A clash between the 20-time Premier League Champions and a League 2 outfit might not generate enough enthusiasm. However, one thing is already confirmed that Louis Van Gaal will go all out to claim his first trophy with the Red Devils. While they’re sitting 3rd in Premier League and bracing themselves for the title challenge, Manchester United would believe that Capital One Cup is the best bit for the club to win a title this Season. And with Chelsea and Arsenal both out of this fixture, therein lies a real chance for the Red Devils to go all the way in the Capital One Cup.
Here are Five things to look for.
1. How good a backup is Sergio Romero to David de Gea
While the Spaniard didn’t leave for Manchester in the summer due to the delay of the paperwork, it doesn’t mean that the Spanish giants won’t come calling for him next Summer. With a Spanish Nationality, a feel good factor and a young age for a goalkeeper, De Gea has all the attributes to be a successful successor of Iker Casillas at Real Madrid.
Therein, comes Sergio Romero in the picture. The Argentine was brought in the summer probably to replace Madrid-bound De Gea, however, while De Gea is still in Manchester, Romero could provide Manchester United fans a glimpse of what life after David De Gea will mean for the club. He showed enough talent in the 4 starts that he got at the beginning of this Season, and there is no reason Romero couldn’t do that again against Middlesbrough.
2. Will Memphis Depay get an affirmative nod from Louis Van Gaal?
After giving arguably his weakest performance against in a Manchester United shirt against Arsenal at the start of October, the Dutch winger has failed to get the trust back of Louis Van Gaal. With just 10-minutes of action time since then, Memphis Depay would be itching to get more time on the field.
In addition to his behavior that earned Depay a well-known dressing down from Louis Van Gaal, it is the form of players that are above him in the pecking order that has made the life difficult for the Dutch Winger. With Herrera and Mata performing at their best, it might be some time before Depay gets an inclusion in the starting 11.
However, looking at the stature of Middlesbrough, this match could prove to be a launching pad for Depay should Van Gaal allows him to start from the final whistle.
3. Is Lingard the next big thing for Manchester United
For a player who nearly settled the Manchester derby with his lob over Manchester City keeper Joe Hart in the dying stages of the game, Lingard will get another shot to achieve his target against minnows Middlesbrough on Wednesday.
Thus, with all the Old Trafford backing their new son to achieve the same glory that has been achieved by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, Lingard would have the best chance that he will have to prove his mettle for the Red Devils.
4. Could Middlesbrough be the 3rd Giant killers of this week
Coming into this game-week of Capital One Cup, it was assumed that it would be a fairy tale ride for the Premier League big guns. With Arsenal facing Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea facing Stoke, it was expected that both these sides – albeit with some difficulty in the case of Chelsea due to obvious reasons, will get their place booked in the next round.
However, since football is a game that could never be decided on paper, both the London sides have been crashed out of the tournament. Though Arsenal were the receivers of a World class bettering, ultimately Chelsea also suffered the same fate as both teams were knocked out.
Now, the onus is on Middlesbrough to prove why big teams should take competitions like this one more seriously. While Manchester United are obvious favorites, their expedition against MK Dons last Season – in which they were defeated 4-0 shows that a minnow could outdo the Red Devils on its day.
5. Is McNair the same defender he was before Injury? Or has his performances been adversely affected?
While he hasn’t kicked a ball this Season in the Premier League, last season’s performances by the young Englishman shows that he is more than capable of breaking into the starting 11 of the Red Devils. It was his performance against Tottenham last Season that raised eyebrows and made Manchester United fans realize that they have a gem on their hands.
However, now on the back of an injury which sidelined him for an extended amount of time, it would be interesting to see that whether McNair could start from where he left off last Season.