Man Utd v Liverpool; The three key battles to look out for

Ahead of gameweek nine, Manchester United sit embarrassingly in the both half of the table in 13th place and will be taking on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who are looking to extend their lead at the top of the league as both sides will take on one another in the Sunday afternoon fixture at Old Trafford.

Without a doubt, both clubs will be aiming to make statement of their own whilst looking to earn bragging rights, in a match that will surely be watched by nearly every football fan around the world. The Red Devils have had a really good record in this feisty fixture over the last ten years or so, whilst the red side of Merseyside have surprisingly not won at Old Trafford in the league since 2014.

It’s time to look at the three vital battles that could help to decide the fate of this huge fixture…

Daniel James vs Trent Alexander-Arnold

Since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the permanent manager of the club, Daniel James has been the one attacking player that has been a constant threat for the side, through his intelligent dribbling and direct style of play. With Anthony Martial unlikely to be placed straight back into the team after coming back from injury, the hopes of the United supporters and Solskjaer himself will be in the hands of the speedy Welshman.

James will be in for a close and tight encounter with Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is seen as one of Liverpool’s key creators from the flanks as well as one of the best right-backs in the league and in Europe. The 21-year-old has played a crucial role in helping the side to have the best defensive record in the league, whilst also being seen as the main man when it comes to taking set-pieces.  

Sadio Mane vs Aaron Wan-Bissaka

It’s no secret that Liverpool’s most deadly and influential player in the final third of the pitch is none other than Sadio Mane at the moment, an individual who has an incredible burst of pace as well as the ability to take on two to three players with ease when required. If he can find the urge and desire, he normally shows when his side need him the most, he could definitely help his team to win their first ever Premier League title whilst potentially contend for the Player of the Year award.

Mane has been offering the ideal mixture of electric spark and directness from the left flank, making him the world class attacking outlet he was dreaming of becoming since his early days at Southampton. He will be up against Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has recently returned from injury and is well-known for his defensive contributions, completing a number of interceptions and tackles on a weekly basis, making him the perfect full-back that United need on both sides of the pitch.

Scott McTominay vs Jordan Henderson

Given the lack of midfield options that Solskjaer has available, as well as Paul Pogba being on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, it means that Scott McTominay has to step up and be the main man for the midfield and for the team. For sure, he may not be a talented player or technically gifted like the others, but through his aerial ability, physicality and hard work on and off the ball, it may be just enough to get his team-mates going and produce a possible shocker over long-term rivals Liverpool.

Meanwhile for Liverpool, Jordan Henderson will be potentially utilised as a box-to-box midfielder and will be hoping that his leadership, types of passing and incredible work rate will help his team to go on to win the fixture. The 29-year-old has time and time again proved himself, to be an important player within Jurgen Klopp’s system, even when he came under a huge amount of criticism from his own supporters and the English media, which has helped him to become the player he is today.

Newcastle 1-0 Man Utd: More problems for Ole’s young Red Devils

Although the main focus of gameweek eight was Liverpool beating Leicester City in the last moments of the game, typically from the penalty spot, and Man City dropping points once again, this time at home to Wolves. It was a great chance for Manchester United to get back to winning ways just before the international break, as they faced a cold and wet trip away to Newcastle United.

The match as a whole, was one-sided in favour of the visitors in terms of the control in possession and the amount of successful passes that were completed in general. Though, the hosts piled on the pressure half way through the first half and were not afraid to attack United’s defence through drive and pace of both Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, who played with great confidence.

After the half-time break, the breakthrough came for Newcastle in 72nd minute of the match, where they were able to counter-attack from a Man Utd corner, with Matthew Longstaff scoring an absolute peach of a goal from just outside of the box. A number of questions were raised about the visitor’s individual defending, as they could have done a lot to prevent the goal from happening.

