Manchester United will be looking to make a strong statement of intent when they travel to face noisy neighbours Man City in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Kick-off from the Etihad Stadium is at 4:30pm UK time.
Ralf Rangnick’s side are unbeaten in eight Premier League games, the longest current run without defeat in the competition, though they failed to convince in a goalless draw against Watford last weekend.
United are looking to win four consecutive away games in all competitions against Man City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000. In terms of early team news, Scott McTominay returned to training earlier in the week and should be fit to make the matchday squad at the very least, while Edinson Cavani is also in contention to feature.
Here is how MEN writers think United should line up, with these filed before the squad was confirmed:
Whatever United’s strongest team is, they can pick it this weekend. A back three would be defeatist, despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s success with it in derbies, as United have the quality to harm City whilst playing proactively.
It seems inevitable Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be recalled to duel with Raheem Sterling again, even though his sloppiness heavily contributed to City’s superiority at Old Trafford in November. At left-back, it’s much of a muchness but it’s Luke Shaw’s go. Harry Maguire rose to the occasion at Leeds and United have to hope he does so again.
A base of Scott McTominay and Fred behind an attacking quartet of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo would be logical. There is too much individualism in that United attack but it might win them the game and they need to give Pogba a go on the left again.
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United still don’t quite have the quality to match City toe-to-toe this weekend but they might be able to secure another famous win by springing a tactical surprise from the start.
At full-back, United need to go for the better defensive options, with Wan-Bissaka and Shaw the safest selections. Lindelof doesn’t deserve to be dropped, but Maguire and Varane simply have to start a match of such magnitude.
McTominay should start if he is fit, while Fred is essential too. Pogba would be fortunate to play, but can be catered for with the formation switch.
Sancho and Elanga are both undroppable on recent form, and Fernandes as a false nine could reap rewards against a well-drilled defence. Ronaldo doesn’t deserve to start.
United have been better defensively under Rangnick and they will need to be this weekend. To that end I would start Wan-Bissaka at right-back and Maguire would keep his place, despite Lindelof’s form. Shaw and Varane are certainities.
I can’t see a way to get Pogba into a midfield three and while McTominay and Fred should both start, I would maintain the 4-3-3 and push Fred further on so that he can press City and make his influence felt further forward.
Pogba still needs to be in the team for me and that means a start on the left-wing, with Sancho on the right, Ronaldo hasn’t been in great form but I don’t see Cavani being fit enough to start and Rashford doesn’t deserve to play through the middle, so there’s no decision to be made.