Manchester United face Norwich City in the FA Cup quarter-final this Saturday, in what will be the club’s third fixture in just eight days.
The resumption of football has created quite a hectic fixture list, particularly for teams like United, who are actively competing in three competitions.
Their cup game is closely followed by a trip to Brighton just three days later, meaning rotation will be expected this weekend. Ahead of the fixture, we’ve picked out three players that will be looking to impress.
Since returning from injury, Eric Bailly has made quite the impact in 2020. The Ivorian has started four times, keeping four clean sheets, with United boasting a 100% win rate with him in the team.
Such a record has not been overlooked by fans, with many calling for him to become Harry Maguire’s starting partner. He was utilised in the back three during the 2-0 win away to Chelsea, a system that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was warming to, prior to football coming to a halt.
When fit, Bailly has the defensive traits to compliment Maguire, due to his ability to track runners in-behind. The 26-year-old is considerably superior to Lindelof in the air too, and the potential is there for the defender to replace the Swede.
Injuries paved the way for Lindelof to become a starter under Solskjaer, but with Bailly back fit, a real competition is set to commence. Starting against Norwich, the latter will be granted a chance to impress.
Teden Mengi has been one of many standout performers for the U23s this season, sitting at the heart of a defensive line that boasts the record in conceding the least amount of league goals this season.
He was also instrumental in guiding the U18s to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals, captaining every game along the way, before the competition came to a halt.Embed from Getty Images
His progression was rewarded back in November, when Mengi was included in the first-team squad for the Europa League trip to Astana. Although he didn’t feature that day, it was an indication into how high the club hold the 18-year-old.
Since football resumed, the defender has been training with the senior squad. U23 manager Neil Wood has publicly stated the club’s desire to push him into the first-team, and such an opportunity seems to be creeping up.
We expect the teenager to at least be on the bench this Saturday, and he could even be granted some minutes. It’s been confirmed that the five substitute rule will be carried into the FA Cup, meaning Solskjaer can rotate even further.
With Axel Tuanzebe likely to be unfit, Mengi could capitalise and be the 3rd choice CB on the day. If United can gain a lead over struggling Norwich, the situation could transpire for the young defender to make his senior debut for the club.
The arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka last summer provided a solution to a longstanding issue in United’s squad, with the side finally settling on a quality option on the right-side of their defence.
At just 22-years-of-age, the Englishman has been somewhat of a revelation this season, gaining a reputation in being the best 1v1 defender in the Premier League. His impact has, however, sounded Diogo Dalot out of the picture.Embed from Getty Images
The former Porto man is now Wan-Bissaka’s understudy and his chances on the field have been limited. A serious groin injury further piled on the misery back in October, but now fully fit, he has publicly voiced his desire to battle it out for that RB spot.
Wan-Bissaka is one of the most obvious options to be rested this weekend – only two players in the entire squad have played more minutes this season. Dalot should be granted an opportunity, and the Portuguese man will be keen to utilise his direct, attacking traits down the flank – this is the only area that the youngster can try and capitalise on and offer more in the role, compared to Wan-Bissaka.