Towards the final 15 to 20 minutes of the game, the Red Devils did begin to cause problems and attack with more intent into the final third of the pitch, but Newcastle’s stubborn and physical defence were able to see it out till the final whistle. Steve Bruce’s men were able to achieve the three much needs points whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to go back to the drawing board.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Ole’s days at the club look pretty much numbered

It’s not been a good couple of weeks for Ole personally, with his last victory in the league being back in the middle of September and since then, he has failed to beat the likes of West Ham, Arsenal and now Newcastle United. Not only that, his team completed an unconvincing performance away to AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League whilst failing to beat Rochdale in the League Cup within normal time.

For sure, it is not straightforward to explain or the state the reasons of the side’s downfall, but it has been a huge ask to request a former manager of Cardiff City and Molde to bring stability to a big club like Man Utd and guide them to success in all the competitions they take part in. Also, given the lack of quality and squad depth, the Norwegian’s time at Old Trafford looks to be numbered day by day.

Decisions and planning are badly required during the international break

Everyone at Manchester United will be more than happy that two weeks of international football has arrived, as they can aim to think about the club’s plan for the remainder of the season and what would be the ideal for the manager and the players. Some rumours have began in possibly sacking Ole before the Liverpool game, whilst others have raised that a full meeting between everyone to discuss ongoing matters and how to solve them would be the more appropriate approach.

Truth be told, the greedy and incompetent owners as well as Ed Woodward, do not really bother with how the football club do on the pitch, as long as they are making enough money off it and are seeing the value of the club continue to increase. It just happens to be one of the reasons to why they have spent around £1billion over the last six to seven years, yet there has been no consistent success in the Champions League or in the Premier League, which pretty much sums up everything.

The young Man Utd squad are clearly lacking leaders and world class players

Majority of the English media and the Premier League experts were expecting the Red Devils to have a difficult season and see themselves experience most of the campaign outside of the top-six finish. And, that has proven to be the case, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are missing the required quality in midfield and most importantly in attack, to guide them to a Champions League spot and any potential success in the cup competition.

With the club failing to bring in a number of players throughout the summer transfer window, whilst already ignoring the departure of both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, it was never going to be an easy and simple season for the club as a whole. On top of that, the lack of leaders was an important factor that needed work on over the summer, as the squad have a consistency to crumble when they are needed the most, and have a tendency to not step up, which happens to still be the same outcome.

Southampton 1-1 Man Utd: The Red Devils cheaply drop points once again

Although the main focus of gameweek four is between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United had a good opportunity to bounce back from the Crystal Palace defeat with the away fixture against Southampton. With the match being the final one just before the ten-day international break, it would have been the ideal chance Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to get back to winning ways.

The match as a whole, was one-sided in favour of the visitors in terms of the control in possession and the chances created, despite the host piling on the pressure for 20 to 30 minutes of the game before and after the half-time break. United took the lead very early in the 10th minute, through a well-taken shot by Daniel James, who smashed it past Angus Gunn and into the far corner of the net.

However, Southampton were able to get the equaliser in the second half as Jannik Vestergaard leaped above Victor Lindelof to head the ball into the net, leaving David De Gea absolutely hopeless in goal. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s boys continued to look for the winner, though, Kevin Danso went into a poor challenge in the 77th minute and left the referee with no option but to book him once again.

In the end, the Saints did defensively well to hold onto a draw for the last 15 to 20 minutes whilst being down to ten men, but the Red Devils will feel they did not create enough or showed the ideal amount of urgency to turn the single point into the three points they badly needed and required.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Daniel James continues to live life at the top

Throughout the game, United’s go-to-man was no one else but Daniel James, someone who was causing Southampton’s backline a serious amount of problems with his dribbling ability and his incredible burst of pace. After making it on the scoresheet once again, he has now scored three league goals in four appearances, equalling Alexis Sanchez’s dire record of the last 18 months.

Despite being utilised on the right flank in recent games, the fixture against Southampton was his first match where he was played in his favourite position, and he went on to play more comfortably and effectively than usual. Not only that, his immense work rate on and off the ball is something to truly highlight, as United’s attacking players in recent years have failed to help the team out as a whole.

