Manchester United are looking to put their three-game winless streak behind them as they play hosts to Brentford on Monday.
Following a run of just one win in their last five league matches, it is fair to assume Manchester United’s hopes of a Champions League finish are well and truly over. With just three games remaining until the end of the season, the Red Devils are trailing fourth-placed Arsenal by eight points, with the Gunners even having a game in hand.
Despite making a couple of statement signings last summer, Manchester United’s season has been rife with mediocrity and inconsistency. Having finished second in the Premier League last season, they have failed to replicate their strong defensive record this term, with only Newcastle United conceding more goals than Man United in the top half of the Premier League table.
The attack has been far too reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo as well, leading to a lack of consistency from a side that are coming on the back of a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. On Monday, Ralf Rangnick’s men will have the chance to right the wrongs and at least push for a Europa League finish as they take on Brentford at home.
It is a must-win encounter for the hosts if they are to finish ahead of West Ham in the league table, but things won’t be made easier by a feisty Brentford side that have looked in excellent touch lately.
The newly-promoted outfit have secured three wins in their last four matches. Thomas Frank’s men may not have mathematically guaranteed survival just yet but a positive result against Man United could go a long way in helping them push further up the league table and give the likes of Leicester City and Newcastle United a run for their money.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United may have to make do without their star player Jadon Sancho as he is suffering from tonsilitis. But on a positive note, Rangnick is hoping to have Fred back in action while Edinson Cavani, Harry Maguire and Jesse Lingard could all be in contention to at least feature against Brentford if required.
📋 On the agenda in our #MUNBRE press conference:
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 29, 2022
With Sancho unlikely to feature during the remainder of the campaign, it could pave the way for Rangnick to provide starting berths to veteran Juan Mata and youth prospect Anthony Elanga, with Marcus Rashford serving as a potential alternative.
Bruno Fernandes should operate in the number ten role, as usual, offering creative support to his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo up top. Meanwhile, Rangnick could be compelled to offer a few minutes to other youth prospects in the team including Alejandro Garnacho and Hannibal Mejbri.
In midfield, Fred’s return remains a strong possibility. The Brazilian could renew his midfield partnership alongside Scott McTominay, with the two hoping to offer composure and control in the middle of the park.
As for the defence, Victor Lindelof could get the nod ahead of Harry Maguire once again, partnering with Raphael Varane in central defence. Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles remain favourites to occupy the full-back positions, although Alvaro Fernandez is an interesting alternative to Telles at left-back.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Telles; Fred, McTominay; Mata, Fernandes, Elanga; Ronaldo
Brentford manager Thomas Frank could be without up to four players on the trip to Manchester on Monday. The list of absentees includes Sergi Canos, Ethan Pinnock, Frank Onyeka and Saman Ghoddos.
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) May 1, 2022
At the same time, Frank has confirmed the availability of both Kristoffer Ajer and Christian Norgaard. They should both return to the starting XI, with Ajer renewing his defensive partnership alongside Pontus Jansson and Mads Sorensen.
Norgaard, meanwhile, could occupy the midfield role, partnering with Vitaly Janelt and Christian Eriksen. The latter will be tasked with the responsibility of offering the creative support upfront, having already made a noticeable impact since joining the club in the January transfer window.
Elsewhere in the second line of press, Mads Roerslev could be shifted back to his right wing-back position, with Rico Henry starting on the opposite flank, as usual. The two should provide width going forward, and potentially produce crosses from wide areas. It should be extremely useful as Brentford will have both Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo lurking inside the Manchester United penalty area.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Sorensen; Roerslev, Eriksen, Norgaard, Janelt, Henry; Toney, Mbeumo
- Manchester United are hosting Brentford for the first time in any competition since a 2-1 League Cup win in September 1975, and for the first time in the Premier League since a 4-1 win in December 1946.
- Brentford are winless in their last six meetings with Manchester United in all competitions since a 2-0 FA Cup win in February 1938.
- Since Derby County beat Manchester United 3-2 in April 1997, each of the last 20 visiting sides have lost their first-ever Premier League game at Old Trafford.
- Manchester United have won just one of their last seven Premier League games on Mondays, while at Old Trafford, the Red Devils are winless on Mondays since January 2018.
- Brentford are unbeaten in their last 12 league games played on a Monday, with these coming between April 2014 and October 2019.
Player to Watch
Cristiano Ronaldo is the man to watch out for regardless of his form. But heading into this encounter, the Portuguese sensation has scored eight goals in his last five league matches. He has scored a hat-trick in two of them, including in the 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Ronaldo’s form at this juncture of the season might not be enough to seal Champions League football for Manchester United. But it could help them secure Europa League action, and more importantly, restore some pride after what has been a disastrous campaign.
Manchester United 2-2 Brentford
Given the way Brentford have been performing lately, it is hard to imagine them not troubling a Manchester United side that have looked all over the place defensively. At the same time, Ronaldo has been in good form lately, and it will be extremely difficult for the opposition to keep him quiet.
As such, we are expecting an entertaining contest with both sides likely to showcase their attacking quality. Brentford might emerge as the favourites due to their current form, but Manchester United should never be ruled out at Old Trafford.