Predicted Manchester United line-up v Tottenham

Manchester United have had a week to digest and stew on the City defeat and face a huge challenge against Tottenham this weekend.

The match-up at Old Trafford on Saturday is a crucial must-win game for both teams, with a draw doing no favours for either side.

United’s top four hopes could be over with a loss, and heading into next week’s Champions League clash at home to Atletico Madrid, this is one of two games United really need a result in.

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There will be a temptation for United to consider a 3-5-2 formation which worked against Tottenham back in early November. This resulted in a 3-0 win, but this was an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer v Nuno Santo match-up, while this game pits Ralf Rangnick up against Antonio Conte.

Statistically speaking it is most likely Rangnick sticks to a 4-3-3, although he has had time to consider and plan alternatives with a week between games.

4 potential changes

We would love United to be able to change 11 players after the City loss last week, but as we saw, the substitutes who came on were even worse. There is no place for Marcus Rashford or Jesse Lingard in our XI.

In goal David de Gea will retain his place, and at left-back, expect Alex Telles to by default as Luke Shaw still had not returned from Covid midweek after missing the City game. The best Shaw can hope for is a place on the bench.

At centre-back Raphael Varane will return. While we would love to see Eric Bailly given an opportunity alongside him, it will probably be one of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

While Maguire was bad against City, there is an argument to be made Lindelof was even worse, and it will most likely be Maguire and Varane starting.

At right-back, this is an ideal time to recall Diogo Dalot and cast Aaron Wan-Bissaka aside, who was exposed at both ends of the pitch against City.

In midfield it is also important to break up the Fred and McTominay partnership and do something different, especially if Rangnick intends to start both against Atletico Madrid – which may be unwise.

We would expect to see Nemanja Matic come in and try and provide some control in this game, with Fred and Bruno Fernandes helping make up the rest of the midfield three. Paul Pogba would drop to the bench, perhaps a little unluckily.

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Anthony Elanga and Jadon Sancho will provide pace and directness on the wings, with Edinson Cavani leading the line up front.

Cavani has been training all week and should finally be ready to return. Cristiano Ronaldo was training individually earlier in the week amid an issue with a hip injury, and United will want to save him for the Atletico fixture, if forced to choose between the two.

Admittedly it is a bold call predicting Cavani starts these days, but surely, this is the week he makes his monthly appearance.

In: Varane, Dalot, Matic, Cavani

Out: Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, Pogba

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