Say it quietly but, for the first time in around two years, Manchester United are beginning to have a settled look about them. And that may be bad news for Angel di Maria and Luke Shaw.
Because Louis van Gaal is clearly running a meritocracy at Manchester United and that means that form is almost omnipotent in the selection process.
After his recent performances it would be total madness to leave the born again Juan Mata out of the side or change his position on the right of a 4-3-3 attack. But many would pop the fit again Angel di Maria on the left instead of Ashley Young.
Not LvG though. Improbably, Young has become one of his most trusted employees and you have to admit that he has been playing out of his skin of late. So the immediate future looks a little bleak for the Argentine under Louis.
But, while Shaw may have to be patient, it doesn’t mean that Di Maria is omitted from our best XI. He has the pace and fleet feet to get behind the Villa defence and, like a snooker player who mops up the balls even though he can’t win the frame, we think that Di Maria needs to play himself into form. Playing him will also gives the boss a more definitive answer on whether to keep him beyond the end of the season.
We await fitness news on a few players, such as Chris Smalling, but it looks as if the other places will be retained by those who defeated Liverpool at Anfield ten days ago. But the impressive wins against Tottenham and Liverpool will count for nothing if United don’t batter Villa in a thriller.