Manchester United and Manchester City begin their bid for the EFL Cup on Wednesday night as both look to lay down an early marker in the Cup competition.
Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United side will be desperate to put a run of three successive losses behind them when they travel to minnows Northampton Town.
The Red Devils were stunned 3-1 by Watford this past weekend and with the air of optimism and expectation rapidly dissipating at Old Trafford, Mourinho will be determined to steer the club to a morale-boosting victory.
United are nevertheless expected to make a host of changes to their side with the likes of first team stars Paul Pogba and Eric Bailey set to be rested while a host of fringe players are likely to be handed an opportunity to impress. Ashley Young, Memphis Depay and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have all been mentioned as likely starters.
Northampton, for their part, will be hoping to take advantage of United’s recent slump. The side will be playing without pressure but will face the daunting task of overcoming the Red Devils without the likes of key wing Paul Anderson, who is cup-tied having already represented Bradford in the EFL Cup this season.
Pep Guardiola and his high-flying Manchester City, by contrast, will be looking to record a ninth straight victory in all competitions when they travel to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City.
The Swans have endured a difficult start to the season having won just once in five matches while they are also in the midst of somewhat of an identity crisis as they struggle to find a formation that suits their players. The side are likely to field new record signing Borja Baston against the Citizens, while Leon Britton is also set for a return to the starting lineup.
City are likely to shuffle their squad for the clash and could hand injury stricken captain Vincent Kompany his first start of the season. Yaya Toure, meanwhile, remains exiled unless his agent issues an apology for derogatory comments he made towards the manager, while the likes of Fabian Delph and David Silva have injuries and Sergio Aguero remains suspended.
New signing Leory Sane and Spanish wing Jesus Navas are likley to get a run out for the Sky Blues, while Guardiola may opt to hand midfielder Ilkay Gundogan more minutes after an impressive display against Bournemouth this past weekend.
Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur will be heavy favourites against minnows Gillingham, while Premier League sides Sunderland, West Ham United, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Hull City are all in action.
Wednesday’s EFL Cup fixtures:
Queens Park Rangers vs Sunderland – 20:45
Swansea City vs Manchester City – 20:45
Southampton vs Crystal Palace – 20:45
West Ham United vs Accrington Stanley – 20:45
Northampton Town vs Manchester United – 20:45
Tottenham Hotspur vs Gillingham – 21:00
Stoke City vs Hull City – 21:00