In less than a week’s time, Manchester United will be up against Aston Villa for the second time as they will eye a return to winning ways in the Premier League.
However, Ralf Rangnick will have quite a few choices to make as another litmus test lies ahead of the Professor of Gegenpressing.
Ever since he has taken over, things haven’t been decent for Rangnick despite a good start. With the media outlets roaring with news that incense the fans more than ever, especially with the dilemma of which is true and which would get them the readership, Old Trafford seems to be in ruins.
To cap off the entire rivalry, the last time these two teams squared off for a contest in the Premier League, Emi Martinez pulled off a tango in front of the Manchester United crowd when Bruno Fernandez missed a penalty in the dying embers.
Let us take a quick glance at the probable Manchester United starting eleven against Aston Villa.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
It is a no-brainer that Manchester United will be resorting to David de Gea under the woodwork as the Spaniard has been in fine form. Had it not been for de Gea, Manchester United would have found them in even deeper waters.
Defenders: Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, AWB
Luke Shaw copped a knock in the Cup tie against Aston Villa and will be out of the contest. He will be replaced by the Brazilian left-back, Alex Telles. Telles have been decent in patches and has also shown considerable promise while delivering crosses in the blender.
Raphael Varane has had occasional lapses in the last two games as the French centre-back still recovers from his injury. However, he was rock-solid in the heart of the Manchester United defence against a threatening Villa and played a pivotal role in keeping them at bay towards the latter half of the contest when they came all guns blazing at the Devils.
Victor Lindelof will be returning to the United playing fold after a week of isolation as the Covid norms would dictate. However, his recent outings had been pretty decent and will provide hope to Rangnick in the dubious presence of Harry Maguire.
AWB will be coming in place of Diogo Dalot who had a bleeding ankle and yet carried on for 90 minutes. Despite an austere fall from grace, AWB still continues to deliver and will be a crucial cog in the plans of Rangnick.
Midfielders: Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford
Bruno Fernandes struggled against Aston Villa even though he sprang forth with intermittent bursts of brilliance. In the absence of Paul Pogba and with the midfield in utter ruins, even though the Portuguese midfield general has struggled, Manchester United will have to bank on him to deliver the ball to their illustrious firing squad.
Fred has blown hot and cold with the latter part being a lot more predominant. He is still unsure of his role and fails more than often in whatever responsibility is assigned to him. However, he was the one who crafted the solitary goal of the night a week back against Villa. With McTominay out of the equation, the Professor won’t have many choices.
Jadon Sancho will be coming back from an injury and will be handed over the baton to breathe fire down the wings. However, the English international hasn’t been his phenomenal self and will have his task cut out with an airtight Villa defence.
Marcus Rashford has done everything in this season except scoring the all-important goals. Despite being in several goal-scoring situations, he has either dragged them wide or somehow bundled his efforts into the custodians. Rangnick will be using Rashford as a chaser in his high-pressing formation. Even if he is unable to score, he can be vital in teeing off the high-profile forwards.
Strikers: Mason Greenwood, Cristiano Ronaldo
Mason Greenwood has been an absolute livewire in the heart of the Manchester United attack. Given his ambidextrous ability, it is hard to contain the nimble-footed attacker and he easily shirks off the defenders trying to mark him. He also has a menacing shooting ability in his repertoire and can unleash hell upon oppositions if he manages to find his stride.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be coming back from an injury and will once again be shouldered with the onus of breaching the Villa defence. The Portuguese sensation has been the crux of countless rumours that has allowed the media outlets to grab unprecedented viewership. However, this man has lacked deliveries and that has made life a lot more difficult for him. Going strong at 37, he will be Rangnick’s primary weapon to obliterate Villa away from home.