In his pre-match press conference, manager Louis Van Gaal revealed that wingback Ashley Young and defender Phil Jones are injured for the game against QPR. The Dutchman also indicated that Luke Shaw, Rafael and Ander Herrera are close to full fitness and will likely be involved in Sunday’s game. Given the myriad of attacking options up front, we may see a tactical shift in this game. LVG may opt to play with a 4-3-3 formation. This would allow Rooney to play in the Mata role and create opportunities for RVP and Falcao. Di Maria will be the driving force in midfield with Herrera and Blind as holding midfielders. At the back, expect to see promising youngster Blackett make way for debutant Rojo, while Young’s injury may prove to be the first test of Luke Shaw’s much-discussed fitness issues. Rafael or Valencia will feature at right back. It is important to note that both Mata and Rooney are in poor form, but Rooney will get the nod based on his captaincy.
QPR come into this game with an unenviable record having never beaten United in the premier league era. After flirting with a 3-5-2 at the start of the season, Redknapp switched back to the archetypical English 4-4-1-1 during the win against Sunderland. QPR will be a threat from set pieces; Steven Caulker and ex-United man Ferdinand will be strong in the air from corners and free kicks. And, this may prove to be the most likely source of goals for Redknapp’s team. The injured Joey Barton will be replaced by the Brazilian Sandro. Sandro has had good games against United during his time at Spurs, and will be tasked with nullifying Di Maria. The mercurial Adel Taraabt may be given a free role behind Austin. With United expected to play a new defensive lineup, the movement of Taraabt may trouble the inexperienced and not-match-fit United defense.
Predicted Score – United to win 3-1.
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