With numerous players out/doubtful on Saturday in what is the 3rd of 5 matches in 15 days and topping the Premier League injury table with the likes of Valencia, Fletcher, Nani, and Rooney (who has continued his globe trotting and is now heading to the States for a week’s conditioning training at Nike Town) all out, it is an excellent chance for other players to continue the run of wins the team has embarked on as we look to get the season back on track.
There has already been a fair amount of rotation this season (only Vidic and Nani have featured in every Premier League game so far) and it is fair to say that we haven’t played our strongest possible team (if we do know what it is) yet due to injuries as well as drops in form for certain key players.
In defence, Vidic will start as he is not only in good form but also the captain whilst Rio might be rested again against Wolves and come in against Man City in midweek. So, it’s another chance for Smalling, who has only played 17 minutes in the league this season, to have a go at the 3rd choice defender spot behind Rio and Vidic. That said, Jonny Evans might be given another chance to redeem himself after a poor run of form if he has recovered from a virus. On the flanks, Rafael doesn’t seem to need a rest (he never does!) while it would be nice to see more of Fabio. Brown and O’Shea will be the wise old heads waiting to cover any cracks.
Michael Carrick is having a mini-revival stringing together a couple of decent performances in the heart of midfield and will be expected to continue whilst Darren Fletcher may return despite the ankle injury he suffered midweek and Ryan Giggs maybe ready to return from the hamstring injury that has seen him out of action since the game against West Brom.
Darron Gibson is out and Anderson missed the midweek tie with Bursaspor but there are some youngsters to keep an eye on: the young Norwegian Magnus Eikrem who was included in the European squad this week, Bebe (who is now ahead of Rooney in terms of goals scored this season) and the impressive Obertan who might be given a role on the flanks, given that we have 3 wingers out with injury.
In the bigger games, versus Man City and Aston Villa away, Park might be deployed and it would be interesting if we could see him playing through the centre, just behind the striker even though Fergie will most probably play him in front of either full-back.
There are not many permutations up front, with Macheda possibly getting a game in the next week (if he has recovered from the virus that kept him out of the Bursaspor game), although it is fair to assume that Berbatov and Hernandez could well start all 3 matches!
It is a bit early to start looking at the depth of the squad, with the season still young but we need those on the fringes of the first team to get some games under their belt so that they do not only provide excellent cover when needed but also constitute potent threats from the bench and against Wolves would be an ideal time for this.
Wayne Rooney may not be the most popular guy right now but how about you tell him how you feel face to face over a game of Fifa?