Dumped out of the competition last season at the hands of West Ham by losing 4-0 at Upton Park, Manchester United prepare to regain the Carling Cup as they start their campaign on Tuesday at Elland Road, the home of fierce rivals Leeds United. Leeds might be currently lying a division below in the Championship, but Sir Alex Ferguson will know very well that Leeds are capable of raising their game when they play the Red Devils in front of their crowd.
Traditionally, Ferguson has utilised the tournament to give the youth & fringe players a chance to challenge for the first team spots, and this time should be no different. There are quite some players in the team who haven't been utilised till now, and it would be ideal for the manager to provide them with game time.
As Sir Alex told the press after last week's midweek Champions League draw at Benfica, Anders Lindegaard will don the keeper's gloves on account of his sparkling displays. Given the lack of quality defenders in the lineup due to injuries to Vidic, Ferdinand & Rafael, the back four will bear a similar look apart from the position of left-back, where Fabio Da Silva might start to give Patrice Evra some much needed rest. Michael Carrick, who didn't play in the game versus Chelsea, will probably start in the centre of the park. He will be possibly complemented by out-of-favour midfielder Darron Gibson, who hasn't played a single game for the first team this season. However, Gibson faces stiff competition in the form of highly-rated youth player Paul Pogba, who has been tipped to play by the gaffer himself -
"He's got a slight injury, it's not too bad, though. So he wasn't available for Sunday but he should be able to play on Tuesday and I intend to play him against Leeds United."
|Will Pogba Start?|
Coming to the striking department, this is where Ferguson has a selection headache. Experience in the form of Dimitar Berbatov & Michael Owen, or the vivacity of youth in the form of Macheda & Diouf? The manager surely has some questions on his mind, but it will be sensible to rely on experience & hand rather rare starts to Berbatov & Owen. According to me, Manchester United's starting lineup tonight will look somewhat like this -
Scoreline Prediction: Leeds United 1 Manchester United 3
And now for some after-thoughts on the Chelsea game by our guest author Hanzla, which are as under:
|Celebration to Match!|
WOW! Almost two days after a scintillating 90 mins at Old Trafford, and I am yet to catch my breath. Arguably, it was the biggest game of the season so far for both of the sides involved but in Manchester United‘s case, it couldn’t have come at a much better time.
on the other hand had enjoyed a very
decent start to the season themselves as well. However, not many could have expected how things would pan out at the Theatre of
United started as favourites largely due to the start they‘ve had. It was even stevens in the opening exchanges. It was great to see Fletcher back in the heart of the midfield doing what he does best i.e. breaking up the play by putting the hard yards in. The first goal was a major error at the back for
. Smalling left unmarked with the goal at his
mercy, - he just couldn’t afford to miss. Was it offside? Yes, it was
marginally. But remember Drogba scored an offside goal at the opposite end, and
that goal potentially decided the title? Judging that in real time was
next to impossible. I really feel for the linesman because most of us would
have got it wrong. And for those who could have called it right, it would have
been a fluke - nothing more. Chelsea
United took their foot of the paddle in the second half and they were made to pay very early in the second period. Lovely disguised through ball by Anelka (I still don’t know what he was doing on the bench) which was exquisite. Torres made a very fine run behind Jones & compounded it with a cool and cheeky finish. Alarm bells started ringing for United.
dominated & had they put those
chances away, we could have had a very different result on our hands. Chelsea
The game will probably be remembered not for the enthralling football on display, but for its bloopers. There was Rooney’s bizarre JT-like penalty miss since he lost his footing. But the headlines will be dominated by Torres. No words really to describe his miss. He promised to do wonders for
, and I think he fulfilled it. How did
he miss? It seems unbelievable! Berbatov wasn’t far behind. A very tame effort
when it was easier to score than miss. Chelsea
|Miss of the Decade?|
This certainly was United‘s worst performance of the season so far. Still, they were good enough to get the result. Quite incredible, isn’t it? I hope it’s an eye opener for them and the mistakes will be rectified. Most notably, the game should be put to bed as quickly as possible - something traditionally United are very good at. As for
AVB will take lots of positives out of the game. Especially the way Chelsea played in the second half. Torres
looked agile and hungry. He had a decent game minus the miss when he scuffed
his effort wide. Chelsea
Overall, a great game of football. A complete roller-coaster ride for every one who watched on from their TV sets. United got the three points and that’s the thing that will matter the most come May. This game may not have an enormous effect on the title race but it is definitely a boost for United, having already defeated Arsenal and
this early in the season. Chelsea
You can follow Hanzla on Twitter @Busby_Babez.
You can follow the author on Twitter @AbhinavCJ.
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