Date: 9th September 2021 at 6:12pm
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Manchester United have emerged as strong candidates to steal neighbours City’s title as Premier League champions this year, with the Red Devils’ potential front line enough to scare even the most solid of defences. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has added Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, who between them had over 75 goal contributions last term, to a side who last season were bettered only by City in terms of goalscoring.

With out-of-favour Daniel James the only player to have made way for United’s two staggering acquisitions, the club’s attacking threat this season is something to behold.

Solskjaer has strength in depth.

Now, with the international break nearing its end and the return of domestic football following soon after, talk is turning to Saturday’s Premier League fixtures, and the possibility of Ronaldo’s sensational return.

The Portuguese left the club over a decade ago for a then-world record fee of £80 million, but shocked the world last week when it was revealed that he would be rejoining United on a two-year deal.

Newcastle United are the unfortunate candidates to face Ronaldo on what will likely be his second debut for the club.

Below, we look at how United may line up for the fixture.

Goalkeeper 

Spaniard David de Gea has benefitted from an injury to Dean Henderson by starting all three of United’s matches so far this term, and will continue between the sticks against Newcastle. The Spanish international has come in for praise from his boss of late, with Solskjaer insisting that, on form, ‘De Gea is the best ‘keeper in the world’.

Defence

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a mainstay in the United backline last season and has also been so far this term. While Kieran Trippier was heavily linked with the club, a move never materialised and the former Crystal Palace man therefore remains the club’s first choice at right-back. Diogo Dalot will once again be on the bench but may feature again as he did against Wolves last time out.

Varane kept a clean sheet on his United debut.

In the middle, fans will likely get another chance to see Raphael Varane partner Harry Maguire at the heart of defence, after first seeing the partnership in the 1-0 victory over Wolves before the international break. Victor Lindelof will therefore once again have to settle for a place on the bench.

At left-back, star of England’s Euro 2020 run Luke Shaw will be given the nod. Deputy Alex Telles remains short of fitness after recovering from injury and Shaw’s form over the past 18 months makes him almost irreplaceable anyway.

Midfield

Solskjaer will want to ensure he has a strong core to his side to compliment their attacking prowess, and will therefore likely deploy Nemanja Matic at the heart of midfielder amid concerns over the fitness of Scott McTominay. Fred is unavailable after the Brazilian football federation triggered Fifa rules to impose a ‘five-day ban’ on the Premier League sides who refused to release players for international duty. Paul Pogba, fresh from registering four assists in the first two games of the season, will start next to the Brazilian at the base of United’s midfield.

Out of favour midfielder Donny van de Beek’s nightmare spell with the club looks set to continue, with a place on the bench likely to be the best he can hope for.

Ahead of the pairing, Bruno Fernandes will occupy the advanced midfield role and will be hoping to add to his opening day hat-trick against Leeds United. The Portuguese will be buoyed on by the arrival of international teammate Ronaldo, but one big question will be over which of the pair will take penalties.

Forwards

The United boss’ most difficult decisions undoubtedly surround choosing which trio will lead the line against a defensively insecure Newcastle side.

Greenwood’s winner at Molineux was his third goal in three games.

Mason Greenwood has been in sensational form while leading the line, scoring in each of the opening three games so far. However, the Englishman will likely be deployed out wide on this occasion.

Through the centre, Cristiano Ronaldo will almost certainly be given the nod if he can prove his fitness, something which has never hampered him throughout his career to date. Anthony Martial will likely join Edinson Cavani, who has recently returned to training, on the bench however the Uruguayan may be the most likely of the pair to be called upon.

On the other side of Ronaldo, fellow new boy Jadon Sancho will start hoping to register his first goal involvement for his new side.

The England international, who managed a staggering 50 goals and 64 assists for former side Borussia Dortmund, is yet to have a major impact for United, but will see Newcastle as the perfect opportunity to change that. Jesse Lingard, who is reported to have rejected a new contract offer at the club, will once again start on the bench.

While Solskjaer ponders his starting XI in the days leading up to the visit of Newcastle, the biggest question on the fans’ lips will undoubtedly be as to whether or not Ronaldo will make his second debut for the club.

If he does do so, few would wager against him making an instant impact.

 
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