Manchester United welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford on Sunday in United’s third game of the league campaign and their first big six fixture. Therefore we begin our first combined XI for the season!
Both teams will be looking to kick start their league campaigns, after what has been an up and down start to the season for these two teams. United should be looking to take advantage of the fact that this will be Tottenham’s third game in eight days. On top of Spurs’ hectic schedule, they also have injuries to key players such as Heung Min Son and Gareth Bale.
Manchester United come into this with no major injury worries. Harry Maguire is expected to return to the centre of United’s defence, after missing the midweek game with a knock. Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe are likely to miss out as they continue their rehabilitation from long term injuries. The biggest question mark with regards to selection surrounds whether or not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks Eric Bailly and Donny Van de Beek have done enough to earn their first Premier League start of the season. Both players have really impressed when we’ve seen them in the two Carabao Cup games this season.
It’s difficult to know what both teams’ line-ups will look like as both teams have had a busy start to the season. However, with all things considered this would be my combined XI for Sunday afternoon’s fixture:
David De Gea – GK
This was a tough call because in Hugo Lloris Tottenham have a very reliable goalkeeper and a World Cup winner. But David De Gea’s form this season has been encouraging and out of all the options I feel Dave is still the best keeper.
RB – Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Not had the best start to the season, but I feel he’s still one of the best right backs in the league and probably the best defensively. He gets forward but isn’t always effective in the opposition’s final third. This is why I went with the attacking option of Reguilon at left back in this combined XI.
RCB – Eric Bailly
I’ve been calling for Bailly to start for United since the season started, providing he can stay fit and find a consistency to his game. I think he’s done that at the start of this season and with his attributes, especially his recovery speed he’s the ideal partner for Maguire.
LCB – Harry Maguire
You could say Maguire has struggled to live up his hefty price tag since joining the club, but there’s no doubt he has improved United’s defence. Both teams aren’t the best defensively and while Eric Dier has had a good start to the season, I’d go with the United skipper in this position.
LB – Sergio Reguilon
This may be a slightly controversial choice but Reguilon is a player that would offer better balance to my combined XI’s defence. At right back will be a player whose strength is defending. On left side I would want an attacking full back who is capable of goals and assists and therefore I believe Reguilon is the best option. Also let’s not forget this was a player The Reds nearly signed and if they had he arguably would have been United’s first choice left back.
CDM – Nemanja Matic
Nemanja Matic has become Mr Reliable for United in this position for a while now and he gives the midfield balance and provides protection for the back four. From a Tottenham perspective Pierre Hojbjerg has done ok in this position for Spurs since joining but it’s early days. Also, Matic knows Jose Mourinho very well and should have a good idea of what to expect from the Portuguese manager.
CM – Donny Van De Beek
The temptation was to go with Paul Pogba for this combined XI because he’s up against Mourinho and you have to feel he’s got a point to prove. However, I still believe he’s lacking match sharpness and I think it’s time to give Van de Beek a start after some impressive cameos. Also, I expect Tottenham to sit back for large parts of the game. If this is the case Van de Beek’s creativity and clever runs could be a real threat to the Spurs back line.
CM – Bruno Fernandes
No doubts about Bruno’s place in this team, on paper he will be arguably be the best player on show. Even when he has a supposedly poor game like against Brighton last week he still finishes with a goal and an assist. If he plays well, United play well.
RW – Anthony Martial
I wanted to get Anthony Martial in this team, but it couldn’t be in his favoured centre forward role. However, we know how dangerous he can be in the wide areas and therefore he can effectively play in this position in this team.
LW – Marcus Rashford
Rashford has started to show signs that he could be about to rediscover his best form again. The goal against Brighton will have done him the world of good. If Son was fit, he may have been selected instead, but Rashford is a more than adequate replacement and brings pace to the frontline for my combined XI.
ST – Harry Kane
Harry Kane has to play centre forward on his day he’s the best striker in the league. He’s been scoring goals this season and although Anthony Martial has impressed as a striker for a while now Kane is a natural in this position.