By Imran Kardar
Thank God the international break is over! It sucks to be a football fan and have your team lose a big game before an international break and its worse when you are a United fan and you lose to Arsenal in the manner that United did! It’s been non-stop bragging for two weeks now! When the games come thick and fast the banter doesn’t last long but when you have no EPL for two weeks it gets annoying! Well, all that is in the past! Time to look in to the future!
Up next for Manchester United is another tough away game to Everton. United haven’t been having a good time as of late against them and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Wayne Rooney returns to his boyhood club, where as a United player he hasn’t been all that successful and surprisingly so! There will be a lot of stick coming his way from the fans and with his current form I’m a bit worried about that situation. It could boil over and lead to him doing something stupid like picking up a red card. However, as he is now a more mature player and the captain he might keep a lid on it and keep his head instead of losing it. Let’s hope so Red Devils, for if we need a big performance from our Captain it’s in this game!
The international break has been kind to United, though there were minor injuries with Rooney, who missed both England games, Carrick and Schweinsteiger; they are all set to be fit for this crucial game. Our noisy neighbors haven’t been so lucky and have both Aguero and Silva out of the derby next weekend! Woohoo!
I’m struggling a bit in predicting the lineup for this one though! There are some changes that LVG needs to make and I hope he does but he has the stubbornness not to for the sake of continuity. The easiest pick these days is DDG, he is bound to start. The defense though should be changed around a bit. I’d like to see Darmian back at right back with Smalling and Blind to continue at centre backs and Rojo to play at left back. Rojo didn’t travel to join up with the Argentina squad and has focused on his fitness. However, he is short of match fitness and it’s pretty likely that LVG will not start him. One concern with the centre backs is Blind coming up against Lukaku. The Belgian forward is in form and one big unit who can easily manhandle Blind. There might be a case to start Rojo or Jones at centre back and Blind at left back in this game. So a lot for LVG to think about defensively.
Moving on to LVG’s next issue, the midfield pairing. Is it Carrick and Schneiderlin or Carrick and Schweinsteiger or Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger?! I don’t think LVG even knows his best pairing. However, if we look at the stats then it’s probably Carrick and Schneiderlin who have fared the best together. For me Schneiderlin must start. United need a tackler in the midfield and they missed him dearly against Arsenal. There was no one to get in the faces of the Arsenal players that day and no one to go in hard on their players. He is a key component and must start. So I would go with Carrick and Schneiderlin in the middle of the park.
Yet another issue for LVG is Memphis Depay. The kid has immense talent and quality but his performances lately have been below average. Apparently he has gotten a dressing down from Giggs about being too out and about in Manchester and not bringing his game on the pitch. Rightly so! I would like to see him dropped to the bench however with Young out injured, who starts on the left? There is a case for Martial to start wide left but then we don’t have Rooney scoring the goals or able to lead the line. Most likely LVG will field Depay, Rooney and Mata. Though I would like to see LVG take a bit of a risk and have Martial, Rooney and Mata play in behind Wilson upfront. That is one solution which is available if LVG wants to change things around a bit. Yet another option is Antonio Valencia on the right wing allowing Mata to move in and Martial play wide left with Rooney up top. This formation would have been so much easier to pick had Rooney been in some sort of form but since he isn’t and LVG is not ready to drop him he has to take up that No.10 role in the team.
So a lot for LVG to think about for the game. Lets hope that he gets the selection right this time and players put in a shift that was clearly missing at the Emirates. Tough to predict a score line, got a feeling this one is headed for a draw, 1-1. Hope I’m wrong! GGMU!