Man Utd: Three players that need to do much better after the international break

As the international break is a couple of days away from ending, the majority of Manchester United supporters will be wondering how the manager and the players will prepare for the final four to six weeks of the season. Sitting in second place, along with remaining in the Europa League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men still have a fair amount to play for in the remaining short period of the campaign.

Following the club’s departure from the FA Cup to Leicester City two weeks ago, the chances of winning a piece of silverware this season is through the Europa League route only, which still has the likes of Arsenal, Ajax, Roma and Villarreal in the intense competition. Nevertheless, the Red Devils are still favourites to win the trophy, and if the manager goes two seasons without delivering a league title or trophy, a lot of doubts and questions will be raised by the Old Trafford faithful.

With no further ado, here are the three players that need to improve after the international break…

Anthony Martial

From having his most prolific campaign in a Manchester United shirt last season, scoring 17 goals and producing six assists in 32 league appearances, to being on the worst form of his professional career, Anthony Martial has contributed to only seven league goals directly in 1488 minutes of Premier League football. The Frenchman’s issues in front of goal and lack of consistency, has led to the links to Erling Braut Haaland, who was wanted by both the club and manager, over a season ago.

Given how Manchester United play under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Martial is a key individual for his system, especially with his hold-up play and his ability to bring the midfielders and the other attackers into the game. On the other hand, the 25 year old’s stiff movement in the final third of the pitch and his consistency to hide away in games is showing to be a huge problem, and if these weaknesses are not ironed out, it would not be a surprise to see him slowly drifted away from the starting line-up, as the top teams in European football have a number nine that is complete and dominant.

Bruno Fernandes

For sure, many will wonder why Bruno Fernandes has made this list, someone who is proving to be one of the key performers for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United this campaign. However, the Portuguese international has not been himself since the start of 2021, as he has found it difficult to effect and influence the game in the way he normally does so. Not only that, but he has been playing week in and out without an actual rest, causing a massive hinderance on his day-to-day impact and output.

Over the last few months, Fernandes has been showing some inconsistency and flaws in his game, where he tends to overdo his passes, spam constant crosses as well as lead a single and unnecessary press, allowing the opposition to take advantage of the space that he leaves behind. The good news happens to be, he is suspended for Portugal’s final fixture of the international break, resulting in his return to Manchester a couple of days ago, which will allow him to enjoy the final days of resting before playing in the Premier League again.

David De Gea

Without a doubt he is regarded as a fans favourite and someone who has individually helped Manchester United during their decline after the Sir Alex Ferguson-era, though, David De Gea is now holding back the football club from playing their best football and most importantly from competing for titles and trophies under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The fact that he can no longer produce his outstanding reflexes, he is not vocal enough as a goalkeeper and is seriously unconvincing at playing out from the back, makes him a huge defensive liability.

Furthermore, Dean Henderson has been given a number of chances to prove himself in De Gea’s absence, in which he has outdone the expectations of the manager as well as the supporters with quality performances against the like of Manchester City, Real Sociedad in both legs and AC Milan in the second leg. And if he continues to perform at a high level as well as minimise the weaknesses in the Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof partnership, then the Spaniard’s time at Old Trafford will most certainly look to be over.

Man Utd: Two questions ahead of the West Ham United clash at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United face a difficult fixture on Sunday evening, as West Ham travel up north to Old Trafford with the interest of continuing their shocking pursuit for a top-four finish. Currently sitting in fifth-place, David Moyes has got the Hammers walking in his wonderland, who have won more league games than the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Looking at Manchester United’s form at home so far this campaign, in 13 league games, the side have won six, drawn three and lost on four occasions. The side’s results could certainly improve, especially if they were to be more effective in controlling the game from start to end, as well as giving the opposition very little space and time on the ball, two key aspects of United’s current flaws that need addressing.

On the other hand, West Ham’s record away from home is similar to Man Utd’s results at home, however, they have done more than enough in the fixtures at the London Stadium in order to be in the position where they are today. An interesting fact for those that are into their statistics is that David Moyes’ side have the second-best home form in the league, achieving 27 points out of 42.

