Tomorrow evening, Manchester United kick off their Capital One Cup campaign against Newcastle United at Old Trafford. It might be a cup that isn’t held in as high esteem as other domestic competitions but it is still a chance to win silverware, so teams will still be hungry to do well in the competition.
Both Newcastle and United go into this game off of victories at the weekend but it will be us who go in with higher spirits. Despite how ugly it was, we managed to record our first win at Anfield since 2007 thanks a late Robin van Persie penalty. Confidence in the camp will be sky high.
The last two times we have played Newcastle it hasn’t particularly gone to plan. A 3-0 defeat at St James’ Park and a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford saw us only pick up one point for six against the Toon army last year. They are a very dangerous team with Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Cisse and Ba all presenting real goal threats. If they come with an attacking ethos tomorrow, we will be in for a tough game.
The League Cup is a competition where Sir Alex Ferguson typically likes to give the younger players at United a chance to impress on the big stage and we have been relatively successful in it. We have reached the final three times in the past seven years, winning in 2006 and 2010 against Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa respectively.
However, last year’s League Cup ended in a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace with a wonder strike from Darren Ambrose that opened the scoring. The team that lost the game that night included appearances Park Ji Sung, Dimitar Berbatov, Darron Gibson, Ezekiel Fryers, Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison – six players that have now departed Old Trafford.
This year the team, and the priority, is looking very different. Despite a plethora of talented youngsters in the ranks, there are plenty of first team players in need of valuable game time as competition for places hots up in the squad.
Darren Fletcher will likely be making his first start in over ten months after Sir Alex admitted it was the “perfect” game for his competitive comeback. The same goes for Alexander Buttner who will be itching to get another starting role after impressing against Wigan and Javier Hernandez who has struggled to get in the team due to Robin van Persie’s great form.
Saying that, there are a few youngsters I expect to feature tomorrow. Jesse Lingard, Michael Keane, Joshua King and Marnick Vermijl have all impressed this year and I think Sir Alex will give them some playing time tomorrow.
Alongside those are new signings Nick Powell and Angelo Henriquez. Powell’s superb cameo performance was a great way to open his Manchester United career but we are yet to see our new Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez who joined from Universidad de Chile in the summer, so hopefully we get to see what he can offer with a substitute appearance.
Here’s my preferred eleven:
Onto the prediction. Newcastle are not a team to be sniffed at any more. Under Alan Pardew, they have flourished and the potent attacking trio of Ben Arfa, Ba and Cisse will bear down on the United goal with any chance they get. Saying that, we are at home and the dressing room will still be buzzing off the win at Anfield.
The main problem tomorrow will be that Newcastle are likely to play the balls up long to their strikers and their strength is our weakness – especially if we are giving a start to Michael Keane. I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet tomorrow but with the amount of attacking talent we have now, we won’t be kept out either.
As it is the League Cup, it is likely to be a rather open affair and I think this will be reflected in the score line. I’m going for a 3-2 win for Manchester United – the home advantage will pay off in the end.