Manchester United reached their first final under Erik ten Hag by securing safe passage through the Carabao Cup semi finals at the expense of Nottingham Forest.
The Red Devils have enjoyed a brilliant run of form after their infamous defeats to Brighton and Brentford to start the season. They’re firmly in the Champions League qualification mix and remain alive in the FA Cup and Europa League.
However, their commitments in cup competitions means Ten Hag faces a tough February as he tries to balance the playing time of a squad that has recently been struck by injuries to key players.
Here’s United’s truncated schedule leading up to the Carabao Cup final, including some juicy derbies and European fixtures.
Fresh from sealing their spot in the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle, United are back into Premier League matters when they host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday 4 February in a 15:00 GMT kick off.
The two sides duked it out earlier a few weeks ago in their first meeting of the season as a late Michael Olise free-kick earned Palace a point after Bruno Fernandes’ strike just before half time.
Manchester United and Leeds are fierce rivals and the tension between the two teams has risen again following Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League.
The Red Devils have scored 15 goals in the four meetings in that time, only failing to win once when they were held to a goalless draw in April 2021. The fixture was originally postponed following Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September and will take place on Wednesday 8 February at 20:00 GMT.
That fixture rearrangement means the two Uniteds will face each other twice in four days.
In this fixture last season, two headless chickens went at it as Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds were downed 4-2 by Ralf Rangnick’s Man Utd. Goals from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had the visitors 2-0 up before two goals in two minutes from Rodrigo and Raphinha squared things up.
Substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga gave the Red Devils all three points. However, they would win only three more league games before the end of the season.
The stakes are really upped in mid February when Man Utd travel to Barcelona to face the Catalan giants at Camp Nou in the Europa League knockout play-off round.
It’s Barça who hold the edge in recent meetings, having won the past four games between the two sides.
Once they return home from the trip to Catalonia, United have a home game against Leicester to contend with.
The Foxes have endured some turbulent form this season but have mostly been a mess at the back, though the sides were only separated by Jadon Sancho’s strike they met back in September.
The return leg of the Europa League knockout play-off round will determine who between United and Barça continue in the continent’s secondary club competition.
United’s last win over Barça came at Old Trafford in 2008 when Paul Scholes scored the only goal of a Champions League semi final tie to send his side to final in Moscow.
Two of the most improved sides this season meet in the Carabao Cup final in late February when Newcastle face Man Utd.
Both sides are eyeing up Champions League qualification and each sit in the top four currently and this meeting could be an opportunity to land a significant psychological blow.