United lack clinical quality on both sides of the pitch

One could say Solskjaer had the perfect plan at St Marys Stadium, where they created a decent amount of chances and had hardly concerns over the opposition’s attacking threat. Southampton actually had one shot on target, which was the goal they achieved in the second half, other than that, they were missing a playmaker and a dominant forward to open up United’s defence.

Meanwhile, on the attacking side of the game, the likes of Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford were lacking the intelligence and the required quality in the final third of the pitch to help the side to achieve the winning goal. The trio were failing to do the basics rights and were making mistakes after mistakes, allowing Southampton to sit deep with no rising issues to worry about.

Southampton are expected to go on to big things under Ralph Hasenhuttl

Majority of the English media and the Premier League experts were expecting the Saints to have a difficult season and see themselves experience most of the campaign around the relegation zone. However, that hasn’t been the case, as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton have proven to do well with their high-pressing style of play and their mentality to constantly break on the counter-attack.

With the club failing to bring in a number of players throughout the summer transfer window, the supporters of Southampton will be hoping that either of the 3-5-2 or 4-2-2-2 setup will get the best out of the current squad. And once the winter window arrives, the manager will surely be hoping that the board and owners are more than able to invest into the team, allowing them to potentially push for a mid-table finish, which they had experienced on a few occasions before the previous season.

Man Utd 1-2 Crystal Palace; Ole’s men suffer their first league defeat

Although the main focus of gameweek three was between Liverpool and Arsenal, Manchester United had a good opportunity to bounce back from the Wolves stalemate with the home fixture against Crystal Palace. As majority of the top-six sides have failed to be effectively convincing, it would have been ideal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to pick up another early win in the season.

As a whole, the match resulted in a way that not many ahead predicted before kick-off, where the hosts dominated possession and apparently had the game under control, when all of a sudden, the visitors went direct on the counter and scored through Jordan Ayew in the 32nd minute. Throughout the first half, United’s footballing style was constantly sideways and was played at a really slow place, allowing Roy Hodgson’s men to sit comfortably deep and with not much to worry about.

Things went from bad to worse for United in the second half, as a couple of big chances went down the drain and Marcus Rashford’s attempt from the penalty spot in 70th minute hit the woodwork. However, the side’s goal and equaliser finally came in 89th minute as Daniel James well-placed shot went past Vicente Guaita and into the far corner of net. In the final moments of the game, United’s overload of players allowed Crystal Palace to break brutally on the counter and to shockingly get the winner.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Lack of creativity and urgency

Throughout the whole game, United failed to cause a number of problems for Crystal Palace’s backline and Vicente Guaita, as they went on to complete the same amount of shots on target as the opposition. The Red Devils actually completed zero shots on goal by the half-time break, which more or less implies that the side’s lack of creativity and urgency is starting to show when they are desperately in need of it.

After the break, Solskjaer’s men did take things up a notch by raising the tempo on the ball and in terms of looking to progress more forward whilst in possession, but they were seriously in need of a playmaker that can pull the strings with ease and open up the opponent’s defence without trying. United’s main options within this position is either Jesse Lingard or Juan Mata, though, they are not the ideal individuals that can produce the final third goods on a consistent and effective basis.

Ole needs to begin experimenting more tactically

Solskjaer kept the same line-up as the one that faced Wolves last week, but majority of the Old Trafford faithful were hoping that a couple of changes were made in order for the squad to know that no one’s place in the starting line-up is guaranteed. On the other hand, the manager himself will need to experiment into new formations and tactics, in order to get the best out of his own players and work around the opposition’s system.

A potential plan B may include the back-three/five setup, which would allow Axel Tuanzebe to play more regularly and in the backline along with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, giving United the defensive stability they need and the licence for the wing-backs and Paul Pogba to constantly advance high up the pitch. As Ole does not have strength in numbers within midfield and attack, they currently have no option but to focus on dominating possession on both sides of the pitch and take their limited chances.

United won’t progress far with the current midfield options

At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that United will have huge and great difficulty in finishing in the top four this season and with any intentions they have of domestic cup success. Based on the last couple of games, the side have unfortunately failed to control and dominate the game in the middle of the pitch, a department that is not filled with many talented or experienced players. And the departures of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini have not helped at all.

