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Sep 25, 2019 at 8pm UK at Old Trafford
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Preview: Manchester United vs. Rochdale - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Manchester United's meeting with Rochdale in the EFL Cup third round on Wednesday, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Near-neighbours by geography only, Manchester United and Rochdale come from different footballing worlds but will be brought together by the EFL Cup on Wednesday in an unlikely meeting between giants and minnows.

The Dale's cosy home ground of Spotland has a capacity of just over 10,000, so the vast surroundings will have them dreaming of the upsets enjoyed by the likes of Middlesbrough and York City against United at Old Trafford over the years.

In the aftermath of the collapse of Bury and the near-demise of Bolton Wanderers, this is also a welcome money-spinner for one of Lancashire's smaller clubs, as well as a chance for United to test fringe players and target a second cup competition win this season.

Match preview

Angel Gomes in action for Manchester United on September 19, 2019© Reuters

Since winning the League Cup in 2017 with the help of two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals against Southampton in the final, United have twice crashed out of the competition to Championship clubs.

Bristol City took the lead against them in the quarter-final at Ashton Gate two seasons ago, but the most dramatic twist came when Korey Smith scored in the 93rd minute to seal the upset following Ibrahimovic's second-half equaliser.

Under Jose Mourinho, United suffered an even more painful exit last season. After reserve goalkeeper Sergio Romero's second-half red card, Derby County would have won in normal time at Old Trafford but for Marouane Fellaini's 95th-minute equaliser.

The Rams were inspired by Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson - scorer of a long-range free-kick to make the score 1-1 - and secured an 8-7 win on penalties when Phil Jones provided the only miss of the shootout.

Two home matches in six days give United the chance to respond with a couple of wins following a flat performance in the 2-0 loss at West Ham United on Sunday.

The lacklustre defeat meant United had won just once in five Premier League matches, and they have not scored more than once in a game for six matches.

Manchester United's Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring against Astana in the Europa League on September 19, 2019© Reuters

Sitting 17th in League One, Rochdale are winless in four in all competitions, although they owed more to bad luck in Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town than they did on their previous away trip, when Peterborough United trounced them 6-0.

Only an 87th-minute Ched Evans winner denied Dale a point in an impressive performance against a side unbeaten at home since February, taking a surprise early lead through on-loan Huddersfield Town forward Rekeil Pyke before Danny Andrews' first-half equaliser.

In his first full season as a manager, Dale favourite Brian Barry-Murphy led the club to an excellent start to the season, with their only defeat in their opening seven matches coming in a 2-1 loss at home to Sunderland.

Defensive midfielder Barry-Murphy spent eight years as a player at Rochdale until 2018, taking over as boss following the sacking of Keith Hill at the end of last season.

Dale have lost away to higher-division opposition in each of their League Cup exits in the last four seasons, reaching the second round on each occasion before going one stage better this time with home wins over Bolton and Carlisle.

Barry-Murphy and his squad could look for inspiration from a shock in 1995, when York City - who struggled in the third-tier that season - won 3-0 at Old Trafford against a United side including the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.

Manchester United form: DLDWWL
Rochdale form: WWLLDL

Team News

Axel Tuanzebe in action for Manchester United on September 19, 2019© Reuters

United suffered another injury blow on Sunday when Marcus Rashford limped unhappily out of the defeat at West Ham United with a thigh problem.

Mason Greenwood scored his first senior goal with the Europa League winner against Astana but has been struck down with tonsillitis, which could mean Jesse Lingard will lead the line and provide the most senior goalscoring nous against Rochdale.

Coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still has several other players out, with the likes of full-back Luke Shaw, midfielder Paul Pogba and winger Anthony Martial hoping to be ready for the visit of Arsenal on Monday.

The Norwegian is likely to make wholesale changes, perhaps fielding a similar side to the one that edged past Astana with the help of Romero and diminutive midfielder Angel Gomes.

United have a link with the visitors in 21-year-old defender Axel Tuanzebe, who was born in Rochdale and captained the Red Devils' under-18s while he was still a first-year scholar.

Tuanzebe impressed Solskjaer in the meeting with Astana, making his first appearance for the senior side in more than two years.

Centre-back Eoghan O'Connell is a doubt for Rochdale after departing through injury with less than 20 minutes gone against Fleetwood.

Experienced midfielder Jimmy Ryan replaced the former Republic of Ireland under-21 centre-back as Barry-Murphy was forced to shuffle his pack, and the former Liverpool man could deputise again.

Veteran forward Aaron Wilbraham returned to the bench on Saturday following a layoff, and defender Ryan McLaughlin, who has five Northern Ireland caps, remains a doubt after seeing a specialist about a heel problem.

Tyler Magloire is Blackburn Rovers' fastest ever player and has been recorded running at a speed surpassing Kylian Mbappe, but the 20-year-old defender looks unlikely to make a rapid return from a groin injury that has kept him from making the first appearance of his loan spell at Rochdale.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
Romero; Dalot, Tuanzebe, Jones, Rojo; Fred, Matic, McTominay, Gomes, Chong; Lingard

Rochdale possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; Matheson, McNulty, O'Connell, Norrington-Davies, Williams; Rathbone, Dooley, Camps, Pyke; Henderson

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We say: Manchester United 4-0 Rochdale

Against weaker opposition, Solskjaer will be hoping for a more ruthless performance than his youngsters and fringe players produced when they laboured to victory over Astana.

Rochdale will be excited at the prospect of a short trip to a spectacular stadium and a break from the pressures of League One. Even though United should stroll this one, the Dale fans could make more of the noise in a relatively sparse Old Trafford crowd.


Who will win Wednesday's EFL Cup tie between Manchester United and Rochdale?

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Manchester United's Victor Lindelof pictured with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in August 2019
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