Here are the two questions which should be considered ahead of Sunday evening…

Can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer improve the side’s performances and results at Old Trafford?

Despite being in second place at the moment, Manchester United’s performances and results at home in recent months simply haven’t been good enough, especially if they want to turn Old Trafford into a fortress, like it was during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. Since then, the opposition teams have been able to come to the theatre of dreams with the confidence of walking away with a result.

With key matches coming up in the final months of the season against the likes West Ham, Burnley, Liverpool and Leicester City, the squad will have to take their individual output up a notch, or they will fall into a dangerous trap of falling into a battle for the top four positions. For sure, the schedule of fixtures has been all over the place, where all the teams in the Premier League are playing a game every few days, but the Red Devils have to give a last push to end the season on a high note.

Will Bruno Fernandes be able to deliver the goods on his own with key individuals being injured?

Given the fact that the crucial players in Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba are expected to miss the West Ham fixture, Manchester United will totally be dependent on Bruno Fernandes, who has incredibly helped the side week in and out. In 28 Premier League appearances this season, the Portuguese international has contributed directly to 26 of Manchester United’s 55 goals, showing how essential and important he truly is to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 26-year-old is clearly proving to be one of the best Premier League players of the season, and if he continues to help his team finish in the top three positions in the league table, he will be regarded as the clear favourite to win the PFA Player of the Season award. Although he has been quiet in recent fixtures and he has shown quite some inconsistencies, Bruno Fernandes will aim to return to his fine form once again, as he is the type of player to create or score out of nothing.

 

Man City 0-2 Man Utd: Three things we learnt as the Red Devils show their class in a big game

Manchester United continue to their amazing form away from home as they visited the noisy neighbours and walked away with the three points, a clean sheet and a solid performance from the team as a whole. With this victory, it leaves them 11 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men, however, the Red Devils are able to return into second place and a step closer to Champions League football.

Despite the likes of David De Gea, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba being unavailable for the Manchester derby, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were still able to hold up their own and execute their game plan to full effect. On the other hand, Manchester City were dominating possession as always and had created a couple of really good chances but were missing the clinical player to take them.

Given the outcome of one of the most intense Premier League fixtures of the season, Manchester United will be hoping to continue this form to confidently finish in the top four positions whilst compete on all fronts in the FA Cup and Europa League. Meanwhile for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, they will not want any last-minute slip-ups as they seem on course to win the league title.

With no further ado, here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Dean Henderson stepping up in David De Gea’s absence

Manchester United are expected to be without David De Gea for the next couple of weeks, who is currently in Spain after his partner had given birth to their daughter just a couple of days ago. Although there were some doubts about the Spaniard’s presence being missed with some crucial fixtures coming ahead, Dean Henderson has entered the team and stepped up better than expected.

With a monumental save at the end of the Crystal Palace fixture and five important saves during the Manchester derby, Henderson is starting to prove himself to the manager and the rest of the coaches at the football club. Not only that, but the goalkeeper has shown how much of a leader he is, along with his ability to play with the ball at his feet and his composure of playing as a sweeper keeper, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a good headache of who is number one keeper should be.

Outstanding performances from Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw

The fact that Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw were huge doubts ahead of the derby, and both of them went on to produce an outstanding performance on and off the ball, shows the type of sacrifices the players in the squad are willing to make for the manager and the club. If the duo were not able, the expected replacements for the pair would have been Alex Telles and Mason Greenwood, who would not have lived up to the expectations of the Manchester United supporters.

Martial, who has had a very poor season compared to his usual standards, showed many bright moments of his former self, where he held the ball up impressively and was always willing to take on one or two players in the middle of the pitch. Turning the focus onto Luke Shaw, he is quite clearly showing that he is currently the best left-back in the league, as a number of wingers are finding problems in getting past the defender, and he is also implementing his attacking ability all campaign.

The Red Devils showed composure defensively and their class on the counter

A lot of questions were raised ahead of the Manchester derby, especially towards Manchester United’s results against the big teams in the Premier League, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lack of ambition and attacking plans were questioned by his critics. On the other hand, his side showed what they are about at the Etihad Stadium, as they showed their composure in the defensive areas as well as their pure class on the counterattack.