With the club failing to bring in a replacement for the mentioned duo or an upgrade on some of the deadwood within this area, a single injury to either Paul Pogba or Scott McTominay will ruin the manager’s balance and the side’s stability for a number of weeks. And if the side start to drop points on a more regular basis, the board will then surely regret not buying Bruno Fernandes or Thomas Partey, two well-known individuals who are seen as the missing piece to United’s broken midfield.

Wolves v Man Utd; Three key factors to keep an eye out for on the Red Devils

Ole Gunnnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United will be travelling down to the Molineux Stadium on Monday to take on Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves, a brutal team that managed to pick up a lot important results against the top-six sides last season and are now in the Europa League play-offs.

Although it is only the second gameweek of the Premier League, both sides will be looking to pick up the early three points in the campaign to ensure they move a step forward to reach their aims and objectives. The hosts will have one eye on the match and the other on the upcoming fixture against Torino in the Europa League play-offs, whilst the visitors will have the full focus on this difficult tie.

Now, let’s focus on the Red Devils ahead of their key crucial match on Monday night…

Lack of control within midfield

In their first league game, Manchester United had a lot of tough times in controlling the game within the middle of the pitch and were not able to dominate and overcome Chelsea’s midfield trio. For sure, the 4-0 result in the end is what counts, but on another day, had the opposition had the quality in defence and attack, the final outcome would have been different to what actually happened.

Despite the departure of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini, the board and Ed Woodward have failed to bring in the required replacements, leaving Solskjaer with very limited options within the midfield department. Andreas Pereira, Fred and Scott McTominay don’t have the intelligence and quality to start on a regular basis, and Nemanja Matic just happens to be on his last legs.

Not only that, Paul Pogba is the main man to guide the side week in and out, but his lapse in concentration and tendency to take the extra touch or second on the ball does not help the team’s cause. If the team are able to take more control and manage the game from the midfield, they will go on to improve defensively, dominate possession effectively and eventually create more chances.

Contributions from the full-backs

A lot of the talk has recently been about the arrival of summer signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and current left-back, Luke Shaw, two individuals who are young, full of energy and are expected to be the side’s main full-backs for the next five years or so. With modern football being more advanced and the duties of a full-back being increased, the pair will have to work on their attacking ability.

With the backline being improved massively throughout the summer, the sole focus will be on how consistently they will be able to play out from the back and how often they will play a key role in the final third of the pitch. On that note, both Shaw and Wan-Bissaka will have take part in a lot of attacking drills in training, as their crossing and technical ability will be required during the season.

Having a quick look at the rival teams in Liverpool and Manchester City, they both respectively have the likes of Andrew Robertston, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker, crucial individuals who can run up and down the pitch for the whole game and be the difference maker when needed. United will definitely be in need of this as their style of play can become limited and really rigid, which forces them to play the ball more directly and without a lack of direction.

Marcus Rashford’s movement and positioning

Given the ruthless departure of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to receive the same outcome very soon, there will be a lot of weight on United’s attackers and the midfielders to come up with the much needed goals. With a lot of pressure being on the likes of Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Paul Pogba for goals and assists, Marcus Rashford has to be the man to personally step up.

Being a local lad that has come through the youth ranks and someone that is widely regarded as a fan favourite, it would be more than ideal for the youngster to lead by example and be seen as the player that can score 25 goals a season. As he is now on free-kick and penalty duties, it shouldn’t be a huge problem for him to reach the required figures and numbers as a first-choice centre-forward.

It is no secret that Rashford isn’t one of the most clinical or ruthless strikers in the league, but if he begins to do the basics right and has the hunger to be in the right place at the right time, then there shouldn’t be no doubts at all in him delivering the goods. And if he goes on to do that and helps the team to be successful in the long run, his name will definitely be up there with the other greats that played for Manchester United Football Club.

Three U-23 players to keep an eye on throughout the Premier League season

As gameweek one has come to an end, a large number of Premier League supporters will have already predicted which teams will have a successful season and which specific individuals will go on to being the game changers compared to the rest of the players in the top flight of English football.

