Manchester United will be looking to turn things around at Old Trafford when Norwich City visit for the afternoon kick-off.
After five games without a win in all competitions, United have seemed to come off short in the previous games after dominating the possession stats. However, it is scoring goals that win you games and so far, there has been a lack of them or a goal scorer. Obviously, injuries have caught up and players have been sent out on loan does not help the situation either. With the festive fixtures of four games in the space of a fortnight, the squad will need to be chopped and changed to maximise the chance to gain all three points in games.
As always, Old Trafford is where you expect United to win games and be the fearless and dreaded opposition to face against. You can say that was down to the Sir Alex Ferguson era and since then, the opponents has managed to break historic record’s and walked away with all three points. This still remains a doubt on which United side will turn up on the day. There has not been consistent performances in the Premier League however, sitting fourth and keeping the most clean sheets in the league has it’s own rewards. If Van Gaal is considering being title challengers, he will need to get results from now and be ready for January.
Then you have Norwich who are currently eighteenth and are involved in the relegation battle. Their ambition will be to stay up in the Premier League. Whether manager Alex Neil will get the chance to spend in the January transfer window will be another matter. He knows the team are capable of doing better and he would like to get more points. He does know that United are tough to beat at home this season as they are unbeaten in seven games.
Captain Rooney is expected to come back into the side as he was sidelined through injury. Herrera, Smalling have returned to training this week and Schweinsteiger is still suspended. Norwich are without defender Wisdom. Rudd is expected to start in goal.
In the previous games against Bournemouth, it was a flat performance where United were second best to get the ball. Bournemouth were happy to defend and showed more determination to win the game. The style of play is hurting United as players are looking robotic and searching for the perfect pass. There is not a player who will want to shoot from outside the box and take the chance. Most likely, Memphis would be the one to cut inside and have a shot on goal. It does not help when Wilson is out on loan and scoring when you have Rooney and Martial as your only two available strikers. Fair play to Fellaini scoring but he does not provide any motion to attack when the ball is played on the ground. Then subbing him off for a defender does not make sense either.
If Rooney starts, it could mean either Lingard or Memphis misses out in the starting line-up. Even though Lingard can run behind defenders, he often misplaces his passes and you would rather have Memphis run directly at full backs to provide any threat forward. Varela should start over Darmian to give him experience on the right and depending on the fitness of Smalling and Jones, Darmian could play at left back. It’s great to see Van Gaal showing faith in the youngsters and giving Borthwick-Jackson an opportunity to cover at left back. That is probably one reason of Van Gaal’s time at Old Trafford to recognise he gives the youth a chance with the likes of Pereira and Powell to play. It does make you wonder about senior, experienced players like Young who would be able to tackle the issues when there’s a time of need.
There will be expectations going into this game for United to win against a relegation battling team but nothing is guaranteed with the Red Devil’s so it would not be surprising if points are dropped yet again.
Possible starting XI:
Man Utd; De Gea, Varela, Smalling, Jones, Blind, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Mata, Rooney, Memphis, Martial.
Norwich; Rudd, Bennett, Bassong, Martin, Olsson, Tettey, Hoolahan, Brady, O’Neil, Redmond, Jerome.