Starting XI Prediction: A slight reshuffle in the Manchester United defensive line in Moscow?

Manchester United will face CSKA Moscow this coming Wednesday in their second group match of the Champions League and after already securing three points against Basel in their opening game, Jose Mourinho will certainly be expecting a similar performance from his side during the trip to Russia.

Starting XI Prediction (4-3-3):

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Although Sergio Romero was the go-to goalkeeper in United’s Europa League campaign last season, it does appear as though David De Gea will not be rested for the European games this year. The Spaniard has been one of United’s best performers so far this season and whenever De Gea is selected to start, United will always fancy their chances in keeping a clean sheet.

Back Four: Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Daley Blind

Although Ashley Young has impressed at left-back over the last couple of games against Burton Albion and Southampton, the Englishman may be given a rest prior to the Crystal Palace game on Saturday, as it has certainly been a while since he last started three games on the bounce. One would, therefore, expect Blind to come in and provide his defensive assurances as ever, whilst the fullback spot on the opposite flank is virtually picked itself, through Antonio Valencia. For the central defenders, Mourinho may be tempted to turn to both Lindelof and Smalling, who appears at the moment to be United’s number one defensive partnership in their cup fixtures. Both players are certainly very solid defenders and this potential back four is more than capable of shutting down CSKA’s attacking front line.

Midfield Three: Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata

With Paul Pogba still unavailable through injury, the midfield three arguably do pick themselves, with the only debate coming over whether Ander Herrera will be selected over Fellaini. Both Mata and Matic have quickly established themselves as key figures in Mourinho’s system this season and both look inevitable to start this coming Wednesday. As mentioned, there may be a potentially small headache for Mourinho in whether he should start Fellaini or Herrera.

The big Belgian suffered an ankle injury against Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday and did not travel to Moscow on Monday afternoon, so with it being a loss for United after his performance this weekend, Fellaini will likely be replaced by Herrera. Scott McTominay travelled with the squad, which could see a Champions League appearance for him from the bench.

Forward Three: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial

After a dazzling man of the match display against Burton Albion last week, many fans were disappointed not to see Martial in the starting eleven last Saturday, or to receive any minutes on the field for that matter. The Frenchman has enjoyed a bright start to the new season but does face intense competition in Marcus Rashford, for the position out on the left flank. Rashford did, however, struggle to make any attacking impact in the Premier League fixture at Southampton over the weekend and is expected to drop to the bench for Martial.

On the flip side to this competition over the left wing spot, the lone striker role and the right wing position are both comfortably taken at present, through Lukaku and Mkhitaryan. After scoring eight goals in the opening eight games for United, Lukaku is certainly a striker in red-hot form and there is certainly no way that Mourinho will want to halt this form, by granting the Belgian a rest this Wednesday. The same can also be applied to Mkhitaryan, where through one goal and five assists to his name already this season, the Armenian is currently one of the deadliest attackers across Europe.

Written by Joshua Gmerek-Iftakhar


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