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Marcus Rashford of Manchester United

Marcus Rashford

Jose Mourinho tried to shuffle things around against Southampton as Manchester United started with just one recognised central defender on Saturday, due to injuries in the team.

The move didn’t pay off all that well as we trailed the Saints 2-0 before a couple of goals from our end ensured one point from the trip to St. Mary’s.

That didn’t help our chances of a top-four finish, and we face a tough clash in midweek. Arsenal were great in their 4-2 win over Tottenham in the North London derby, and they will be on a high facing us.

The Gunners are slick in attack while their defence does just about enough to help them to wins. For United, things just don’t seem to be clicking, and we face Fulham at the weekend too.

Mourinho could revert to a more traditional looking side if he has the players fit, and here is our predicted line-up for United against the Gunners.

Predicted Manchester United XI

Formation: 4-3-3

Manager: Jose Mourinho

David de Gea (GK)

The Spaniard has to be at his best if we are to get anything from the game against the Gunners. De Gea has struggled to keep clean sheets and will be up against the in-form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Manchester United Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw (LB)

Shaw picked up a slight knock and was replaced by Mourinho against Southampton, but the United left-back could be fit for this clash.

Phil Jones (CB)

Jones got a rare start against the Saints and could keep his place in the United starting XI.

Chris Smalling (CB)

Smalling is another player who is carrying a minor injury, and hopefully, he will be fit to face Arsenal.

Diogo Dalot (RB)

Dalot got a few minutes against the Saints and will have to have the game of his life in place of the suspended Ashley Young.

Marouane Fellaini

Marouane Fellaini (CM)

The Belgian should be in the starting XI as United have a number of injuries to deal with.

Fred (CM)

Fred did not play in our 2-2 draw with the Saints and should get a start under Mourinho at Old Trafford.

Paul Pogba (CM)

The Frenchman needs to have the game of his life if we are to do well against Arsenal, and hopefully, Pogba turns up at Old Trafford.

Anthony Martial Manchester United

Anthony Martial (LW)

Martial was another player that did not start against the Saints, so we could see him on the left-wing in midweek.

Marcus Rashford (ST)

Rashford had a couple of assists in our 2-2 draw with the Saints and might start after being subbed in the previous game.

Read more: Manchester United fail with £91m bid to sign Serie A defensive wall

Juan Mata (RW)

The Spaniard didn’t play a minute in our draw against Southampton and could have a role to play against the Gunners.

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Man United face PL battle to sign 28-year-old Serie A star

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Matias Vecino

Everton to rival Man United for midfielder Matias Vecino

Manchester United face competition from Premier League rivals Everton for the signature of Inter Milan midfielder Matias Vecino, according to Gazella Dello Sport (h/t Mirror).

United are in the market for midfielders, with Paul Pogba and Scott Mctominay out injured. Inter have already rejected a loan offer from the Red Devils for the player.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Mirror), Everton have now made a move to sign the player. Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti is said to be a fan of the 28-year-old having managed against him during his time at Napoli.

Matias Vecino
Matias Vecino has fallen down the pecking order at Inter Milan

The midfielder has fallen down the pecking order at Inter with Antonio Conte preferring to use Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic and Borja Valero when fit. Stefano Sensi’s good form has also seen Vecino go out of favour.

Danish Superstar Christian Eriksen is set to join the Italian giants in the coming weeks. This could further limit Vecino’s chances and he would be better off moving elsewhere.

Vecino has two goals and two assists for Inter in 17 appearances this season. (h/t Whoscored)

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Conte, however, is reluctant to let the midfielder go in this window. Inter are currently three points behind defending champions Juventus as they try to win their first Scudetto in 10 years.

The Inter manager is keen to maintain a strong squad as the season nears its business end.

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Man United keen on signing 2 players on loan to replace Marcus Rashford

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Odion Ighalo

Manchester United keen to loan Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani

Manchester United are keen on signing Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani on loan to provide cover for the injured Marcus Rashford. (h/t Sky Sports)

Ighalo plays for Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League while Slimani is currently on loan at Monaco from Leicester City.

Both Ighalo and Slimani have the experience of playing in the Premier League, having done so on 55 and 39 occasions respectively.

Ismael Slimani Manchester United
Slimani has impressed at Monaco

Both players have done well for their current clubs so far. Ighalo has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Shanghai whereas Slimani has registered 7 goals and 7 assists in 14 appearances for Monaco.

Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are also interested in Slimani (h/t Daily Star).

Ighalo has a better record out of the two in the Premier League. With the Chinese Super League likely to be indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic gripping the nation, it remains to be seen if the player will be allowed to travel.

Low-key but effective?

The injury to Marcus Rashford has left United without a reliable striker upfront. United have played both Liverpool and Burnley since the striker’s injury and have failed to hit the net in both games.

Given the nature of the January transfer window, it makes sense for the club to pursue a loan deal for an established forward until the summer.

Ighalo and Slimani are in their 30s but both players are physically imposing and are capable of playing as a target man upfront.

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United are currently 5th in the table with 14 games left to go. We face Chelsea in the league in February, which will give us a chance to close the gap on a top-four spot.

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Man United keen on landing Ligue 1 star for a fee of about £43million

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Moussa Dembele

Manchester United prepare £43 million bid for Moussa Dembele 

Manchester United are interested in Lyon striker Moussa Dembele (h/t Mirror)

According to Foot Mercato (h/t Mirror), United have identified the French striker as a target to replace the injured Marcus Rashford.

The 23-year old has enjoyed a stellar season for Lyon and has scored 15 goals and 1 assist in 28 appearances. (h/t Whoscored)

Dembele is expected to cost in the region of £43 and is also drawing interest from Chelsea.

The Red Devils had failed to replace the outgoing Romelu Lukaku in the summer and were extremely reliant on the young Rashford for goals.

Rashford has scored 19 goals and 5 assists this season. He is the club’s top scorer and the second top assist maker. United have lacked a cutting edge in the Englishman’s absence and had been playing through injury of late.

Solksjaer was forced to bring on the striker against Wolves which unfortunately led to worsening the extent of his injury.

Moussa Dembele

United currently lack a clinical player upfront. The result against Liverpool could have been different had Martial taken the chances afforded to him.

Lack of a plan?

United should have gone for a striker immediately after the signing of Lukaku. Rashford has had to play through injury and now finds himself out for 3 months.

The injury could also affect the youngster’s chances of making the England squad for the Euros. Rashford has made 201 appearances for United by the age of 22 and needs to be handled better to prevent him from burning out.

Prodigious youngsters such as Robbie Fowler and Micheal Own never got to reach the levels expected of them as they were burnt out and beset by injuries.

Dembele is an excellent player who will be an asset to United. But considering the position the club is in, it can be considered to be a step back for the Frenchman if he joins them.

The fact that the clubs has been linked to the player only after Rashford’s injury and not in spite of it reeks of a lack of long term planning.

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Dembele already has experience of playing in England for Fulham and Celtic. The 23-year old made 64 appearances for Fulham,with 2 of them coming in the English Premier League.

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Man Utd to look at alternatives after refusing to sign this £68.24m star

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Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United look at alternatives for Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United are looking at alternatives for Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Manchester Evening News)

Fernandes has been linked with a move to the Red Devils since last summer and appeared to be in a strong position to sign the player in the January transfer window.

But the club now seem to have backed out of a deal citing Sporting’s sudden increase in the player’s valuation to £68.24 million.

With the clubs appearing to be unable to agree on a fee, United are considering Leicester City’s James Maddison and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish as alternatives.

Bruno Fernandes

A better fit!

Both Maddison and Grealish have been critical to their team’s fortunes this season at different ends of the table. It can be argued that either of them would represent a better fit for the United midfield than Fernandes.

Maddison has been one of the Leicester’s stars as they push for Champions League qualification whereas Villa would be 4 points worse off at 19th if not for Grealish’s goals.

Both the players have experience of playing in the English top-flight and will not need a bedding-in period.

Fernandes does have better numbers than either of the player. But then Grealish and Maddison have performed at a higher level in the English Premier League.

Paying over the odds will not help United in the long term. It sets a precedent with other clubs likely to hold them for ransom.

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The 2-0 loss to Liverpool highlighted the gulf in quality that now exists between United and the Premier League elite.

A massive rebuild is required in the coming windows as the Red Devils look to close the gap to their arch-rivals. Rather than overspending on foreign players who present an element of risk, United can look at domestic alternatives. As Liverpool have shown of late, there is quality available if you are willing to look for it.

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