After three successive defeats, Manchester United has been handed the perfect opportunity to bounce back with a win against Northampton, travelling to the League One outfit with the hope of advancing to the next round of the EFL Cup. However, United need be wary of their in-form opponents, who won League Two last season with an outstanding tally of 99 points. Could Northampton prove to be a banana-peel side or should United glide through comfortably? Iain Ridley, Daniel Hazell, Paul Bienkowski and I, Aaron Moniz, will give our say on the matter.
Iain Ridley: I don’t think Mourinho can afford another loss after the week from hell; Northampton are a physical side and will look to break on the counter-attack, so Mourinho will need to play a stronger squad to eliminate any doubt of a cup upset. Romero in to give De Gea a break, Memphis, Schneiderlin, and Herrera will be looking to impress as they battle for first team spots with Martial injured and the midfield trio struggling. Rojo to start at CB to accommodate Fosu-Mensah and Darmian as the fullbacks, Rojo should be perfect for this level, its slower and more physical so he’s unlikely to get turned inside out like he usually does.
Starting XI: Romero; Fosu-Mensah, Blind, Rojo, Darmian; Schneiderlin, Herrera; Lingard, Mata, Memphis; Rashford
I think United will have too much for the League 1 side even though they do have some match winners, most obvious is former Pompey midfielder, Matty Taylor. Rashford to net a couple and hoping Memphis can bag himself a goal to boost his confidence. SHOULD be a comfortable win for United but we’ve seen this before with the hammering at MK Dons, can never take these games lightly. Can’t be worse than Watford…surely not?
Prediction: Northampton Town 1-3 Manchester United
Daniel Hazell: Manchester United come into this English Football League Cup tie away to Northampton off the back of three losses in a row. Manchester City, Feyenoord, and Watford have all enjoyed victories against United in the past week leaving Jose Mourinho and co with a point to prove. The Red Devils opponents, League One side Northampton, currently sit 11th in their division, respectively. The Cobblers form over the last three fixtures is much better than Mourinho’s side, having won 2 of the last 3 against Walsall and Milton Keynes. United really do need to avoid further embarrassment in this one, especially after the past week Mourinho’s men have had – when the fixture was initially drawn, I had no doubt the club would progress, however, going by what I have witnessed over the past three games, I am worried that the club could become the laughing-stock of the round. Although, I view this as a perfect chance to freshen up the squad and give a chance to several players to prove themselves.
Predicted XI: Romero; Fosu-Mensah, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Schneiderlin, Carrick, Herrera; Lingard, Young, Rashford
I do believe United have enough about them to turn up and put an end to this dreadful run, but I get the feeling that will only happen if we turn up and perform well – at a packed house at Sixfields Stadium, the crowd, and the Northampton boys will be well up for it. Ultimately, this game will be as difficult as United make it, if the side gets an early goal to silence the crowd then it’ll more than likely be a comfortable day at the office.
Prediction: Northampton Town 0-2 Manchester United
Aaron Moniz: The adages of last year have returned- decisions and changes need be made after previous results. I have previously spoken about using cups to determine which youth players can replace the underperforming senior players in the squad. This is a requirement, and therefore I’ve chosen the Starting XI based on experimentalism and what I want to see. Sergio Romero should never, ever play in goal. I’ve gone with two youngsters Mourinho praised at the back- Joe Riley and Axel Tuanzebe, combined with Marcos Rojo, who seems at least acceptable as a centre-back (he’s an abomination of a left-back) and Matteo Darmian as an experiment at left-back.
In a midfield three, I’d like to see Michael Carrick’s leadership behind Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Paul Pogba, who can use the fixture to find his form after it slowly trailed off throughout the matches. Then, I have Memphis and Jesse Lingard flanking Marcus Rashford.
Starting XI: De Gea; Riley, Tuanzebe, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick; Fosu-Mensah, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Memphis
United can’t lose this one. It is matches like this when you can see which managers are great and which ones aren’t; David Moyes wasn’t and Louis van Gaal lost the plot, but Jose Mourinho’s men should get it done. I don’t know too much about Northampton, but I do know they were in league two last year- three tiers of football below United. I also know what happened with MK Dons two years ago, so United must be wary- but Mourinho always is in the EFL Cup, so I’ve gone for an emphatic win.
Prediction: Northampton Town 0-3 Manchester United
Paul Bienkowski: Manchester United are in a tough period after losing their last three matches in the Premier League and the UEFA Europa League. The defeat against Manchester City saw United get stronger in the second half, the defeat to Feyenoord saw United press their Dutch opposition and lose out to an offside goal. Against Watford, there were no excuses whatsoever apart from the fact United were rubbish. United need to get to the bottom of this problem, or their hard work at the start of the season will have been for nothing. Jose Mourinho has seen his stock rise over the summer after bringing in four class players but has seen that stock fall after this losing streak, with many of the so-called fans who wanted him, now wanting him to be fired. United need to make some changes to keep the squad fit ahead of the important Premier League clash with Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday. I think United will make some changes, but they also need to play it safe.
Starting XI: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Schneiderlin, Pogba; Memphis, Mata, Rashford; Ibrahimovic
I don’t want United to lose, but the predicament they find themselves in, I think it is likely. United do not have the fire in their bellies as other teams do. They are unable to press their opposition and create chances that will result in goals. Wayne Rooney is a player who now looks past it, and I feel this could be the end of the road for him, which at the end of the day might be the best thing for both parties. The Cobblers will be up for this match. Rob Page had previously banned talk of the clash, which will have been exciting his players. If Page’s side get United under the cosh, like some lower teams have done in the past (MK Dons for instance), it could be another embarrassing night for United. I try to be positive but after three years of this, it is probably time to look at the picture and see that things are not as rosy as they once were.
Prediction: Northampton Town 2-1 Manchester United