What is Man United’s best Starting XI?
José Mourinho’s preference for a 4-2-3-1 is well-documented and there are a number of names that are almost guaranteed to be in the Starting XI, notably David de Gea, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.
Pogba is United’s most influential player and fantasy football managers that have the luxury of using the late swap in their chosen contests should always check the starting line-up to see how he is likely to be deployed.
So, how can we expect Manchester United to line up when everyone is fit and available?
Man United Goalkeepers
At United, David de Gea has developed into one of the finest young goalkeepers in world football and his stock continues to rise under the leadership of Mourinho.
He became Spain’s first choice goalkeeper at Euro 2016, a position he is expected to fill again at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, although it did turn out to be a disappointing tournament for the defending champions, who lost to Italy in the last-16.
De Gea’s main goalkeeping cover comes from the Argentina international stopper Sergio Romero.
Man United Defenders
Skipper Antonio Valencia has made the right back spot his own and is one of the first names on the team-sheet.
Ivory Coast international Eric Bailly, a £30 million purchase from Villarreal, has been plagued with injury problems this season, so it is Chris Smalling that has emerged as the regular partner to Phil Jones in the middle of United’s back line. Jones has developed into a real fantasy bonus points magnet and is finally justifying the faith Alex Ferguson put in him, when he signed him from Blackburn Rovers.
Luke Shaw has a fight on his hands to establish himself as first choice left-back due to the form of a resurgent Ashley Young, while Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelöf, the out of favour Daley Blind and Italy international Matteo Darmian are all more than capable of filling in when required.
Man United Midfielders
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s departure could spell bad news for Juan Mata due to the arrival of Alexis Sánchez, who has been handed United’s legendary number 7 shirt.
Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic remain nailed-on starters, leaving Mata and Jesse Lingard to compete for the remaining spot.
Shielding midfield options include Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera, while Mourinho remains a huge fan of Marouane Fellaini, a player he likes to call upon to shore up a winning position.
Man United Forwards
Sánchez’s arrival could see Mourinho opting for a three-pronged forward line, with Romelu Lukaku operating as the central pivot flanked by Anthony Martial and the former Arsenal man.
Sánchez could also play in the hole if Mourinho sticks with his favoured formation, with either Lingard or Mata operating on the right.
Marcus Rashford will continue to feature but mainly from the bench, while Zlatan Ibrahimović continues to struggle with injuries since signing his contract extension.
Man United – Preferred Starting XI
United’s large squad means that Mourinho has plenty of options from the bench. However, while he has never been frightened to shuffle his pack early on in a game if things are going badly or as a tactical reactionary move, his substitutions do tend to follow a similar pattern, so we can continue to expect the likes of Martial, Lingard and Mata to see their game minutes limited.
Mourinho also tends to be a bit conservative in big matches, so if this trait fails to secure the necessary results he is likely to feel the wrath of the Old Trafford faithful!
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