Manchester United will face Aston Villa for the second time in a week, this time at Old Trafford in the third round of the Carabao Cup. On Sunday, in the Premier League, United suffered their sixth defeat of the season in all competitions, losing 3-1 to the Villans – a bad result but also something that United have been capable of doing this season.
Erik ten Hag’s side will be tasked to beat Villa at the Theatre of Dreams in the Carabao Cup, aiming to put them into the draw for the fourth round to the English League Cup. It is expected that there will be some rotation to the squad for this match with Fulham on the horizon in the Premier League on Sunday, the final match prior to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Unai Emery will be confident of facing United for the second time in a week, especially after the way his team dispatched United from the very start of the match in the 3-1 victory at Villa Park. United will need to save face of even face the consequences of a two defeats in a row, which was how United started the season. Things need to chance and United need to adapt.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho;
Martin Dubravka signed for United on loan for the 2022/23 season and has yet to make an appearances for the Old Trafford club. With the FIFA World Cup coming and fatigue in place for United, especially doe David De Gea – who has started every match this season, a change will be good for United to see what the Slovakian has in his locker in goal for United.
Granted, De Gea has been largely good this season and the goals that he has conceded were not all his fault, but giving him a rest to recharge his batteries will be good for the final Premier League fixture prior to the World Cup on Sunday when United travel to Fulham. Dubravka has experience in the Premier League and in England so it could be a good test for him.
Tom Heaton has not been involved in recent weeks and Radek Vitek is not ready to represent United at senior level, so Dubravka should get the nod. This would be a perfect match to see what he is capable of and could put United in good stead for the challenge of Fulham on Sunday, which is expected to be another tough match for United this season.
Defenders: Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw
United’s defence has been positive this season, most of the positivity has come in the last ten matches with United keeping six clean sheets, which shows that have been building up to something, which seemingly collapsed at Villa Park on Sunday. Diogo Dalot is suspended for Sunday’s match with Fulham so he should start this match, his last before the World Cup.
Luke Shaw should also keep his place at left-back as he has been in some good form at this stage of the season and Sunday’s match could have just been a blip for him and United. Keeping both fullbacks for this match will be important for United, who have something to prove against Villa, which should give them the hunger to win.
Victor Lindelof seemed off the pace against Villa so Harry Maguire should start in his place at Old Trafford with Lisandro Martinez keeping his place. The Argentinian has been ever-present in defence this season and has been one of the stand out signings of the summer. To think that some pundits criticised him because of his height shows how obsessed they are.
Midfield: Casemiro, Fred
United’s midfield had an off match against Villa on Sunday and perhaps a change to help with fatigue would be good for this match. United have four midfielders that could play in these positions, five if yyou ou add Donny van de Beek – who was seemingly useless in his last two appearances for United. A change could do United some good.
Casemiro should keep his place as he can be the steel in the midfield for United. A player that they have required since Michael Carrick retired and one that can achieve good things at the club – perhaps not like what he achieved at Real Madrid though – but you never know. Having the Brazilian in the centre of United’s midfield is better than not having him at all.
Christian Eriksen did not have a good match against Villa on Sunday and perhaps he has played too much football this season. A rest for this match would do him good ahead of Sunday’s important match in the Premier League. Fred could be recalled to partner his compatriot or even Scott McTominay could play alongside Casemiro. Ten Hag will have the answers.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho
Antony has been missing for the last three matches, last featuring for United against Chelsea. It would be great to see him back from his injury for this match, which could also help him get back up to speed for Sunday’s match with United needing a win in the Premier League to make up for the defeat to Villa which cost them three points.
Bruno Fernandes is back ahead of the second Villa match in a week after sitting out the first due to suspension for five yellow cards so far this season in the Premier League. United missed the Portuguese midfielder in Sunday and it could be good to see him back in the team, which should see United pushing for a victory and a place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Alejandro Garnacho made his first start this season against Real Sociedad last Thursday, scoring the only goal of the match to get United the win, but not top the group – hence the clash with Barcelona in the play off round of the UEFA Europa League. The Spanish-born Argentinian did not get much joy at the weekend but he should be fired up for this match.
Anthony Martial has played just 158 minutes of football this season, scoring three goals and two assists in five appearances. He has suffered injuries this season, starting with a hamstring injury, then suffering an Achilles injury and more recently an injury to his lower back. He made his latest return to fitness in Sunday’s defeat to Villa, unable to score or assist.
The Frenchman has not yet played 90 minutes this season and will be seeking to do just that. Providing he is fully fit and ready to go, he should lead the line against Villa. He was a player in form during the clubs pre-season tour to Thailand and Australia and has shown glimpses of his talent this season – but needs to show so much more to succeed at this club.
Staring him ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo will be a gamble but let’s face it, there is not much to lose. Ronaldo has two goals so far this season and is very frustrating in front of goal. Martial should be an upgrade in the respect of his pace, ability and his hunger for goals, which has grown this season. United do play a lot better with Ronaldo off the pitch.
Substitutes: De Gea; Lindelof, Malacia, Wan-Bissaka; Van de Beek, McTominay; Ronaldo, Rashford, Sancho
Just like in the Premier League and the UEFA Europa League, United will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench in the Carabao Cup, using five of them throughout the match. With Tom Heaton seemingly out of action and Radek Vitek likely to be playing for the U21s on Friday when they face AS Monaco, David De Gea could be on the bench for this match.
In defence, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be involved in this match. The latter will need to be up to speed as he might be needed in the right-back position on Sunday with Diogo Dalot suspended. In the midfield, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay could be involved in this match – both will need to impress.
In attack, United could start to find themselves with more experienced players available with Martial now back in action and Jadon Sancho seemingly getting over the illness that has kept him out of the last two matches. United need to start finding some form in the attacking positions as lately, they have let the club down massively and therefore owe bags of improvement.
Written by John Walker