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Starting XI Prediction: Derby County v Manchester United – Emirates FA Cup 2015/16

Manchester United will play a very important FA Cup tie against Derby County, away from home, following a lame defeat against Southampton at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal has been criticized to no ends by the United fans and media and would have to turn United’s season dramatically, if he wants to garner any kind of support. However, with the performance that the team put up last weekend against Southampton, it will be a huge task to do so.

This is obviously not being helped by the number of injuries that the team has sustained. After the last game, Van Gaal has lost five of his full backs to injuries; four of them, critical and long-term ones. Matteo Darmian who had a knock on the pitch last weekend, will be out for the game, however the silver lining being, it is not a major injury. With so many injuries, the back four have not been consistent, as it invariably is, in any successful team. It remains to be seen, what kind of setup, the manager goes for, considering his limited options at the back.

Formation:

The football against Southampton was dire and part of the blame can also go to the setup that Van Gaal chose for the day. The manager went ahead with 3-5-2 with Darmian being the right-handed defender. Now with Darmian too, being injured for this tie, Van Gaal might revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation, as he doesn’t have any more experienced defenders in his squad.

Starting XI (4-2-3-1):

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Arguably the only world class player in the United squad, will be hoping that the back four in front of him does a better job, if they wish to pick up any points. Last game, hardly saw De Gea in action, up until the 86th minute, when Charlie Austin, for some reason was left alone, so that he can pick and choose a spot where he would like to bury his header. These are rookie mistakes that needs to be avoided if you want to be top four, let alone winning the league.

Full Backs: Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

This will be the biggest test for both the youngsters, especially Varela, who has been in news for a loan move to Genoa, which was blocked by the manager. In their few appearances for the first team, both the academy players have showed plenty of potential, especially Borthwick-Jackson, but doing it every game and keeping the consistency is what will set them apart. The fans will be hoping that they come up with the goods, as United do not have a lot of replacements in that area.

Central Defenders: Chris Smalling and Daley Blind

With Phil Jones, still not a certainty, Blind will continue his stint at the back in the heart of the defense. Smalling, who has hit a rough patch of sorts, will be looking to come out of it and get back to being the rock at the back for United.

Holding Midfielders: Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera

One of the biggest criticism of Van Gaal, apart from his playing style, has been his insistence on starting Marouane Fellaini almost every game, since the injury of Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Belgian has given enough indication, that he is not able to deliver what is asked of him, however, ends up starting the next game. But he was taken off mid way in the last game and that might just mean that Van Gaal will overlook him for this game too. This is not the best position for Herrera to play, as it means he will be playing too deep to build up any real play, however, one has to agree a midfield two of Schneiderlin-Herrera is far better than the one of Schneiderlin-Fellaini.

Wingers: Memphis Depay and Adnan Januzaj

With Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, both doing poorly at the moment, one has to think about these two youngsters in the squad. Memphis, who has been decent off the bench in his past few appearances and Januzaj, who proved his fitness during the U21’s and showed some spark in the ten minutes that he played against Southampton,  deserves a start. United have been completely blunt upfront with absolutely no attacking intent and Memphis might just be exactly what they need. He has been one player who has been trying to do things up front, mostly failing, but trying nonetheless.

Number 10: Andreas Pereira

If the fans were asked to pick one player from the academy that they expect to be seen the most this season, most would have opted for Pereira. Strangely, however, he has not been in the thick of action as much as one would have expected him to be. Pereira might get a nod for the cup tie as there have been reports of Van Gaal blocking his loan move too, indicating he is of importance to the first team. This will also do the youngster a world of good as being left on the bench for so long, will hardly do anything to his motivation, affecting his long-term affiliation with the club.

Striker: Wayne Rooney

With Anthony Martial, playing almost each game for 90 minutes, might just be rested, considering his age and how important he is to the first team. This would mean the United skipper will be the spearhead for the team, acting as a lone striker. He has been in a great form in 2016, however, was poor against Southampton as most of his team mates. He will be looking to make amends and get back to scoring goals, as he did for the first few games of the year. Also being the captain of a team which has been putting in so many uninspirational performances, he would have to be the one leading by example.

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