Tuesday Briefing: Five key questions for West Brom
The international break is still in full swing, but we’re already looking ahead to the return of first-team football at Manchester United.
The Reds take on West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League at Old Trafford this weekend and the players not involved for their countries have been pictured preparing for that fixture.
With domestic football having taken a back seat over the past week and a bit, you may find yourself needing a reminder of what’s at stake on Saturday – so here are five key questions before the Reds take on the Baggies…
You may have missed this, as the news broke on Friday evening, but our clash with the Baggies will now kick off at 20:00 GMT on Saturday, having been moved from its previous 15:00 GMT slot. Viewers in the UK will be able to watch the game live on BT Sport, after it was confirmed that Premier League games throughout the Christmas and New Year will now be available on the existing services of BT Sport, Sky, Amazon and BBC, with no pay-per-view fixtures for the time being.
Starting the week on the front foot! gallery
Check out these snaps from Monday's training session at the Aon Training Complex.
This could be the major decision Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to make leading up to the weekend. Luke Shaw’s record of starting every Premier League game this season will come to an end, after the 25-year-old was ruled out for the next month with a thigh injury sustained at Everton. The door would seemingly be open for Alex Telles to come in and make his Reds’ top-flight debut, although our no.27 will be assessed when he returns to Manchester, after reports in Brazil suggested he had tested positive for COVID-19 while on international duty. Should Telles not make it, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could be alternative options for United.
WHO LEADS THE LINE?
Another injury concern for Solskjaer is Marcus Rashford, who didn’t join up with the England squad for their November internationals after hurting his shoulder late on at Goodison Park. Anthony Martial was involved for France over the break and will be an option, whether as a lone centre-forward or as part of a front two, while Mason Greenwood was pictured in training on Monday and must be itching to get on the board in the Premier League this term, after netting in the Carabao Cup and Champions League. Or perhaps Edinson Cavani will be granted his maiden United start? The Uruguayan added a 51st international strike on Friday in a 3-0 win over Colombia, meaning he now has two goals in two games for club and country.
WILL UNITED WIN AT HOME?
While the Reds’ form on the road has been stellar, with Ole’s side racking up seven consecutive wins on the road in the league, you’d have to go back to the start of July for the last time we took three top-flight points at Old Trafford. Since then, Southampton, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal have all picked up results in M16 and the Reds need to end that run soon if we are to start moving up the table. The Baggies have lost just once in the last five iterations of this fixture, winning 1-0 here in 2017/18 to end our title hopes – so that’s extra motivation for our men to get back to winning ways at home, as if they needed it.
WHAT’S THE NEW BANNER AT OLD TRAFFORD?
There’ll be a new addition to the furniture to look out for at the Theatre of Dreams when the teams walk on to the pitch on Saturday. A banner paying tribute to Reds legend Nobby Stiles, who passed away at the age of 78 last month, will make its debut at the stadium. The final design, selected by Nobby's granddaughter after consultation with supporters’ group Stretford End Flags, features two images of the icon in action - one in black and white, the other in colour - alongside the words 'Nobby' and 'Manchester born and Red'.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY?
After a day without any international action for our players on Monday, as many as seven could be involved for their countries on Tuesday.
While France (Martial and Paul Pogba) and Portugal (Bruno Fernandes) have little left to play for in the UEFA Nations League, David De Gea will be hoping to help Spain clinch a berth in next October’s finals tournament – La Roja need to beat Germany in Seville to top Group A4.
Later on, Brazil visit Uruguay in the South American 2022 World Cup qualifiers, with Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles potentially being involved.
We’re also marking Nani’s 34th birthday and we’ll be looking back at some of our favourite retro United kits. Stay tuned!
Bruno’s UTD Podcast collection
Immerse yourself in the trending headlines and quotes, before listening to the episode in full...
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
We released a brilliant episode of UTD Podcast, featuring Bruno Fernandes.
If you’ve not had the chance to listen yet, you can catch up. Among plenty of other topics, the Portuguese midfielder speaks at length about how close in style he is to Paul Scholes – and, funnily enough, it was our former no.18’s birthday yesterday.
Finally, we highly recommend this video about United legend Lou Macari, highlighting his selfless work to help the homeless.