Manchester United brushed West Ham United aside with ease in the EFL Cup quarter-final clash, securing a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford to surge into the last four of the competition. Jose Mourinho's men will face off against Premier League strugglers Hull City in a bid to reach the final at Wembley and perhaps use as a springboard for greater success in England's top flight.
The Red Devils have endured an underwhelming start to the campaign under the Portuguese despite a heavy outlay on transfers over the summer, including landing Paul Pogba in a world-record deal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer following the end of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain. The duo's arrival along with Mourinho's was expected to push the club back to the top of the Premier League to become a dominant force once again.
However, that has not been the case, and United face a tough challenge to even compete for a place in the Champions League. Mourinho has admitted that it will take time to reverse the club's fortunes, but for a team that has been so used to success for so long, the 53-year-old finds himself on a short leash indeed. An early trophy win could alleviate the pressure, with their draw against the Tigers handing them an excellent opportunity to win the EFL Cup.
Should they advance beyond Mike Phelan's men in the last four either Southampton or Liverpool will await them at Wembley. As a result, if you were to bet on United at bet365, you'd get odds of 6/5 in the first final of the season, and that could be just the thing that Mourinho needs to kick-start his reign at Old Trafford.
The Portuguese has been reluctant to play an attacking brand of football thus far into his tenure, this was highlighted in his side's 0-0 draw against Liverpool. The Red Devils have notched 18 goals in their 13 Premier League matches this term, leaving them well behind the top four in potency in front of the net, while they have displayed a worrying over-reliance on Ibrahimovic. The Swede has scored seven of United's 18 strikes this season, with Juan Mata next behind him with three.
Mourinho appears to be reluctant to allow his team to push forward, which has seen them score six goals in their last seven Premier League matches. In their EFL Cup clash against West Ham, he gave more license to his side, especially with the selection of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose absence from the United starting line-up has been baffling. The Armenian was a star during his time with Borussia Dortmund and was highly touted to take the English to flight by storm. However, Mourinho has barely played the 27-year-old, featuring him in only eight matches this season.
Mkhitaryan displayed his talent in their win over West Ham and that performance could be the signal to Mourinho to allow the midfielder to dictate the play in the final third for his side going forward. They've been toothless in attack for too long, and the Armenian has the talent to carve apart defences in the Premier League and their remaining competition in the EFL Cup.