The English Premier League returned with a bang, as the 2022-23 season got underway last week with the first round of matches. The action continues this week, as the teams prepare to play their second game of the season. With a few exciting clashes over the weekend, we will focus on Manchester United who travels to the capital to take on Brentford FC.
Brentford are relatively newcomers to the league, but after an excellent first season under their belt, the Bees will be hungry to reach new heights this season. The 2021-22 season saw the Bees compete in the league for the first time ever, and they ended the season in a very decent 13th place finish, just 5 points off the top 10. Manager Thomas Frank will be looking to build upon that finish this season, and has recruited well in the summer as they look to break into the top half of the league table. Frank’s vision is supported by those at the club, and it was evident with their activity in the summer transfer market, signing defenders Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey along with goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, and wingers Keane Lewis-Potter and the highly rated Mikkel Damsgaard.
Their season opener got off to a rollercoaster start as the Bees took on Leicester City away from home, and came back from a two-goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw and open their points account this season. Ivan Toney’s strike just past the hour mark and a late goal from substitute Josh Dasilva gave the Bees a solidary point as they now look to hurt an already hurting Manchester United this weekend.
Manchester United did not have the best of starts to their new era under new manager Erik ten Hag as they lost their season opener 2-1 against Brighton and Hove Albion at home. The game began amid much fanfare as arguably the whole league was watching to see how the Red Devils would start off under their new manager. However, Graham Potter and his Seagulls succeeded in their aim to spoil the party as they left Old Trafford with three points after a brilliant performance. Ten Hag has vowed to bounce back and has admitted that he has a ‘hell of a job to do’ with his players.
The Red Devils have been in news all week long, with fan protests planned and talk of a change of ownership of the club also rife. As always, the club continues to be linked with a number of players, and with just about two weeks left till the window closes, there are rumors that the club has not yet concluded its transfer business. Frenkie de Jong’s transfer saga is continuing, and it seems it will go down to the wire. The Red Devils have also been reported to be in contact with players like Adrien Rabiot and Cody Gakpo, and it remains to see if there are any new arrivals at the club.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Date: Saturday, 13th August 2022.
Time: 5.30 pm BST.
Venue: Brentford Community Stadium, London.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Assistants: Marc Perry, Eddie Smart.
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Gary Beswick.
Kristoffer Ajer, Ethan Pinnock and Sergi Canos are all expected to miss out on Brentford’s matchday squad this weekend with injuries. However, new signing Mikkel Damsgaard could be set to feature and make his debut for the Bees on Saturday. There are no new injuries for Thomas Frank’s side, and he will have a host of options to choose from as he looks to pick the right players to tactically outwit the Red Devils.
Manchester United could be without Anthony Martial again this weekend, as he targets a return against Liverpool next week. Other than the Frenchman, there are no big misses for the Red Devils and they should name a strong lineup on Saturday as they look to open their points account and build confidence with an away win.
Manchester United struggled to progress with the ball in large parts of the game with their midfield a glaring issue. Their lack of quality in midfield has been a hindrance for the Red Devils for quite a few seasons now, and last Sunday was no different. Scott McTominay was heavily criticized as he failed to impress against Brighton, who took full advantage of United’s weak midfield and dominated the game in the first half.
Brighton and Hove Albion may have well provided the league with a blueprint to beat the Red Devils. It is no secret that Erik ten Hag likes his team to build up from the back with quick passing, and like to press high up the pitch. Brighton adapted their style accordingly, pinning Man United’s fullbacks and wingers, forcing them to try and progress through their ailing midfield, which was never going to work out for the home side. In possession, the Seagulls played long balls, thereby proving United’s press ineffective, and the lack of understanding between the United defence and midfield led to the two goals which the visitors did well to defend.
Brentford might switch their play to long balls as well, as they look to capitalize on United’s frailties on Saturday, and give them a tough time out. Erik ten Hag will be expected to make a few tweaks to the system and change the lineups in the capital. The two wingers Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford hardly troubled the Brighton defence after being afforded very little space by Brighton’s 3-4-2-1 formation, and the Bees could well lineup in a similar 3-5-2 formation to stifle United’s attack.
The introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo in the second half created some opportunities for the Red Devils, and amid much discussion about his future at the club, the Portuguese veteran could be in line to make his first start of the season. Ten Hag’s first starting eleven for the club did very little to impress, and a change in personnel could be on the cards on Saturday. With both clubs looking to get their first wins of the season, this game could be the one to watch out for this game week.
He has started the season in a good fashion, scoring the first goal for the Bees in their 2-2 draw against Leicester City, and he will look to score again on Saturday. He will be up against an unsettled defence, and will look to target new boy Lisandro Martinez in defence. Toney is strong and tall and is known for his brilliant ariel ability. Martinez, who is the shortest centre-back in the league will have to deal with him if the Bees decide to go the Brighton way and target the United defence with their long balls. Toney will be confident after a good outing last weekend, and he will be expected to trouble the Man United defence for the entirety of the match.
The former Brentford man returns to the ground where he spent the last six months, and he will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms there. Eriksen was played in a false nine position against Brighton which did not work out, but looked at his former dangerous self after the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo, which allowed the Dane to dictate the play from his preferred midfield position. His shot from distance earned the corner through which United scored their only goal, and he was one of the few players who put in a decent shift last Sunday. He will be expected to lineup in the midfield alongside Bruno Fernandes again this week, as Erik ten Hag hopes the two playmakers can strike up a lethal partnership between them.
Brentford predicted lineup vs Manchester United: David Raya; Pontus Jansson, Ben Mee, Mads Bech Sorensen; Aaron Hickey, Vitaly Janelt, Christian Norgaard, Mathias Jensen, Rico Henry; Bryan Mbeumo, Ivan Toney.
Manchester United predicted lineup vs Brentford: David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw; Christian Eriksen, Fred; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Cristiano Ronaldo.