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Manchester United vs Brentford tactical preview

by David O'Neill
Erik ten Hag

Manchester United take on Brentford today and will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing opening day.

Against Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend, Erik ten Hag bemoaned his team’s inability to deal with second balls when faced with a surprisingly more “long ball” variant on Graham Potter’s usual approach.

There will be no surprise-element excuses today, however, with Brentford among the more direct teams in the league.

Ivan Toney will provide a strong test for 5’9” Lisandro Martinez at the back, giving the Argentine a chance to prove that he has the ability and aggression to handle the more physical strikers in the league.

With the Englishman finding the net against Leicester last week after receiving a deep cross, United must be prepared to face a high volume of direct passes into the penalty area this evening.

The Bees usually opted for a back three last season however they went with a 4-2-3-1 shape against Leicester – perhaps because of injuries to several member of their backline.

Regardless of their defensive orientation, Brentford will look to take advantage of Fred and Scott McTominay’s sluggishness in transition by pressing them in their own half, although the same could be said of any of United’s opponents this season.

McTominay may be better equipped to deal with the aerial nature of Brentford’s game however, and Fred’s energy will need to remain high chase down second balls as the pair look to improve upon their dismal showing last week.

For Brentford, Aaron Hickey had a difficult debut last week and United may find joy by attacking him in the right-back position.

As argued by the United Matchday Magazine, Erik ten Hag has typically used Marcus Rashford as an isolating winger in preseason, drawing teams towards United’s right flank to allow for a quick switch to the Englishman in space.

The creative talents of Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho should be enough to unpick the Brentford defence given the chance.

However Manchester United will need to up their game in the build-up phase to get those talents on the ball in dangerous situations.

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