Date: 13th August 2021 at 5:53am
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The Premier League returns on Friday night as Brentford host Arsenal in the Bees’ first ever Premier League game. 

Mikel Arteta’s side travel across the capital hoping to get off to a good start to what could prove to be a pivotal season for the Gunners.

Elsewhere on the opening weekend, Champions League and Super Cup holders Chelsea host Crystal Palace on Saturday, before Manchester City travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

On Saturday lunchtime though, there is the small matter of Manchester United against fierce rivals Leeds United at Old Trafford.

The two sides have both been busy over the summer, here’s how we think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will line up.

Goalkeeper

England international Dean Henderson took over from David de Gea as the club’s number one ‘keeper at the end of last season and will expect to continue as first choice this term. The Englishman was sent home from international duty at Euro 2020 due to an injury, but is now fit and could very well start on Saturday.

Defenders

Aaron Wan-Bissaka will expect to be given the nod at right-back in the absence of any real competition in the position. The former Crystal Palace man was not involved at the Euros and will therefore be fresh for the season ahead.

In central defence, the signing of Raphael Varane, expected to be announced on Thursday, will likely come too late for the Frenchman to partner Harry Maguire at the heart of the United backline. Victor Lindelof will therefore likely play with the Englishman ahead of Eric Bailly.

At left-back, Luke Shaw, who was a standout performer for England at Euro 2020, can expect to start ahead of Alex Telles who has been ruled out with an ankle injury. The former Southampton man may not have had a full pre-season due to his exertions with England, but his impressive form last term will give him confidence to hit the ground running.

Midfielders

Scott McTominay impressed last season at the base of United’s midfield and will likely be given the nod ahead of Nemanja Matic and Fred. The Scot provides a solid defensive base for his more attacking teammates to work from and is a valuable asset to Solskjaer. Alongside him, Frenchman Paul Pogba could start despite being relentlessly linked with a move away from the club. The midfielder was instrumental for United at times last season, and appeared to finally be settled at the club before speculation once again arose.

In front of the midfield pairing, talisman Bruno Fernandes will operate in the number 10 area. The Portuguese will be hoping to put a poor Euro 2020 campaign behind him and get off to a positive start against a Leeds side who he scored twice and assisted once against in the same fixture last season. Jesse Lingard, who impressed on loan with West Ham during the second half of last season, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is expected to miss the match.

Despite a lot of speculation, United look set to keep hold of Pogba.

Forwards

United’s frontline this season is a scary proposition for opposition teams, with the abundance of talent at Solskjaer’s disposal enough to frighten even the most sturdy of defences. He is, however, without both Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford, who are still on holiday and injured respectively.

Anthony Martial, who didn’t play after being injured on international duty in March and managed just four league goals last season, will likely lead the line in the Uruguayan’s absence.

Either side of the Frenchman, Mason Greenwood can expect to start after impressing again last term while new signing Jadon Sancho will also reportedly be called upon, despite having only started training with the team on Monday. The England international had been training on his own after England’s Euros exit and is believed to be match fit. Welsh winger Dan James may have to settle for a place on the bench.

Man Utd Predicted XI: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes; Sancho, Greenwood, Martial.

With such an array of talent at Solskjaer’s disposal, the Norwegian is not short of options and will undoubtedly face a number of selection headaches ahead of kick off on Saturday.

 
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