5 Manchester United Players with a Point to Prove in the League Cup
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Sir Alex Ferguson has already stated that he will field a very different team to the league game for the upcoming tie. As is normal for Ferguson's team selection in this competition, one can expect a mix of youngsters from the reserve team to play alongside some senior members in need of some game time.
With Chelsea still smarting over the controversial nature of their defeat to United on Sunday, this game may have all the intensity and rancor associated with a Premier League match between these giants of English football. As things stand, it will be a stern test for whichever players Ferguson decides to select for the game.
Here is a look at five players who are likely to play on Wednesday and who will have the biggest point to prove in the upcoming game.
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Sir Alex Ferguson has so far rotated his goalkeepers and declined the chance of naming a fixed No.1 in goal. However, David De Gea started the last five United games, including matches against Chelsea and the Champions League clash against Braga.
During these games, the Spaniard made some important saves, especially in the game against Chelsea. He was also relatively solid in the weaker aspects of his game, namely his handling of crosses.
With De Gea's recent performances fresh in memory, Lindegaard needs to restate his credentials in this tussle to be United's undisputed No.1. There is no doubt that a good, solid performance against Chelsea will help his claim.
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The youngster has already made two first-team appearances for United this season following an extended run on the preseason tour. The first of these was a solid performance against Newcastle in the previous League Cup tie. The second was a 10-minute substitute appearance in the Champions League away game against Cluj.
To be fair to Wootton, he performed quite well in the two chances he got to play for the United first team. However, it is clear that Sir Alex still thinks the youngster has a lot to learn. This was especially apparent in his decision to start with Michael Carrick at centre-back in the Champions League game against Braga.
The game against Chelsea is now a chance for Wootton to restate his credentials and stake his claim to be a genuine replacement for Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans. With recent news of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones on the road to recovery from their recent injuries, it is imperative for Wootton to take his chance against Chelsea. Otherwise, it may be a while before he gets his next chance.
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It has been a strange old season for Anderson. Now in his sixth season with the club, he has time and again failed to adequately do justice to the potential that saw Manchester United pay nearly £20 million to acquire his services.
Anderson has once again failed to secure his place in the United starting lineup. However, unlike past seasons, he hasn't done badly whenever he has got his chances to play. While he was part of the largely ineffective United performance in the first game against Everton, his subsequent performances against Fulham, Newcastle (in the League Cup) and Cluj were solid and efficient. He also made a lively cameo appearance against Stoke in the Premier League.
However, Anderson still remains far from a place in the United first team. His tendency to mix good performances with totally ineffective ones (where he resembles a headless chicken) has been a concern throughout his United career. Then, there are his weight issues, which are clear for all to see. Additionally, the emergence of Tom Cleverley means he is behind at least three other central midfielders in the pecking order.
As he has admitted himself, Anderson now needs to show what he can do on the pitch to convince fans and the management of his place in the United team. A good game against Chelsea will be a decent first step towards achieving that aim.
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It seems quite likely now that Nani is on his way out of Old Trafford. First, there were reports that Manchester United tried to offload him to Zenit St Petersburg towards the end of the transfer window. Then came his admission about the uncertainty of his situation at the club.
To be honest, Nani's own form has been responsible for his situation at United. Having impressed for large parts of the last two seasons, he has gone back to his old, frustrating self this campaign. Except for a good second-half performance against Tottenham, he has shown Sir Alex Ferguson little evidence of what he can offer to this United team.
Sir Alex's team selection at the weekend also showed how Nani may now be the third-choice winger for United. It is obvious that the manager prefers the tactical solidity and consistency provided by Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young instead of the wildly unpredictable performances offered by Nani.
If Nani wants to have a future at Manchester United, it is imperative that he begins his renaissance with a good performance against Chelsea on Wednesday. An ineffective, sulking performance like similar ones of late will only earn him a one-way ticket out of Old Trafford in January.
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To be fair to Danny Welbeck, the only reason he is on the list is the presence of so many, varied, in-form striking options available to Sir Alex Ferguson in attack.
Welbeck has already made 10 appearances for United this season. However, he did not make an appearance in both of United's last two games (against Braga and Chelsea). While that in itself may be not surprising, Javier Hernandez's return to form in those games has raised the expectations from other members of Manchester United's striking quartet.
Chicharito's goals in the last two games especially drew attention to his poacher's instincts and finishing, something that is obviously the least consistent part of Welbeck's game right now.
In the face of such intense competition for places in the team, Welbeck would want to prove that he is improving all the time and working on his finishing. For him, the game against Chelsea is surely not a fight for his place in the team (after all, he has been in good enough form and has too much potential for Sir Alex to ignore him).
Rather, he would love to put in a great, goalscoring performance and give Sir Alex an even bigger headache for his next team selection.