Manchester United travel to the Gtech Community Stadium where they will face Brentford in the Premier League on Saturday evening. Erik ten Hag’s side will be seeking to gain their first points in the league this season after that terrible defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.
Despite the defeat and the rumours linking the Old Trafford club with a number of signings, it looks unlikely that any new signings will be involved in this match with the club needing to sign them by noon on Friday to be cleared and with work permits needed, it will likely be the same squad.
United really need to find their feet against Brentford, who will be up for trying to disgrace Ten Hag’s side in their second match of the season. It will be a worrying time to the Dutchman, who saw his team play some good football in the first three pre-season matches only to regress massively.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-3-3
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia;
Eriksen, Garner, Fernandes;
Sancho, Ronaldo, Garnacho
Goalkeeper: De Gea
David De Gea needs to find his feet this season after conceding twice against Brighton last week and seeing United lose their first home match of the season. The Spanish goalkeeper did not really make many mistakes but he could have done more for the second goal.
He will be up for the challenge of getting United their first three points of the season, which really should have been on the board now. But things like this happen and it will be up to De Gea and his teammates to deliver that this season, improving on last season.
It could well be that De Gea is tested by Tom Heaton this season as he seeks to get more minutes in goal and there is also Matej Kovar who could be the third goalkeeper this season, unless Ten Hag does sign another goalkeeper to raise De Gea’s and Heaton’s game?
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia
The defence looked positive in pre-season but now, it is back to normal service. Having players who are afraid of their opposition is not great and that is what Harry Maguire looked last week, at least in the first half. I would like to see him impress this season.
However, Raphael Varane should be given a chance to find a partnership with Lisandro Martinez, who was the best defender last weekend. It is early days for him in the Premier League but he has shown what he can do and will continue to do that.
In the fullback positions, Diogo Dalot will need to do much better to keep his place at right-back so far this season as mistakes were made. Luke Shaw did not impress at left-back last week and for that reason, Tyrell Malacia needs to be given his first start in the Premier League this season.
Midfield: Eriksen, Garner, Fernandes
Scott McTominay and Fred for ineffective and somewhat useless against Brighton and it should be much better at United. It may be time that this duo have used up their usefulness. James Garner should start in this match to give him a chance to find his feet. He needs to stay at United.
Starting both Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen in midfield three, with Garner, could see United play much better. With the attacking three ahead of them, it could work. Garner needs a chance to prove that he’s up to the job in United’s midfield as losing him could be a mistake.
Eriksen was the best player against Brighton, which shows that Ten Hag’s signings have come for a reason and it was not to sit and do nothing like some. Fernandes needs to start showing his form again and this formation could do just that with both him and Eriksen shining.
Attack: Sancho, Ronaldo, Garnacho
United’s attacking line needs to be quick, fully supported and capable of scoring goals. Against Brighton last week, that did not happen. Ten Hag will need to make a decision as to whether Cristiano Ronaldo starts, and providing he is fit enough, he must do this week.
Anthony Martial is still out injured and Marcus Rashford did not impress last week, so should be benched. Jadon Sancho did not do what he has done in pre-season either, which is a problem. If given the chance this week, he needs to ge something started.
Alejandro Garnacho was impressive in the final pre-season match of the summer against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford and came on very late against Brighton. Him starting in this match could see him support Ronaldo and link up the creative midfield to hopefully shine.
Substitutes: Heaton; Maguire, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka; van de Beek, Hannibal, Iqbal; Rashford, Elanga
It is important that United have capable players on the bench. With five substitutions allowed in the Premier League, during three occasions in play and one during the half time break, Ten Hag will need to get that right. On Sunday against Brighton, some subs were too late.
Tom Heaton will remain on the bench for this match with Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in defensive backup roles – should they be needed. In the midfield, Donny van de Beek, Hannibal Mejbri and Zidane Iqbal could bring something to the table.
With the attacking ranks much weaker than last season at this stage United could have Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga to call for at some point in the match. Facundo Pellistri is out injured and Amad Diallo has not really impressed much to be involved at this stage.
Written by John Walker