Manchester United will go head to head with Championship side Burnley in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. It will be United’s first competitive match since the season was placed on hiatus for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar which was won by Argentina, beating France 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time. United will be without a number of star players for this match with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane definite absences.
United beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage in their last competitive match back in November with Alejandro Garnacho scoring the winner in added time which before that seemed destined to see United suffer a draw. However, the goal from the Spanish-born Argentinian saw United grab all three points and keep their assault on the top four of the Premier League this season. United and Burnley faced each other regularly before the Lancashire clubs relegation to the Championship.
This season, Burnley have been doing well in their bid to regain top-flight status with promotion to the Premier League, winning their last four matches in all competitions following the 5-2 defeat to Sheffield United. Burnley sit at the top of the Championship, three points clear of Sheffield United who beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 on Monday evening as they seek to regain Premier League status this season, still sitting in second-place in the Championship.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;
Antony, van de Beek, Garnacho;
Martin Dubravka started against Aston Villa in the third round of the Carabao Cup this season, which should see him given more time in goal against Burnley in the fourth round as United look to make the last eight. United desperately need a cup run under Erik ten Hag and this could be it – the first trophy of the season. It is not the best thing that United could win but a trophy is a trophy. When Manchester City make this their go to trophy, surely United could to?
Dubravka has ben used sparingly so far this season with David De Gea requiring some kind of competition to bring out the best of him, which would also do the same for a player like Dubravka. United should be in a position to use the Newcastle United on loan goalkeeper more this season, which would be great for the club, giving De Gea some rest in rotation and also giving Dubravka the minutes he deserves as a goalkeeper to try and breakthrough as the main goalkeeper at the club – if he has a future.
The Newcastle goalkeeper is only on loan at the club for the 2022/23 season and there are reports that Ten Hag will be seeking to sign another goalkeeper in 2023 with De Gea’s contract expiring, other than a one-year option which was written into his last contract. United also have Tom Heaton, but he won’t get much playing time this season, unless there are some major injuries in the goalkeeper ranks, which seems unlikely. It could be an exciting time for United in 2023.
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw
United are likely to be without Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez for the Burnley match and could also be without them for the clash with Nottingham Forest in the Premier League at Old Trafford on the 27 December. Diogo Dalot is a doubt at this moment in time with a thigh injury after his return from the FIFA World Cup with Portugal. This will leave United with few options for at least one match, maybe two. Ten Hag will have a plan though – he always does.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is back from injury and played during the mid-season friendlies in Spain during the World Cup. He could start in the right-back position for this match, maybe against Forest too? Brandon Williams also made his return from injury and could be involved in this match, which would be good for both him and United. I think Luke Shaw could feature at left-back though as he will be eager to get back into the swing of things following England’s World Cup display.
In the centre of the defence it could well be Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire that feature for United against Burnley and Forest with the World Cup winner and runner-up returning on New Year’s Eve against Wolverhampton Wanderers, unless they make a magnificent return against Forest the day after Boxing Day. I am sure United will have enough in reserve to take on Burnley and get the much-needed victory to put them into the last eight in the Carabao Cup this season.
Midfield: McTominay, Eriksen
United have a competent midfield this season with Casemiro and Christian Eriksen being the better pairing in the centre of the pitch but there are a few options with Scott McTominay and Fred being brought in at varying times. I would rather see Casemiro and Eriksen feature in the midfield for United in this match as it is the better pairing but I think McTominay and Eriksen could work well together against the Championship leaders. It would be good to see Casemiro though.
With Brazil’s exit from the World Cup 12 days before this clash at Old Trafford, it seems possible that the likes of Casemiro and Fred could be part of the squad for this match. Perhaps one of them will start in the place of McTominay, or Ten Hag might decide to rest them for the Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest on the 27 December which will also be a must-win match for United as they look to break into the top four this season. That is the most important thing for United.
Whatever happens though is that Ten Hag will have played on the bench for this match which could include both Casemiro and Fred (if neither starts the match) plus factor in the likes of Zidane Iqbal or even Charlie Savage, which would be good to see in the Carabao Cup this season. I am sure United will have enough midfield power to take on Burnley, who have been positive this season and are on a four-match unbeaten run following their last defeat to Sheffield United (5-2).
Attacking Midfield: Antony, van de Beek, Garnacho
United’s attacking midfield will have to be at the top of their game to take on Burnley. It is expected that Alejandro Garnacho will start on the left-wing for this match as he did not feature for Argentina in the World Cup so has been readying himself for the restart to the season. After scoring in the last minute against Fulham in United’s last match, he will be seeking to get started again and find the form from that match to make an impact in this one. He seems to be a sought after player at the moment.
Donny van de Beek could start in the number ten position in the three behind the striker against Burnley but Bruno Fernandes could start ahead of him considering Portugal exited the World Cup 11 days prior to this match. It seems more likely that he could be saved for the Forest clash in the Premier League the day after Boxing Day though. But that said, he could well be on the bench if he does not start, which would give United some more options if they needed them.
Antony is back in training and has not played for United since the 3-0 victory over FC Sheriff on the 27 October so is long due a return to the starting XI this season. It will be good to see him back on the right-wing with Jadon Sancho not likely to be back in action for some time – whatever has happened to him? United will need to find the form to overcome the Championship leaders and this team should be more than capable of doing just that. There is no point giving too much of an advantage.
Anthony Martial is the only player that could lead the line for United in this match. Marcus Rashford is not the striker that United need and is better on the left-wing, but considering England were only knocked out of the World Cup 11 days prior to this match, it would seem likely that any involvement he has will be from the bench in this match, if at all. I do think the England players could be available for this match, which would be good for United, but the Forest match seems more likely for them.
Martial has been in good form this season, scoring four goals and two assists in seven appearances, playing just 292 minutes of football so far this season. His injury record is not the best though, which could be something the break from football during the World Cup could have solved. But then again, we could see him on the sidelines again in the future, which could signal the end for him at United – which would be a shame. United need a prolific striker to lead the line.
Martial could be that as he has been during his time at the club but for long periods of time, he has been a player that United did not need. In January, or more likely in the summer, United will be seeking to sign a new striker to add to the squad, plus Cristiano Ronaldo will need to be replaced after he left the club by mutual consent prior to the World Cup. It is a big gamble for United, who have just Martial as an experienced striker but one that will be interesting to solve for Ten Hag.
Substitutes: Heaton; Williams; Fernandes, Fred, Pellistri, Iqbal; Rashford, Elanga, McNeill
United can name nine substitutes on the bench in the Carabao Cup much like the Premier League and the UEFA Europa League, using five of them inside 90 minutes in three places during the match, plus half time. United may not have the full squad available for this match because of the World Cup but in the coming weeks that will change massively. United will be expected to be strong enough to beat their opposition though, which is the minimum at this stage of the season.
Tom Heaton could be the only goalkeeper on the bench for this match, giving David De Gea more time to get himself ready for the Nottingham Forest match on the 27 December. In defence, it could well be that Brandon Williams is the only defender on the bench with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane not back just a day after playing in the World Cup final and Teden Mengi leaving the pitch on a stretcher during the training matches in Spain.
In the midfield, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Facundo Pellistri and Zidane Iqbal could all be available on the bench in this match. This should give United some reinforcements to win this match if those that started the match cannot get the much-needed result at Old Trafford. In attack, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga and Charlie McNeill could all be called upon. Ten Hag has some talented players in the squad this season and the eye for helping youth players achieve, so this could be a good chance for that.
Written by John Walker