With just Paul Pogba (injury) and Eric Bailly (AFCON) missing, Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick has a number of difficult selection dilemmas ahead of his side’s trip to Brentford tomorrow evening.
One easy decision is to keep the in-form David de Gea in goal, but after that, things get tricky.
The right back berth should probably stay in Diogo Dalot’s hands whether or not Aaron Wan-Bissaka has recovered from illness.
At left back, Luke Shaw is expected to be recalled after serving a one-game ban, although this will be harsh on Alex Telles, who has deputised very effectively – and some would say deserves to keep his place on current form.
Rangnick’s choice of centre backs is going to be interesting. On paper, Raphael Varane is the club’s best player in the position but he did not shroud himself in glory against Aston Villa on Saturday, failing to clear in the lead up to both Villa goals.
Harry Maguire watched that game from the bench but was recovering from injury, so could now be recalled. But dropping Varane would be a big shout and it seems unfair to drop Victor Lindelof, who played well on Saturday.
We predict that it will indeed be Lindelof who loses out, but again, we don’t necessarily think that is the right decision.
It’s likely that Rangnick will again play the 4-3-3 system that seemed to work well for the first 70 minutes of the Villa game, until United lost their discipline and shape. Two-goal Bruno Fernandes could start in the number eight role again and Scott McTominay is almost certain to be recalled after also serving a one-match ban.
This begs the question of who will be the third midfielder. Fred’s performance against Villa was poor and Nemanja Matic looked tired and slow toward the end of the game. Of course, there is always Donny van de Beek but Rangnick seems to fancy him even less than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did. Reports suggest that the reason is a lack of physicality, so against a tough side like Brentford it seems even less likely than usual that the Dutchman will be selected. Fred will probably get the nod.
Up front, Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to return after a minor hip injury and should partner Edi Cavani up front if the latter has recovered from a rough and tumble outing on Saturday.
The third forward berth will probably go to one of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood. The latter has probably been the best of the three lately but was disappointing on Saturday. If all three players were on form it would be an incredibly exciting decision to make, but right now, it feels like a choice of the lesser of three evils.
Anthony Elanga did OK on Saturday and is another option, as are Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, although they have both fallen out of favour as rumours persist that their relationships with Rangnick have broken down.
With all that in mind, here is our predicted XI for tomorrow’s game: