More attack expected with Wembley up for grabs – Manchester derby talking points

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Manchester United and Manchester City meet in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By PA Sport Staff

A Wembley place will be at stake when Manchester United meet Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points ahead of the Old Trafford clash.

Can Solskjaer end United trophy wait?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is aiming to win his first trophy as Manchester United manager (Rui Vieira/PA)

Manchester United, for so long English football’s perennial winners, have not lifted major silverware since their successful Europa League campaign under Jose Mourinho in 2017. United were beaten in three semi-finals last season and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says winning the Carabao Cup would be a “very, very big step” for his side’s development. Maybe it could even give United the belief to kick on and challenge for the Premier League title this term.

City are hitting their straps

Manchester City made it 11 games unbeaten with Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League win at Chelsea (Shaun Botterill/PA)

While United’s fine post-Champions League exit form has won plenty of plaudits, City’s recent improvement had flown a bit more under the radar before Sunday’s 3-1 win at Chelsea. But City are now 11 games unbeaten in all competitions since losing at Tottenham on November 21, and have won their last four. It is a run which has moved Pep Guardiola’s side to within striking distance of Premier League top two Liverpool and United, and City are out to win the Carabao Cup for the fourth successive year.

More excitement guaranteed

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The goalless Manchester derby draw in the Premier League last month was a tame affair as defences dominated (Paul Ellis/PA)

Last month’s Manchester derby in the Premier League was a dire affair devoid of quality and entertainment. The two sides showed each other far too much respect with both camps content to settle for a goalless draw at Old Trafford. The do or die nature of a one-off semi-final should provide a far more attacking contest this time around, with both sides keen to avoid the anxiety of a penalty shoot-out.

Same again or rotate?

Paul Pogba (left) will be hoping to start in the Manchester derby again after impressing in the Premier League victory over Aston Villa (Paul Ellis/PA)

United have played 10 times since the start of December and City nine in what has been an action-packed schedule. But both Solskjaer and Guardiola will be mindful of making too many changes amid good form and the opportunity to rest more players in the FA Cup this weekend. Paul Pogba’s outstanding display in the 2-1 win against Aston Villa last Friday should provide him with another opportunity to impress for United in a more advanced position.

Sterling out to break duck

Raheem Sterling has yet to score against Manchester United in his career (Michael Regan/PA)

It is one of football’s most incredible facts that Raheem Sterling has failed to score in 22 career outings against United. The England forward will be aiming to put that right whatever attacking formation Guardiola employs at Old Trafford. Kevin De Bruyne shone in a false number nine role at Stamford Bridge, where he combined brilliantly with Sterling and Phil Foden. Sergio Aguero, so often United’s nemesis, could again be used from the bench.

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