Brentford v Manchester United: likely starting XI and the key decisions Ralf Rangnick needs to make tonight
The Red Devils face Brentford in a competitive fixture for the first time in almost 47 years on Wednesday evening - we look at how United are likely to line up.
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Manchester United are looking to bounce back from their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, when they travel to the Brentford Community Stadium to take on the Bees in Premier League action on Wednesday evening.
This is the first time in almost 47 years that United have played Brentford in a competitive fixture, with their last coming in a 2-1 League Cup win for the Red Devils at Old Trafford in September 1975.
United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has provided a squad update ahead of the game in West London, informing fans that Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be absent due to illness.
Speaking about whether the right-back will be available for Wednesday’s game to MUTV, via the club’s official website, Rangnick said: “No, not yet. He’s still ill, I’m afraid.
“He will not be available for the game tomorrow and also probably not available for the West Ham game. Hopefully, after the international break, he will be back for training.”
The 63-year-old also gave an update on Paul Pogba’s fitness status in his latest press conference, with the midfielder some time off returning to the matchday squad.
“He will not be available for the two games this week, but hopefully after the international break, when we have the cup game against Middlesbrough and the away game at Burnley [in the league], I think he could be an option.”
However, there could be some positive news for the club with Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo expected to be available for the trip to West London.
We’ve taken a look how the Red Devils could line up tonight and the key decisions Rangnick has to make as United look to pick up points.
Goalkeeper - David De Gea
A regular in the United starting 11 this season, especially in the Premier League, David De Gea is expected to retain his place between the sticks against the Bees this evening.
Given Brentford’s hit-and-miss form and lack of goals in recent games, Rangnick could opt to rest the Spanish shot-stopper if need be, allowing for understudy Dean Henderson to gain some game-time or even third choice Tom Heaton.
Right-back - Diogo Dalot
The sensible option given the absence of Wan-Bissaka and the form he is currently in, Diogo Dalot has earned his place at right-back this evening.
Centre-back - Raphael Varane
Experienced defender Raphael Varane has had an interesting start to his Red Devils career but will be hoping to show why he is regarded as one of the world’s best centre-backs when he comes up against Brentford’s attackers tonight.
Given Eric Bailly being on international duty and both Harry Maguire and Phil Jones recently returning to the bench, it makes sense for Varane to retain his place in West London.
Centre-back - Victor Lindelof
One of the biggest decisions this evening for Rangnick is who partners Varane this evening. As mentioned above, Maguire and Jones have just returned from injury and it’s doubtful the German manager will risk either of them in their quest for match fitness.
Victor Lindelof is the sensible option to sit alongside Varane against the Bees, especially with the partnership undefeated in their last two matches together.
Left-back - Luke Shaw
Absent from the draw with Aston Villa on the weekend due to suspension, Luke Shaw is likely to slot back into the left-back position tonight.
He is regarded as the club’s first choice in that position and with his hunger to prove he is still the best left-back in the country, Shaw needs to have a good showing this evening.
Centre-midfield - Scott McTominay
Another name who missed the Villa game due to suspension was Scott McTominay. The Scottish international has been in rollercoaster form this season, but brings the best out of his usual partner Fred in midfield.
Rangnick will want to solidify his holding midfielders this evening in hope of getting back to winning ways, and the reintroduction of McTominay could do just that.
Centre-midfield - Fred
A changed man in some senses since the arrival of Rangnick to Old Trafford. Fred has seen a more intense role, pressing the opposition heavily and trying to win the ball back at the earliest opportunity.
His presence is expected to continue, especially with the Bees’ use of a 3-5-2 formation - meaning the Brazilian can try and prevent United being overrun in midfield.
Centre-midfield - Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes was a standout performer in the Red Devils draw with Villa on the weekend, playing in a deeper centre-midfield role as opposed to sitting behind the striker.
The Portuguese international is familiar with playing in this position, having regularly been utilised for his country there and scored both of United’s goals in the Midlands on Saturday.
Right-wing - Mason Greenwood
United’s third-highest goalscorer Mason Greenwood needs to continue to get regular game-time in order to develop further.
The forward has started in the last five games and is expected to make it a sixth tonight.
However, with Greenwood failing to score or make an assist in those fixtures, Rangnick could be forced to bench the Englishman and replace him with Jadon Sancho or the returning Rashford.
Centre-forward - Cristiano Ronaldo
If Cristiano Ronaldo is available for selection expect a return for the starting 11 for the 36-year-old this evening.
The Red Devils’ no.7 is the club’s highest goalscorer this campaign with 14 goals, double that of next best Fernandes.
His presence in the team could lead to United getting back to winning ways.
Left-wing - Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho has impressed Rangnick in training and could make a return to the team this evening.
The £73m summer signing hasn’t had the best season so far for the club, but can look to push on in the second-half of the campaign in order to push for a place in England’s World Cup squad.
Given Rashford’s form as of late and the above point, it’s hard to see why the Red Devils’ boss wouldn’t choose Sancho this evening.
It is expected that United will line up in a 4-3-3 formation against the Bees tonight, the same layout they used against Villa on the weekend.
This is the third formation used under Rangnick since his appointment in November, but could allow for more freedom for the club’s wingers and better solidity with a midfield-three.