opening stages of this game.

Sergio Aguero also missed out against the Cottagers, meaning that the Argentine will likely be provided with the chance to build on his seven goals from four games during 2020.

Regardless of their expected recalls, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will already acknowledge that his United team are up against it on Wednesday, despite Sunday's demolition of Tranmere Rovers.

While netting six goals against the League One outfit can only improve the belief within the squad, more negative chants from the stands accompanied their progress into the FA Cup fifth round.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks dejected on January 22, 2020© Reuters

Despite the Glazer family and Ed Woodward bearing the brunt of the hostile signing, Solskjaer knows that he has a responsibility to deliver an improved run of form on the pitch.

The Norwegian will hope that his ambitions are matched with at least one fresh face before the end of the January transfer window, although that appears far from a certainty ahead of Friday's deadline.

For now, Solskjaer must rely on the same group of players which succumbed so tamely in the first leg, as well as against Burnley in the Premier League last week.

There is an argument that United's style of play is arguably more suited to playing away from home, as shown when they outperformed City in December.

That said, Marcus Rashford - now sidelined until at least April - played a significant part in that success, and Solskjaer is under pressure to find a solution in the coming weeks and months.

Whether or not that materialises against City, United fans want to see signs of forward steps being made, rather than having to witness what feels like stagnation both on and off the pitch.

Manchester City EFL Cup form: WWWW
Manchester City form (all competitions): WWWDWW

Manchester United EFL Cup form: DWWL
Manchester United form (all competitions): LWWLLW

Team News

Joao Cancelo pictured in Manchester City gear on August 10, 2019© Reuters

Having picked up knocks at the weekend, Joao Cancelo and Mahrez will be assessed before Guardiola finalises his squad.

With both players starting versus Fulham, however, the pair could each find themselves among the replacements, with Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling in line to return.

Benjamin Mendy or Oleksandr Zinchenko will replace Angelino at left-back, while John Stones could partner Fernandinho in the centre of the backline after coming off the bench against Fulham.

United boss Solskjaer has less room to manoeuvre, with Paul Pogba and Rashford among six players who remain on the sidelines.

Due to their need for goals, Mason Greenwood could line up on the right, with Daniel James switching over to the left flank.

Juan Mata could get the nod over Jesse Lingard and Pereira in front of Nemanja Matic and Fred.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Bernardo, Aguero, Sterling

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; Greenwood, Mata, James; Martial

Head To Head

Wednesday's showdown will represent the 181st competitive meeting between the two clubs, with United recording 74 wins in comparison to 54 victories for City.

Despite the contrasting trajectories of the two clubs, City have not necessarily dominated this head-to-head in recent years, prevailing just five times in nine attempts.

United have avoided defeat on three of their last four visits to the Etihad, which includes a 2-1 triumph as recently as December 7.

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We say: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

While United should put up more of a fight than they did two weeks ago, we still expect City to canter through to the final. United will likely have to find an early goal to impose themselves on opponents who would have learned from their defeat in the same fixture last month.

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Who will progress through to the EFL Cup final?

Manchester City
Manchester United
Manchester City
Manchester United
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Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring the opener during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Manchester United on December 7, 2019
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rhs 2.0
2Manchester CityMan City24163565273851
3Leicester CityLeicester24153652242848
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd249783629734
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs249783832634
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2481063532334
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd248972523233
11Crystal Palace247982228-630
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2486102436-1230
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2467112734-725
16Aston Villa2474133145-1425
17West Ham UnitedWest Ham2465132740-1323
20Norwich CityNorwich2445152447-2317

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