Friday, June 14, 2024

EFL Cup Preview – Wednesday, 21/12/2022


Manchester United vs Burnley

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany has been quick to make it clear that he is not at Manchester City anymore and he says the fourth-round League Cup tie is a north-west derby. Kompany, a City legend, is carving out a pretty useful career as a head coach, as he attempts to make Wednesday’s tie all about Burnley.

His men have been in good form this season and Kompany is eager to measure exactly where they are after relegation from the top flight last season. The Belgian has overhauled the Clarets’ style of play and he has guided them to the top of the Championship table and instilled a real hope of returning to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Kompany has overseen Burnley achieving eight wins in their last nine games and they have scored three times in each of their last four fixtures. Two of those games – a 3-1 victory at QPR and a convincing 3-0 home win over Middlesbrough – took place whilst United were kicking their heels watching the World Cup.

The Clarets’ 4-2-3-1 formation has served them well to date and they will be backed by 7,000 travelling fans at Old Trafford. There is certainly the prospect of a shock in the air in front of the Sky Sports cameras with United inactive since November 13. Erik ten Hag had the opportunity to work with his players on the training ground for over a month, but with 13 away on World Cup duty, it’s hard to say how valuable that will have been for his first XI.

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Two friendly games ended in defeat. United lost 1-0 to Real Betis and they lost 4-2 to Cadiz, with a number of young players afforded opportunities. Anthony Martial also gained some game time as he worked his way back to fitness, whilst Jadon Sancho continued his individual training programme away from the squad.

Ten Hag’s focus from now on will be on finishing in the top four and they were just three points away from that target before the winter break. His team selection will be interesting with a league game against Nottingham Forest on December 27 on the agenda soon after this encounter.

Just how many of his players that featured in Qatar will be selected against Burnley remains to be seen, but United look set for a tough return to action on home soil. They look way too short at odds of 2/5 with against a side that could well be back amongst the big guns next May. Burnley do have a recent win on their record at Old Trafford too and in Jay Rodriguez, who will likely lead the line on Wednesday, they have a player who scored as the Clarets won 2-0 in the Premier League against Man United in January 2020. And a repeat of that result is not totally out of the question given United’s recent time off.

They are sure to be a little ring rusty and it could well be a patched-upteam of youngsters and fringe players that take to the field. Still, United have been solid at home and they have kept clean sheets against West Ham, Spurs, and Newcastle in their last three home games. Therefore, Burnley may have to probe hard to penetrate the Man United backline.

Given all of the above, the suggestion is to go for Burnley Draw-No-Bet (DNB) plus a relatively low-scoring affair.

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