Eric Bailly looks set to make his first Manchester United appearance of the season in the Carabao Cup third round clash at Old Trafford against West Ham.
This will be the Ivorian’s first match for United since the Europa League final penalty defeat against Villarreal in May.
The 27-year-old could start alongside Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, or possibly even both in the clash against the Hammers.
Bailly will be eager to impress Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and provide a performance that strengthens his case to be given further starts.
Which version of Bailly will we see?
One thing you can guarantee with Bailly being on the pitch is, it’s never going to be dull.
The Ivory Coast international is capable of both the sublime and the ridiculous.
In this summer’s Olympics, in his nation’s quarter-final clash against Spain, Bailly opened the scoring, but then with his side minutes away from causing a major upset, he failed to clear his lines which allowed Rafa Mir to equalise.
Things got even worse in extra-time. Bailly gave away a crucial penalty, which was awarded after a VAR review.
He jumped with his hands way up above his head and blocked a Spanish goalbound header.
Mikel Oyarzabal made no mistake from the penalty spot to put Spain 3-2 ahead and the Spaniards eventually ran out 5-2 winners.
He returned to international action earlier this month in his side’s 2-1 win against Cameroon in their CAF World Cup qualification group.
If getting through 90 minutes was the good news, then giving away a second half penalty was the bad.
Bailly made a typically over-zealous challenge, making contact with his opponent’s head.
Bailly has now conceded back-to-back penalties in his last two games. Let’s hope that’s a run that doesn’t extend any further tonight.
Eric Bailly vs Michail Antonio?
Bailly’s return to the starting line-up could see come up against Michail Antonio, who is the Premier League’s joint top goalscorer.
Alongside Paul Pogba (7 assists), no player has been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season than Antonio with his four goals and three assists, which have come from just four games.
After missing West Ham’s dramatic 2-1 defeat to United on Sunday, David Moyes may decide to start Antonio at Old Trafford.
The Jamaican international has the pace and power to torment any defence, but Bailly can toe-to-toe with Antonio’s physical attributes.
If Bailly stays focused and keeps the game simple, he could easily nullify the threat of Antonio and produce a Rolls Royce performance that makes him heralded as one of the best defenders in Europe, who deserves to be playing every week.
But he could also have a rash and reckless evening which results in him giving away a penalty or getting sent off for a dangerous challenge.
Playing against Antonio could bring out the best or worst of Bailly, it’s almost a case of rolling the dice and hoping for the best.
Let’s hope tonight brings a Bailly masterclass.
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