Manchester United fancied to upset the odds in the Carabao Cup

Manchester United go head-to-head with Manchester City twice this month aiming to book their place in the final of the Carabao Cup.

The Red Devils will host City in the first leg on January 7, with the reverse fixture schedule to take place on January 29.

United will be backed in the semi-final by some of the most passionate sports fans in the world and they will hope that gives them a vital edge over the course of the two games.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have a stronger squad at his disposal after some of his key players missed the FA Cup game at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial missed the trip to Molineux through illness, but both should be in contention to play in the first leg.

Solskjaer has also confirmed that Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe are all close to a return to first-team action.

However, Harry Maguire will need to be assessed ahead of the game after picking up a knock in the goalless draw at Wolves.

City will almost be at full strength for the first meeting, with only Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane currently ruled out.

Guardiola has frequently rotated his squad in cup competitions, but is expected to pick strong line-ups for the fixtures against United.

He will also be mindful that City fans will want revenge for the 2-1 home defeat against United in the Premier League back in December.

While that result highlighted that United are capable of beating City, they haven’t won consecutive games against their local rivals since April 2010.

City have held the upper hand recently at Old Trafford, winning six and drawing one of their last nine visits in all competitions.

United will take plenty of heart from their last two meetings with City in this competition, having knocked them out in both 2009/10 and 2016/17.

City have not lost in the Carabao Cup since that last defeat against United, winning 11 and drawing four of their 15 matches.

They have beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in the last two finals and will be confident of making it three-in-a-row this time around.

United’s last final appearance was back in 2017 as they recorded a 3-2 victory over Southampton to claim the trophy for a fifth time.

Their form under Solskjaer has largely been positive, although recent league defeats at Watford and Arsenal showed that there is still plenty of work to be done.

United’s best hope of defeating City is likely to rest on Marcus Rashford’s shoulders, with the striker enjoying a fine run of form in the Carabao Cup.

He has scored five and assisted a further three goals in his last five appearances in this competition and could be a good bet to get on the scoresheet in the first leg.

City are odds-on favourites to win the Carabao Cup once again, but United’s odds of 13/2 to lift the trophy look far too good to ignore.

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