Edinson Cavani is available again for Manchester United as they face the season’s most difficult Premier League fixture tomorrow, away at league leaders Manchester City.
With United’s forwards misfiring over the past few games, the Uruguayan’s fitness is a massive boost for manager Ralf Rangnick although with only three days’ training under his belt, it is unlikely that he will start the game.
Under-fire Cristiano Ronaldo will probably keep his place up top, with Cavani likely to be brought on for 30 minutes or so in the second half should circumstances dictate.
The academy graduate is in stunning form at the moment and despite the huge significance of the game, we think Rangnick will select him over Marcus Rashford, whose form is arguably the worst it has ever been since he broke into the first team.
Speaking of bad form, captain Harry Maguire’s ongoing struggles could see him remain on the bench against the Citizens.
He was one of a number of players rested against Watford last time out and the Victor Lindelof–Raphael Varane partnership looked solid. On current form, that has to be the best option, especially as City’s forwards do not pose much of an aerial threat.
Luke Shaw was also rested for Alex Telles against Watford but is generally considered to be the stronger of the two defensively, so we expect him to be recalled. Aaron Wan-Bissaka may keep his place at right-back despite strong competition from Diogo Dalot.
David de Gea will almost certainly continue in goal.
Scott McTominay has also been back in training this week after missing a couple of games due to illness. He is expected to return in the holding midfield role despite Nemanja Matic’s excellent performance against the Hornets.
Given all of the above, this would be our predicted line-up:
However, it is also possible that a more defensive 3-5-1-1 Christmas tree formation could be selected, with Maguire recalled in a back three:
Sitting back against City though is not normally a good strategy so if this were to be employed, it would put a lot of pressure on the midfield and full-backs to retain control and push forward.
In this scenario, Dalot would likely be the preferred option on the right as he offers more in attack.