Manchester United warmed up for their Nissan Super Sunday clash against Liverpool with a 2-0 win over Hull City in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-finals at Old Trafford.
Juan Mata scored the opener when he converted Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s header from close range early in the second half, with Marouane Fellaini nodding home a late second from Matteo Darmian’s cross.
Goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini gave Man Utd a 2-0 win over Hull .
It sealed a ninth consecutive victory for United, their longest winning run since the 2008/09 campaign, when they won 11 games in a row between January and February and went on to clinch a Premier League and League Cup double under Sir Alex Ferguson.
United have plenty of ground to make up in the Premier League if they are to repeat that feat this year, but their impressive run of form has certainly changed the complexion of their season.
United had only won four of their previous nine games as they struggled to maintain any kind of consistency, but keeping a 100 per cent record over the busy Christmas period is an impressive feat.
After struggling to convert chances earlier in the season, United have now scored 20 goals in their last nine games. It is a satisfying turnaround for Mourinho, and his side’s attacking improvements are spread across the team.
United have had nine different goalscorers during their winning streak. Superstar duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba have lived up to their billing with six and two goals respectively, while Marcus Rashford, Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial – three players who struggled for form earlier in the season – have also been among the scorers.
United’s attacking depth has allowed them to maintain momentum during the hectic fixture schedule, and they will have a full complement forwards for Sunday’s showdown with Liverpool after Mourinho confirmed Ibrahimovic is expected to return from illness.
They are not as well stocked in defence given Marcos Rojo’s recent injury blow and Eric Bailly’s departure to the African Nations Cup, but they have been just as impressive in defence as in attack.
Mourinho’s men have only conceded three times during their winning streak, keeping as many clean sheets in the last nine games (six) as in the previous 20.
“They are in a much better place right now,” said Mike Phelan, who was Ferguson’s assistant during their 2009 winning run, on Sky Sports on Tuesday night. “The players look as though they’ve got that devil in their eye. If they can see that in the second half of the season they can kick on and put pressure on the teams above them.”
It starts with old foes Liverpool on Sunday. United faced Jurgen Klopp’s side in October having conceded a morale-sapping late equaliser against Stoke in their previous game, but this time the momentum is with them and there is little chance of them playing for another 0-0 draw.
A 10th consecutive victory would put them within two points of Liverpool and add to the growing confidence around Old Trafford. With the prospect of an EFL Cup final also on the agenda, things are beginning to look up for Mourinho’s men.
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