Manchester United quickly get back on the saddle after their devastating 1-6 defeat by Manchester City when they travel to Aldershot Town FC for a Round 4 Carling Cup clash on Tuesday night. For Aldershot, they will play arguably their biggest game ever in their 19 year history. They host the 19-time champions of England and 3-time champions of Europe in what is sure to be a packed house at EBB Stadium at the Recreation Ground. 7,300 people will be crammed into the terraces and seats to witness this momentous night. For this match preview, TBB community member Sweet science once again helps provide thorough information on his hometown League Two side while I supplement in some United content for this joint preview.
ALDERSHOT TOWN FC
Shots go in to the game off the back of a 5-2 win away to Dagenham and Redbridge. But other than that, we have been in terrible form. Apart from Saturday, we lost four league games on the spin, plus a Johnstone Paint trophy match since the Carling Cup draw was made. For Saturday’s match the Boss Dean Holdsworth made five changes to what has been an almost unchanged team. Defender’s Ben Herd and Darren Jones were dropped completely from the squad. Winger Alex Rodman and Forward Danny Hylton were benched with Jamie Collins out due to a knee injury. Anthony Pulis (Stoke boss’s Tony Pulis’s son), Bradley Bubb, Jermaine McGlashan, Aaron Brown and Adam Smith came into the line-up. Due to the success we had, it has made my job a lot harder predicting a starting line up.
Projected Lineup & Formation
I fully expect Dean Holdsworth (Aldershot manager) to implement a 4-5-1 4-3-3 hybrid. Michael Rankine will be the lone striker with Danny Hylton, our top scorer this year cutting in from the right supporting Rankine and Alex Rodman providing width on the left, and then cutting in on his right foot and shooting when he can.
In midfield Luke Guttridge will play the Paul Scholes role and pull the strings. If he plays well, Aldershot tends to knock the ball round nicely and can be a real handful. He will also look to surge in to the box on the rare occasion and has been known to score crucial goals. He is also an accomplished free kick taker.
Jamie Collins will sit in the midfield. He will be the defensive midfielder and will break up the play, and pass the simple ball to more creative players such as the wide men, or Guttridge. If he does not make it due to his injury I Morris might move up and play the defensive midfield role and man mountain Aaron Brown will play in the heart of the defence. Peter Vincenti will play as the third midfielder. His stature resembling Peter Crouch he will probably play furthest up the pitch of the midfield three. He can also be used as a striker, so it gives the manager flexibility to the line-up if needed. His height will be a bonus in both boxes too.
The back four will be Ben Herd at right back. He will captain the side. He is just a solid defender and is capable going forward too. Darren Jones and Aaron Morris (Unless Morris is deployed in midfield) will partner each other at Centre back, the latter being a Welsh under 21 international. And Anthony Straker will be left back. Unless the manager wants to be more defensive, in which Straker might very well play left Midfield with on loan West Ham youngster Jordan Brown playing left back.
Ross Warner will be the keeper. He took Jamie Young’s spot in the side a couple of months ago and hasn’t looked back. He is very athletic and has made some fantastic saves this season. Aldershot are really blessed to have two very good keepers on our books at this level.
* Aldershot has a tendency to be very naïve. Our striker Rankine is an absolute unit, and is very good at holding the ball when knocked up direct. But in a recent match against Crawley (Ironically, they too are nicknamed the red devils) they had two centre backs that were of equal size or bigger than him. They marked him out of the game but we still kept knocking the ball long and we got no change out of their too CB’s. Our two best moments of that match was when we got the ball down and played. Really frustrating. So if United play Zeki Fryers in the heart of the defence again, he better stand up tall and be counted or Aldershot could get a lot of joy out of him.
* As I said earlier, If Luke Guttridge is on his A game, Aldershot tick. If not, it tends to go to shit. Chances are Aldershot will be starved of possession, so when we do get it, we need to use it well. Use Rankine as the get out ball to gain territory, and then keep hold of it with Guttridge pulling the strings.
* Jermaine McGlashan – In a tight game this boy can be a real game changer. The best description that I can give you is that he is a poor man’s Aaron Lennon. Bundles of pace and acceleration. His final ball can let him down though and that is why I think he is best used coming off the bench. When you bring him on in the second half, he has the ability to get in behind the defence and penalties are only a lazy tackle away. If the game is tight come the 70 minute mark, beware Aldershot’s number 7.
Prediction and final thoughts:
Look, I know we are massive underdogs and we have next to no chance. I think our best chance will be to sit deep and try to nick a goal on the counter attack or at the end of the game. But I really can’t see it, as much as I would love it.
Aldershot 6 United 0 then!!!
United have just endured a difficult 9-day stretch -- an away tie to Anfield to face rival Liverpool FC, a European away trip to Bucharest, Romania to clash with Otelul Galati, and a Manchester derby versus City. The Carling Cup has often been a training ground for young Reds and this will likely be the case again on Tuesday night at Aldershot. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking to rest some key squad players as well for Saturday's upcoming league match versus Everton FC.
Who will start? I haven't a clue. But let's discuss the possibilities.
In goal, either Ben Amos or Anders Lindegaard will start. In defense, it could be reasonably guessed that Fabio will deputise at left-back for a heavily used Patrice Evra. Phil Jones looks a strong possibility to start at either center-back or right-back after having not started versus City nor Galati. 19-year-old Zeki Fryers made his Senior debut versus Leeds United in the previous Carling Cup round and the youngster is a candidate to start as well. Nemanja Vidic was left out against City and although it is unlikely the captain would suit up for this encounter, it could be possible if Fergie feels that rustiness is an issue to be sorted out right now. Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling are likely to be rested. Midfielder Michael Carrick is a possibility at center-back after having started there versus Leeds. Right-winger Antonio Valencia started at right-back in that same match and is possible to be used in the same role at Aldershot. Youngsters Michael Keane, Reece Brown, and Tom Thorpe were all unused substitutes as well and are possibilities.
In midfield, starlet Paul Pogba could make his first start for the Senior side -- he made his first appearance as a substitute at Leeds. Tom Cleverley continues to recover from his recent injury lay-off and perhaps Fergie will deploy him on Tuesday night for a return. Carrick and Ryan Giggs were unused versus City and neither even made the bench -- both are possibilities to start in the center of the park. Park Ji-sung is a candidate as well.
Out wide, Valencia, Park, Federico Macheda, and Mame Biram Diouf are all possibilities. Larnell Cole made his Senior debut in Round 3 so one could reasonably think he could play as well. Nani and Ashley Young will probably be rested.
Up front, the duo of Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov can be anticipated but Macheda and Diouf are possibilities here too. Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) are longer shot possibilities to start but both are candidates to make the bench.
I would expect a fresh squad -- one that doesn't involve many players from Sunday's derby thrashing, if any. Fergie might feel the regular squad members need to regroup -- both mentally and physically -- from the City match. This should provide a great opportunity for younger players and also something fresh to watch for the currently reeling United supporters.
Prediction? Without knowing who will play, it's hard to reasonably project a scoreline. United will certainly have the more quality players but Aldershot will have cohesion, vociferous support, and motivation on their side. That often is a formula for 'David' slaying 'Goliath' in cup upsets. I am quite confident United will win (I really put myself out there with that predicition, didn't I?) but I wouldn't be shocked to see a tight 1-2 or 2-3 away victory scoreline.