A tricky FA Cup tie against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa awaits the under-performing Manchester United tomorrow evening at Old Trafford.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick therefore has a lot of important decisions to make in his team selection tomorrow.
The boss told MUTV that ‘We will definitely not play with eight or nine different players, or even 10, as we did against Young Boys in the Champions League.
‘We will try to play with the best possible team, with a strong team. There might be a few changes but I haven’t taken the final decisions yet myself. We will definitely try to play this game as if it was a normal Premier League or Champions League game.’
Given the superb form of David de Gea, the first thing this might mean is that no chances will be taken on giving Dean Henderson a run out in goal. The England man will have to continue to be patient to wait for his next opportunity.
The back line offers plenty of options. At full-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw appeared to have won their places back over Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles. However, neither player covered himself in glory against Wolves and there is a strong argument for bringing the Portuguese and Brazilian back in, particularly as Shaw’s suspension is looming.
At centre-back, Victor Lindelof is back in full training but Rangnick said captain Harry Maguire’s fitness is still in doubt. Eric Bailly is away at the Africa Cup of Nations, but Phil Jones must be under consideration after his man-of-the-match performance last time out.
Maguire has, though, been spotted in training by The MEN.
On paper, Raphael Varane is United’s best centre-back and should start. If Maguire is behind Lindelof in his recovery, the latter may partner Varane if Jones does not keep his place.
Rangnick may well stick to his usual 4-2-2-2 formation for the game but he could tweak slightly, bringing one of the twin number 10’s further forward to create a 4-2-1-3. Scott McTominay will probably occupy one of the two holding midfield berths. Fred could be recalled alongside him, with Nemanja Matic being kept in cotton wool until Friday when the Scotsman is suspended.
Whilst Greenwood is arguably the best option on current form, we think Rangnick could persist with Sancho – he has to come good at some point, doesn’t he? And if Ronaldo plays somewhere between CF and LW and Cavani plays in the middle, it would allow Sancho to play in his favoured RW role.
This would also allow Bruno Fernandes to occupy his usual number 10 role behind them.
With all that in mind, here is our predicted XI for tomorrow’s game: