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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Martinez on the bench against Arsenal? Fernandes & McTominay to return? Wheatley to get a chance?

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Manchester United welcome Arsenal to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League. Erik ten Hag will need to overcome this poor run of form especially after a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Crystal Palace on Monday evening – his job could be gone when the season is done!

United have been terrible this season. There are many factors at play and it is easy to always blame the manager but the players, coaches, physios, the club doctor and other medical staff have all played a part with United having an injury-plagued season which has been a major disruption.

Arsenal are challenging to lift the Premier League title for the firs time in 20 years – currently sitting at the top of the table clear of Manchester City by one point – although City have a game in hand. United sit in eighth place, not likely to play in the UEFA Champions League next season!

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1


Dalot, Casemiro, Evans, Amass;

McTominay, Mainoo;

Amad, Fernandes, Garnacho;


Goalkeeper: Onana

Andre Onana has had a pretty disastrous first season at United after his performances and form at Inter Milan last season. United do not seem to be a club that he has fit in, at least so far. But the tremendous level of injuries the club has suffered will have played a part this season.

Onana has conceded 79 goals in all competitions this season – which is a terrible number of goals for a goalkeeper to concede. That said, he is one of the better goalkeepers in the Premier League when it comes to clean sheets – having kept eight for United. Still some distance from the top one.

The Cameroonian has no challenger in the number one position this season, even though Altay Bayindir was bought in the summer to rival the former Ajax goalkeeper this season. That does not seem to have gone too well with Bayindir playing just one match so far this season.

Defenders: Dalot, Casemiro, Evans, Amass

Diogo Dalot has been one of the good performers in the defence this season, despite criticism of the player on social media. He is a player that does what is required and should be starting at right-back. Harry Amass is a youth player and should start at left-back over Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

United have a major problem in the centre of the defence with Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Willy Kambwala all absent so Ten Hag will need to once again utilise Casemiro as a central defender with probably Jonny Evans partnering him at the back. It is not ideal.

It could well be that Lisandro Martinez is back in the squad this weekend after returning to training a number of weeks ago and playing part in first team training this week. It is a possibility but with United’s injury problems thins season, I’d rather he be saved for the FA Cup final in a fortnight.

Midfield: McTominay, Mainoo

Kobbie Mainoo has been a revelation for United this season. His rise into the first team has gone just the way he would have wanted it – a mainstay in the centre of the midfield. He has become the player that Paul Pogo should have been for United – but he didn’t have the desire for that.

Mainoo is vastly becoming United engine in the midfield and it is important that the club looks at strengthening the midfield properly in the summer, not just high-profile names on huge wages who will end up declining as fast as the club has over the last decade. United need a big fix this summer.

Scott McTominay could start alongside Mainoo against Arsenal after returning to training this week, which is the right time for him to return. His goals this season have helped United and I would like to see more from him at this club. Sofyan Amrabat, Christian Eriksen and Toby Collyer could be used.

Attacking Midfield: Amad, Fernandes, Garnacho

Bruno Fernandes was missed against Palace on Monday night as United suffered a huge 4-0 defeat. Those who criticise the player will have seen what he gives for United when on the pitch – but they probably won’t admit it as their agendas would have no basis – not that they did in the first place.

Alejandro Garnacho has been a player that has got stuck in at United this season with goals and assists and he will be seeking to help he club overcome Arsenal on their way to trying to win the league this season. A loss to United would be another major blow – which would be so funny.

Amad Diallo has not been given much opportunity at United this season. Injury got him at the start of the season but since returning, he has not really had an impact. That said, he needs to be given ample time on the pitch to have an impact. Giving him a start could see his talent glow!

Forward: Hojlund

Rasmus Hojlund has found his feet this season but since he returned from injury, he has just one goal. He should be fired up for getting United back on track in their last three Premier League matches before the FA Cup final in a fortnight. United will need to challenge Manchester City.

The Danish international has scored some sublime goals for the club this season and will be required to develop next season and do more for the club. That said, he will need some assistance in front of goal as United are terrible at creating and finding him in the box – that all needs to change fast.

If United bring in an experienced striker next season, Hojlund could learn from him and it could really help him find his feet as the striker. That said, another young player who plays differently to Hojlund could be just as good – as long as the creative players behind are looked at too!

Substitutes: Bayindir; Martinez, Wan-Bissaka, Jackson; Amrabat, Eriksen, Collyer; Antony, Wheatley

United can have up to nine players on the bench against Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday. Altay Bayindir will most-likely be the goalkeeper on the bench and if injury has hit again, Tom Heaton could also be involved on the bench – although that may not be all that likely.

In defence, Lisandro Martinez could return – but I’d like to see him rested until the FA Cup final. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Louis Jackson could also be on the bench for United with no other experienced central defenders available at this time – which is a major blow for United.

In the midfield, Sofyan Amrabat, Christian Eriksen and Toby Collyer could all be available should Ten Hag require the midfield to be reinforced late in the match. In attack, Antony and Ethan Wheatley could both be available. Marcus Rashford could once again be a doubt for this match.

Written by Paul

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