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Starting XI Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United – Barclays Premier League 2015/16

There is a lot going on in the background regarding Louis van Gaal’s future at Manchester United but that would be the last thing on the Dutchman’s mind. With only a few matches to go, United are still miraculously in the top four fight. In spite of having such a terrible mid-season, the poor form of other teams has helped United to still have a chance of finishing in the top four. In fact, if United manage to beat Tottenham Hotspur and win their match in hand, they will only be three points off Tottenham. One can only think what could have been if United had not had that terrible December.

On the other hand, it will not be an easy game and United will have to fight with all they got in order to get some points of the tie. They got the three points off a Kyle Walker own goal, in the first match of the season, but this Tottenham side is far different from what it was at the start of the season. Van Gaal would need to have his tactics and personnel spot on if he wishes to secure a third win on the trot.

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

It will be a big surprise if Van Gaal starts with any formation other than the 4-2-3-1, considering his liking towards securing his back line. In fact, with all the injured players coming back slowly, the manager will not have any reason to change anything about the tactics.

Goalkeeper – David De Gea

Spain number one did not have much to do against Everton as the central back pairing of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind did a fantastic job of fizzling out any attack. He did make a few good reflex saves which everyone is now used to seeing off De Gea. There is no doubt he would be the first name on that starting XI.

Central Defenders – Chris Smalling and Daley Blind

There was some scare about Blind being substituted in the last game due to an injury. But there has not been any updates to it and Van Gaal, in his post match conference confirmed that he shall be giving Blind extended rest to have him fit and ready. There also wasn’t any updates about it in the presser yesterday, so one can assume that Blind might be able to start for United this Sunday. Smalling also has been doing good in the past couple of games and it will be reassuring to the fans and the manager that he has started to pick up his old form, especially in time for the crucial games.

Full Backs – Matteo Darmian (LB) and Timothy Fosu-Mensah (RB)

One man who has caught everyone’s imagination in spite of not starting a whole lot of games is Fosu-Mensah. He has been almost flawless with all of his first team performances and even the manager lauded them. With Marcus Rojo not able to get any sort of rhythm together and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson just reaching the fitness, Darmian might be deployed to the left side of the backline and Fosu-Mensah can take the right back. Although a lot of them believe his talent isn’t entirely utilized at Right back, he did provide the assist from the position and Van Gaal has been reluctant to put him in the midfield, so Right Back looks like a position for him, at least for now.

Central Midfield – Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin

With Bastian Schweinsteiger out for the season, between Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, and Schneiderlin, the Frenchman should be the first choice center midfielder, hands down. Carrick has not been his usual self on the field and has had inconsistent performances throughout the season. Schneiderlin, on the other hand, has quietly played a very crucial role in stopping any counter or attacking move into becoming something dangerous. Even in the last game, things got better when Herrera came on for Carrick. Van Gaal might want to start with the Spaniard this time.

Number 10 – Juan Mata

With Herrera in the middle, Mata’s performance might go up a notch, as has been seen in a few instances before. The understanding and co-ordination between the two has always been good and it has helped them develop the play between themselves. Mata, too, has been having some decent games for past couple of months, since he moved to the number 10 role from the right-wing.

Forward Three – Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial

Since the emergence of Rashford, United’s front three have started looking rapid and energetic. Rashford has had a surprising but justified promotion to the first team starting line-up, for so many games straight. He along with Martial on the left have been instrumental for United in the past few games. Taking nothing away from Lingard, he too has been doing decently although still a bit inconsistent. The only worry in this department is the lack of games that Memphis Depay is getting. But hopefully, this will make him work harder to get back his place in the starting XI.

Written by Chinmay Padhye

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