The Red Devils have proven to be more dangerous in transition and on the counter through the pace and movement of the likes of Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw, whereas, they have had constant difficulties in breaking down a deep block against teams such as Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and West Brom. If the side can be more proactive and intelligent on the creative aspect of the game, then for sure, the team will be successful under the 48-year-old Norwegian.

Premier League Game of the Week: Manchester United 3-3 Everton

Was this the weekend when Manchester United were found out? The club were never expected to challenge for the Premier League title this season and it’s incredible to think of how well United have done when just 3 months ago manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job was genuinely under threat.

But this was a game for the Red Devils in which they were expected to win. Edinson Cavani was expected to score because the super Uruguyan had done so on two occasions against Everton this season, once in the Carabao Cup to knock Carlo Ancelotti’s team out of the competition and once in the league where United, playing at Goodison Park won the game 3-1. Cavani scored on the break which killed that encounter off.

Cavani as it turned out did not let anyone down as he opened the scoring. At that point it felt fairy predictable that United who have shown moments of great form this season would go on and win the game.

But this match would end up being a game of two halves. And it was all red in the first. United scoring early sensed that Everton were there for the taking. Although one should remember that the Toffeemen have played much better away from home and picked up more points on the road this season. Still it was only United creating all of the chances and they had several moments to double their lead. Everton did not have a shot on target in the first half and when Aaron Wan-Bissaka set up Bruno Fernandes to make it 2-0, surely there was no coming back from this point?

Everton previously and infamously did come back against United when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of the club, from 4-2 down they drew 4-4. But coming back at Old Trafford was in Ferguson’s era as rare as hen’s teeth. At half time Everton looked doomed. And then suddenly just 4 minutes into the 2nd half it was 2-1. Abdoulaye Doucoure was the goal scorer and it has come moments after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had almost pulled a goal back for the visitors, but he would have his moment later in the game.

For Doucoure the new signing this season it was a special moment, not in the goal itself which was from a rebound in the box but Doucoure doesn’t score many goals and he knew right away that his side were back in this game.

The game seemed to have swung in Everton’s favour and the underdogs for this duel came out fighting and within less than 10 minutes of Doucoure’s goal it was 2-2. And it was Doucoure again who used his magic setting up James Rodriguez who slotted nicely past the keeper. In just 13 minutes of the re start Everton were back on level terms.

The game was end to end now and it was certainly up for grabs, but it would be United taking the lead once more. A Luke Shaw freekick found the head of Scott McTominay who directed the ball home from about 6 yards out. McTominay has been in brilliant form lately and the script looked all set up for him to be the winning goal hero.

As time was running out Lucas Digne hit the post for Everton and the game looked like a huge 3 points for United. But football usually surprises with a few twists and there would be another one for United. Calvert-Lewin prodded home in the area as the ball ran through and United could not quite believe that they had conceded so late, literally the last kick of the game. As expected Everton were ecstatic. The game had ended in a draw but for Everton it had felt like victory.

In league terms it was a blow for United who fell 5 points behind league leaders Manchester City but are still in 2nd place. The problem for United is that City also have a game in hand. Everton are in 7th place but the club have 2 games in hand over most of the teams above them and in theory could go 4th with victories in those games.

Manchester United: man of the match: Bruno Fernandes

What an incredible player Bruno Fernandes has been this season. He scored a world class goal to make it 2-0 to United and that was his 13th goal of the season. In the fantasy rankings he already has 80 points and out of the major leagues in Europe he would be ranked 2nd.

Everton: man of match: Abdoulaye Doucoure

Doucoure ran the show for Everton in the early stages of the 2nd half to bring his club back into a match they thought they had lost. Not only did he score a goal but he also assisted in another. Doucoure has been involved in 5 goals this season in the league and has earned 17 points so far.

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Man Utd: Three key battles to look out for ahead of the Everton fixture at Old Trafford

Going into gameweek 23, with the key fixture of the weekend being between Liverpool and Manchester City, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United have the huge opportunity of either closing the gap on the league leaders or extending their distance away from the teams below them, should they beat an Everton side that have been knocking around just below the top four spots.

