Wayne Rooney key to Manchester United's Carling Cup hopes
27 February 2009 07:40
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TOUCHLINE DUEL: Sir Alex Ferguson v Harry Redknapp Good friends and old hands cross swords once again following a couple of meetings already this season. But rather than United's FA Cup win at Old Trafford, Redknapp will prefer to remember the goalless draw at home when Tottenham found a way to deny the champions.
In his favour this time, perhaps, is the fact Sunday's occasion means more to Spurs than to a club prioritising the league and Europe. If that reality shows up on the pitch, Redknapp stands a decent chance of beating his old foe.
KEY BATTLE: Wayne Rooney v Ledley King Try telling Rooney this is not a huge game. Having sat out all but the last seven minutes of United's goalless draw with Inter Milan, the striker will be hungry for action at an atmospheric Wembley. He is in good goal-scoring form, too, notching in each of his previous four games.
A big test for King, then. Lucky for Spurs that their captain can come into the side and invariably perform to a very high standard, even though his chronic knee problem prohibits inclusion every week.
TALKING TACTICS With Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane unavailable, Redknapp must decide how to shape his attack. Does he go with Roman Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent in a 4-4-2 or, as looks more likely, play just one up front, with the clever Luka Modric supporting from deeper.
That would at least give Spurs a little more solidity to compete with a side full of movement and pace. It's become almost impossible to predict Ferguson's line-ups but in Danny Welbeck and Darron Gibson the United manager has emerging young talent he undoubtedly trusts.
MANCHESTER UNITED v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Manchester United (Probable, 4-4-2): Foster; Neville, Evans, Vidic, O'Shea; Gibson, Scholes, Carrick/Nani; Welbeck, Rooney, Tevez.
Missing: Evans (ankle/foot), Hargreaves (knee). Tests: Anderson (ankle/foot) Top scorer: (all comps) Ronaldo 16. Discipline: (all comps) R: 3. Y: 63.
Route to the final:
3rd rd: Middlesbrough (h) W 3-1 4th rd: QPR (h) W 1-0 5th rd: Blackburn (h) W 5-3 SF1: Derby (a) L 0-1 SF2: Derby (h) W 4-2
Tottenham Hotspur (Probable, 4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, King, Woodgate, Assou-ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, O'Hara, Modric, Pavlyuchenko.
Missing: Hutton (foot), Defoe (thigh) Tests: King (knee), O'Hara (hip/thigh), Lennon (groin). Top scorer: Bent 14. Discipline: (all comps) R: 5. Y: 55.
Referee: C Foy. Games (all comps): 24. R: 1. Y: 87. Ave: 3.67.
Stat Attack: This is Spurs' seventh League Cup final, with four wins and two defeats from the previous six. United are also in their seventh League Cup final, having won only two.
Past League Cup meetings
1998-1999 QF: Tottenham 3 Man Utd 1 1989-1990 3rd rd: Man Utd 0 Tottenham 3 1981-1982 2nd rd, 1st leg: Tottenham 1 Man Utd 0 1981-1982 2nd rd, 2nd leg: Man Utd 0 Tottenham 1 1979-1980 2nd rd, 1st leg: Tottenham 2 Man Utd 1 1979-1980 2nd rd, 2nd leg: Man Utd 3 Tottenham 1
Bet On.United to win their second trophy of the season.