After the bout of COVID-19 forced postponements, Ralf Rangnick’s Reds are back and on the road to Tyneside to face 19th placed Newcastle United.
Prior to the brief hiatus, Manchester United were doing well and on the up, with results being favourable if not spectacular.
With this being the first United game since more than two weeks ago, excitement for this fixture is aplenty.
With a Covid-19 outbreak hitting the squad fairly hard, Rangnick’s recent words about the entire squad being available again, bar Paul Pogba, are incredibly encouraging and mean the German manager now has a veritable swiss army knife of options at his disposal.
With several options available, it’ll be very interesting to see how the German sets up his starting XI against Newcastle, with another game at Old Trafford against Burnley just three days later.
The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports at 8:00pm GMT in the UK. If you are planning on streaming the match through a streaming site, make sure you have a NordVPN subscription, which allows you to stream matches securely and with lightning speeds – sign up here for 72% off a two-year subscription!
Considering Ralf Rangnick’s tenure as Manchester United interim manager is still in its relative infancy, the side have experienced a revival of form since the departure of Solskjær, with Michael Carrick and Ralf Rangnick guiding the club through a form record of DWWDW if you look at the five most recent fixtures.
Furthermore, if we isolate for Premier League performances, United’s form record looks like LDWWW, with the only loss being against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Considering only Rangnick’s three games in charge, however, we can note that in the Premier League, he has enjoyed two wins against Crystal Palace and Norwich City.
The win against Crystal Palace doesn’t tell the full story as United were dazzling against Patrick Vieira’s men however weren’t able to illustrate that by the scoreline. The performance against Norwich wasn’t nearly as good – however a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty earned United the three points and Rangnick has got his side to earn two consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League.
Newcastle United on the other hand, haven’t had any real uptick in form since the takeover by the PIF from Mike Ashley and the appointment of Eddie Howe as manager. Their form record from their 5 most recent games is DWLLL. It doesn’t help that they are having to play 3 heavyweights in Manchester City, Liverpool and now Manchester United, consecutively.
Newcastle remain firmly in the relegation zone and until serious reinforcements can be purchased in the winter transfer window, should be, on paper at least, hindered by United’s defensive steel and outgunned by United’s attacking firepower.
The latest word from Ralf Rangnick about the availability of players at his disposal, following a Covid-19 outbreak at Carrington, is that he has (nearly) a full squad available for selection.
All players are available and have been involved in training sessions with the notable exception of Paul Pogba.
Both Edinson Cavani and Raphael Varane, 2 players who have spent considerable time unavailable, have travelled with the squad to Tyneside.
Anthony Martial is also available again after picking up a knock in training a few weeks prior. However, Rangnick has confirmed that he has directly expressed his will to leave the club in the upcoming transfer windows, provided an offer that the club deems acceptable arrives. It remains to be seen how this impacts his already dwindling playing time.
Expanding on Paul Pogba, Rangnick explains that he’s still a couple of weeks away from getting up to match fitness.
For Newcastle United, Eddie Howe’s men also seem to be at full strength for the fixture with the exception of Jamal Lewis, with the Northern Ireland international picking up a hamstring injury in Newcastle’s prior fixture against Liverpool.
Ones to Watch
I’d definitely say the two players to watch would be Edinson Cavani and Raphael Varane.
For Cavani, there have been several rumours that the Uruguayan international is looking to engineer a move to Barcelona and while nothing has become directly public from the player’s camp there is a lot of smoke regarding this. Furthermore, will Rangnick bring Cavani in to play alongside Ronaldo in the front two.
Raphael Varane has finally returned from injury but it remains to be seen if Rangnick immediately brings him in after Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire have earned two consecutive league clean sheets. Under Solskjær I would be sure Varane would come in instantly but I’m unsure under Rangnick.
Predicted line-up (4-2-2-2)
David de Gea;
Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelöf, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw;
Scott McTominay, Fred;
Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes;
Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford
Ralf’s Reds return
Whatever the circumstances, United supporters finally get to watch their team grace the football pitch once again, and that’s an exciting prospect no matter what.
With Ralf Rangnick saying that he has gotten more time on the training pitch with his players, and with his new look backroom staff of Chris Armas, Ewan Sharp and Sascha Lense having had some time to work with the players, I am very excited to see Rangnick having stamped more of his ideology onto this United side.
I’m picturing a performance similar to the first half against Crystal Palace but with more solidity and completeness about it – hopefully with a commanding victory reflected in the scoreline.
The development of the futures of some want-away stars will also be fascinating to watch as far as off-the-pitch things are considered, however that’s a discussion to had later.
Bring on Newcastle!