The head-to-head amongst the two teams is predicted to be an aggressive and intense battle, as both sides have shown the high quality of energy, movement and work rate time after time this season. Not only that, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men head into the weekend as one of the best away teams in the league, as they have only lost on two out of ten occasions away from Goodison Park.

Meanwhile, for the Red Devils, the side’s home form in the league has been quite on and off, where they have won five games, lost four games and drawn twice. Although they are currently sitting in second place, United cannot afford to drop more points at Old Trafford, whether they want to challenge for the league or finish confidently in the top four, the form at home must be rock-solid.

With no further ado, here are the three key battles to look out for ahead of the fixture…

Marcus Rashford vs Mason Holgate

Although he has not consistently been involved in the goals and assists in recent weeks for his team, Marcus Rashford continues to look dangerous with his dribbling and movement on the ball as well as his linkup play down the left flank with Luke Shaw. Also, with his ability to roam into other areas of the pitch, he has shown great understanding of being a threat and a problem for the opposition on the right wing, an area that the side are missing the presence of a winger that is a consistent creator.

Rashford is expected to be up against Mason Holgate, who could potentially be the preferred option over Seamus Coleman at right-back, with his recovery pace and physicality being superior when compared to the latter. Despite being known for his natural abilities as a centre-back, the 24-year-old has the versatility to be utilised at right-back and even at defensive-midfield, which could prove to be more than useful for Ancelotti, as his squad tends to pick up a few injuries here and there.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin vs Harry Maguire

Currently on the best goal-scoring form of his life, Dominic Calvert-Lewin could certainly finish the season with 20-25 league goals under his belt, should he keep his determination and hunger for goals at a high level. The forward is only one league goal away from matching his 2019/20 Premier League season of 13 league goals, showing how far he has come as a player personally and how much he has improved since the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti at Goodison Park in December 2019.

Calvert-Lewin will be in for a really intense and physical battle with Harry Maguire, who has got the better of the Everton forward on two occasions so far this campaign. The captain of Manchester United has proven to be influential individual in the backline for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, where his leadership skills, aerial prowess and composure on the ball has helped the team, even when he is not appreciated highly by everyone. On top of that, Maguire has played in every single minute of Premier League football so far this season, and is yet to miss a game through injury or suspension.

Pogba vs Abdoulaye Doucoure

After having the perfect month at a personal level and in terms of his contributions to the team, Paul Pogba is back in business and is expected to continue to show his excellence on Saturday evening after being well rested in the mid-week fixture against Southampton. With crucial goals away to Burnley and Fulham in the league as well as a dominant performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup, the Frenchman is showing to be at his best, which is perfect news for all parties at the club.

On the other hand, for Everton, Abdoulaye Doucoure will be looking to play in the double pivot alongside Andre Gomes, where he will be hoping to nullify the threat that the Manchester United midfield pose through Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. Along with his defensive duties and the shift he will be putting in for the team, the side will look to breakthrough and attack through the midfielder himself, as he has shown his ability to dribble and take on two-three players with ease.

FA Cup Game of the Week: Manchester United 3-2 Liverpool

With the Premier League taking a break at the weekend for the FA Cup, we instead picked out an all Premier League fixture and it doesn’t get bigger than Liverpool and Manchester United.

The two teams recently played each other in the Premier League which made our game of the weekend. It was a tense nail biting affair which ended 0-0 and the points were shared. This cup game though lived up to the traditional English cup games, end to end football and plenty of chances. In the end there was 5 goals and it was exciting knowing that one of these huge teams who could win the FA Cup were about to go out. This is because the replay has been scratched out of the competition now. This match didn’t need one though.

Liverpool who had been under criticism for their lack of goals lately took the lead through Mohamed Salah would have been relived to have got back to scoring goals again. He took a good pass and scored as early as the 18th minute.

However just 8 minutes later Manchester United were on level terms as Mason Greenwood equalised. Marcus Rashford set him up with a pass that opened up a make shift Liverpool defence and it was 1-1. Game on.

