Starting XI Prediction: Martial to be recalled; Valencia returns from suspension


Manchester United take on West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns in the Premier League on Saturday evening, in a match that Jose Mourinho’s side will be looking to win, in order to keep their run of form continuing. United beat Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday, making it nine matches unbeaten in all competitions since their defeat away to Fenerbahçe in the UEFA Europa League. United have been playing some good football over the past few months, with that starting to take head currently, with the play, possession and everything else all starting to fall into place. Should United continue grinding out results, the footballing world will soon start to see the sleeping dragon wake and before we know it, Manchester United could be back in their place within the pinnacle of world football.

Starting XI Prediction (4-2-3-1):

Goalkeeper – David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper may not be keeping clean sheets, but he is showing the type of form to show what he offers to the team. United have had ups and downs this season and despite the discontent you may see on social media, the downs have not been as bad as they have been over the last three years or so. In fact, the downs have been more like ups when you cast your mind back. De Gea is a world class goalkeeper and keeping him at United has given the club a benchmark for the future, one where legends can be born. Under Jose Mourinho, De Gea has continued his form, which has not produced the best of his abilities yet, but will continue doing that, especially when the manager has created a team that plays to his style.

Defenders – Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind

The defence has been subject of some problems this season. Injuries to Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw seem to have caused problems, but also seems to have brought out the best of Phil Jones, who has suffered his own injury problems over the last few years and Marcos Rojo, who despite being a reborn player under Mourinho, seems to have been very lucky to have not been sent off in the last two Premier League matches. Wednesday’s victory over Crystal Palace saw United struggle without Antonio Valencia, who was suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season, meaning Bailly, fresh from a knee injury, starting in that position, suffering another injury, to his other knee. Valencia being back will be a big relief for United and Mourinho. Shaw may miss this match, which means Daley Blind could fill in at left-back again, who is a better candidate over Matteo Darmian, who has played that position over the last few weeks, but his overlapping play and the fact he uses his right foot seem to make me think it is not his best position, which does not seem to be as a right-back either.

Midfielders – Ander Herrera, Bastian Schweinsteiger

Ander Herrera is the man of the moment for United, a player who is giving his all for the club. Herrera seems to be the manager go to guy to get things done. He runs the show at times, runs for miles throughout the match and does all he can to try and get things moving once again. Michael Carrick would be my first choice to partner Herrera in midfield, but as he played 90 minutes on Wednesday against Palace, he might not be fresh for the match against the Baggies, which will be another tough encounter. Marouane Fellaini will probably get the nod, but I would rather see Bastian Schweinsteiger ahead of the Belgian. I feel he can offer the same service as Carrick, maybe in a different way, but his experience and calmness on the ball might help United get all three points again, which will also release Paul Pogba to get more involved, giving him te chance to carve another great performance in the Premier League on Saturday.

Attacking Midfield – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial

United have a great attack, but with Henrikh Mkhitaryan still expected to be on the sidelines through injury, Juan Mata should get the nod once again. He put in a great performance at Palace, scoring the second goal, which was unfortunately disallowed, albeit a wrong decision. Mata, despite not having the pace, makes up for that with his mind, which puts him ahead of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young, who will all be fresher than the Spaniard, but he must start. Paul Pogba, fresh from his Man of the Match performance against Palace will start again, in the number ten role, which is a great position for him to play in, as long as Herrera and Carrick, or even Schweinsteiger are playing, which frees him up to go forward and pull the strings in the attack, which he has been good at in recent weeks. Anthony Martial should be recalled into the side this weekend, being rested from the midweek match, as Wayne Rooney on the left-wing was frustrating to watch with the player not being up to spec, slow and poor with his judgement both on and off the ball. Martial needs a few games to find some form, just like last season, and when he does, United will be electric in attack.

Striker – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 14 goals for United this season, despite what Michael Owen thinks, all of them have been important as over the past few seasons, United have not had that kind of goal scorer, not for the want of trying. The Swedish striker has scored eight goals in eight matches in all competitions, which suggests that he should be the first name on the team sheet, or at least one of them. Zlatan is a winner, he likes to win and wants to win. Having him in the team will only push that mentality out to the rest of the team, who will end up wanting the same thing. United are on a good run, so is Zlatan, keeping him in the line-up is the sane thing to do. He is a player not quite in the best form of his life, but he is in form.

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