Wednesday, 3 December 2008

United v Blackburn: Preview

I usually find it hard to get that excited about the Carling Cup. It is a great place to try out our youngsters and give them experience of first team action, but ultimately it is not a priority in the context of the season.

However, certain factors are combining this season to make me much more bothered about tonight's game and the competition as a whole:

1. As soon as people start using the phrases quarter-finals and semi-finals, it brings it home that we're within three games of a trophy. I like trophies, regardless of their status - I like some more than others, obviously, but I'm always keen for us to get our hands on some silverware. Further, if we beat Blackburn tonight, the only other Premiership side left will be Spurs (assuming they can beat Watford - the others are Burnley and Derby), which gives us an even greater chance of success.

2. This is a particularly promising group of youngsters, so there are a much larger number of players whose development I want to see accelerated and also who have a genuine chance of competing against top opposition. I'm thinking of Foster, Rafael, Evans, Possebon, Welbeck and Manucho and to a lesser extent Gibson and Cleverley (particularly in the latter's case, I place them in a separate group because I think they're unlikely to start and we have many others in their position).

3. Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are all out, which gives us a chance to steal a march on our rivals and, in Arsenal's case, show that we're better than them in their last remaining supposed field of strength - developing youngsters.

4. If we win the Carling Cup, we're on for the Quadruple...................(I'll leave that piece of outrageous optimism hanging for now).

So, having established that I care and that you should too, onto the team news.

Team news

There will be no big guns on the bench to bail us out, as EVDS, Rio, Evra, Carrick, Ronaldo, Rooney and Berbatov left out of the matchday squad of 19 and therefore ineligible.

Ben Foster will come in for his second first team appearance of the season, with the promise of a fairly busy night ahead of him. Blackburn will have seen the glint of silver in the same way I set out above, and they will be putting out a near full-strength side and will be really up for it. Rafael is guaranteed a chance to build on his well-reviewed performance against Robinho and City, and O'Shea likely to play at left back. Evans will definitely start in the centre, with Vidic likely to be preferred to Neville alongside him given the quality of Blackburn's forwards.

The midfield is anyone's guess: Nani will expect a run out; Possebon will hope to feature in the centre, but may be disappointed with Anderson, Fletcher and Giggs also in the squad;  Welbeck could be given a chance to play from the right in preference to Park, since Tevez and Manucho are likely to be paired up front.

Predicted team: Foster; O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Rafael; Nani, Anderson, Giggs, Welbeck; Tevez, Manucho. Subs: Kusczcak, Neville, Possebon, Park, Gibson, Cleverley, Fletcher.

Predicted score: 2-1 to United, after extra time (Nani, Tevez)

1 comment:

Bornred2512 said...

First-off - good to have you back blogging. Hope you are able to keep the blog going as your stuff is very insightful. On tonight I am less concerned about winning the competition but share your enthusiasm for seeing some of our emerging young guns getting vital playing time. On that theme how good was Rafael on Sunday. I thought he had a cracking game and albeit a little but seat of his pants at times he defended very well.

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