Sir Alex Ferguson surprised many at the weekend by picking a very strong Manchester United side to face Everton, despite the game falling just a few days before the big one. After the game he stated that Manchester City’s defeat to Southampton on Saturday compelled him to play a team that could extend the gap at the top.
“When I saw the result yesterday, I knew how important the game would be for us,”
So will the change in selection for Saturday affect his team for Wednesday night’s tie against Real Madrid? Perhaps. With such a strong squad, maybe even Sir Alex doesn’t know what his best eleven is these days, but he will be picking a team that can nullify the specific threat posed by the opposition.
soccersweep feels that there are several definite starters. Wayne Rooney and RvP will start. As will Rio Ferdinand, who was rested on Saturday. Micheal Carrick is another certain starter. And the full backs Patrice Evra and Rafael are solid first choices these days. David De Gea will keep his place in goal, making seven definite starters.
Beyond that, sir Alex could pick any number of players. One assumes that Nemanja Vidic, now returned to health, will be playing alongside his old buddy Rio. That’s 8.
So the back five and front two sort of pick themselves. And Micheal Carrick is a definite starter for Manchester United. So the real question is, who gets the other 3 midfield berths? Do Manchester United retain their preferred width in a 4-4-2 or does Fergie add another midfielder to shore up the central areas of the park?
Well, Sir Alex will want fresh legs and great engines in there which pretty much rules out Ryan Giggs, who played the 90 minutes on Saturday. Phil Jones put in a really good performance in the holding midfield role but got a slight knock which may rule him out.
We think that Shinji Kagawa will play. He wasn’t even on the bench against Everton which, unless he’s got an injury that we don’t know about, would suggest he’s being kept fresh for the game.
He may well play on the left hand side of midfield, offering a bit of wing play, but coming inside when needed. We know that Ferguson likes Ashley Young but, although Kagawa is still settling in, he seems to have an extra dimension to the England winger.
On the right, Antonio Valencia has been off form but is still Manchester United’s best wide man. He may well be chosen to provide natural width on the right hand side.
This leaves us with one more position to fill, in the centre of the park. Tom Cleverley has been in good form for club and country and may well get the nod. But we feel that Anderson, also rested against Everton, is in there with a shout. Anderson can be a big game player, he’s mature now and finding form and fitness after a series of niggling and more serious injuries in his Manchester United career. He’s a great player at his best and offers boundless energy and drive from the midfield. He can get forward to good effect but also stands up well to a battle.
So, we think it’s a straight fight between Jones, Cleverley and Anderson, for the final place in the engine room. And this is the most difficult choice that we have had to make in our prediction. It could easily be any one of the three. So we could end up with egg all over our faces but here is the team that we think will take the to the field on Wednesday evening, for one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season. We simply can’t wait for this one.
De Gea, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Kagawa, Rooney, RvP
Manchester United look like a interesting bet at around 9/2 with William Hill to win at the Bernabeu.
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