Manchester United return to Premier League action at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening as they welcome Chelsea to the Theatre of Dreams. United need to get points on the board this month, not starting well with a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Erik ten Hag is under fire again on the media with rumours that he is struggling to keep the players on board, which if true shows them blaming anyone but themselves. Ten Hag is not the messiah and if this players are limiting their performances, they need to be the ones to go.
But things like this in the media tend to be made up because there is no accountability for lies in the media anymore as most storied tend to have a large proportion is fallacy rather than facts. United will need to put something together to take on Chelsea, who seem to be in better form now.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Varane, Shaw;
Pellistri, Fernandes, Garnacho;
Andre Onana has had a terrible time as United’s number one goalkeeper this season but that said, there is a good goalkeeper there. The main problem are the stats though. He has conceded 34 goals since the start of the season – but has kept five Premier League clean sheets.
Onana seems to be a player that regrets his errors and conceding goals but does not seem to right them. He could do that over time and writing him off in his first season is not all that good. Granted, it seems likely that he could well be another high profile goalkeeper to have failed at the club.
Altay Bayindir is yet to play a game for United and with the mistakes happening from Onana and the fact that he will be playing for Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations next month – which could either be an improvement for United or a continuation of goalkeeper calamities.
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Varane, Shaw
United’s defence is a problem right now. Lisandro Martinez is still out injured and that looks set to continue until the New Year – United don’t want to rush him back, which is understandable. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luka Shaw are both back in action and must start in the fullback roles.
The centre of defence is a problem right now. United have Tyrell Malacia, Martinez and Jonny Evans out of action which leaves Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in the central areas with Varane out in the cold at the moment – which is something that could and should change.
Maguire has seemingly turned a corner for United, putting in some brilliant performances over the last few weeks and will be one of the first names on the team sheet for the club. Lindelof seems to be a player that does not quite look right so bringing Varane back into the fold will be good.
Midfield: Amrabat, Mainoo
United’s midfield has struggled to find some form this season with injuries and other things hampering the club. Kobbie Mainoo’s return from the injury he sustained in pre-season was a big relief for United, who needed a player like him to be playing – and he’s playing well.
Mainoo is a talented teenager and his development still needs a lot of nurturing for him to be a star, which is something that could befit and miss at United because under the Glazer ownership, many talented teenagers has failed to shine at the club, doing better elsewhere.
Sofyan Amrabat should also start against Chelsea, which will be a chance for him to secure his place in the United midfield in the absence of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen – which could also be seen as a relief with the pair long out of form. United need miracles right now.
Attacking Midfield: Pellistri, Fernandes, Garnacho
This area should be the most productive one for United – but it is not. United seem to struggle creating and scoring goals and with the talent at the clubs disposal, this should be so much easier. Ten Hag will need to change it up and stop playing the same players who let him down.
Antony has been poor this season and it is time to give Facundo Pellistri another chance on the right-wing, which could give him minutes until Amad Diallo returns from his knee injury, which could see him establish himself on the right-wing for United – which could be great.
Bruno Fernandes kind of picks himself with his history of scoring and assisting at the club since January 2020 when he arrived. On the left-wing should be Alejandro Garnacho at this time as he is the most in-form player in this position with two goals in his last three matches.
Rasmus Hojlund has yet to find his feet in the Premier League despite scoring five goals in the UEFA Champions League this season – a competition that United seem to be out of – even the Europa League is not in their favour this season – but that is a different story.
Hojlund is a good up and coming striker with a good reputation for scoring, which is what he was brought to United to do. The chances of him developing into a top striker are quite high at this time, especially with the players performances for his country.
United need it to work with Hojlund leading the line for the club as this season needs to result in some progress for the club and Ten Hag, otherwise, it could all be over before it even started, which is likely with some of the players at the club and their history of underperforming.
Substitutes: Bayindir; Lindelof, Reguilon, Dalot; McTominay, Hannibal; Martial, Rashford, Antony
United will have nine players on the bench in the Premier League against Chelsea – five of which can be used during the course of the match. I would expect Turkish goalkeeper Altay Bayindir to remain on the bench as it does not seem the right time to blood in a new goalkeeper in the league.
In the defence, with United still in the middle if an injury crisis, Ten Hag could just be with Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Sergio Reguilon against Chelsea. It is not ideal for United but Ten Hag will need to solve this problem – brining Varane out from the cold and playing again.
In the midfield, United’s weakest position in terms of depth right now, could see just Scott McTominay and Hannibal on the bench waiting to be utilised. In the attack, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Antony could be used if need be, which could be the case.
Written by John Walker