left-back Alexander Buttner reacts after the 2-1 loss to Swansea in the FA Cup third round, January 5. Reuters
Two straight losses, and that decent unbeaten run seems like a distant memory for Manchester United. The fact that the two defeats - to Tottenham in the English Premier League and Swansea City in the FA Cup - came at Old Trafford, would be particularly jarring.
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Therefore, David Moyes will be a little relieved to take his Manchester United side to an away fixture - against Sunderland in the Capital One Cup semifinal first leg.
United can really afford only one result at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night -- a win -- and a convincing win at that to take to the second leg at Old Trafford in two weeks' time.
"It's a League Cup semifinal, if you can't lift yourself for that then it's no good. We have got a great opportunity, we are away to Sunderland and we've got to recover quickly and lift ourselves. That's a massive game now," United midfielder Darren Fletcher told MUTV while adding the club owed a win to the fans.
"They're really sticking by us and that's great to see -- we've got to repay that. When we got to the Stretford End there were a lot of fans clapping and singing for United. The players have got to see that and know that the fans are behind us and put performances in for them, the manager and the staff. It's got to happen sooner rather than later and there's not better occasion than the semi-final on Tuesday."
For Sunderland, it will be a chance to book a Wembley final, with Gus Poyet and co. no doubt sensing an opportunity against the lacking-in-confidence United side.
"We're at home and we know what we can do," said Sunderland defender Wes Brown, who spent 15 years with United. "We have to play well, and if we do that then definitely anything can happen in a cup game. We're looking forward to it.
"We need to be up for it and I'm sure we will be. We know what a good side Manchester United can be, but we have to do what we know we can. We've played a lot of big clubs at home and done well and have to take that into the game.
"We're at home first so we have to try and get something. It's a semifinal and we've come to win the game."
Team news: Sunderland: Poyet has been boosted by the return of defender John O'Shea with Brown, Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite also available. That leaves only goalkeeper Kieran Westwood and Carlos Cuellar ruled out for the semifinal tie. New signing Marcos Alonso could make his debut for the club on Tuesday.
"We've got practically the whole squad," Poyet said. "John is back, Wes is back from suspension and Diakite and Roberge have both recovered from the weekend.
John has been back but I felt he was just short a little bit the other day, plus the game itself wasn't the right one. Marcos is available so we have plenty of options."
Manchester United: The picture is not so rosy for Moyes, who again looks likely to have to do without strike pair Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie. Fabio is suspended, while Rio Ferdinand also looks ruled out after limping off in the Swansea game, with Phil Jones, Rafael, Marouane Fellaini, Nani and Ashley Young all missing Sunday's loss.
"It'll be great when we get them [injured players back]," Moyes told BT Sport after the 2-1 reverse. "The sooner we get them back the better. We'll get them back when they're ready but they're not ready yet."
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