Manchester United and Everton will round off their preparations for the 2021-22 Premier League season with an eye-catching friendly at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been boosted by two key deals early in the transfer window, with Jadon Sancho arriving from Borussia Dortmund and Raphael Varane set to complete his move from Real Madrid imminently. Even though neither seems like they’re going to be involved on Saturday, there is plenty of optimism from fans to see stars like Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes coming back from their extended break after their involvement in Euro 2021.
Man United’s pre-season clash with Preston North End, which was scheduled for last Saturday, was postponed following speculated coronavirus cases in the United camp, although it eventually proved to be a false alarm, with the squad quickly cleared to return to training.
Everton will take the trip up to Old Trafford on the back of an uninspiring tenure with previous manager Carlo Ancelotti, which saw them finish 10th in the Premier League. With the controversial appointment of Rafa Benítez, it will be interesting to see what happens with Everton under the Spaniard.
As stated following a disappointing 20/21 season, Everton have had a decent pre-season so far, taking part in the Florida Cup towards the end of July, and managed to play two matches despite the competition being altered due to Arsenal and Inter Milan both withdrawing
The Toffees beat Millonarios on penalties following a 1-1 draw before recording a 1-0 victory over Pumas UNAM, with Moise Kean finding the back of the net.Embed from Getty Images
Starman Dominic Calvert-Lewin may be given extra time to rest after a busy summer. A surprising exclusion for many, James Rodríguez will not be part of the travelling Everton team. It has been reported that new boss Benítez has told the Colombian that he’s free to leave. The last time Everton were at Old Trafford, Rodríguez was on sparkling form even scoring in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
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As more players return from their post-season break after the Euros, the likes of David de Gea, Paul Pogba, and Bruno Fernandes could get minutes for United. Marcus Rashford is out as he prepares to undergo shoulder surgery. Victor Lindelof may also feature in the middle of the defence, but it is unclear whether Solskjær is planning to use club captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw as although they have both returned to training, their time so far back at United has been limited due to their Euro 2020 exploits. Also, Manchester United have announced that Dean Henderson is absent from the club’s current training camp in Scotland as he is still recovering from contracting COVID-19 over 3 weeks ago.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 looks set for action with the pair having been spotted in training all week. Di’Shon Bernard has left the squad to join up with Hull 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, David de Gea.
Defenders: Will Fish, Teden Mengi, Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelöf.
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, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Paul Pogba.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood, Joe Hugill, Shola Shoretire, Anthony Martial.Embed from Getty Images
One to Watch
Bruno Fernandes. Our Portuguese magnifico is back and raring to go. Speaking to the official club website upon his return and excited he is for the upcoming season, Bruno Fernandes explained: “It’s already in our minds to be ready for that game, of course, because we know everything we’ll do before that is to prepare for that game. We want to win against Everton and perform, but that game will serve to prepare us for the one against Leeds. The work we have to do in the next two weeks is to be ready for that game. We are enjoying the time here and trying to get the time here and trying to get the group more and more ready for the game and to be a group of players who want to win for each other. That will be the most important thing for these two weeks before we arrive at that game.“Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United, during this pre-season, haven’t been creating chances consistently, but with the return of Bruno Fernandes to the line up that shouldn’t be a problem. After an extraordinary first 18 months into his United career, the Portuguese Magnifico will be looking forward to what’s expected to be another stellar season. It’s expected to be a tight match and if anyone is going to decide the outcome in United’s favour it’s going to be him.
After this encounter, Manchester United are back at Old Trafford for their opening game of the season against Leeds United on Saturday, and will potentially be in front of a full Old Trafford crowd for the first time since Scott McTominay smashed one in from 40-yards against Manchester City, in March 2020.Embed from Getty Images