It’s one of the most eagerly awaited Manchester United games in many a year. Obviously defensive signings are needed for any club to maintain its success. High-profile additions such as Marouane Fellaini and David De Gea have come to the club for big-money over the last few years.
But it’s when an attack-minded player joins the club that most excitement is generated. And this particular signing cost so much money that the world’s press will be keeping an eye on an otherwise fairly run of the mill fixture tonight. We should give an honourable mention here to Cardiff City boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – the returning hero to Old Trafford. His name will also be sung from the rafters tonight.
But the main business is the integration of Juan Mata. Fitness-wise the squad is looking in its best shape all season. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie both trained yesterday along with long-term absentee Marouane Fellaini. This will not only add much-needed competition for places but also generate intrigue as to who will start the match for Manchester United.
We think that it’s too early to start both Rooney and RvP tonight. Both have been struggling with injury and David Moyes will want to ease them back gradually in order to avoid further problems. He desperately needs those two fit and firing for the rest of the season.
So we think that Wayne Rooney will start the match up top with Juan Mata in the hole. Either side we should see Adnan Januazaj and Antnio Valencia, who’s place in the first team will come under serious threat when everyone is fit.
Behind them we could well see a start for Fellaini – especially considering Michael Carrick is injured again. This is a decent game to bring back the Belgian as a comfortable win is expected. Alongside him we would like to see Phil Jones or Ryan Giggs. But, if Jones starts in defence then Darren Fletcher should get the nod. Tom Cleverley would be a disappointing selection.
If Jones is on midfield duty then we can expect to see Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling marshalling the defence – Rio Ferdinand is on the cusp of a return to action but perhaps not quite ready. Nemanja Vidic is still suspended.
As usual with Manchester United it’s a lottery trying to pick the actual XI. But here is our prediction for the much anticipated game.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1):
De Gea, Evra, Smalling, Evans, Rafa, Fletcher, Jones, Januzaj, Mata, Valencia, Rooney
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