Judging by Jesse Lingard’s surprise Champions League inclusion, Louis van Gaal is a manager unafraid of denting egos, but ahead of Manchester United’s pivotal derby game the Dutchman must now be forming a pretty clear picture of his optimum lineup.
Injuries are always going to mess with a manager’s plans, though in terms of first-team regulars the only players likely to be unavailable to Van Gaal for Manchester City’s visit, are Luke Shaw and Ashley Young.
So with 15 games now in the books, the United boss’ starting XI at Old Trafford on Sunday will be a statement.
If United wish to seriously challenge City for the English crown, then defeating Manuel Pellegrini’s men on their own turf – a task rated at 6/4 – feels imperative, not only in terms of points, but psychologically speaking too.
As humble onlookers of the Dutchman’s work this season, here at Ladbrokes News we’ve been up to our old tricks and handed in the Old Trafford teamsheet prematurely.
See if you agree with our selections and feel free to pass judgement in the comments section below.
This lineup is hardly a groundbreaking revelation; in fact it only differs fractionally from the team that routed Everton 3-0 on United’s last domestic assignment.
Daley Blind is preferred to Phil Jones in central defence, not only because his more cultured approach to defending complements Chris Smalling’s robust style better, but for the natural balance he gives to the partnership being a left footer.
Four clean sheets from United’s first five assignments with the defenders in tandem this season tend to back up this partnership’s credentials.
Elsewhere Michael Carrick is unfortunate to lose out to a World Cup winner in the holding role and Memphis Depay has been eclipsed since Anthony Martial announced his arrival against Liverpool.
The former PSV star would still get a decent run out from the bench in order to stake his claim going forward however, as he clearly has bags of talent.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.