Manchester United entertain Leicester City in the first game of the new Premier League season on Friday night. The Red Devils endured an average pre-season where they managed to pick up just a solitary victory in normal time but Jose Mourinho will be hoping for a better display in the curtain raiser, considering nearly the entire first-team squad has now reported for training.
David de Gea has unquestionably been United’s standout performer in recent seasons and much of this, has come about from the Red Devils’ vulnerabilities in the defence. The Spaniard should start between the sticks after gaining sufficient match practice in recent games.
In the backline, Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw should slot into the right-back and left-back positions respectively. Mourinho had tipped Darmian to secure an exit last month but the situation seems to have changed with first-choice right-back and skipper Antonio Valencia yet to completely recover from a calf problem.
At the heart of the defence, Chris Smalling is a sure pick to start after having participated extensively during the club’s pre-season campaign. Alongside him, we are fancying Victor Lindelof to feature with Eric Bailly a potential injury concern.
The Ivorian was substituted during the second period of the final pre-season game against Bayern Munich and Mourinho may probably not risk him for the opener with his recent injury history.
In the midfield, summer signing Fred should be handed his debut and we are backing him to feature alongside Ander Herrera and Andreas Pereira in a three-man partnership.
Pereira has been one of the standouts during the club’s pre-season campaign and the Brazilian is likely to be rewarded with a starting role, given World Cup winner Paul Pogba has just returned to training.
Meanwhile, Herrera has been noted to be carrying a minor hamstring problem but provided the Spaniard regains his fitness, he should feature ahead of Scott McTominay, who has been far from impressive during pre-season.
Further forward, Alexis Sanchez should feature on the left wing, where he has become accustomed to playing since joining United and we are fancying him to be partnered by Juan Mata on the other flank.
Romelu Lukaku has not had any competitive action since returning to training this month and keeping this in mind, we are fancying Marcus Rashford to lead the line – donning his new number 10 jersey.
Anthony Martial was initially expected to take up the centre-forward position for the curtain raiser but Mourinho may reconsider the decision after the Frenchman missed around 10 days of training due to personal reasons.
Predicted Lineup (4-3-3): David de Gea, Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Fred, Andreas Pereira, Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford
Image – Getty