Manchester City will seek to reassert themselves against Manchester United in EFL Cup (Carabao Cup) semi-final, with their status as the leading team in the rivalry for much of the past decade a source of pride to Pep Guardiola. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is convinced Manchester United have developed significantly since suffering three semi-final defeats in 2019-20. (More Football News)
Had things gone a little differently last term, United might have ended the campaign with three trophy successes, breaking Solskjaer's duck as the club's boss. But, United lost 3-1 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semis, suffered a late 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League and fell at the same stage of the EFL Cup to City, losing 3-2 on aggregate.
Also, City have not finished below their neighbours in the Premier League since United's most recent league title success in 2012-13, winning three subsequent top-flight crowns themselves. Two of those came under Guardiola, United finishing a distant second in 2017-18 as City racked up a record-breaking 100-point haul.
The sides also met at the same stage of the EFL Cup last season, as City prevailed en route to a third consecutive Wembley success in the competition, although there have been signs that the local argument is starting to turn of late.
The elimination by City was particularly chastening for United given the manner of the first-leg home loss, as United were swept aside and somewhat fortunate to only lose 3-1 – the 1-0 away win in the second meeting was insufficient to save their hopes.
But, it could be argued that there is a different aura to this United side. They are level on 33 points with pacesetters Liverpool in the Premier League but have played one game less, and they head into the EPL semi-final unbeaten in seven across all competitions.
First-leg triumph in last season's semi-final is City's only victory in the most recent five Manchester derbies. For the record, the EFL Cup semi-finals this season are limited to one-game affairs rather than being split over two.
The winners face Tottenham, who defeated Championship side Brentford 2-0 in the first semi-final, at Wembley in April.
“United has always been a big club," Guardiola said. "When I faced them with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here, it was always important... It is a rivalry in the city and for many decades United was above Manchester City. For us, we are incredibly proud and it is an honour for the last decade to be there with them and sometimes win, most of the times, and sometimes lose."
"When you get to a semi, you've done a lot of good work to get there and naturally you're playing against better and better opposition," Solskjaer told reporters. "I think we've improved immensely in a year since the last semi [against City] and even when we were in Europe in August."
Match and telecast details
Match: Second semi-final match of League Cup between Manchester United and Manchester City
Date: January 7 (Thursday), 2021
Time: 1:30 AM IST/ 7.45pm GMT/ 2.45pm ET
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
TV Channels: Colors Infinity/HD
Live Streaming: Voot Select, JioTV
Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred, Pogba; Fernandes; Martial, Rashford.
Manchester City: Steffen; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Mendy; Fernandinho, Gundogan; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden; Aguero.
(With Omnisport inputs)
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