January 10, 2020
Manchester United go head to head with Norwich City at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. It will be the second meeting between the two sides in the league this season; United winning 3-1 at Carrow Road earlier in the season with Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scoring the goals. Recently though, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been in poor form and are winless in 2020.
United may have Harry Maguire back in the team after reports suggested that he would face a long injury layoff, which seems to have been downplayed by the manager and the fact he trained with the first team on Friday morning. Paul Pogba and McTominay will be missing from the match, as will Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe. However, Eric Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah both return to action for the U23s on Friday evening.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Norwich City in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper has been in poor form recently but has also shown signs of reaching his potential once again. De Gea has achieved a lot at United and needs to be praised for helping the team as much as he has done over the last six to seven years. United need to find a way to get through this poor spell, which will involve the club looking at the problem above the team and the manager which gives the impression that this football club does not have the desire it once had. The Glazers and Ed Woodward need to be held accountable for this problem period which stretches the career of five permanent managers but Sir Alex Ferguson’s grip on the club did not fully let everyone see the damage being caused in the background.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams
United’s defence needs to find solutions for its inability to keep clean sheets and drive the club forward. Getting a competent midfield in from of them will go a long way. If the players ahead of them are lacklustre, it is likely that the defence will not be as strong. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams should keep their places in the fullback positions – Luke Shaw should not be starting in the left-back position as he has been a liability recently. Williams has shown more promise despite being five years his junior. Victor Lindelof will no doubt keep his place and it would seem that Harry Maguire could start this match despite rumours of him being injured for the long term.
Midfield: Fred, Nemanja Matic
The midfield required a major overhaul in order to keep the club playing a high level of football. Fred has done well this season but the desire for a player like Paul Pogba, when he’s in form is longed for. With Pogba and McTominay still out of action, Fred may be partnered by Nemanja Matic, who came off the bench against City for the second half, the United rises their game a little after conceding three goals in the first half. I had expected James Garner to get a chance this weekend but as he played for the U23s on Friday evening, him playing for the first team is unlikely. United need to see what they can get this month in order to save the season in this area.
Attacking Midfielders: Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, Marcus Rashford
United need to start finding creativity in the team. Jesse Lingard has offered next to nothing when he has played this season. He literally scored twice in 2019. Solskjaer will need to find the players from his squad to do the job on the pitch – with injuries that is going to be tough. Daniel James has been a creative player this season but could be tired of a run in the team. In this case, Mason Greenwood could do a job in this position. Marcus Rashford, the clubs top goalscorer this season will be a definite in the team. Angel Gomes should get the chance to secure a place in the team in the number ten position. If Juan Mata starts ahead of him, there will be disappointment. This lad needs playing time at this level.
Striker: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman has been ill recently and recovered enough to be on the bench on Tuesday against Manchester City, a 3-1 defeat for United. It is important that the Frenchman adapts and finds a way of breaking through and scoring the goals United need in order to win their matches. Martial needs to find the zones where the little creativity United put forward reaches – having Greenwood on the right of him might heed something and drive United forward in an inspiring way – that so needs to happen right now to bring some positivity back to the club.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Phil Jones, Diogo Dalot; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Daniel James; Tahith Chong
Solskjaer needs to have players available to give fresh legs to the team if the need arises – and it will. Sergio Romero will keep his place as the substitute goalkeeper. Due to the injuries in defence and the fact Ashley Young is being linked with an exit of the club, possible this month, I don’t think he will be part of the team to face Norwich. In this case, Phil Jones and Diogo Dalot will form the replacements in defence. In midfield, I expect Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Daniel James to be on the bench – I feel James should be rested as he does look tired. In attack, Tahith Chong may be the only player to include being that Martial and Greenwood could both start the match.