Meanwhile, a small group of young talents are aiming to have a bright season at a personal level and are looking to make a name for themselves. A lot of these youngsters will be looking up to the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, James Maddison and Matteo Guendouzi, players who had their breakout moment over the last 12 months and are now seen as a hot property by their club and manager.

With no further ado, it’s time to look at the three U-23 players to keep an eye on this campaign.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Although he has had a decent amount of first-team experience under Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri, Callum Hudson-Odoi will be hoping that the managerial arrival of Frank Lampard will allow him to play on a regular basis. Also, the fact that Eden Hazard left a month ago and the club are not able to bring in any players for another transfer window, it may grant him a couple of chances to prove himself.

Currently on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon at the end of last season, the 19-year-old is expected to return to full training over the next couple of weeks before he begins to feature on the pitch once again. Once he gets going and is back on the pitch, there is no doubt at all that he goes straight into the Chelsea team, as they are currently lack pure quality in the final third of the pitch.

With the side missing a player that can take the game by the scruff of the neck or create something out of nothing, the return of Hudson-Odoi would help the team’s creativity and movement on and off the ball massively whilst the likes of Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham will benefit from his presence. For the sure, the departure of Hazard may hurt the Blues mentally in the long run, but they have a player in Hudson-Odoi that can confidently open up a defensive side and come up with the vital contributions. 

Max Aarons

Reviewing Norwich City’s last year in the Championship, they could have easily fallen down into the play-off area rather than winning the league, if it wasn’t for the crucial shift that Max Aarons had completed on both sides of the pitch. From being a speedy outlet on the flanks as a full-back to completing the required defensive duties, the youngster has it all to be a top player in his specific position.

If he goes on to replicating the same types of performances in the top tier of English football, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur gain interest in the player once again. However, the standards between both leagues are massively high, as Aarons’ discipline and positional awareness will have to be top notch in what could be his breakout year of his professional career.

Given that the attacking-minded players in Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell are expected to be constantly marked by the opposition, Norwich have a full-back to rely on to make those striding runs down the wings and to put in the inch-perfect crosses into someone like Teemu Pukki. Also, a consistent campaign for the rising talent could see him become one of the best players in his department within the league.

Sean Longstaff

Newcastle United are going through a serious transition period, as they attempt to put the Rafa Benitez era behind themselves as well as produce new memories under manager Steve Bruce. Though, one of the positives that the Toons will have become aware of throughout this year, has been the incredible rise of central-midfielder Sean Longstaff, someone who spent a crucial loan at League one side Blackpool during the 2017-18 season and is now being a regular starter in top flight football.

At the age of 21, the youngster is living the dream that all young English football supporters have of playing in the Premier League and for their local club. And not only that, he received a new four-year deal back in November 2018, and is already expected to receive another huge increase over the next couple of weeks, as Manchester United were regularly interested in the Newcastle-born midfielder in recent months.

If Longstaff can go on to reaching his potential and the expectation of the Newcastle supporters, then the team will surely have stabilised midfield that allows them to push for success in the domestic competition and also aim for a higher finish in the league. If and once that eventually happens, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the club requesting for £50million and over for the player, purely to ward off any interest from other clubs.

Man Utd 4-0 Chelsea: The Red Devils kick off the season in winning ways

The main focus of gameweek one in the Premier League was bound to be on Manchester United versus Chelsea, especially when the other top teams in the league had won their respective games. Given that the final positions in the table always come down to the head-to-head between the top-six sides, it was important for Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to get going on a high note and make a statement.

Overall, the match was completed in a typical fashion that the supporters of Old Trafford have been used to in recent years, where they start off very slow before ending the match with the three important points. Chelsea got off on the right foot and went close with Tammy Abraham hitting the post and Emerson smashing the crossbar, however, it was Marcus Rashford’s penalty in the 18th minute that opened up the game and allowed everyone to witness a more end-to-end match.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as the individual mistakes and the poor man-marking allowed the hosts to score two quick goals between the 65th and the 67th minute through Anthony Martial and Rashford once again. Not only that, Lampard’s options from the bench were not great to create a comeback, whilst Solskjaer was able to give both Daniel James and Mason Greenwood the game time they were in need of, with the former bagging his first ever goal for the club.

