Fresh from the Premier League triumph against Portsmouth, the Carling Cup is next for Manchester United. Last season’s beaten finalists, Tottenham Hotspur are the designated opposition and are likely to provide a stern test for the boys in red.
Expect a much-changed side from the weekend’s Premier League fixture at Fratton Park. Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to field the young guns as he usually does in this particular competition.
One player who should retain his place is Tomasz Kuszczak who performed admirably at the weekend. Though Ben Foster is looking for another chance to show he has an Old Trafford future and he may have to study penalties on his iPod as he did in last years final. Edwin Van der Sar has a knee problem so he is definitely ruled out.
The defence should remain fairly stable as, John O’Shea, Jonny Evans, Fabio and Rio Ferdinand are all out injured. Gary Neville should be replaced by Rafael, leaving Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic to continue in the centre of defence. Patrice as usual will take up his left-back berth.
It should be all change in the midfield, though similar to the Besiktas quartet. Darron Gibson and Anderson look definite starters, while Ji-Sung Park will be looking to increase his fitness following a long spell on the sidelines. This leaves a place for Gabriel Obertan, Nani, who is feeling the wrath of Sir Alex after some unsavory comments regarding his position at United, and Zoran Tosic, who recently bagged a brace for the reserves, thus putting himself in Carling Cup contention.
The strikeforce will be three of Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Michael Owen.
Sir Alex Ferguson has also reacted to criticism of his young players by journalists:
“Those lads need to be challenged and I thought they did okay, they did not deserve that kind of criticism. Those same people will be going cap in hand to them, begging them for interviews in a few years’ time, mark my words. It is so hypocritical. What is the difference between that and Alan Hansen doing it in front of millions? Yet one gets slaughtered for it and this guy gets off. Wonderful. What a world. I don’t need to motivate them with what has been said. Their future is well mapped out,” he asserted.
Tottenham visit Old Trafford knowing it has been almost two decades since they returned to London with a win at Old Trafford in any competition and face a United side that has not lost in this competition since being humbled by Coventry in 2007. In addition, United are yet to concede in the Carling Cup this season.
Spurs will no doubt field a strong line up, though, Woodgate, King, Cudicini and Luca Modric are all missing. Aaron Lennon will look to give Evra a tough time on the right and Defoe will be brimming with confidence after his recent five-goal haul against Wigan in the League. It must also be noted Peter Crouch is the competitions joint top scorer with four goals, three of which came against Preston.
Giovanni Dos Santos, the wonderkid and next big thing in world football has arrived back from Ipswich where he was on loan and has recovered from injury so he may play some part in Spurs’ game plan, as Harry Redknapp is of the opinion, Champions League qualification is more important for the North London side,
“You can win a cup and have a bit of luck on the way, but to get to a Champions League position would be done through a whole season. It would be great for us.”
It will prove to be a fascinating fixture and a good opportunity to see some of the younger talents lurking in the Old Trafford set-up.
Prediction: 2-1 United
Probable Line Up: Kuszczak, Rafael, Brown, Vidic, Evra, Obertan, Gibson, Anderson, Park, Owen, Welbeck
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