Starting XI Prediction: Will Mitchell, Tuanzebe and McTominay start against Southampton?

Manchester United are nearing the end of another disappointing Premier League season where they would be finishing out of the top four again. IN the four seasons post the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson United have finished in the top four just once, that too, barely. So has this season been disappointing like the last few, yes to an extent? But there is a silver lining in this one, the cup run for the team. United not only have a chance to win a trophy that they have never won before but also of qualifying for the Champions League next season, a bare minimum requirement for a club of United’s stature.

Mourinho has his eyes set on the final and the upcoming league games are just a stepping stone to get the players ready for that game. As was seen in the Tottenham game, Mourinho would want to rest all his key players but also give them some minutes to get them ready for the final. Too much of rest can also be a hindrance so the manager needs to balance the rest and game time appropriately. With United playing Southampton, it will again be one of those games which will be treated like a pre-season game; one to get the players ready. There is always a bit of guessing involved while predicting a starting XI but with these last two games, it will be even more tricky. With Mourinho promising to play a lot of youth in the game against Crystal Palace, one can also expect some young and new faces for the game against Southampton.

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

Goalkeeper – David De Gea

With Sergio Romero being touted to play the Europa League final he will most probably be on the bench or sit out the league games but one thought that these last two games might see Joel Pereira introduced in the league. But with him starting for the reserves on Monday night, it would be difficult to have him play again on a Wednesday. It seems it will be the Spaniard donning the number one kit again and who knows it might be the last time the away fans see him play in the United jersey.

Back Four – Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Demetri Mitchell

Darmian was rested in the Tottenham game and might make a come back to the team to get a few minutes under his name before the final next week. He will most probably be a part of that team, may also start the final but it makes sense to keep him upbeat and ready for that game. Who accompanies him is going to be interesting. With Eric Bailly out of the final, it is almost certain that he will play some part in the game. He might be joined by Tuanzebe in the centre of the defence while Mitchell might get some minutes as a United senior. Both these players have not been included in the reserves side for their Monday night game, so that might be a hint.

Central Midfield – Michael Carrick, Scott McTominay

Carrick might be retained for this game too to lend some seniority and experience to what is expected to be a pretty young side. He has not had a great game in a long time and it might be a good opportunity for him to finish the season, which may as well be his last, on a high. Alongside he might have another youngster in the form of McTominay. He too, like Tuanzebe and Mitchell, has been left out of the reserves game. It might be difficult to see so many of the U-23s starting but with such a  crucial game coming up and Mourinho admitting that he doesn’t want to play in the league might mean that they will.

Wingers – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial

Martial was substituted in the last game and might play a few minutes in this one too before being completely rested for the Crystal Palace game. Lingard has struggled in last few games and this might be his last few chances to gain some form back before the big final. Both these players started the last game but most probably will start this one too.

Number 10 – Wayne Rooney

Rooney scored the goal against Tottenham but was overall very anonymous. In his last few outings, he has hardly looked comfortable and confident over the ball. It might be down to the reduced game time or the eventual dip in his career graph with regards to abilities and form. Whatever may be the case, it also seems more likely with each passing day that his time at United might be on the verge of ending. Hopefully, we will get to see the classic Rooney performance once before he leaves if it is not too late already.

Striker – Marcus Rashford

This might be another small stint to get the body ready for the final in a week’s time. The youngster played a few minutes in the last game while coming off the bench. Mourinho might want to do something similar only this time with him starting.

This starting XI can be totally wrong but whoever plays in the game needs to make sure that United win this one. Winning is a habit and if the team heads into the Europa League final on the back of poor results it is going to affect the mentality a bit. These last two games are so inconsequential but they are still league games and hopefully United and Mourinho will treat them like one.

Written by Chinmay Padhye


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