Here are the three factors we learnt from United’s first league game this season…

Clinical showing despite nervy periods

There are no doubts at all, that Chelsea were the better side in the first half, from controlling possession of the ball to creating chances patiently, but only the end product was missing. Had they still had the final third quality of Eden Hazard in the team, they would have put the game to bed by the half-time break and the Red Devils would have found it very difficult to turn it around. However, United were fortunate and took the lead from the penalty spot, and from there, they were constantly aiming to pounce on the counter.

After the break, Solskjaer’s men took things up a notch or two whilst Lampard’s boys were unable to be more productive and effective in United’s penalty box. Once the decisive second goal came through for the side from Anthony Martial, it was more or less over, with Chelsea trying to make the most out of any possession they had, whilst United were happy to sit deep and continue to counter when required. In the end, the hosts showed their patience in both phases and were able to adjust to some tactical tweaks, whilst the visitors were unlucky and fell apart as the goals were conceded.

Exciting debuts for the new summer arrivals

When deciding who would start in the huge fixture against Chelsea, Solskjaer was bound to use the new boys in Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, two players who instantly made an impact in the backline and were able to ease the pressure off the team on many occasions. If neither of them were on the pitch yesterday, the Blues would have easily scored one or two goals in the first half, or even more.

With how the two defensive additions recently performed, individuals such as Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones aren’t expected to make a return into the starting line-up anytime soon. Maguire’s appearance at the heart of defence was huge for the side, as he was able to guide the team forward on the ball and was regarded as a rising leader when needed. Meanwhile, Wan-Bissaka played a crucial role of his own, stopping Chelsea to break on the counter time and time again, and helping the team to recycle and utilise possession on both sides of the pitch.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are on the rise

At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will be played on a regular basis and also along with each other, something that couldn’t be done effectively the last two seasons due to the presence of Romelu Lukaku. Though, with the Belgian forward now at Inter Milan, the duo have a lot of expectations and high standards on them, with both players potentially in need of scoring around 40-45 goals in order for the team to finish within the top four.

With the club failing to bring in a replacement for Lukaku on deadlind day, a lot of the pressure has now been passed onto Martial and Rashford, as well as the other attacking-minded players in the squad. As long as the pair keep up with how they performed yesterday, in terms of the dribbling ability, movement on and off the ball along with an improvement of their work rate, United should be just fine in the long run.

Manchester United 2019-20 season preview

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going into his first full season as the manager of Manchester United, the pressure is on the 45-year-old Norwegian international to show he can take the club forward and that he is able to bring the good old days back to Old Trafford once again. Although it is easier said than done, the English media are not expecting the side to get back to winning ways anytime soon.

The previous season resulted in a really poor campaign, especially whilst witnessing the rivals in Liverpool and Manchester City going on to be successful in the Champions League and Premier League. Due to this unfortunate outcome, it has forced United to be highly active in the transfer window, whilst the board are hoping for a huge turnaround in which way the club is heading.

The new additions

Unlike the previous summer transfer window, the signings completed by Manchester United and Solskjaer have been more down to the weak areas of the system and which departments needed serious strengthening, as the lack of quality and depth has been a massive concern in recent years.

The Red Devils have so far brought – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Harry Maguire. With only a couple of days remaining until the transfer window comes to an end, Solskjaer will be hoping that the Ed Woodward will be able to deliver one or two more players for him. That player(s) is potentially looking likely to be either or both of Paulo Dybala and Bruno Fernandes, who have actually been linked with a move to the Red Devils throughout the summer, thanks to the English and Italian noisy press.

It’s time to start off with Wan-Bissaka, who is already regarded as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League and has quite the career ahead of him. Remembering that he is only 21-years-old and has evolved to quite a level over the last 12 months at Crystal Palace, there should not be any doubts all that he goes onto have a successful time at United, given his striking potential and actual quality.

