The opening three league games of Louis van Gaal’s reign at Manchester United yielded 2 points from a possible 9 following uninspiring displays from a side that was desperately struggling coming to terms with this alien 3-5-2 system.
For the Dutchman’s fourth league game he decided to abandon this cautious, unpleasant-on-the-eye formation for an exciting, fluid one. The 4-4-2 diamond allowed Manchester United (Di Maria especially) to run riot at home to QPR.
With the last three league games also yielding just 2 points from a possible 9 following turgid 3-5-2 performances, a revert to the same system that crushed QPR back in September wouldn’t be a bad move when Manchester United visit Loftus Road this Saturday.
After only 1 win in 5 for Louis van Gaal’s men, this trip to QPR looks to be a fantastic opportunity for Manchester United to kick-start a calendar year that hasn’t really got going yet.
Recent visits suggest that Loftus Road is by no means a ground that intimidates Manchester United; the Premier League era has never seen a QPR home victory over Manchester United. QPR’s last home victory came in May 1989. However, a similar record applied to Southampton upon their visit to Old Trafford and look how that turned out.
Nevertheless, Manchester United have made a rather annoying habit of producing dire performances away from home this season, so an easy game seems very unlikely considering the amount of players that retreat into their shells once they’re not accompanied by the comfort of Old Trafford.
QPR also boast a relatively impressive home record; a team that currently sits a measly 2 points off the bottom of the table boasts a better home record than Liverpool and Tottenham – however home draws against Swansea and Crystal Palace and an embarrassing FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United indicates that Loftus Road is far from the fortress it is often made out to be.
With QPR only being able to record 5 wins so far this season, talk of another managerial casualty is amounting. Harry Redknapp is no stranger to pressure, but if the ‘win against Manchester United or you’re sacked’ dichotomy isn’t just another fabricated media story then the ex-Spurs manager will be feeling the heat when he lines up against Louis van Gaal.
Redknapp will have to make-do without Armand Traore who has been ruled out; Yun Suk-Young, Sandro and Rio Ferdinand are all doubts whilst Niko Krancar could make a return.
Robin van Persie will most likely be sidelined for this match following an ankle strain. Everyone else remains fit – Rojo and Rafael could return.
Following the trauma of last Sunday, a convincing away win will be an ideal way to galvanise a recently flat-looking Manchester United side as they embark on the business end of the Premier League season.
Prediction: Queens Park Rangers 0-2 Manchester United