Manchester United will be hoping to bounce back from their second defeat of the season when they host Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Red Devils were dumped out of the Carabao Cup third round in midweek after Manuel Lanzini’s early strike was enough to see West Ham United progress to the last 16 of the competition.
A return to league action should see manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer select a rather different starting XI, though, so the Red Devils will be confident of getting back to winning ways.
One of those who is expected to return to the starting lineup is midfield enforcer Scott McTominay. The 24-year-old has had a frustrating start to the campaign due to a groin injury, but Wednesday’s disappointing display reinforced his importance to the squad.
United’s best performance this season was on the opening day when they demolished fierce rivals Leeds 5-1 at Old Trafford to kick off 2021/22 in style. McTominay was on top form that day alongside his usual engine room partner Fred, with much of the composure on the ball and dynamism from deep coming from the Scotsman.
“Those two are brilliant,” Solskjaer said after the Leeds demolition last month (as relayed by talkSPORT). “They’re absolutely top. You just see Fred running forward today, scoring a goal. Scott is probably one of the best we have got at arriving in the box at the right time.
“He is a beast of a man physically; he has only played 20 minutes in pre-season – as a centre-back – because he has been nursing an injury.
“Today, for me, you can see he is a man. So all the criticism on them two, I am completely against because I love them.”
However, McTominay’s recent fitness concerns meant that Fred was partnered alongside Paul Pogba in a rather fortunate 1-0 over Wolves, Nemanja Matic for an underwhelming 1-1 draw against Southampton and Donny van de Beek for the humiliating 2-1 defeat away at Young Boys.
Although the Red Devils academy graduate may have his limitations defensively and in terms of his passing range, the tactical discipline, tenacity in the tackle and drive that he provides with the ball at his feet have become pivotal to United’s chances of success in recent years.
Therefore, Solskjaer must start the £31.5m-rated monster against Villa as he could well be the spark which swings the game in United’s favour.