Manchester United would look to extend their 10-match unbeaten streak when they welcome high-flying Southampton to Old Trafford on Sunday. Ronald Koeman’s side are in a buoyant mood having won three of their last four matches while United are unbeaten in the league since their derby day defeat to Manchester City.
Luke Shaw’s return and Angel Di Maria back to full fitness and form with his impressive display against Yeovil in the FA Cup could mean Louis van Gaal reverts back to the 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Goalkeeper – David de Gea
Victor Valdes’ acquisition would do little to displace De Gea from his No.1 position. The Spaniard’s stock begins to rise and his place between the sticks is assured.
Defence – Jones, Smalling, Evans, Shaw.
Phil Jones should be deployed at right back with Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans forming the heart of the back four. Luke Shaw’s return should help United revert to four at the back and allow the attacking play to be spread out.
Midfield – Carrick, Rooney, Di Maria, Mata.
Michael Carrick’s problem is that there is only one of him. Carrick should sit in front of the back four with Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria given the license to link up with the forwards. Whether Ander Herrera gets the nod over Juan Mata is for Van Gaal to decide, but Rooney should find himself at ease in his midfield role, if asked to.
The major boost is the return of the talismanic Angel Di Maria, who should provide that spark and the link up play with Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney should be one to keep our eyes on.
Forwards – Robin van Persie, Falcao.
Falcao scored in the previous league encounter against Aston Villa to save United’s blushes and would be raring to go against the Saints.
Robin van Persie was rested for the FA Cup tie against Yeovil and the break could well help the Dutchman get back to full match sharpness ahead of the second half of the season.