The losses are not stopping at Manchester United and next up is their bogey team who gave Erik ten Hag’s side one of their worst moments of last season – Brentford.
Thomas Frank will bring his side to Old Trafford to face a United side in a crisis of confidence. Another loss, this time inexplicably to Galatasaray at home, has raised the noise around the club to fever pitch and a win is urgently needed at all costs.
Brentford are also on the lookout for the win that jumpstart their season in what has been a lull so far. With four draws and a single win in seven games, they are in the lower half of the table.
Old Trafford is no longer a fortress after consecutive losses here and Brentford will fancy their chances of adding to United’s misery.
WHEN & WHERE?
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester.
When: Saturday, 7th October, 2023.
Time: 3 PM BST
Referee: Andy Madley.
Assistants: Harry Lennard & Nick Hopton.
Fourth official: Steve Martin.
VAR: Peter Bankes.
Assistant VAR: Nick Greenhalgh.
This game comes after a midweek fixture against Galatasaray. Therefore, while Ten Hag is yet to do a press conference for it, it’s unlikely that the injury slate will have cleared up drastically in three days. The only player who could return but is an outside shot is Sergio Reguilon. On the right wing, Antony should return to the starting XI after getting some minutes in his legs in UCL.
No other drastic changes can be expected because even though the team is underperforming, the manager’s hand is tied due to the sheer number of injuries in the squad currently.
That means the long-term absentee list of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Kobbie Mainoo, Jadon Sancho, and Amad will remain as it is.
Mainoo has started training with the first team but is only expected to be ready after the international break.
Just like Manchester United, Brentford also have a lengthy injury list but it’s nothing out of the blue since most of their players have been absent for a while. The likes of Rico Henry, Kevin Schade, Josh DaSilva, Mikkel Damsgaard, and Ben Mee will be missed here as well.
Brentford are an unlucky team which knows how to attack. Therefore, their backing of Frank is fully justified as they’re not getting the results for the performances they’ve put in.
Although they’ve won only one game, the xG gods have been kind to them in four games. The chances are there, they just haven’t put them away.
That spells trouble for United, who are leaking like a sieve at the minute. After conceding four to Bayern on the first matchday, they let in three against Galatasaray and that was after the Turkish club missed a penalty.
The midfield is absent, the 4-3-3 isn’t working, trying to play quickly is killing the attacks and the players are shorn of confidence.
This game will ultimately come down to whether United’s defence can hold firm in the face of Brentford’s attack which could be about to click any moment. Considering United’s luck so far this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it did against them.
In attack, Man United’s players need to make better decisions as the ball has been getting into dangerous areas, only for the forwards to scuff their chances.
Onana is under the spotlight and his every move will be scrutinised critically. It shouldn’t after just 10 games, but that’s the situation the Cameroonian finds himself in and it comes with the territory at United.
After another couple of howlers against Galatasaray, including one involving his stronger skill of ball-playing, questions around Onana have reached fever pitch.
Clean sheets are like an oasis in the desert for United at the moment. While the whole defence is responsible for a clean sheet or the lack of it, some of Onana’s errors have been glaring and hard to look past.
The team is not clicking in attack either but when that happens, you need your defenders to grit it out. Right now, United are stuck in a vicious cycle of an underperforming attack and a leaky defence. Onana is arguably a big part of both, considering the influence he should have with his on-ball skills.
Four goals in seven games, plays on the right wing so he will be up against Sofyan Amrabat, and playing with full confidence.
The battle on United’s left will give Ten Hag sleepless nights. Amrabat’s debut performance was his peak at the club as the ones following it have been average at best, and self-harming at worst.
The thought of him going up against an in-form Mbeumo is a scary one. Amrabat will need a lot of help from Rashford on his side, something which the United academy player has been guilty of ignoring in the past. He absolutely cannot do so here, as Amrabat has been a gamely presence at LB in everyone’s absence but this might just be the biggest threat he has come across so far.
Man United predicted starting lineup: Onana; Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Amrabat; Casemiro, Mount; Eriksen, Fernandes, Rashford; Hojlund.
Brentford predicted starting lineup: Flekken; Ajer, Collins, Pinnock, Hickey; Jensen, Norgaard, Janelt; Mbeumo, Wissa, Lewis-Potter.