Manchester United will return to the scene of controversy on Wednesday evening as they take on Brighton and Hove Albion in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at the American Express Community Stadium four days after their last visit to the stadium in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side won their first three points of the new season in the fixture in a game which awarded two penalties; one after the full time whistle. United will be pleased with their latest victory over Brighton, winning their last four encounters against the South Coast club. United will be happy with their return to winning ways after the victory over Luton Town also.
Solskjaer will be seeking to get the better of Graham Potter’s Brighton side for the second time in four days and earning a quarter-final place in the domestic competition, which will not be played until late December, meaning the Festive period will be a busy one for United. The Norwegian will be seeking to win his first trophy for the club and came close last season, reaching the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League last season. This season, United were expected to be much better but a last of pre-season has left the squad out of sorts and seeking to regain the pace which was lost at the end of last season.
This week could be a busy one for United with the summer transfer window closing next Monday (5 October), meaning United will have a short amount of time to get deals done. There are some areas that Solskjaer would like to strengthen this summer and some players that the club would like to offload. Chris Smalling is still linked in both AS Roma and Inter Milan in Italy and it has emerged that Andreas Pereira is subject to some interest from Lazio. The likes of Marcus Rojo and Phil Jones could also mean the club sees a flurry of activity. There is a domestic window that closes on the 16 October but Premier League clubs will not be able to sell to each other.
How United have faired against Brighton and Hove Albion in the League Cup and the FA Cup, plus their last meeting.
United and Brighton have met twice in the League Cup in the history of the competition; a 1-1 draw on the 23 September 1992 with Danny Wallace scoring United’s goal and a 1-0 victory in the second leg with Mark Hughes scoring the winning goal. In the FA Cup, United and Brighton have met seven times with United winning winning five and drawing twice (both led to replays with United winning). It basically shows that United have not lost to Brighton in a cup match with nine matches played, six won and three drawn. It is a good record for United to keep alive this week as United look to reach the quarter-finals of the competition this season.
United and Brighton met at the American Express Community Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. It was a 3-2 victory for United and there was some controversy. Neal Maupay opened the scoring for the home side from the penalty spot with United equalising minutes later through a Lewis Dunk own goal. United then took the lead through Marcus Rashford only for Solly March to equalise in added time. Harry Maguire headed into the top-left corner and cleared off the line by March. However, Maupay was judged to hand handled the ball, after the final whistle with a penalty being awarded and scored by Bruno Fernandes.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup at the American Express Community Stadium on Wednesday evening…
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson
The 23-year-old made his Manchester United debut against Luton Town in the Carabao Cup last week and will be expected to start against Brighton on Wednesday evening, keeping David De Gea for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in the Premier League. Last season, whilst at Sheffield United on loan, Henderson faced Brighton twice in the Premier League. At the American Express Community Stadium, the Blades won 1-0 with the match at Bramall Lane ending up a 1-1 draw with Neal Maupay’s goal being the one one conceded by the United goalkeeper – which looks good ready for this match considering the goals conceded on Saturday afternoon.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
United’s defence it the area that needs the most improvement this season. It was expected that Solskjaer would sign a central defender this summer, but that looks unlikely as the days before the transfer window closes draw to a close. United’s transfer window has been poor to say the least with no real strengthening across the squad being done, so far at least. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should be starting in the fullback positions with Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire starting centrally. Right now, United have just three fit and experienced central defenders in the team that seem to have a future at the club. Victor Lindelof should be benched for this match.
Midfield Two: Fred, Donny van de Beek
Nemanja Matic has recently returned after some match fitness problems and rightly needed a break after the rigours of the end of last season. He played on Saturday but will probably be needed to face Spurs on Sunday so probably should not feature for United against Brighton for the second time this week. Also, with Paul Pogba’s form as it is, which is poor, playing him means that United are effectively down to ten men, which is not fair. Donny van de Beek will do what Pogba used to do as he is eager to perform for United so playing him is a no brainer. Fred could feature in place of Matic, other than that, Scott McTominay could be an option instead.
Midfield Three: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
With Spurs on the horizon, many would like to see Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood rested but the early into the season, especially with a non existent pre-season, these players will require fitness to get them into the zone required to continue for the remainder of the season. Last season, this trio who play behind the striker were responsible for 51 goals and 24 assists, so they are important for United to get the better of their opposition. Agains Luton in the third round of the Carabao Cup, the introduction of this trio made it easier for United to get the result, scoring two goals in the ten minutes they played.
Forward: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman has not yet got himself off the mark this season and will be seeking to do that as soon as possible. He has played against Crystal Palace and Brighton this season, missing the 3-0 victory over Luton in the third round of the Carabao Cup. It will be important for Martial to get to speed and get himself off the mark as it will be much needed for United to find more and more goals as the season grown on. It seems likely that United will not be signing any attacking reinforcement this season with Jadon Sancho linked the the club and too expensive so Solskjaer will have to make do with the players he has, which is not the greatest way of backing him.
Substitutes: Lee Grant; Teden Mengi, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Scott McTominay; Odion Ighalo
United will have just three substitutes domestically this season and this will increase to five in the UEFA Champions League. Solskjaer will probably rest David De Gea from this match, keeping him fresh for the weekend. In which case, Lee Grant will take his place on the bench in case he is needed. In defence, academy graduates Teden Mengi and Brandon Williams could be called up. In midfield, Juan Mata, Daniel James and Scott McTominay could play a part in the game, if needed. Mata scored the penalty against Luton last week and might start in this game, like he did then. Odion Ighalo will be the only attacking player on the bench. He has not scored since June.
Written by John Walker