Manchester United return to Premier League action tonight when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The Red Devils will be desperately eager to close the present 15-point gap between themselves and Manchester City to prevent that lead from becoming even more embarrassing.
The race for the Premier League title is realistically over, but United still need the points to consolidate second place and their position in the top four, with Chelsea only six points adrift of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
United can take plenty of heart from their tremendous away form this season – they are yet to be beaten on the road.
One of the players who has been crucial to that success is Brazilian midfielder Fred, who was compared to Paul Scholes recently by team-mate Bruno Fernandes.
Fred has enjoyed a stellar season in a Manchester United shirt and been an engine in Solskjaer’s midfield through the campaign, playing as both a defensive and attacking midfielder.
He keeps things ticking over in the centre of United’s midfield, and his average pass completion rate this season is 87%, which increases to 90% when you look at the Brazilian’s passes inside his own half.
There is also that much-heralded rapport with Scott McTominay, who has relished playing alongside the £18m-rated Fred this season.
In an interview with The Sun, he said: “I don’t really know what makes us play well together.
“But Fred is such a great player, I love playing with him and he is such a great guy as well.
“He had a tough time in his first year, difficult moments here and there, but now you’re seeing a proper, proper player and a bit of Brazilian flair coming out now and again as well.”
Given the number of games to be played over the coming weeks, we anticipate that Solskjaer will give McTominay a rest and replace him with Nemanja Matic tonight.
Donny van de Beek could be in contention to play too, but given that McTominay is fresh back from injury, he may need to sit out, meaning Fred simply must start as replacing both defensive midfield options would be too big a risk for United to take.