The half ended all square but within 3 minutes of the restart Manchester United were 2-1 up through Rashford and it was a great goal. Greenwood who had scored their first returned the favour to set up Rashford who smashed the goal home with a low shot, if only the fans had been allowed to witness it in the stadium they would have been rather happy. Coming back from a goal down against your bitter enemy would have been sweet indeed.

Just past the hour mark in a very exciting game it was that man Salah again who made it 2-2 with a low shooting effort that went past all of the defenders. Even though Liverpool would go on to lose the game for Salah’s confidence to score 2 goals against the current Premier League leaders shouldn’t go unnoticed and he will be a shoe in one would think to score in Liverpool’s next league game.

The game would be won though by one of the best foreign transfers in the past decade. Bruno Fernandes was the hero and not for the first time since he’s arrived at Manchester United and scored a brilliant free kick in a game that, at times, felt Hollywood scripted.

Manchester United to go with their brilliant league form march on. As for Liverpool though they have no wins in their last five competitive games and this is worrying times for Jurgen Klopp and his team, who look like they could blow the league title too. Is it possible that after dominating so many competitions in the past 18 months that Liverpool win no silverware this season?

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Who have been the best players from Manchester United and Manchester City this season?

With just 1 Premier League game this past weekend because of the FA Cup in England we will take a look at the top two teams as the Premier League stands. What a season it has been so far as both Manchester teams occupy 1st and 2nd place. It is like the beginning of the 2010s again when City became a genuine rival to United.

In truth whilst Manchester City were expected to challenge for Liverpool’s title this season Manchester United were not. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was actually under pressure to keep his job in October when United lost 6-1 at home to Tottenham but that’s history now as United lead the table with 40 points. City are in 2nd on 38 but have a game extra to play. United have pulled out a six point gap to Liverpool with the same games played.

We take a look then at the top 3 performing players for each side, the ones who have made the ultimate difference this season. You can check out the players stats on the links provided and see if you have any of the players below in your team.

Manchester United: Top 3 performing fantasy football players

1. Bruno Fernandes 64pts

What a player Bruno Fernandes has been. Surely he is Manchester United’s best signing since Cristiano Ronaldo? Fernandes has scored important goals for the club and really stood up when it has mattered. Already this season he has bagged 11 goals and assisted in a further seven. And he has been a steal at just 8.5m. If United win the league this season make no mistake most of it will be down to this Portuguese superstar.

2. Marcus Rashford 35pts

Marcus Rashford has big boots to fill being one of the strikers at Manchester United. This season he has earned 35 points so far and has scored seven goals and assisted in another five. Rashford always seems to pop up at the right moments. It’s true that he needs more consistency to his game but he is so young and will get even better as the seasons go on.

3. Scott McTominay 22pts

Manchester United’s 3rd best player so far might be a surprise in Scott McTominay. Former manager Jose Mourinho heaped praise on him and the midfielder seems in his element this season which is arguably his best in a United shirt. He’s scored 2 goals and helped back track and keep six clean sheets so far. He could be doing with more assists and as we reach the half way stage of the season he only has 1 to his name. But he’s another youngster who will gain even more experience and become more complete.

Manchester City: Top 3 performing fantasy football players

1. Ederson Moraes  59pts

For Manchester City this season it is all about defence rather than attack. Haven’t you noticed that the club are not scoring many goals for their standard? Thus it is no surprise to see Ederson as the clubs best player in goal this season. No goalkeeper in the Premier League has kept more clean sheets so far this season as City’s keeper who has 10 so far. His value is 9m which is a great return considering he has 59 points already.

2. John Stones 48pts

Could this be John Stones most complete season of his career? He can defend, set up goals and score them and has really taken advantage of the situation at City with injuries and departures building up to state his case with manager Pep Guardiola. Stones has helped to keep 8 clean sheets and scored twice in the league so far. But it is his overall command of the game which has impressed this season and he looks utterly confident in the back four set up.

3. Ruben Dias 47pts

Ruben Dias has been of Manchester City’s best signings under Pep Guardiola, how they needed a player like him to come in and play like he has been at the club for several seasons. Dias has 47 points already and has helped to keep 10 clean sheets for the club. He has partnered up well with Stones at the back to underline that City whilst being a danger up front have had to adapt and focus on defence this season if they want to recapture back their league title.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United

The biggest fixture in England was played at the weekend and this match against two teams who have won 39 league titles between them was always going to generate all of the attention, the world over and not just in England. That it ended 0-0 shouldn’t deter from the hype around the game and what it currently means for the league title.

