Manchester United will be pitted against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Wednesday evening. Over their last two matches, United have struggled to score goals, finding a winner against Omonia Nicosia thanks to Scott McTominay.
Against Newcastle United on Sunday, United had plenty of chances, had the ball in the back of the net twice but neither was given. It is a worrying sign for United but the return of Anthony Martial, who has scored or assisted in every appearance this season, would be good for United.
Spurs fans seem to think that their club is something to be proud of this season, despite them not able to beat Chelsea, West Ham United or Arsenal this season but seemingly assuming that because they are in the Champions League, they have a superiority over United – they don’t.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Rashford;
Goalkeeper: De Gea
After making his 500th appearance fort United in the 0-0 draw against Newcastle United, David De Gea will be seeking for United to build something against Spurs. United stopped points because they could not get the ball into the back of the net, neither could the Magpies though.
A clean sheet for De Gea and his defence will be a confidence boost ahead of another big match with them coming thick and fact before mid-November when the FIFA World Cup commences in Qatar. United will need to rotate the squad and ensure points on the board.
De Gea wants to remain at United post this season but he will need to stand firm in his position to win that with his current contract coming to an end next summer, although there is the option of a further year to be added on by the club.
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw
United’s defence has done some good this season but there is more to be done. The signings of Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia have added two good players to the club but the Argentinian is perhaps the best of the two signings Erik ten Hag made. United have started to recover defensively.
Martinez and Raphael Varane have been a decent defensive pairing with Harry Maguire on the sidelines through injury, despite the fact he has been benched by the Argentinian this season, based on what he has given to the club in terms of performances. They should continue that partnership.
Diogo Dalot is the only fit right-back at the club, which will need to change as early as January, starting each of United’s matches so far this season. Luke Shaw is a player returning to form but is perhaps a couple of matches from achieving full match fitness. Both should start against Spurs.
Midfield: Casemiro, McTominay
United’s midfield suffered against Newcastle with Christian Eriksen out through illness and Scott McTominay out through suspension. Both should be back against Spurs but some changes need to be made to United to try and get them purring a but better.
Casemiro should keep his place in the starting XI because what he has offered in the last three matches has been largely positive which is a sign that he is starting to find his feet at United. His Man of the Match performance against Everton was the key for him, I think.
Eriksen should start if fit, but in the two-man midfield, I would give McTominay a chance to form a partnership with Casemiro, giving United rotation options which will need to be in place until and even after the World Cup. Eriksen could play further up the pitch.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Eriksen, Rashford
United have been playing well this season and there has been a lot of attacking football but at this time, United are struggling to find the goals needed to win the matches. I would give Bruno Fernandes a rest, starting Eriksen in his position against Spurs. He could be the difference there.
Antony needs to provide a bit more in terms of attacking and the search for goals and assists. He scored three goals in his first three Premier League appearances for the club, but fell short against the Magpies. He needs to start showing the form that got him this move to United.
Marcus Rashford has been on fire recently, inspiring that victory over Arsenal and playing some very attacking football. However, on Sunday he was benched as he was under the weather but still performed, although he failed to score some easy goals. That will change when he’s 100%.
Anthony Martial should hopefully be back for the clash with Spurs on Wednesday. United need his ability in front of goal. In just 133 minutes this season, he has three goals and two assists, giving a goal contribution every 27 minutes which is a great stat for him based on minutes played.
Granted, United need a striker that can break the opposition backline and score goals. Recently, that has been a problem for United and Cristiano Ronaldo has showed a lot of frustration in this role. United are short of central strikers, perhaps that will be looked at next year?
Martial seems to be full of confidence this season and also seems to be happy, which is not something he has shown for much of his time at the Old Trafford club. His last goal saw him beat Eric Cantona’s record and three more fouls see him match David Beckham’s 85 goals scored.
Substitutes: Dubravka; Lindelof, Malacia; Fernandes, Fred, Pellistri; Ronaldo, Sancho, Elanga
Ten Hag will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench against Spurs, using five of them in the Premier League. It is expected that goalkeeper Martin Dubravka will be back on the bench after being ineligible to face his parent club on Sunday.
Defensively, United are expected to have just Victor Lindelof and Tyrell Malacia on the bench with Harry Maguire still not fit enough to participate. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also out of action with Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe.
In the midfield, Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Facundo Pellistri could be available if required with Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga available in attack.It is not the best position for United to be in with a lack of game changers on the bench. That never used to be a problem.
Written by John Walker