Manchester United will not be in Premier League action until April at the very earliest and it looks likely to be longer than that.
In the meantime, we thought the next best thing to watching United in action may be following their progress virtually.
We’ve decided to simulate United’s final nine matches of the Premier League season on FIFA 20 to see how United might have got on…
United travelled to face Jose Mourinho’s injury ravaged side and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went back to the 5-3-2 formation which saw off Manchester City.
Scott McTominay got the nod to start ahead of Nemanja Matic alongside Fred, but was forced off with injury after just 25 minutes.
It was a cagey first half but United were the better side, going closest via a Bruno Fernandes free kick.
Juan Mata was introduced for Fred just past the hour mark as United chased a winner before Odion Ighalo replaced Daniel James up front.
It was to no avail as the match ended 0-0. Mourinho’s injury-ravaged Spurs side turned the game into a scrappy contest, just the way he’d have liked it in real life.
United’s unbeaten run continues but an opportunity to lay down a marker in the race for the Champions League goes amiss.
Brighton away was a game which caused Jose Mourinho considerable problems, losing at the Amex in his last two visits there.
Solskjaer went with a more attacking 4-2-3-1 to try and avoid a similar fate here, giving Ighalo his first Premier League start in attack.
It almost paid off instantly when Ighalo set up a golden chance for Bruno Fernandes to open the scoring, but the Portuguese shot straight at Mat Ryan.
Ten minutes later, Fernandes got an even better one when Lewis Dunk clumsily fouled Ighalo in the penalty box. The midfielder made no mistake. 1-0 United.
United rampaged forward from there and Nemanja Matic would have doubled the lead just past the half hour mark but for an excellent save from Ryan but they were not to be denied for long.
On the stroke of half time, Ighalo made it 2-0 – at the second attempt – to keep up his record of scoring every time he starts for United.
Ighalo missed another 1v1 to make it three on 62 minutes and Matic whistled a long-ranger just past the post on 75 as United continued to dominate, closing the game out with a minimum of fuss.
Ighalo kept his place in an unchanged side to face Bournemouth, for whom Eddie Howe fielded Josh King, who could have been turning out for United in different deadline day circumstances.
It was King who had the match’s first clear chance, forcing an expert save from David de Gea, presumably fired up to show Solskjaer what he could have acquired on deadline day.
United dominated possession in a quiet first half but failed to have a single shot of any kind, leaving Solskjaer with work to do at half time.
United only sprung into life on the hour mark, when Dan James should have opened the scoring and that chance sparked constant home pressure.
Jefferson Lerma almost stunned Old Trafford with a late winner and Solskjaer’s side had to be content with another 0-0 draw.
Five points from nine would have been an underwhelming return, although three successive clean sheets would be positive. A 0-0 home draw with Bournemouth would have been really disappointing.
The plus side is that FIFA 20 predicts United’s unbeaten record would still be intact with just six league games remaining, with a trip to another struggling side, Aston Villa on the horizon next up.
- Part two and three coming on United In Focus later this week
- Greenwood recreates celebration in United training session
- What does Nemanja Matic’s renewal mean for James Garner?
- Three reasons why United should consider James Rodriguez move
- Predicted Manchester United XI v Aston Villa
- Solskjaer gives Lindelof fitness update