Charlton v Brighton
Charlton just scraped through the first round of the Carabao Cup after beating League Two side Stevenage on penalties. Chuks Aneke was their real saviour here, with his 87th-minute strike putting them back on level terms, which was then converted into a win via penalties after keeping it tight in the 30 minutes of extra-time.
Brighton produced a fantastic 3-1 win over Arsenal to advance to the next round. At half time there was nothing to split the two teams at 1-1, but the substitution of Kaoru Mitoma was the difference maker as he scored the second goal and was a constant threat down the left-hand side of the field. After countless fantastic performances in the World Cup, he is certainly on the radar of the big teams.
The Addicks have been through a poor run of form recently, failing to win any of their last six League One matches, drawing just two of them. What makes this run worse is the fact that four of these six games were played at home, while three of them were losses. In fact, they have only won three of their last 17 matches, which doesn’t bode well for Charlton.
Brighton will have their whole first-team squad at their disposal bar Alexis Mac Allister, who will be enjoying some time off after winning the World Cup with Argentina. Despite a busy festive period coming up, we can see Brighton playing a fairly strong team so players can regain some match fitness, and if they are up at the break they will look to bring on some new faces.
BRIGHTON WINNING AT HALF TIME
Blackburn v Forest
After taking the lead in the sixth minute through a goal from Jack Vale, Blackburn looked in a good position to pull off a massive win against West Ham. However, in the 78th minute they found themselves 2-1 down, but Ben Brereton Diaz stepped up and netted in the 87th to send the game to extra-time and eventually penalties. The shootout was a nailbiter, with the score ending 10-9 in favour of Blackburn. Angelo Ogbonna missed the first and only penalty when his shot cannoned off the crossbar from 12 yards out.
Forest pulled off a fantastic win against a Tottenham side that fielded seven players that start in full strength XI, taking them into the next round. Even though Orel Mangala was sent off in the 76th minute, they managed to keep a clean sheet and the game ended 2-0.
Blackburn are on a spectacular run of not drawing any of their last 28 matches in the Championship, so we should definitely pick a winner here. We like Forest, even though they don’t have the best H2H record of W1-D1-L4 over the three seasons they shared in the Championship.
The Tricky Trees have made significant additions to their squad since their promotion and spent a whopping £120m in their bid to stay up. Only five players went to the World Cup; the Wales trio of Brennan Johnson, Neco Williams and Wayne Hennessey came back early, whilst Cheikhou Kouyate and Remo Freuler were sent packing in the Round of 16.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST TO WIN
Man Utd v Burnley
Manchester United’s starting centre-back partnership of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane met in the finals of the World Cup, but the Argentine got the better of his co-finalist and lifted the country’s first World Cup since 1986. Still, Manchester United still have some spare central defenders to take their place in Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe.
Under Vincent Kompany, Burnley have virtually been impossible to beat. Through his 25 matches as the head coach their record stands W15-D8-L2, with their only losses coming in their two away matches against the top sides in the Championship.
Man Utd should have too much quality for Burnley to handle and even though Burnley have looked a formidable side as of late, Erik ten Hag has had an extra month at the helm of the Red Devil’s and this will have made a huge difference as the players get more comfortable with his style of play.
We can see United playing a comparatively strong team to Burnley and even though it may not feature every starter possible, players like Garnacho, Elanga and Martial didn’t go to the World Cup, while Malacia went but didn’t feature. All these players at their disposal should be too much for Burnley, and we can see Martial carrying on his epic form in the final third with four goals from 292 minutes of competitive play (a goal every 73 minutes).
ANTHONY MARTIAL ANY TIME SCORER (IF HE STARTS)
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