Manchester United face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, in what is a must win game after disappointing results on their travels.
Man United Team discussion
In Rafael have we finally found our future right full back or has he at least earned the opportunity to establish himself as the present right back after his performance against Valencia? For whatever reason, be it experience or additional height, John O’Shea has been preferred. The Irishman has unfortunately struggled on his return to the side so his omission from the team last Wednesday came as little surprise.
Rio Ferdinand has hinted he may miss out therefore Chris Smalling or Jonny Evans are vying for his spot in the centre of defence. Interestingly Smalling was preferred (over Evans) for the match day squad against Valencia. Smalling in his limited opportunity has impressed – he is likely to be the more confident of the two so may be in with a shout of making his first Premier League start for United. I’ve been a supporter of Jonny Evans during his time of criticism, he hasn’t been great, but neither have the senior players around him. Will he return?
Midfield is an interesting discussion point; four man midfield or five man midfield? At the Mestalla, United enjoyed greater control than any other point this season – there was the odd dangerous cross, but Edwin Van der Sar was seldom tested. 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 is the more adventurous option with Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher the two likely to start. With Carrick and Anderson not yet fully match fit is the smart move to opt for a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation – a midfield consisting of Anderson, Carrick and Darren Fletcher? If Anderson is not ready for two games in such a short space of time, Darron Gibson is the most likely to replace the Brazilian.
Ji-Sung Park struggled and disappointed against Valencia – I’m not the biggest fan of Park on the wing as I feel he lacks the cutting edge or lacks constant quality. His future perhaps lies in central midfield acting as a pest. Despite his form I’d expect Park to start due to limited options – I’d like Gabriel Obertan to be given an opportunity, but he was poor against Blackburn reserves, which may count against him. The selection of Bebe would be a bold one- he seems to have leapfrogged Obertan?
Dimitar Berbatov looked absolutely spent after his shift in the lone striker’s role at the Mestalla. I’d expect him to start though, the International break will allow him to recoup. He is less effective in the role, but this season has shown he is capable when required. If 4-4-2 is the preferred formation and Berbatov is one of the strikers, who is likely to partner the Bulgarian – in the absence of Wayne Rooney? Javier Hernandez, Michael Owen and Federico Macheda have all staked a claim. Personally, I think Owen will start ahead of Hernandez due to his experience of Premier League, though Sir Alex may decide on Hernandez while his confidence is high after his efforts in Spain.
In recent years games between Sunderland and Manchester United have been tight affairs with only a single goal separating the two teams. I’m expecting another tight game today with United claiming a 2-1 victory with goals from Nani and Owen.
Predicted team: Van der Sar; Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Fletcher, Park; Berbatov, Owen.
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