Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
With the first leg of this tie having ended 3-1 to the blue half of Manchester, a second leg at the Etihad feels more like an administrative loose end than any kind of sporting contest. Coming into this match, some bookmakers have the hosts at 1/250 to qualify for the final – and there is no earthly reason to disagree with that. City, who won this cup as part of last season’s domestic treble, will be in the final again barring a major surprise.
United prepared for this game by drubbing Tranmere Rovers 6-0, but in doing so became perhaps the first team to win by such a margin while their fans chanted their dissatisfaction at the state of the club. Those same fans will remember last week’s 2-0 loss at home to Burnley for longer than the Tranmere result, and it’s hard to imagine they’ll react well to a further embarrassment at the home of their “noisy neighbours”.
Manchester City vs Manchester United Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Manchester United
With the bulk of the job already done, the toughest part of this contest for City is gauging how hard they need to go at this match. Trailing Liverpool in the title race by sixteen points, they can probably prioritise the cup competitions, so there is no reason for them to ease off in any major way here. United do have the comfort of knowing that they were victorious in the league at this venue earlier in the season, but there is little chance of a repeat; City have improved since that result, United certainly have not.
Our recommended tip: Raheem Sterling FGS
There’s no getting around it; if United want to pull off an unlikely exploit, they’re going to have to go for it from the off, hoping to grab an early goal and put some pressure on their opponents. Of course, if there is one team you don’t want to have to try that against, it’s Manchester City. The pace of the Citizens’ counter-attack is going to present real problems for the visitors, and the lightning-quick Sterling is a master of maximising such situations. Betfair have him at 16/5 to be the first scorer, and it’s a worthwhile bet.
These sides have met twice already this season, with each team picking up a win on their rivals’ turf. At the Etihad, United opened up a 2-0 lead within the first half-hour, exploiting a rickety City backline through Rashford and a Martial penalty, and then holding out against the best the hosts could throw at them until a late Otamendi consolation. At Old Trafford three weeks ago, meanwhile, it was City with the early onslaught. Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and a Pereira own-goal gave the visitors a 3-0 half-time lead, Rashford pulling one back on 70 minutes.
Top 3 League Cup Bookies
Players to watch: Bernardo Silva & Mason Greenwood
Bernardo is a player whose presence among the City squad often passes unnoticed due to the volume and quality of big names at the club. He is, however, as vital a cog in the machine as some of the more vaunted players. An exceptionally versatile player, the Portuguese international is capable of creating and scoring goals, unselfish build-up play and pressing. This versatility makes him not just a vital player to his team, but exceptionally difficult for the opposition to read, too.
If United are to overturn a two-goal deficit on the pitch of a markedly better-performing team, they’re going to need all of their attacking players to be on it from the first whistle. Greenwood is perhaps the vital cog here, the most naturally talented of a front three that will also contain Anthony Martial and Daniel James. Believed by Solskjaer to be the best finisher at the club, the 18-year-old already has ten goals for United in all competitions. If he can add any tonight, they may be the most important he has ever scored.