19:45 BST, Tuesday 24th October, Liberty Stadium (Swansea, Wales), Sky Sports
This game couldn’t come at a worse time for these two clubs. With Jose Mourinho’s previously high-flying Manchester United crashing to the ground Icarus-like at the weekend with their loss to Huddersfield, Jose Mourinho will not be looking forward to this away fixture in the midweek. Having allowed a 5-point gap to open out between themselves and their cross-Manchester rivals, Manchester United will be aware that a poor performance here and questions will be raised about their season.
Paul Clement, on the other hand, is facing pressures of his own. With Swansea down to fifteenth in the Premier League table, Clement will have his mind on thing beyond on the EFL Cup. However, given the murmurings by the fans, he also cannot afford to take this game too lightly. That said, a good result here against Manchester United could be just the sort of kick-start their season needs.
Last Time Out
Swansea 1-2 Leicester
Even despite the fact that this was only the ninth game played in the Premier League by both clubs this season, this was seen by some as a potential relegation six-pointer. Leicester went into the game with caretaker manager Michael Appleton filling in for the recently-departed Craig Shakespeare and so Swansea were hoping to avoid the so-called ‘bounce’ that is rumoured to occur after a managerial takeover.
Unfortunately, for the Swans, they fell at the first hurdle: Federico Fernandez heading into his own net from a whipped Marc Albrighton ball into the box in the 24th minute. Things went from bad to worse in the second half when Shinji Okazaki was on hand to bury a delicious Riyad Mahrez cross and, from that point onwards, the writing looked to be on the wall for Swansea. Despite a nicely-taken Alfie Mawson finish from a corner, the Swans ended up running out 2-1 losers.
Huddersfield 2-1 Manchester United
Huddersfield haven’t played Manchester United since 1972 in a game which was settled by George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law. This time out, United were still the favourites but things could not have gone more badly for the Manchester side. After Juan Mata lost the ball on the halfway line, Tom Ince burst into the United box, tying Victor Lindelof in knots before firing straight at David De Gea. The Spaniard couldn’t hold onto the ball, though, and it fell straight at the feet of a gleeful Aaron Mooy who stroked home to rapturous applause.
Things got worse five minutes later when Lindelof missed a header to De Gea, letting in Laurent Depoitre who rounded the on-rushing keeper and put the Terriers 2-0 up. Marcus Rashford did get a goal in reply on the 78th minute thanks to some tireless running by Romelu Lukaku but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation in the end.
Paul Clement is only without Kyle Bartley who is still suffering from a knee problem. Elsewhere, expect him to make a number of changes as he rotates his squad with an eye to the Premier League.
Manchester United Lineup
United are without Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, meaning that Jose Mourinho may have little option but to play Victor Lindelof in defence. In addition to this, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera may have to be continued in midfield. Mourinho could also make changes further forward.
Key Battle: Wilfried Bony (Swansea) vs Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)
When Wilfried Bony made the switch to Manchester City in 2015, no one expected him to make the return to Swansea within two years. Having suffered a torrid time during his time at the Etihad, Bony has yet to return to the sort of form that he was in after his first stint at the club. Bony will see, the EFL fixture against Manchester United as a good chance to prove himself against a tough opponent.
Despite the fact that Victor Lindelof had a nightmare game at the weekend, due to injury he may be back in the starting line up against Swansea. This could be a career-defining moment for him: if he fails to impress his manager against a heavily-rotated Swansea side, then he may fall out of favour altogether. Should he keep a clean sheet, though, this could be the sort of confidence he needs to go on into the rest of the season.
To care or not?
Neither of these managers will be looking forward to this fixture – both will be expected not to lose but neither will want to waste players or energy at this point of the season. Expect the game to be a fairly turgid affair with neither team wanting to commit players forward. Neither, though, will want the game to go to extra-time.
Jose to un-park the bus?
Much criticism has been directed toward United’s Portuguese manager in recent weeks for his negative brand of defensive football. Will he treat this as a chance to play an attacking brand of football in a game that he might view as worth risking. Going against his instincts, it might be good for him to get the Manchester United fan base back on his side.
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