Manchester United are hoping to advance through to the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup as they once again face Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.
Following a somewhat lucky win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, Manchester United will once again lock horns with the Seagulls at the Amex Stadium this week, in the fourth of the Carabao Cup.
The Red Devils, following a promising end to the 2019/20 campaign, have endured a rusty start to the new season so far, notably losing to Crystal Palace in their opening fixture. They were, however, flawless in the Carabao Cup third round fixture against Luton Town last week, sealing a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, however, are bracing themselves for a much tougher task this time around, up against one of the tougher mid-table teams in the Premier League in Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Seagulls have won three of their five matches this term in all competitions. Their performances in the last game and indeed against Chelsea weren’t exactly disappointing even though the outcomes weren’t in their favour. And much like United, Brighton were also excellent in the last round of the Carabao Cup, where they beat Preston North End 2-0.
So this promises to be a fascinating encounter between the two sides especially as the managers face a tough challenge of rotating their squads in order to keep up with the hectic schedule 2020/21 campaign. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this clash at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Brighton & Hove Albion
Judging by Brighton & Hove Albion’s team against Preston in the last round, it won’t be surprising to see Graham Potter ringing in the changes despite the quality of the opponent.
Starting in goal, Mat Ryan could make way for Jason Steele, with Potter also likely to shift to a back-four. It essentially means that the likes of Dan Burn, Joel Veltman and Bernardo could return to the side, giving some much-needed rests to key first-team players like Ben White, Tariq Lamptey and Adam Webster.
Yves Bissouma is still suspended. So, we might see Davy Propper start in the centre of the park. He might be partnered by the young Max Sanders in the double-pivot.
We expect Potter to employ a 4-2-3-1 so there might be a rare opportunity for Pascal Gross in the number ten role. His creativity and work-rate could be critical against this Manchester United setup, though he will be supported by the wide attacking duo of Alireza Jahanbaksh and Alexis Mac Alister.
And finally, the Brighton attack is likely to be spearheaded by Neal Maupay, starting ahead of Aaron Connolly.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Steele; Veltman, Burn, Dunk, Bernardo; Propper, Sanders; Jahanbaksh, Gross, Mac Alister; Maupay
Manchester United are also expected to make a lot of chops and changes to their starting eleven, with Solskjaer having one eye on the crucial match-up against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Dean Henderson will get another opportunity in goal, following a relatively quiet evening against Luton Town in the last round. He will be joined by a host of other non-first-team stars including Brandon Williams and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, both of whom could occupy the full-back slots, replacing Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka respectively.
Victor Lindelof surprisingly got the nod ahead of Eric Bailly in the last game in central defence, but that won’t happen this time around. The Ivorian is set to form the heart of the back-four alongside Harry Maguire, who will be hoping to get United out of jail with his aggression against the Boys in Blue.
Similar changes are expected in central midfield, with Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic making way for Scott McTominay and Fred. New signing Donny van de Beek should also come in, at the expense of Bruno Fernandes. The Dutchman will operate in the number ten role.
Elsewhere, Solskjaer is likely to opt for the similar lineup he used in the last round, with Juan Mata operating on the right flank and Odion Ighalo spearheading the attack. Daniel James could get a run out, ahead of Jesse Lingard on the left.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Maguire, Williams; McTominay, Fred; Mata, van de Beek, James; Ighalo
- This is just the second League Cup tie between Brighton and Manchester United, with the Red Devils winning 2-1 on aggregate over two legs in the second round in 1992-93.
- Brighton have lost their last five League Cup meetings with Premier League opponents, since beating Sunderland 1-0 in August 2011.
- Only once in their history have Brighton reached the League Cup quarter-final, doing so in 1978-79 before being eliminated by eventual winners Nottingham Forest.
- Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four League Cup games, as many as they had in their previous 12 in the competition. Meanwhile, they’ve not failed to score in any of their last 16 League Cup games.
- Alireza Jahanbakhsh has been involved in 50% of Brighton’s League Cup goals this season, scoring twice and assisting one of the Seagull’s six goals.
Player to Watch
Donny van de Beek
Following a promising start to his Premier League career, Donny van de Beek is yet to impress the onlookers with further impact performances. It is, however, fair to point out that he has lacked the opportunities, aside from the 78 minutes he played in the last round against Luton Town.
So on Wednesday, it will be imperative for him to showcase what he is capable of, against a Premier League level opponent in Brighton & Hove Albion. The Dutchman possesses all-round gameplay that could boost United’s transition play as well as their chance-creation in the final third.
He will, no doubt, be unlucky given the lack of quality around him as he will not be playing with the first-team. However, it will be a chance for him to inject his brilliance nonetheless.
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Manchester United
Brighton were excellent in the Premier League encounter this past weekend. However, their lack of overall depth could create a vital disparity of quality between the two sides this midweek, so we expect the Red Devils to seal a comfortable 2-0 victory in this one.