You couldn’t have had a better build up to Liverpool vs Manchester United. Liverpool who haven’t lost a home game in 2 years in the league and, who currently have the best home record this season up against the team who have the best away record this season.

No one could have expected it but Manchester United are unbeaten away and we are almost at the half way stage of the season. They are also top of the league and Liverpool could have bounced back to the top with a victory. In the end it felt as though both teams wanted to keep their fantastic records in check and it wasn’t the most exciting game to watch.

The real surprise for Liverpool was having two midfielders starting in defence. When we will ever see captain Jordan Henderson in central defence again? But somehow he looked assured and for the most part Manchester United were contained.

It was a game of two halves where Liverpool threatened in the first, controlling the pace of the game without really giving United much food for thought. But the way Liverpool were bossing the ball about it seemed like it would be a long afternoon for United.

In the 2nd half though that wasn’t the case and United started to find their groove through the brilliant Bruno Fernandes. His shot from a Luke Shaw assist made Alisson work hard in goal. Indeed Shaw had a terrific game and was all over the pitch and very inspired.

Paul Pogba had another chance after Fernandes but shot the ball at Alisson. This could have been quite a turning point in the Frenchman’s season, the player who scored the winner in Manchester United’s last game against Burnley could have been the hero again. Pogba has had a difficult season at the club and this could have gone some way to redeeming that.

Perhaps the game was telling that Liverpool had 14 attempts on goal but only 3 shots on target, indeed United had one shot on target more and not many teams over the past 2 years have had that at Anfield.

In the end it was a good result by Manchester United getting a point away from home and a disappointing one for Liverpool dropping another two at home. There must be some concern that Liverpool’s most dangerous strikers have gone quiet of late in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

It should say everything about the game that the players who picked up the most points were the goalkeepers. Both Alisson and David de Gea picked up 7 points each for their clean sheets.

Liverpool can still win the league and they remain the danger but th drop off from last season is quite evident and one has to wonder if fatigue has caught up with Jurgen Klopp’s team?

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Man Utd: Three key battles to look out for ahead of the huge Liverpool fixture

Going into gameweek 19, one of the main fixtures to look out for, is Liverpool vs Manchester United on Sunday, two teams who have been head-to-head with one another since the early days of Premier League football. Both sides are now the top-two most successful clubs across England.

The match is expected to be a close battle and an interesting one, as Jurgen Klopp’s men currently have the best home form in the league and are incredibly yet to be defeated at Anfield so far this season. On the other hand, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side at the moment have the best record away from home in the league, as they have impressively achieved 22 points out of a possible 24 points.

As the fixture is between the two main teams who are first and second in the league, the match may not be filled with many goals or a large number of chances being created, with both sides typically wanting to limit any personal mistakes and aim to pounce on the opposition’s errors and faults.

Without further ado, here are the three key battles to look out for ahead of the match…

Marcus Rashford vs Trent Alexander-Arnold

With seven goals and five assists to his name in 17 league appearances, Marcus Rashford will be hoping to develop and take his consistency in the final third up a notch, as the Premier League viewers are strictly holding him to reach 15 to 20 league goals per season. When compared to his team-mates in the league, the 23-year-old has completed the most dribbles (42) and the third most key passes (21), proving how much the player has improved, especially under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Rashford will be in for an exciting and tight duel with international football colleague, Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is considered as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League and is an influential player for Liverpool on both sides of the pitch. Despite some unconvincing performances this campaign and the calf injury which kept him on the sidelines for a couple of weeks in November, Alexander-Arnold will be looking to turn his form around with a solid display against Rashford.

Sadio Mane vs Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Liverpool have been relying on the goals of Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino to get them to where they currently are, but it’s the intelligent movement and unselfish play from Sadio Mane, that allows the attack to be so smooth and purely effective. The Senegal international may not be at his best compared to how prolific he was in the last two seasons, however, his inside movement from the left flank, allows more time and space for Andrew Robertson, who can provide the much needed crosses into penalty box as he has made a name for himself as a key creator.

