In what might prove to be an interesting week on and off the pitch, the best thing to do is look forward. Forget Queens Park Rangers exist. Forget that Lyndon Dykes scored two goals. And look forward. That said, Manchester United continue their pre-season on Wednesday evening with their first home game since the 1-1 draw with Fulham back in May. The match will kick off at 8pm and will be played in front of Old Trafford’s biggest attendance since that Manchester City game, which feels like forever ago.
Premier League newcomers, Brentford, will make the trip to Old Trafford on the back of an impressive season in the Championship, which saw them win promotion via the play-offs.
With Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba among others returning to the squad this week but unlikely to feature, this game could be the last big opportunity for some players to impress before the season kicks off in less than three weeks.
Following that brilliant 20/21 promotion season, Brentford have made a solid start to pre-season, with a 100% record thus far. The Bees have seen off AFC Wimbledon, Boreham Wood and Watford, they’ll no doubt be looking to add Manchester United to that list on Wednesday night.
Wednesday also marks Brentford’s first visit to Old Trafford in 46 years, where United edged a 2-1 victory in the League Cup with goals from Lou Macari & Sammy McIlroy. They won’t have to wait as long until their next visit, as they’ll be back at the Theatre of Dreams in April which might prove to be a crucial game for both sides, for very different reasons.
Star man and early Fantasy Football favourite, Ivan Toney, is likely to feature. The Brenford forward scored 33 goals last season, propelling Brentford to the Premier League and Carabao Cup semi-finals. After finding the net against Watford twice at the weekend, he’ll be looking to put down a marker against one of the Premier League’s ‘big six’.
Although more players have returned to Carrington this week, it’s unlikely any of them will feature on Wednesday, so expect to see a similar squad that made the trip to QPR on Saturday, with a couple returning from injury.Embed from Getty Images
Alex Telles will be out of action for the entirety of August after sustaining an ankle injury in training. Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial are also set for action with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirming both will be on the bench. Tahith Chong has left the squad to join up with Birmingham City ahead of his season-long loan to the Championship club. Here’s what the squad should look like;
Goalkeepers: Nathan Bishop, Lee Grant, Tom Heaton, Matej Kovar.
Defenders: Di’Shon Bernard, Will Fish, Teden Mengi, Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams.
Midfielders: Andreas Pereira, Ethan Galbraith, James Garner, Hannibal, Daniel James, Dylan Levitt, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood, Joe Hugill, Shola Shoretire, Anthony Martial.
One to Watch
Usually I’d pick a Manchester United player as the one to watch but with key players still away, it’s hard to ignore the presence of Ivan Toney.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United’s inexperienced defence will have their hands full dealing with Toney and although it’s just a pre-season friendly, he’ll be aware that scoring at Old Trafford would be the perfect introduction for those not too familiar with him.
Brentford’s hopes of a successful season hang on the shoulders of Toney and he seems like the type of character to relish that responsibility. He’ll be keen to show what he’s all about on Wednesday.
After this encounter, Manchester United are on the road again this weekend, travelling to Deepdale to face Preston North End in their penultimate pre-season friendly on Saturday.