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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Colchester United

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The Reds take on League Two’s Colchester United in a Carabao Cup quarterfinal

Fred of Manchester United reacts during the Carabao Cup... Photo by Richard Calver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A spot in the Carabao Cup semifinal is on the line Wednesday night at Old Trafford. Here’s everything that you need to know ahead of the match.

(1) In the last round, Manchester United continued their recent dominance over Chelsea with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge. While perhaps not as impressive as the 4-0 romp on opening day, the Reds still managed to knock out a legit contender away from home. They rode their luck at times — out-possessed, out-passed, and out-shot — but a Marcus Rashford brace proved the difference.

(2) On Sunday, United dropped points against a stubborn Everton side. It’s been the same story all season — encouraging results in big matches and then disappointment against smaller opposition. Even worse, the Reds blew a chance to move closer to fourth-place Chelsea after the Blues lost a shocker at home. Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur scored at the death to move up to fifth.

(3) Mason Greenwood scored the equalizer on Sunday — making it seven goals on the season (with six of those at Old Trafford) — and should get a chance to add to that tally against Colchester United. Ole had nothing but praise for his young hotshot:

Mason Greenwood is different class in and around the box. You’re not surprised when he scores goals. It’s fitting that it should be an academy player that scores in the 4,000 match and it makes it hard for me to leave him out.

(4) No disrespect to Colchester, but this draw worked out pretty well for Manchester United. Liverpool, Manchester City, and Leicester City are all still in the competition and look like probable semifinalists. Oddly enough, Liverpool are the biggest question mark. Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad will be in Qatar for the Club World Cup, leaving academy players and coaches to take on Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup.

(5) For Colchester, this is a dream match. Their strong cup run has been rewarded with a money-spinning tie at Old Trafford. That’s the ideal scenario for many lower league clubs. Lifting a trophy at Wembley remains highly unlikely, so why not cash in with a trip to Manchester United? The Us have never advanced to the semifinals before, so supporters are pumped for the occasion with more than 5,000 away tickets already sold for Wednesday.

(6) Colchester United captain Luke Prosser on the big occasion:

All focus is now on Manchester United and we’re all looking forward to it. It’s a bit of a free hit and a fantastic day for me as captain, leading the boys out, along with family and friends. Hopefully, it’ll be a good day out and you never, ever know come 90 minutes — and penalties, maybe, again — what can happen. We’ve got nothing to lose.

(7) Prosser is right to mention penalties, as that’s been Colchester’s specialty this season. To reach this quarterfinal, the Us already knocked out two Premier League clubs (including a giant-killing performance against Spurs). In both cases, they held their top-flight opposition to 0-0 draws and then won on penalties. Hopefully, now, it’s third time unlucky for Colchester against the Premier League.

(8) In League Two, Colchester remain right in the thick of the playoff race. Manager John McGreal has gotten the club agonizingly close to the playoffs in the last two seasons and hopes to push on for promotion in 2019/20. Under McGreal, the Us have a reputation for attractive football — but they’ll likely bunker in on Wednesday night, hoping to hit United on the break (or take the match to penalties once again).

(9) Colchester fought back from a 2-0 deficit to rescue a point at Scunthorpe this weekend. The Us found themselves in an early hole before the two Lukes — Norris and Prosser — scored twice in four minutes to even the scoreline. McGreal’s side is now unbeaten in six straight League Two matches.

(10) No matter who plays in Manchester United’s defense, this is a definite clean sheet opportunity. Colchester leading scorer Luke Norris has only seven goals this season, which underlines one of his club’s biggest problems — not enough firepower up front. And it might get even worse on Wednesday if Courtney Senior cannot shrug off a quad injury that forced him off at halftime against Scunthorpe.

(11) McGreal on the Senior injury:

Losing Courtney was a huge blow — hopefully it’s not too bad. He’s been suffering with a quad. He says he’s fit and we’ve been questioning him so many times, but the boy wants to play.