Manchester United will welcome Burton Albion to Old Trafford on Wednesday as they get set to defend the EFL Cup trophy.

Manchester United will welcome Burton Albion to Old Trafford brimming with confidence after making an incredible start to the season so far. The defending champions lifted the trophy last season with a memorable 3-2 win over Southampton at Wembley.

While some things seem to have changed a bit – what with a new name for the competition, the Carabao Cup – the fact still remains that the Red Devils are stronger than ever as a team. They will embark on their journey of defending the trophy with a home tie against Burton Albion.

Championship outfit Burton Albion started the campaign with a set of mixed results – they currently sit 19th in the second tier. It appears as if Nigel Clough’s side have saved their best form for the cup thus far since they defeated both Oldham Athletic and Cardiff City to reach this stage, and will be keen on making an impact.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho has a wealth of options to choose from, considering United’s squad depth at the moment. David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic are all expected to be rested against Burton. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba will be unavailable after enduring a hamstring injury last week against FC Basel.

Marcos Rojo is yet to recover and Axel Tuanzebe has been ruled out with a back problem. The absentees will open up doors for players like Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick, Sergio Romero and Scott McTominay to feature and perhaps go on to put up a strong display.

With as many as six games in September, squad rotation will be the key for United. Mourinho will be expected to rest a majority of his first-team squad, and while it may seem like they are up against a relatively weaker opponent, the Portuguese boss will not be taking it lightly and will look to take full advantage of Burton’s leaky defence.

United’s frontline has proven to be quite fiery over the last couple of matches and they will be keen to exploit the many gaps in the opponent’s back line. Meanwhile, the club have managed to concede very few goals so far this season, and will be counting on Sergio Romero to maintain another clean sheet against Burton.

Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): Romero; Darmian, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Carrick, McTominay; Martial, Mata, Gomes; Rashford.

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Burton Albion

Nigel Clough once again has no injury worries or suspensions to deal with as they tackle this huge task ahead of them at Old Trafford. Hope Akpan and Matty Palmer are believed to be in contention for a chance to feature against Manchester United.

Coming into the home of the Red Devils for an away fixture can be a daunting task for any team and Nigel Clough will be aware of the magnitude of the match. The biggest problem for the Championship outfit has been their defence, which has been exploited to no end by other teams.

Against a United frontline comprising the likes of Rashford and Martial, Burton will have to fight tooth and nail to ensure they put up a tighter defence to build the pressure on the home side. Although their overall form is decent enough, the away form has been a big let down.

Sharpening their defence and establishing strong control over the midfield will be key. The fact that United will be without their midfield maestro Nemanja Matic could mean that Burton will look to dominate that area in order to restrict the Red Devils.

Predicted lineup (3-5-2): Bywater; Buxton, McFadzean, Turner; Brayford, Murphy, Allen, Akins, Warnock; Sordell, Mason.

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Key Stats

  • Manchester United have played Burton twice before and both matches were in the FA Cup back in 2006.
  • Manchester United have won 67% of their last six games by three or more goals, whilst Burton have lost by three or more goals twice already this season.
  • The Red Devils have been eliminated from the League Cup in two of the last three games played at Old Trafford against lower league opponents.
  • Burton have faced Premier League opposition on three occasions in the League Cup, with the Brewers being eliminated twice and progressing past QPR in August 2014.

Player To Watch

Anthony Martial

Regaining the master's trust, step by step. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Big day ahead for Martial. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Anthony Martial was one of the players heavily linked with an exit from the club during the transfer window but he has managed to come a long way. From being a player receiving endless criticism last season, Martial has now blossomed into a player receiving numerous accolades for his performances so far.

Although Martial has just one start in the Premier League, he has proven to be extremely strong and was instrumental in the match where United defeated Basel. The numbers speak for themselves since Martial has scored thrice, assisting once. This will be an ideal opportunity for Martial to showcase his skills yet again.

Prediction

Manchester United 2 – 0 Burton Albion

Burton will turn up and be well organised by Nigel Clough. The away side will go into the match with confidence since they had a great result over the weekend against Fulham.

However, the fact that Manchester United have already netted 16 times in five league matches this season whilst their opponents have shipped 15, only goes to show what the outcome is likely to be.

The visitors have the second-worst defence in the Championship – a factor that United will be more than happy to exploit, especially with quality options like Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick and Antony Martial at their disposal. Thus, THT predicts a comfortable 2-0 victory for the Red Devils.

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