Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that a number of key Manchester United figures are either hobbled or unwell ahead of Tuesday’s EFL Cup semifinal clash with Manchester City (3 p.m. ET) at Old Trafford, lamenting the fact their first leg wasn’t the one to fall on Wednesday instead.
According to Solskjaer, the last two days were meant for a few players — Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw — to spend “a night or two in their own beds” accompanied by a combination of homemade remedies and prescription cures to recover from the illness which kept each of them out of Saturday’s FA Cup draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers. No such luck, though, as Solskjaer has admitted that “some of them are still not ready.”
“We’re going to give them as much time as we can, that’s the most honest answer I can give you. If there was a game today, I’m not sure they could play at their best.
“Another 36 hours might be a big change.”
Add the unwell stars to the list of injured players who’ll miss Tuesday’s game — Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Eric Bailly — and what was already going to be an uphill battle for the Red Devils becomes that much steeper.
Pep Guardiola, who’s got his own selection headaches with Aymeric Laporte (knee) and perhaps Nicolas Otamendi (illness) still unavailable, is looking at Tuesday’s Cup derby as the biggest game remaining this season, not only because it’s against Man United, but because it’s Man City’s fastest route to a trophy. With the Premier League title seemingly gone to Liverpool already (the Reds lead City by 14 with 17 games left to play), Guardiola is focused on picking up any and every other trophy available to his squad between now and the end of May.
Despite the fact they’ll likely relinquish the PL title after a two-year reign, City could still finish the 2019-20 season with three trophies. Still, the rivalry with United remains front and center in his mind, as he made a bold proclamation regarding his feelings for the other side of Manchester — quotes from the Guardian:
“After training City, I will never train them. I would not train [Real] Madrid [after Barcelona]. I’d be in the Maldives if I don’t have any offers. Maybe not the Maldives, because it doesn’t have any golf courses.”
The two sides have already met once this season, with United besting City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium, which will host the second leg on Jan. 29, back in early December.