Manchester United take on a depleted Aston Villa side on Friday and uncertainty still surrounds Louis van Gaal’s best line-up. Here is a potential starting XI for the Red Devils' second Premier League match of the season.
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero
With David de Gea’s potential move to Real Madrid and Victor Valdes’ bust up with Louis van Gaal, the next in line has to be Sergio Romero. Against Tottenham, Romero’s distribution was a little bit shaky at times, however the new signing displayed good shot stopping ability.
Right back: Matteo Darmian
Matteo Darmian was comfortably one of United’s best performers last weekend. His poise and calmness on the ball is something both Antonio Valencia and Rafael could not replicate. Darmian can still improve going forward, but Van Gaal can rest assured that no calamitous mistakes will occur on his side of the pitch.
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Center back: Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling has progressed immensely as a central defender. The Englishman has become Louis van Gaal’s no.1 option in the heart of defence and for good reason. Smalling is good on the ball and even better at winning tackles on the ground and in the air. The defender is vital to Manchester United and needs to start.
Center back: Marcos Rojo
Van Gaal experimented with Daley Blind in central defence and this did not work out as planned. Blind is a midfielder, after all. A more solid option to partner Smalling would be Marcos Rojo. Rojo, unlike Blind, is defender by trade. The Argentine’s strong frame and relatively good pace allow him to control opposition forwards on his day.
Left back: Luke Shaw
Following a strong and complete preseason, Luke Shaw has looked to be in top condition. Attacking wise, Shaw provides his burst of speed and good passing ability to terrorise the opposition. The Englishman also provides cover in defence and is very rarely caught off guard.
Central Midfielder: Michael Carrick
Both Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick are far too similar as players. This means only one of them can play at a time. Schneiderlin’s superior tackling ability would be needed in the bigger games, but against a struggling Aston Villa side, Carrick’s ability to conduct the flow of possession will come to the fore.
Central Midfielder: Ander Herrera
Simply put, Manchester United need Ander Herrera in midfield. He is the only midfielder that comes short for the ball and his ability to recycle possession quickly and efficiently is important for a possession based side. Still, Herrera always seems to be the fall man and it is evident that there is something thing the United boss dislikes about him.
Attacking Midfielder: Juan Mata
Juan Mata has been played in a wide right position for a long time now and it is fair to say that he has done well. Nevertheless, the Spaniard’s best work is done through the middle. And with Memphis Depay, a winger, struggling to play at no.10, the time could not be better to move Mata back into his favoured position.
Right Midfield: Memphis Depay
Depay has continued to struggle in a no.10 role and he needs to move out wide. He and Mata could easily swap places to allow the duo to play their best positions as mentioned above. From a wide position, Depay will be able to run at defenders and play facing towards goal rather than away from it.
Left Midfielder: Ashley Young
With rumours of signing Barcelona’s Pedro floating around, Ashley Young’s future has to be called into question. As of now though, Young is still a guaranteed starter. The England international can beat players with pure trickery and contributes a few goals himself. A perfect professional, Young fully deserves his new contract. Count on the former Aston Villa man to give Pedro a run for his money, should the Spaniard arrive.
Forward: Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney was nowhere near his best last weekend, missing out on a chance to open his goal tally for the season. Even so, Rooney was still constantly running in behind but was starved of service. The Englishman is currently the best option at the forward position, when in form, but will need to prove his worth to Van Gaal with goals.