The League Cup can often seem like a superfluous enterprise, but Manchester United have good reason to place enormous importance on their trip to Swansea City on Tuesday night.
Last weekend’s defeat to Huddersfield was not an aberration: such a languid display had been coming following uninspiring attacking showings against both Liverpool and Benfica.
And Jose Mourinho‘s men, in turn, need to come up with a convincing attacking performance at the Liberty Stadium whilst avoiding the needless errors that culminated in two Huddersfield goals on Saturday.
With that in mind, here are three players Mourinho must start against Paul Clement’s side.
The worst thing Mourinho could do with Lindelof would be to leave him out indefinitely and further chip away at his already eroded confidence following what was a shambolic first half display in Yorkshire.
No, the Swede needs to be back in the firing line as soon as possible. Mourinho signed him for a reason over the summer and he needs to start showing supporters why. And with Phil Jones and Eric Bailly currently on the treatment table, he will be determined to get a confident performance under his belt ahead of potentially facing Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Man United have struggled for attacking potency over the last week or so but Rashford, as is usually he case, has continued to unabashedly give opponents problems nevertheless. He netted the winner in Lisbon and was the man who finally found a way past Huddersfield on Saturday.
The teenager, who netted a brace in the previous round, can be currently viewed as United’s most dangerous attacking player and his presence in South Wales feels vital.
Put simply, the midfield duo of Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera isn’t cutting it. The former has been characteristically impressive but Herrera, somewhat worryingly, hasn’t been able to generate any forward momentum over the last three games and Mourinho needs something different in the middle.
And with Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick all unavailable, that task falls on youngster Scott McTominay. The 20-year-old’s disciplined yet forward-thinking style in midfield could indeed be exactly what United need after a series of stultified displays in the middle.