After three straight defeats to Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford in the space of eight days, it’s not unfair to suggest that Wednesday’s meeting with Northampton Town in the EFL Cup has become just a little bit more important for Manchester United. Jose Mourinho’s side have really struggled since returning from the international break, scoring two goals and conceding six whilst playing some particularly slow, uninspiring and lackadaisical football. As such, despite the EFL Cup being fairly low on the club and Mourinho’s list of priorities, sealing a win at Sixfields Stadium in midweek has suddenly become far more important, not just to snap this winless run but to inject some positivity into a team that is severely lacking it.
With that in mind, this is how we think Mourinho should set out his side:
This is the perfect game to rest David De Gea in goal, so Sergio Romero should get to make his first start of the season. Whilst there’s certainly pressure to perform given United’s recent results, Northampton aren’t expected to pose too great a threat.
In defence, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian are likely to start, with Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw rested ahead of Saturday’s game with Leicester City. Chris Smalling should retain his place, if only in an effort to continue his readjustment to the side, and should be given the captain’s armband again. Given the need to resist overworking Eric Bailly, this seems like a perfect time to drop Timothy Fosu-Mensah into the side.
In midfield, with Wayne Rooney almost certain to miss out as he did against Feyenoord last week, the trio of Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata should start. All three have just cause to feel slightly aggrieved at their lack of game time this season, and will be desperate to impress Mourinho with his normal starting XI still looking so disjointed.
Up front, Memphis Depay must start on the left of attack, if only to imbibe the Dutch youngster with a confidence boost. Jesse Lingard will likely feature on the right hand side, with Anthony Martial likely to be rested after coming off injured against Watford on Sunday afternoon. Lingard will be hoping for a better performance than his last outing for the club, which saw him hooked at half-time in the Manchester derby after a poor performance. Ahead of them both should be Marcus Rashford, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic likely to be rested after playing the full 90 minutes on Sunday.
What do you think of our starting XI? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!