By Tom Newbold
The game at home to Sunderland comes in the middle of two weeks without midweek fixtures for Manchester United. This means Sir Alex Ferguson faces a real selection quandary with plenty of fit and available players. Here is a probable line-up for this weekend:
David de Gea The Spaniard’s excellent performance last week against Manchester City should see him keep his spot for this weekend’s game.
Rafael da Silva Rafael’s inclusion against Manchester City was a vote of confidence from the manager. The Brazilian will surely start against Sunderland at right-back.
Rio Ferdinand Ferdinand is again a no-brainer for selection in this fixture.
Nemanja Vidic With Jonny Evans out injured I’m tipping Vidic to return to the side after injury. Chris Smalling has looked superb in recent games, but the lure of reuniting Vidic and Ferdinand at centre-back may prove too tempting to avoid.
Patrice Evra Evra may well have to give away the captain’s armband to Vidic, but will almost certainly not be giving away his place in the team.
Antonio Valencia Back from injury, Valencia was a welcome returnee against Manchester City, and is favourite to start wide right against Sunderland.
Michael Carrick Carrick is the ever-present in Manchester United’s midfield. The unassuming Englishman will be near the top of the list to start against the Black Cats.
Paul Scholes I’m tipping Scholes to partner Carrick in midfield. Scholes is yet to start a game in December, but this may well be his time.
Danny Welbeck Despite Ashley Young’s recent upturn in form, the need for squad rotation hints at Welbeck being given a starting berth against Sunderland.
Wayne Rooney After recently emphasising the need for Rooney to consistently play games in order to maintain his fitness, it would be a massive surprise if Ferguson drops his star man for this match.
Robin van Persie Van Persie, like Rooney, is a star of the team. With seven goals in nine appearances against Sunderland, it may be the Dutchman who once again fires United to victory.
I’m predicting the 4-4-2 formation this weekend due to personnel available. This may leave the Reds open defensively, with Scholes being somewhat weak in his defensive duties, but should give plenty of firepower going forward. Valencia will undoubtedly hug the right-hand touchline but Welbeck, Rooney, and van Persie can all be expected to interchange positions up front and out left.