However, the arrival of James will be regarded as the most exciting one out of the three, as his blistering pace down the flanks and his movement on and off the ball is something that United badly need on the wings. With both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford now beginning to play more through the middle, the side look to have a natural winger that can keep the team ticking and moving time and time again.

Finally, Harry Maguire’s £85million move from Leicester City to Old Trafford has recently been completed, allowing United to have a quality centre-back that can consistently defend, is able to play out from the back and is not injury prone. With the likes of Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones constantly being injured, Solskjaer now has a reliable individual that can pair up with Chris Smalling or Victor Lindelof on a weekly basis.

Key player

Following the departures of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini over the last eight months, United are badly in need of a competent and composed midfielder that could get them through the tough fixtures week by week. Although they aren’t expected to sign a defensive or central midfielder before the window is over, they may have a unique one in Scott McTominay, someone who has shown his consistency and pure hard work when playing in a number of tactical midfield roles.

Over the last 10 to 12 months, the Scottish international has proven that he can be a monumental leader in the middle of the pitch whilst also be seen as a player that can come into the team whenever required. The only serious downfall for the player is that he isn’t highly talented when compared to the other midfielders in the team and in the league, and his positioning on both sides could be analysed as a rising weakness.

Who should be sold?

At this moment of time, it looks like only Romelu Lukaku is expected to leave the club for Juventus, which is now dependent on if Paulo Dybala is prepared to leave the Italian champions or not. Other than that, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo are linked by the English media to leave the Premier Leaguse side, however, it does seem very late in the transfer window for them to be offloaded and replaced at the same time.

Manchester United’s strongest XI

With the current squad members, here is Manchester United’s strongest XI for the new season –

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Martial, Sanchez, James; Rashford. (4-2-3-1 formation)

League prediction

Manchester United Football Club should be aiming for the league title season by season, however, they are still lacking the correct management off the pitch and the squad depth to keep up with the ambition and the expectations that the supporters have. On the other hand, if things do turn out to go from bad to worse throughout the campaign like it has in recent seasons, it would not be a total surprise to see the board and Ed Woodward sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by around February/March time, the same corrupted individuals who didn’t financially back the manager up in the first place.

Premier League – 4th place

Will Man Utd just about snap up a centre-back this summer?

Manchester United have had an impressive pre-season at a personal level, beating the likes of Perth Glory, Leeds United, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur whilst playing good possession-based football with a high pressing style. Majority of the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that this continues into the new campaign, as the previous season was as awful one to simply forget.

Not only that, the two signings in Aaron-Wan Bissaka and Daniel James has received the required game time and the calm consultation from the rest of the squad, in order for their respective careers to get going. Since the duo have arrived, the club now have a right-back that is one of the best in the league and a natural winger that is really fast, both footed and is able to play on either of the flanks.

However, focusing on if United are going to complete anymore transfers or not, they still desperately in need of two to three additions before the season eventually begins. The main position just happens to be the centre-back area, where they are clearly lacking a vocal leader and someone to consistently pair up with Victor Lindelof, who is currently regarded as the side’s best defender.

With Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones constantly being injury prone and unavailable for when the side need them the most, the options that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has are limited straightaway. Meanwhile, Axel Tuanzebe has quite the potential, but it is uncertain if he plays regularly or goes out on loan again, whilst Chris Smalling has been fairly good but has failed to reach the prospects he showed during his early days as a Fulham player and in his first season at United.

Although the club have recently been linked with the likes of Harry Maguire, Kalidou Koulibaly and Toby Alderweireld, there has not been enough closure from the English papers or the club’s media press to show they intend on making a third signing. There is a huge difference in the final outcome of the season if it is to happen or not, from finishing in the Europa League spots again to a top four finish and potential silverware.

After conceding over 50 league goals and keeping only a few clean sheets last season, the Red Devil supporters were seriously hoping that the people in charge and Ed Woodward himself would have seen the defence as the side’s main weakness. Given that Liverpool have Virgil van Dijk and Manchester City have Aymeric Laporte, two of the best centre-backs within England and Europe, United are yet to have someone of that calibre to lead them to a title challenge and make them defensively sound.

