Manchester United host Glasgow Rangers in what is being billed as the ‘Battle of Britain’. The two clubs have met on twice when both were drawn together in the group stage of the Champions League in 2003-04. United won both games, the first a 1-0 victory at Ibrox with a goal from Phillip Neville and the second 3-0, a Diego Forlan volley and a brace from Ruud van Nistelrooy sealed the victory.
Rangers have made an impressive start to the 2010-11 season, winning their first four games, with victories over Kilmarnock, Hibernian, St. Johnstone and Hamilton Academical. Kenny Miller has been their main goal threat, scoring six goals in four appearances, filling the void left by Kris Boyd’s departure to Middlesbrough.
Sir Alex Ferguson welcomes an old friend and former United assistant, Walter Smith. Smith has had two stints in charge of Rangers, leading them to nine Scottish Premier League titles, five Scottish Cups and five Scottish League Cups.
In last season’s competition Rangers failed to win a game and managed only two points featuring in Group G alongside Sevilla, Stuttgart and Unirea Urziceni.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know a great deal about the Rangers team, so I’m not going to pretend otherwise. Vladimír Weiss is perhaps worth keeping an eye on. Normally, Stretford End Arising runs a feature called Other Side of The Coin, which allows us United fans an insight into our opponents. Unfortunately on this occasion this feature is missing for Tuesdays match.
It is quite possible Sir Alex will make several changes from the team that started against Everton.
Tomasz Kuszczak is likely to deputise for Edwin Van der Sar. Kuszczak is likely to feature during the early stages of Champions League and the Carling Cup allowing Van der Sar a rest – a mental rest rather than a physical rest.
Right back is a continual discussion point. John O’Shea has started the season slowly, Gary Neville did okay against Everton, but is unlikely to play two games in such short space, Wes Brown is nearing a return and my preferred choice Rafael is suspended due to his sending off against Bayern Munich last season. With 4-4-2 the probable formation – O’Shea in midfield would be a surprise selection, therefore he and Brown are the most likely. Personally, I’d like to see Brown given an opportunity – he offers more in defence and more going forward than the current O’Shea.
Jonny Evans came in for harsh criticism (in my opinion) after the Everton game. For ninety minutes he and Nemanja Vidic were rocks in central defence, throwing themselves into challenges, blocking efforts on goal and in the main won the aerial battle. Unfortunately, three minutes of madness has lead to some questioning his potential. Personally, I disagree with this claim. After a long injury lay off Rio Ferdinand is close to making his return and could start on Tuesday. If Rio is to start against Liverpool, I’d like to see him start on Tuesday.
Evra was poor against Everton, but I fully expect him to start on Tuesday. He is need of game time after missing out on a proper pre-season.
Changes are likely to continue in midfield. With Carrick unavailable (due to injury), Darron Gibson and Anderson are in contention to replace Scholes. Anderson suffered a little setback in the Manchester Senior Cup victory against Stockport County last Thursday, but he apparently trained on Monday. Due to his injury record, I’m of the opinion Anderson should be eased into first team football; therefore I’d like to see Gibson given an opportunity. Hopefully, ff the game is won (can we say that after Everton?) Anderson will have a run out at some point.
Antonio Valencia is likely to return on the right wing and I’d like to see Nani on the left wing. Park on the left is an alternative; however Nani offers a greater attacking threat against a team, which is likely to park the bus.
Dimitar Berbatov has started the season brilliantly. The Bulgarian could be afforded the luxury of a breather in preparation for Liverpool (his detractors could suggest he has had a two season breather 🙂 ). Wayne Rooney is penned in to make his return – I’m sure he will be raring to go after his omission against Everton. Will you be surprised to see his name on the score sheet? I certainly won’t be. Javier Hernandez, Michael Owen and Federico Macheda are vying to partner Rooney. Personally, I’d like to see Hernandez make his first Old Trafford start; his partnership with Rooney has potential and could be interesting… David Weir may be in for a long night.
My predicted Man United team: Kuszczak; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Gibson, Nani; Rooney, Hernandez.
Prediction: I’m expecting a backlash after the disappointment at Goodison. Goals coming from Rooney, Hernandez and Nani.
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