Manchester United play Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday in the first game of the Premier League season and Erik Ten Hag’s first competitive line-up will be one of the most intriguing things we have to look forward to. This is what we will predict here.
1. David De Gea
Even the first-choice goalkeeper, this is the easiest pick. The Spaniard won player’s player of the season last year and has kept his place in pre-season – he will start unless he gets injured.
2. Diogo Dalot
Dalot made a breakthrough in the last campaign, becoming part of the preferred 11 for the first time under the interim manager at the time, Ralf Rangnick.
He has similarly been first-choice over Aaron Wan-Bissaka and youngster Ethan Laird in the summer friendlies, and should keep his place. Although not perfect, he has improved a lot in the last two years and is developing well.
3. Harry Maguire
As the club captain, the England international will start at centre-back.
He endured a difficult season in 21/22, but it looks like the new boss will stick with his skipper after experiencing his first pre-season tour with the club.
As a good ball-playing defender, he should fit well into Ten Hag’s system.
4. Victor Lindelof
Maguire’s partner is a much more difficult prediction. Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are the other two options.
Varane is a fantastic player but we did not see the two start together in pre-season – which could be a sign of things to come. And while we could have seen new signing Martinez start with him, he only arrived at the club in time to play one game, which was next to Varane.
With this in mind, and Martinez’s readiness for Premier League football uncertain at this stage, it seems as if Lindelöf would be the most likely option.
5. Tyrell Malacia
Although it was expected that the new signing from Feyenoord would play as a second-choice player to Luke Shaw, he played more often than his counterpart in the friendly matches.
This could be due to injury or illness on the England international’s part, but Malacia seems the most fit to play in the game, with match fitness in mind.
He impressed in the games he played, and hopefully, that continues.
6. Scott McTominay
The 25-year-old is only one of two experienced players in his position at the moment, along with Fred. United are likely to dip into the transfer market for a player such as Frenkie De Jong, but no business in this department has been done yet.
With that in mind, it is almost certain that he will start.
Much like Mctominay, the Brazilian will almost certainly play due to the lack of depth in the position.
He was one of the team’s most impressive players last season – playing a slightly more attacking role under Rangnick – and should keep his place.
8. Bruno Fernandes
A nailed-on starter, the new number eight should play an important part in the new boss’ project and we can expect to see him play an important part on Sunday in the attacking midfield position.
His creativity will be all important.
9. Jadon Sancho
Sancho missed United’s double weekend fixture just under a week ago due to illness, however, he is expected to be back in time for the club’s Premier League opener.
The winger was impressive in pre-season, linking up well with full-back Dalot, especially, and could be instrumental in the team’s success in this campaign.
10. Marcus Rashford
The 24-year-old had a very difficult year last season, only managing five goals in 31 appearances in all competitions.
Although he lost his place to youngster Anthony Elanga under Rangnick, so far it would seem he has one spot back and has performed well so far in the games we have seen.
11. Cristiano Ronaldo
With the absence of Anthony Martial through injury (Full story here), it may be that Ronaldo comes back early.
After returning late to pre-season (Due to family issues according to the club), he has only played 45 minutes of action so far. However, his natural fitness could mean that he plays 60 minutes or so and is subbed off then.
There is also the option of playing Rashford up-front and using Elanga and Sancho on the wings.
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