Mane will have to be closely marked and watched by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who hasn’t proven to be one of the key players for Manchester United like he had done so in the previous campaign. Nevertheless, the right-back when compared to the rest of the team in terms of defensive statistics, has completed the most tackles (49), most crosses blocked (19) and second most interceptions (19).

Bruno Fernandes vs Thiago Alcantara

Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has changed the selection around in midfield, whether it’s a pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay or Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, there will be no doubts over Bruno Fernandes starting for one single moment, who will be the leading the team through his creativity and decision-making. He has incredibly managed to score 11 goals and produce seven assists in 17 league appearances, as he continues to prove to be one of the best football players in the league.

Meanwhile, for Liverpool, Thiago Alcantara is expected to play in the number six position in midfield, where he will be looking to progress the ball from the deep areas in midfield up to the final third of the pitch. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich midfielder has missed many games so far this season through COVID-19 and a knee injury, but he is now back to full fitness and is starting to get back to his best, as the Spaniard will be aiming to play a crucial role for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Man Utd: How have the late-summer signings done so far at Old Trafford?

Manchester United aren’t expected to be highly active during the January transfer window, despite the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could desperately do with one or two new faces at Old Trafford.

Given the recent reports from the English press, the Red Devils are looking to offload the likes of Daniel James, Phil Jones and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, whilst there are mild rumours of a potential signing Moises Caicedo, who is a 19-year-old defensive-midfielder that plays for Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle and has been recommended to the club by ex-player Antonio Valencia.

As there is still a number of defensive deadwood remaining in the squad, it would not be a surprise to see the club sell some individuals before they decide to buy anyone. In the meantime, putting the possible ins and outs to a side of the January transfer window, it’s time to look at the players that came into the club at the start of the season and analyse on how well they are doing so far.

With no further ado, here is the review of each individual that have arrived at Old Trafford…

Alex Telles

It took quite some time for Alex Telles to receive his first appearance and actually get going for Manchester United, as he was returning to full fitness since the last time he had played for previous club FC Porto in the Portuguese league. Even after his debut against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, which he performed at a top level as a left wing-back, the Brazilian was unable to play further as he was tested positive for COVID-19 whilst being away on international break.

Even though he was out on the sidelines for a couple of United games, Telles has been able to provide the ideal competition to regular starter Luke Shaw, who has taken his performances and contribution on both sides of the pitch to a whole new level this campaign. Not only that, but he has also produced quite a few good personal displays against the likes of West Brom, Southampton, West Ham and Sheffield United, with the best is yet to come from the 28-year-old left-back.

Rating: 7/10

Donny van de Beek

With only 253 minutes of Premier League football under his belt, eight out of his ten league appearances coming in the latter stages of the game from the bench, it’s not been the dream start for Donny van de Beek and his new adventure at Old Trafford. As the number ten position is covered by the key player in Bruno Fernandes, it is unlikely that the former Ajax midfielder is expected to get game time, but he may be kindly rotated into the team with the EFL and FA Cup fixtures coming up.

It is difficult to review how the Dutchman is doing for Manchester United, as he has not been given enough minutes to prove himself to everyone, and most importantly to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, with the Red Devils remaining in the cup competitions, along with the return of Europa League next month and their pursuit of finishing as high as possible in the Premier League, it can easily be stated that van de Beek will feature more from now till the end of the current season.

Rating: 5/10

Edinson Cavani

In 300 minutes of league football and in his first season in England, Edinson Cavani has notched three goals and two assists, which is the type of influence one would expect from a world class striker that has proven himself in France and Italy for the last 12 years. His best performance so far was away at Southampton, where he came on at half-time as the team were down by two goals, and his two goals and assist for Bruno Fernandes’ goal allowed the team to make a magical comeback.

On top of that, the Uruguayan forward can be the perfect individual for the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to learn from, as his movement off the ball and ruthlessness in front of goal is what they need. If Cavani can end the season with helping the players in his department and assist the team to win a trophy or two, he will surely be considered as a top notch signing.

Rating: 8.5/10