Bristol City v Manchester United preview: The biggest cup game in 25 years

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On Wednesday night, Bristol City will take on Manchester United in what is unquestionably the most anticipated cup fixture of a generation for City supporters. In 1994, Brian Tinnion’s effort saw City defeat Liverpool in a famous encounter at Anfield, and the current group of players will be looking to repeat this feat, albeit this time in front of a sold-out Ashton Gate crowd. The Carabao Cup quarter-final will be a real test of City’s character; however, they should not be underestimated by the 20-time top flight title holders. Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace have all been defeated in the competition so far, and there’s certainly no reason to suggest that United will walk over their counterparts.

Lee Johnson has a dilemma on his hands with regards to team selection; Luke Steele is poised to start against his former club, continuing his stint as the club’s “cup-keeper”, but Frank Fielding has excelled in league games. City continue to be without Gary O’Neil, Famara Diedhiou, Jens Hegeler (all knee), Eros Pisano (hamstring) and Callum O’Dowda (ankle). Jonathan Leko and Cauley Woodrow, on loan from West Bromwich Albion and Fulham respectively, are also cup-tied and unable to feature, whilst Milan Djuric is undergoing surgery on a recurring injury problem prior to the game.

Consequently, I believe that Johnson will stick with the side that beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 on Saturday, the only exception being the rotation between Frank Fielding and Luke Steele in goal. Matty Taylor may start ahead of Jamie Paterson, but I would expect to see the latter preferred in a “number 10” role behind Bobby Reid.

The visitors have also been handed an injury blow; right-back Antonio Valencia suffered a hamstring issue in their 2-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion, whilst Eric Bailly is still sidelined with an ankle problem. United won the cup last season and, in order to try and preserve their title, manager Jose Mourinho is expected to put out a strong line-up. Record signing Paul Pogba is set to start after serving a ban, and iconic Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic should also play. Elsewhere, Sergio Romero will continue to start in goal ahead of David De Gea, and Mourinho is allegedly weighing up the option of using both Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the wings. Youngster Scott McTominay, who may be the only unfamiliar name in the United camp for neutrals, is also predicted to play after impressing in other cup matches.

United’s star-studded eleven appears superior to City’s on paper, but the Robins have shown a tremendous ability to grind out results this season. The 2-1 away win at Sheffield United was far from pretty, but here’s to hoping something similar can happen in front of a packed 27,000 crowd under the lights at Ashton Gate.