Club football returns to action this midweek as Manchester United and Burnley go head-to-head in a fourth-round Carabao Cup tie on Wednesday.
Man Utd severed ties with the Portugal captain during the Qatar tournament following the forward’s infamous interview and will hope to thrive in the wake of his departure.
However, with a large contingent of the Red Devils squad involved in the World Cup, ten Hag’s second-string team failed to live up to expectations during warm-weather preparation in Spain.
A brace of underwhelming defeats to Cadiz and Real Betis in Man United’s mid-season fixtures curtailed their momentum, with the Dutch manager seeking a fresh start against Championship pacesetters Burnley.
Man Utd dismantled fellow Premier League rivals Aston Villa 4-2 in the last Carabao Cup round despite trailing twice beyond half-time and will be overwhelming favourites to repeat that success against the Clarets.
Despite leading the way in England’s second-tier competition, Vincent Kompany’s men come into proceedings as underdogs, albeit they will take the field in high spirits.
Since dispatching lower-league Crawley Town in the previous Carabao Cup tie 3-1, the Clarets have gone from strength to strength, stringing together three straight wins in the Championship.
Indeed, Burnley came flying out of the traps after the World Cup break, hammering Queens Park Rangers 3-0 on the road on December 11 before easing past Middlesbrough 3-1 a week later.
Man Utd boast a formidable H2H record against Burnley in the Carabao Cup, having progressed from all five previous such ties, most recently a fourth-round victory in 2002/03.
However, they shouldn’t tuck the Red Devils in a false sense of security, considering they’ve found themselves on the losing side in three of their last four Carabao Cup matches at Old Trafford.
Marcus Rashford, who played second fiddle in Gareth Southgate’s England squad in Qatar, could take the spotlight as he has tallied eight goals and four assists in his last 11 appearances in the competition.
Burnley’s most recent visits to Old Trafford have scared Kompany’s side, with Man Utd beating them twice in a row via an identical 3-1 scoreline, most recently in December 2021.
The Clarets have managed a meagre one triumph on their last 23 visits to the Theatre of Dreams in all competitions (D8, L14), with their most recent triumph coming in the Premier League almost two years ago.
However, if they maintain their eye-catching spell of form on Wednesday, Burnley could reach the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for the first time since the 2008/09 season.
Manchester United vs Burnley Potential Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia; Scott McTominay, Christian Eriksen; Anthony Elanga, Donny van de Beek, Alejandro Garnacho; Marcus Rashford.
Burnley (4-2-3-1): Bailey Peacock-Farrell; Charlie Taylor, TaylorHarwood-Bellis, Jordan Beyer, Ian Maatsen; Josh Cullen, Samuel Bastien; Jack Cork, Josh Brownhill, Darko Churlinov; Harvey Barnes.
Manchester United vs Burnley Prediction
While Burnely’s current form looks intimidating and deserves the benefit of the doubt, we expect Man Utd to claim a clear-cut victory and set themselves up nicely for the Boxing Day clash against Nottingham Forest.
Manchester United 2-0 Burnley
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