After a fairly inconsistent run in the Premier League over the last few weeks, are Solskjaer’s Reds ready to return to winning ways?
It’s safe to say that these last few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs as a Manchester United fan. A 3-2 win against Liverpool in the FA Cup, followed by a 2-1 loss against Sheffield United, a 0-0 draw against Arsenal, a 9-0 thrashing against Southampton and most recently, a gut-wrenching 3-3 draw against Everton, has resulted in 8 points separating us from Manchester City, who currently sit at the top of the Premier League table with no signs of backing down any time soon.
Having underperformed against the teams at the lower end of the table so far this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to reverse that habit this afternoon as his team faces Sam Allardyce’s West Brom side, who are currently fighting a relegation battle.
In terms of the Starting XI, I’d be surprised if Solskjaer stuck with the team he put out on Tuesday night’s monotonous 1-0 FA Cup win against West Ham (that game feels like weeks ago, right?). Although West Brom are clinging on at the bottom end of the table, I don’t think Solskjaer will want to take any risks that he may later regret, and therefore, I expect he will stick with the Starting XI that we saw in the stalemate at Everton. After Leicester’s 3-1 win against Liverpool yesterday taking them to 2nd in the league and knocking us down to 3rd, there is no room for errors and mistakes in this game.
Starting XI Predictions:
I’m especially intrigued to see who Ole will place between the sticks, as the continued debate over De Gea’s position as our #1 goalkeeper continues. Though he didn’t have to make too many saves in Tuesday’s match, Dean Henderson showed some promising attributes by commanding his defenders when it came to corners and frequently running off his life to make saves – two things we rarely see with De Gea in goal. Whilst I would like to see Henderson in goal for this game, I think Ole will continue to show his trust in De Gea by placing him back in his number 1 spot.
With Eric Bailly being almost match-fit I think Solskjaer will want to ease him back in gently to prevent the risk of further injury, so I’d expect to see Lindelof next to Wan Bissaka and Maguire – a defensive line that we’ve gotten used to over the past weeks, alongside Shaw who is continuing to receive justified praise due to his impeccable form.
Having scored his 7th goal of the season, and the winner on Tuesday night, Scott McTominay is quickly becoming an un-droppable name on the Starting XI sheet. From what we’ve seen in his previous 3 games it’s evident that McTominay is a huge threat from outside the box, so I would like to see him play in more of a box-to-box role similar to how he did in the Leeds game. Fred’s position alongside him will no doubt remain due to Pogba’s absence through injury.
In terms of our forwards, I think they’re untouchable at the moment. Since Greenwood’s return as a regular starter for the first team, he’s showed that he’s back and better than ever. The only thing he needs now is a goal and I think today will be the perfect opportunity for him to get that. Bruno’s creativity and Cavani’s clinical finishes were missing from the first 65 minutes of Tuesday’s game, so it’s vital they start the game to help get the job done. In my opinion, Rashford has been quiet in previous games, though he did provide a delightful assist for McTominay’s FA Cup goal. I’d like to see a bit more confidence from him in front of the goal and see him land the ball in the back of the net.
I’m expecting this to be a secure win for United, though anything is possible after the Sheffield United game. I’m predicting a 3-0 win in favour of Manchester United tomorrow, with Greenwood, McTominay and Bruno landing their names on the score sheet.
Let me know your score predictions and who you think the goal scorers will be, in the comments below.