Manchester United will return to Premier League action on Sunday where they will welcome Aston Villa back to Old Trafford just over three years since they last appeared at the Theatre of Dreams. United seemed to be inspired in their comeback against Sheffield United last weekend, scoring three goals in seven minutes after being 2-0 down in the opening 70 minutes of the match, a late equaliser meant they dropped points.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a young squad to Kazakhstan for their penultimate UEFA Europa League group stage match which saw six academy graduates make their full debuts for the club. The likes of Ethan Laird, James Garner and Dylan Levitt all looked good and will have earned praise and maybe more appearances in the first team this month. Garner had played first team football before.
United sit ninth in the Premier League ahead of this match but could slip further with eight matches all being played before a ball is kicked at the Theatre of Dreams this weekend. United have eight Premier League matches to play between now and New Year’s Day, one more in the Europa League and another in the Carabao Cup. If things go well, United should be able to claw back a few points in the league, although they have some big matches coming up next week.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish number one, who has recently stated that he loves being in Manchester, will return to action. this weekend following a week of rest following the 3-3 draw away to Sheffield United. United will be seeking to get back to winning ways again and despite the overreaction on social media about the defeat to Astana, which did not cost United a thing, getting three point on the board this weekend is necessary ahead of the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday and the trip to the Etihad in a week’s time.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams
The defence will be restored ahead of the Villa match with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams playing in the fullback positions. Williams is head and shoulders ahead of Luke Shaw at this moment in time, despite Shaw assisting for United’s goal in Kazakhstan. I would expect the duo of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire to start in the centre of defence, although Solskjaer has given a hint that Axel Tuanzebe might start after playing 90 minutes against Astana on Thursday.
Midfield Three: Fred, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay
The midfield is slowing finding the numbers once again with Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic likely to be fit and ready to play again. The Serbian may not be ideal, however, having the surety of his experience in the squad, playing in a three-man midfield might be beneficial as the likes of McTominay and Fred could be left to create space and chances for the attacking players. Until Paul Pogba is back in action, this is the best option United have in a midfield trio. The 4-2-3-1 formation is not working, in my opinion.
Forward Three: Daniel James, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Some may suggest that this trio is not great after they took 70 minutes to get started last weekend but Marcus Rashford has scored ten goals for his club this season and has a record of eight goals in eight games for club and country. Anthony Martial has five goals to his name with Daniel James having three goals. 18 goals scored for all three players so far this season, in all competitions may not be great but it is good based on the fact many of the best players have spent time in the sidelines through injury this season.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira; Mason Greenwood
The bench may be called upon to get something from this game. Mason Greenwood is a surety from the bench as he can score a goal or two. The likes of Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard could produce something if needed. Lingard will have added confidence after scoring his first goal in 2019 against Astana but he should not be starting, he needs to earn that place in the team through performances. Ashley Young should remain on the bench, not play with Axel Tuanzebe, who spent the season on loan at Villa last season, a key to unlocking this team. Sergio Romero could come back to the bench after missing the last two matches.