After a tough away fixture at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, Manchester United have what should be an easier task tomorrow at home to Watford in the Premier League.
Scott McTominay should have recovered from the illness that kept him out of Wednesday’s game and is expected to take the holding midfield role, although Nemanja Matic sent out a reminder of his qualities in that position when he came on as sub in Madrid and steadied the ship admirably.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick generally picks more attacking sides than his predecessors and given the lowly opposition, it is very likely that the more creative Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes will make up the rest of the midfield, with the more industrious Fred dropping to the bench.
Up front, Edinson Cavani is unlikely to have recovered from his groin injury so Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to continue at centre forward. Marcus Rashford could make way for Wednesday’s goal-scoring substitute Anthony Elanga, with Jadon Sancho keeping his place on the other flank.
The interesting decisions for Rangnick will once again come in defence, with goalkeeper David de Gea the only shoe-in for the starting XI.
Diogo Dalot seemed to be Rangnick’s first choice at right back until recently, when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was surprisingly recalled against Leeds and also preferred to replace Victor Lindelof against Atleti for the last 25 minutes.
However, unless there is an underlying reason for Dalot’s absence, we expect as the better attacking option, he will be recalled for tomorrow’s game.
At left back, Luke Shaw is usually Rangnick’s choice but Alex Telles is probably the stronger option from an attacking point of view. So again, because of the nature of the fixture, Shaw could be rested and Telles given a run out, especially after an excellent cameo off the bench on Wednesday.
This leaves the tricky decision of who to play at centre back.
Like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before him, Rangnick has stayed loyal to captain Harry Maguire through a long period of poor form. But another poor outing against Atleti begs the question, how long can this be indulged?
On the one hand, an easy home game – on paper at least – could be a chance for the skipper to get a clean sheet and some confidence under his belt.
On the other hand, because it is an easy fixture, there is little to gain and a lot to lose for Maguire if he does come a cropper again. It would also be a good opportunity to have another look at the Lindelof-Varane partnership with the toughest match on the domestic calendar up next, away to Manchester City.
We predict it will be Maguire who makes way for that reason.
With all that in mind, here is our predicted XI for tomorrow’s game: