Manchester United welcome Sky Bet League One side Charlton Athletic to Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup quarter final on Tuesday evening. United have earned their place in the last eight of the competition after beating Aston Villa 4-2 and Burnley 2-0. Charlton have earned their place after beating Queens Park Rangers 5-3 on penalties, Walsall 1-0, Stevenage 5-4 on penalties and Brighton and Hove Albion 4-3 on penalties.
Erik ten Hag could well be looking at the Carabao Cup as his first trophy at United this season with his club still in the Emirates FA Cup after beating Everton 3-1 in the third round at Old Trafford on Friday evening. Charlton will be seeking to stay in the competition, earning a semi final place this season, giving them two more matches this season. Granted, if United get there, the two semi final matches will bulk up their season.
United still have two Premier League matches which need to be rearranged plus the UEFA Europa League play off double header against Barcelona next month, which will see United with a bit of a fixture overload with the half way stage of the Premier League still a fortnight away for United with them playing Manchester City next weekend and Arsenal the weekend after. Ten Hag’s season is about to start getting a lot more competitive.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-3-3
Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire; Malacia;
McTominay, Fred, Iqbal;
Antony, Martial, Garnacho
Jack Butland has not yet been at United for a week but he could be set to make his debut in the quarter final of the Carabao Cup against Charlton Athletic. United will be determined to make it to the semi final of the competition this season despite the fact that two more matches will be added to the clubs fixture list at a time where they are already playing at least two matches in a week. But with the size of this squad, there will be rotational options.
David De Gea has been a positive for United in the last few weeks but has made some errors that could have cost United. A rest prior to the second Manchester derby of the season could be good for him, especially with City not being in the best of form and United wanting to build on that 6-3 defeat earlier in the season. Butland’s signing could have come at the right time. Martin Dubravka’s loan spell was ended last week – that Burnley performance was poor.
He played for Newcastle United this weekend as the Magpies were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup by Sheffield Wednesday. Butland has been on the bench twice for Crystal Palace this season, not yet spending a minute on the pitch – last playing against Everton in the penultimate Premier League match last season. He might not be considered fully match fit but will be seeking to start for United and for me, there will be no better match than this one.
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia
Erik ten Hag will have the perfect chance to change things up for the defence against Charlton. He has at least two players for each position in his squad, at least defensively, so against Charlton should use that. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has been in good form, could start ahead of Diogo Dalot which will still keepUnited strong at the back. Wan-Bissaka has been positive since the restart after the World Cup with Dalot on the sidelines with a thigh injury.
In the centre of the defence, Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martinez could be rested ahead of the second Manchester derby of the season, leaving Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in the centre of the defence. Obviously the best defensive partnership at the club could have a break ahead of the City clash with both Lindelof and Maguire considered good enough to take on the League One side. Martinez could require more minutes, so could be brought on too.
At left-back, with Luke Shaw playing in the centre of the defence, possibly as a tactic for the first leg in the UEFA Europa League with Martinez suspended and Maguire/Lindelof perhaps not being the best options to replace him. Tyrell Malacia has been playing at left-back and I feel he could do with the minutes to continue his stride to settling in England this season against an opposition that would be considered low risk, although they will be up for the match.
Midfield Three: McTominay, Fred, Iqbal
With Donny van de Beek’s knee injury and the fact that Bruno Fernandes is suspended for this match, a change in formation could be needed to get the best of the available players in this match.A midfield three could offer more than a midfield two, especially given the fact that Casemiro and Christian Eriksen could be rested for the Manchester derby – but they could be given minutes in this match to keep them fresh. United have other candidates in the midfield though.
Fred has been a positive for United this season but has been a bit part player more often than one who starts matches. He has an ability in the game and can bring that to matches. However, he is no longer considered a starter with both Casemiro and Eriksen at the Old Trafford club. The other player is Scott McTominay, who returned to action against Everton on Friday and could be a contender to start in the midfield against Charlton.
United may then have to bring in a youth player to complete the midfield, or risk one of Casemiro or Eriksen, which may not be the best thing to be doing with the Manchester derby on the horizon. Zidane Iqbal has been a positive player for United – doing well in the clubs pre-season tour. However, he has only been on the bench this season in all of the Europa League matches and four Premier League matches, not playing a minute of first team football yet.
Forwards: Antony, Martial, Garnacho
The attack is the area that United need to be at their best. Antony will need the minutes to get himself up to speed. He scored the opening goal against Everton on Friday, despite not doing much in the remainder of the match, he is still a decent player to have on the pitch. Getting more minutes under his belt and finding match fitness again will be the best thing for him with Ten Hag motivating him to succeed on the pitch – ha fas four goals so far this season.
Anthony Martial has not been the most interested footballer on the pitch for United this season. He will need to start putting in the work because if United do sign a striker this month, he could be on the bench more often than not and it would be his fault. Yes’ he has scored five goals and two assists so far this season but he’s looking like the player he was under Jose Mourinho – lazy, uninterested and as idle as a mannequin at times. This needs to change and fast.
Alejandro Garnacho is perhaps the most exciting of the three players in attack. He is still a teenager but playing matches like he has been part of the first team for a few years now. He has grown into his game and has started to find his feet, scoring two goals and three assists so far this season with so much more to come from him. Marcus Rashford might be the in form player of the moment but having him rested for City will be much better.
Substitutes: De Gea; Martinez, Varane, Dalot, Shaw; Eriksen, Casemiro; Rashford, Elanga
Ten Hag will name nine players on the bench against Charlton in the quarter final of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford – using five of the players, which may well be needed to keep the overall squad fresh for the matches that lie ahead of this one with City immediately falling this one, Crystal Palace away in the Premier League then Arsenal away. United will have to be at their best utilising the many rotational options the club has.
David De Gea could be on the bench, just in case he is needed against the League One side. In defence, Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw could all be available should they be needed. With this being a match at Old Trafford, there will be no travelling for these players that will tire them out. Christian Eriksen and Casemiro could be available in the midfield, which would mean one or both of them will be used.
In attack, with United missing the likes of Bruno Fernandes, who is suspended for this match, Donny van de Beek who is injured and Jadon Sancho, who is on an individual training plan to find his fitness again, Ten Hag’s side will be left with the man of the moment, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga to come on to add something if those who started were not able to challenge Charlton, which should not be the case, at least on paper. Come on UNITED!
Written by John Walker