Just under a week since knocking Manchester City out of the FA Cup, and United are back in action against another team from the North-West of England – Bolton Wanderers.
Another Saturday 3pm kick off for the reds, who will be looking to go equal on points at the top of the table, and pile the pressure on the blue quarter of Manchester, as they go through an uncomfortable blip.
With the news last week that Paul Scholes had returned to the first team playing staff, he could play a part in the side in it’s attempt to embed Bolton Wanderers further in to the relegation mire. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Anderson picked up knocks either in the game at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, or in training this week – and Sir Alex Ferguson will take a check on them before deciding his line up.
Another talking point in recent weeks has been the goalkeeping situation. Anders Lindegaard is getting an extended run in the team at the moment, but maybe this is showing the red faithful that he too has areas of his game that show him not to be the finished article. It’s clear that goalkeepers in the mould of Schmeichel and Van Der Sar are few and far between, and maybe we should be a bit more patient with our stoppers before writing them off.
For Bolton, Owen Coyle looks likely to field Gary Cahill at the back, unless a transfer to Chelsea goes thorough. Zat Knight is on standby incase he does travel down south. Jussi Jaaskelainen, who has been out for a couple of weeks with a thigh strain, may return between the sticks.
Rio Ferdinand is thought to have made a recovery from a stomach bug, and should start for the reds, and Dimitar Berbatov will hope for a recall after not being selected last weekend.
He’s come in for a lot of criticism since he was dropped against Blackburn Rovers, and some have even questioned his contribution to the cause this season. But Wayne Rooney answered his critics, both the media and his some of his own supporters, with an outstanding game against Manchester City – a performace that included two goals. Rooney, it needs to be said, has scored 18 goals so far this season, which is two goals more than he did in the whole of the 2010-2011 campaign.
Rooney will play a key part in the contest against the Trotters, and when you consider his performances in a season where the service in to the final third of the field hasn’t been the best, he is always going to be the one we look to when we want to win the game.
Three Premier League Defeats in a Row?
It’s on every journalist’s agenda. Can United do the unthinkable and lose three Premier League games in a row? They’re certainly hoping that it’s going to happen, as are all ABU’s, but it’s been over ten years since this happened to United, and you can’t think that Sir Alex Ferguson will allow that to happen again.
The shock defeats to Blackburn and Newcastle meant United bounced back against Manchester City, so it’s now back to winning ways for the reds.
However, Bolton have won their last two away games – so they might be up for this one.
Man to watch
For me, Kevin Davies is always the man who causes United problems. Despite only scoring two goals this season, he likes to play a physical game and with the “swap and change” system we’ve been forced to play at the back this year, he’ll be certain to want to unsettle the defence, and I’m sure that’ll be his game plan. He might not be as prolific as he was a few years ago, but he will still be a tough guy to handle.
The summing up…
As hard as it is to believe if you listen to many, United aren’t in a crisis. Three points off the top of the table with the depletion of a squad regularly missing Nemanja Vidic, Daren Fletcher, the Da Silva twins, Tom Cleverley, Michael Owen and Ashley Young – plus others being in and out of the fray, we’re doing ok. Another victory on Saturday will see us go level on points with Manchester City, and despite them having what’d be classed as an easy game against Wigan on Monday, the pressure could well be starting to burst their bubble.
Three points is a must and I think we’ll get them.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.
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