The wounds from Sunday’s 4-0 humiliation at Stamford Bridge remain fresh as Manchester United prepare to take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the League Cup on Wednesday night.
Both sides, it must be said, desperately need a win – a confidence booster, above anything – after suffering respective tumults in recent weeks: Mourinho’s men will be desperate to stamp their authority after receiving such a galling set-back on Sunday; Man City, on the other hand, haven’t won any of their past five games, despite being crowned Premier League champions in September.
With that in mind, here are three players Mourinho must start for the second derby of the season.
Mourinho’s decision to omit Shaw from the match-day squad on Sunday was puzzling to say the least. And as Chelsea, flourishing under their new 3-4-3 system, piled forward, his absence was duly felt. Antonio Conte’s system very much targeted Daley Blind, with Eden Hazard pulling the Dutchman out of position by ghosting inside, and in turn allowing for Victor Moses to exploit the space on the flanks from wing-back.
Shaw’s power, speed and discipline would have been invaluable that day, and he would have perhaps instilled some much needed energy and composure into Man United’s back four. His inclusion on Wednesday night, therefore, is paramount.
The Frenchman’s omission from the starting XI for City’s visit in September had a woefully adverse effect on the entire United side. It was clear from the first whistle that Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were unable to find space in behind City’s full-backs, which in turn meant that Guardiola’s system remained in tact, completely untroubled.
Recent games have shown that a kryptonite for City’s set-up his the presence of unyielding speed and agression on the flanks. This forces the likes of Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna – normally playing in line with their midfield – to track back, destroying their midfield balance.
This is where Martial, full of confidence after netting twice in as many games, comes in.
Carrick’s presence alongside Paul Pogba formed a platform for what was an emphatic performance against Fenerbahce last week. The 35-year-old’s unyielding aura of control gave Pogba free reign in midfield, and it paid dividends. Dick Advocaat’s side simply couldn’t cope. Mourinho would, one suspects, be keen on deploying the same midfield two against Guardiola’s men.