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Predicted XI vs Leicester City: Cristiano Ronaldo to return?

If the Portuguese striker is ever going to start for Manchester United again, he will probably start here

by David O'Neill

Manchester United take on Leicester City tomorrow evening in a match that has the potential for a high-profile inclusion or two.

The Red Devils secured back-to-back Premier League wins last week by opting for the same eleven against both Liverpool and Southampton.

However with a short turnaround between Thursday’s match against the Foxes and Sunday’s clash with Arsenal, some rotation in likely.

Nevertheless, Erik ten Hag seems to have found a winning formula in the centre-back pairing of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, while Tyrell Malacia and Diogo Dalot look to be un-droppable at present.

Martin Dubravka may be coming in to give David de Gea competition in goal, but with his registration unlikely to be done in time for this fixture any fanciful notions of him replacing the Spaniard immediately can be shelved.

Marquee signing Casemiro is in line for his first start in a United shirt and could come in for Scott McTominay, who could be rested.

Partnering him, Christian Eriksen’s creativity could be useful from deep, with his crossing ability when drifting wide a potential threat to the Leicester back line.

Bruno Fernandes is sure to start ahead of that pairing with Ten Hag impressed by the Portuguese’s performances while wearing the captain’s armband.

Leicester seem like an ideal opponent for Cristiano Ronaldo given their difficulties in dealing with crosses. The noises around the club suggest that the legendary goalscorer will continue at Old Trafford, but of course, it being deadline day anything could happen in the next 22 hours.

Whether he should start even if he is available is another matter, although with Anthony Martial unavailable and Marcus Rashford struggling physically at centre forward against Southampton, if Ronaldo is going to start any matches for United this season, he will probably start this one.

Picking Ronaldo up top frees up Rashford to play on his favoured left flank while Jadon Sancho can continue his fine form on the right of the front three. That would also rotate Anthony Elanga out of the first eleven following his poor performance at St Mary’s.

The team could shape up in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, but with Ten Hag usually opting to go man-for-man in midfield, he is likely to favour the former against Leicester’s single-pivot midfield.


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