Manchester United will be back in Premier League action at Old Trafford this weekend as they welcome rivals Manchester City to the Theatre of Dreams. Erik ten Hag’s team looks to be in better shape after recording three wins in a row in their last three matches.
United sit eighth in the Premier League at the time of publishing with City sitting in second place. There are six points between the two teams. United are having a terrible start to the campaign but to be that close to City, who are two points adrift of the top spot is not all that bad.
United have beaten Brentford, Sheffield United and FC Copenhagen in the last three matches. United have not been a clinical side but seem to be getting better. Ten Hag will be seeking to get a good result against City but it is expected that City could overpower them easily.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-3-3
Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Reguilon;
Fernandes, Casemiro, Amrabat;
Antony, Hojlund, Rashford
Andre Onana has had some problems adjusting to life at United this season but he had a great performance against FC Copenhagen on Tuesday evening. The Cameroonian is a talented goalkeeper and will be seeking to get his best form for United.
Onana will be playing for Cameroon in January therefore United will need to start Altay Bayindir at some stage before then so he can get to speed in the Premier League and beyond. But until that happens, Onana will be the number one goalkeeper at United.
Ten Hag trusts the Cameroonian to raise his game and Tuesday night’s victory over Copenhagen has shown what he’s capable of with the saves he made in the match and the penalty save in the last minutes before victory was confirmed. United will be better off with Onana soon.
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Reguilon
United’s defence is still very much problematic with the injury crisis. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw are still out of action alongside Lisandro Martinez, who will not be playing until next year. Diogo Dalot and Sergio Reguilon should be playing in the fullback roles against City.
Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire should start in the centre of the defence. Maguire has had a geed few matches for United in the past few weeks and could be finding his form once again. They are the best two defenders at the club at the moment, based on performances.
There will of course be many other options in defence for Ten Hag with Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans both likely to be involved in the squad but I don’t think either will start against City unless there is an injury or fatigue problem in the squad.
Midfield: Fernandes, Casemiro, Amrabat
United’s midfield has some good depth this season when players are fully fit. Bruno Fernandes will be starting the majority of the matches played this season – being the captain and he will be seeking to make the difference for his team, who need to win.
Casemiro has been absent since the international break ended and there is a good chance that he will be involved on Sunday afternoon. The Brazilian has not been on the best form this season and will need to play his part to get United firing once again – it can be done.
Sofyan Amrabat has been a good signing this summer, even if it was on a loan. There is a good chance that he could be signed permanently in January or in the summer. The Moroccan has a quality player and is grasping to step up to the Premier League.
Forwards: Antony, Hojlund, Rashford
United’s attacking players need to start finding ways to get the better of their opposition. It seems that the players are not performing for their club, whatever the reason and that needs to change. Rasmus Hojlund has not hit the ground running but has scored some good goals.
Antony has returned from time out of action following problems in his private life and he must start putting together some form to take on his opposition and create something. The fee paid the summer before last was high and he has not achieved anything yet.
Marcus Rashford was the clubs top scorer last season and so far this season, he does not look likely of eclipsing that just yet. He needs to prioritise his service to the central players, rather than trying to take on the world and losing the ball. He needs to be doing so much better.
Substitutes: Bayindir; Lindelof, Evans; Mount, Eriksen, McTominay, Hannibal; Martial, Garnacho
United will have nine players on the bench against City on Sunday. Ten Hag will need to start getting the results against the better teams in the league as he looks to create something in his squad that will drive positivity and great performances, which have not been happening.
In goal, Altay Bayindir will likely remain on the bench with Onana starting as the number one choice goalkeeper in the squad. In defence, with injuries still present, it is likely that Ten Hag will be left with just Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans on the bench against City.
In the midfield, Mason Mount, Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay and Hannibal could alll be part of the squad in this must win Premier League clash. In attack, Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho could be the only attacking players on the bench unless a midfield is withdrawn.
Written by John Walker