Had the hierarchy provided Jose Mourinho with a centre back last summer as per his request, a lot of things would have been different by now, with the club’s chances of finishing in the top four being increased instantly and also their odds in the domestic cups. Furthermore, the club’s planning for the transfer window has been below-par and absolutely atrocious, spending just under £150million and bringing in only five new additions together this summer and last summer, leaving many holes to still fill.

Overall, Manchester United will honestly not be competing with both Liverpool and Manchester City in the league anytime soon, especially when you see the difference in quality that both rival clubs have on and off the pitch. Though, if the club were to somehow bring in a centre-back within the next ten days, it would allow them to bring pure stability and protection to a dreadful defence whilst help them to a good term.

The three short-term replacements for the out-of-favour Romelu Lukaku

With only a couple of weeks left until the new Premier League season starts along with the summer transfer window comes to an end, majority of the English clubs will desperately be looking to finalise the remaining deals they have outstanding whilst looking to offload a few players out of the team.

Focusing on Manchester United, there are a lot of things ongoing, from ensuring David De Gea signs a new six-year deal over the next couple of weeks to preventing both Juventus and Real Madrid from making any convincing offers for Paul Pogba. And on top of that, Romelu Lukaku has all of a sudden become the key hot topic, someone who doesn’t fit into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans and is now wanted by Inter Milan.

If he was to leave before the window closes, it would leave United with Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood as the options that could cover the centre-forward role. That alone would simply not be enough to guide the team to a top-four finish, as they would potentially need around 35 to 45 league goals from the four players that have been mentioned.

With no further ado, here are the three main individuals that could replace Romelu Lukaku…

Alexis Sanchez revival

If we’re being brutally honest, we could actually assume that majority of the Old Trafford faithful at times forget that Alexis Sanchez is still a Manchester United player. Unfortunately, this really sums up his rapid decline since moving from Arsenal to the Red Devils, as his injury issues have prevented him from being available on a regular basis and it has stopped him from proving his arrogant critics wrong.

However, in the minimal games he has played for the club, he has shown some bright moments when utilised in a more central role rather than playing in his usual position out on the flanks. Having lost his burst of pace and his sharpness as a winger, it would make more than sense for him to play as a false nine in the long run, especially given that his movement and linkup play is still consistent and reliable from time to time.

Mario Mandzukic

Once United allow Lukaku to go onto joining Inter Milan, whether it’s a loan deal or a permanent move, they will instantly miss the aerial ability he provides in the penalty box and how he is seen as a target man by the wingers and the full-backs. Though, it wouldn’t be a major problem in finding someone that is similar to him and maybe even more of a complete player than the Belgian forward, with the likes of Edin Dzeko, Edinson Cavani and Timo Werner regarded or seen as the perfect examples.

For the time being, Mario Mandzukic should be seen as the ideal candidate, when you remember that both Juventus and Maurizio Sarri have a list of attacking options that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, the young Moise Kean and Paulo Dybala. The 33-year-old Croatian international may go on to rethink about the upcoming season and could choose to spend a year or two in a new country or league, with the English football suiting his aerial ability and his big-game mentality, as shown in recent years.

Wissam Ben Yedder

When looking for strikers who are able to run down the channels and have the quality to get the best out of their team-mates as well as themselves, it is really hard to find at this moment of time, purely because of how majority are already at the best clubs in Europe or are in the final years of their career. On the other hand, one of the most ideal options that could potentially be available for the current system and unbalanced attack, would be none other than Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder.

If one is not familiar with Ben Yedder’s style of play, then you should consider him as a similar player to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, someone who is simply silent but deadly in the final third of the pitch. Having produced 18 goals and nine assists in 35 league appearances last season, there should be no doubts about what he can achieve on and off the ball. And given that he will become 29-years-old next month, he will surely be open to a huge move before he reaches his final years as a professional footballer.