Tuesday 19 December 2017

Match preview: Bristol City v United

The fixtures continue to come thick and fast for Jose's United as the holders head down the M6 to face Lee Johnson's Championship high flyers in the Carabao Cup quarter-final. Despite the fact that they're the lowest ranked side left and the only non Premier-League team in the last eight, the in-form Robins will pose a serious threat of United's credentials at Ashton Gate. 

Promotion-chasing City sit third in the table, behind runaway leaders Wolves and four points off second-placed Cardiff as they chase a first ever promotion to the Premier League. Johnson's side have won their last four games, and have already proved their giant killing ability having claimed the scalps of top flight trio Watford (3-2), Stoke (2-0) and Crystal Palace (4-1) to get this far in the competition. They've reached the last four on two previous occasions in their history, in the 1970-71 campaign and the 1988-89 season. 

Out of favour Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to be recalled to the United squad having been left out for eight of the last nine games. Paul Pogba is available again after suspension and Sergio Romero could feature for a rotated but still strong-looking United side, with the stand-in stopper having played in both previous Carabao Cup matches. Antonio Valencia will miss out with the hamstring injury he picked up at the Hawthorns last time out.  We beat Burton Albion 4-1 at Old Trafford and then continued the defence of the trophy  with a 2-0 win at Swansea through Jesse Lingard's double. The Reds beat Southampton in a thrilling final last season for Jose's first major silverware as boss.

Cauley Woodrow and West Bromwich Albion loanee Jonathan Leko are cup-tied and therefore unavailable, with Callum O'Dowda an injury worry for the Robins. At 36, Johnson is Britain's youngest Football League manager, and he said: "It is a fantastic game for the players, myself, my staff, the club and the city. When Man Utd come to town, it's always a big tie, I know we are underdogs and whatever XI they put out, it will be a world-class one.  The players have got to feel that one of them can be a hero in this game. I think we have a group that are very hungry to prove how good they are."

Opposite number Jose said: "For me now the Championship is not the league of five or ten years ago - the Championship is now high quality teams with players that could be playing the Premier League easily. They (Bristol City) are one of the best teams in the division and it will be a difficult game. 
"We need to take this game very seriously, I will make a few changes but not too many and it's possible that Mikki will be involved."

Form guide: Bristol City D L W W W W United W W W L W W 
Match odds: Bristol City 4/9 Draw 17/5 United 11/2 (Bet365) 
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirral) 

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