Man United host local rivals Man City in the EFL Cup semi-final this week and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has thrown caution to the wind even before the build up.
Both these sides played the Manchester Derby in the Premier League in December and that game was one of the most boring 90 minutes we had seen this season in the English top flight. Man United and City managed just two shots on target apiece although they made close to 1200 passes cumulatively.
Many pundits thought the two Manchester sides would not opt for the same path of boredom on Wednesday given their recent form in the league but speaking during his pre-match press conference, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted that his players will have one constant eye on Man City’s attacking prowess.
He told the reporters: “I think the last game [December’s Manchester derby, which ended 0-0] showed two teams with respect for each other. They weren’t as much possession-based against Chelsea, they were more counter-attacking. They’ve got quick players on the break – of course, we have to be aware of that, as well as their possession game.
“I’ve seen progress and sometimes the results don’t show the whole picture of the game. Some of our counter-attacking goals in the wins that we’ve had have been brilliant.
“Away in the league, when we won, we could have scored four or five in a 10-15-minute period. The counter-attacks were just out of this world. But we’ve had less control of the ball and defended fantastically.
“I think the last game [the 0-0] was more or less 50-50 in terms of possession and maybe more cagey from both teams.
“Still, I felt that was a progression, staying more in the game. You never know what kind of system he [Guardiola] is going to come up with, but you know you have to defend really well against Man City.
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“It’s hard to keep the ball in their half when they’re got it because they can find a way of overloading. So you have to be brave and be compact and trust your players. Then again, when we get the ball, we need to keep it and play out of their press.
“They’re one of the quickest ones to put the counter-pressure on and want to win it high up. It’s a balance that I think we’ve found, but we didn’t have that X-Factor the last game. Maybe because they were a little bit more cagey and set up to counter-attack more as well.
“There have been some fascinating games and I feel we’ve got closer and closer and results, sometimes you can’t control.”
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From Ole’s statement, it’s clear that Man United will not come out all guns blazing on Wednesday but City have a series of players unavailable due to COVID which is an automatic advantage for the Old Trafford side.
The Manchester United boss would have seen the mistakes that Chelsea made against a depleted Manchester City side on Sunday and the Norwegian will surely set up his team with hopes of nullifying those problems.