Manchester United vs Derby County Preview

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Taking a bit of a detour from the overdose of Premier League action during the festive period, we begin our FA Cup campaign of the 2017-18 season. This season's opening fixture sees us take on Derby County at home. We tweaked our tactics against Everton in the league and won the game with a masterclass from Paul Pogba. Who would've thought that freeing him up in midfield would bring out the best in him?

Anyway, let us talk about our opposition now. Derby County, or as some of the older football fans remember as the worst side in Premier League history. Their 2007-08 team was utterly horrendous and amassed only 11 points (1-8-29) that season and the second team to get relegated that season scored 35 points. Derby County also became the first team to confirm relegation in as early as March! On an unrelated note, Manchester United won the league and Champions League that season. Ahh good times!

They have never since returned to the Premier League. However, now they are in a much better position and if the status quo is maintained, they might be a Premier League team soon enough. They are second in the Championship, the same league that Sunderland have managed to bottom. Whenever they hit a new low, they better that by failing another league. Going back to Derby, they have come a long way since that disastrous season. Their top scorer that season was on 4 goals, this season it has increased to 14. They have also won three of their last five games and are above Bristol City in the league. The same team that humiliated us in the Carabao Cup.

Derby have an array of ex-Premier League players like, Daid Nugent, Tom Huddlestone and Joe Ledley. They set them selves in a 4-2-3-1 with top scorer Matej Vydra playing in the number 10 position. Our holding midfielder will have an important role to play, but overall we shouldn't have a problem breaking down this team at home.

After a strenuous festive period, a lot of players need a break and this lineup will be one that promotes fringe players. As Jose confirmed earlier, Romero will play in goal as the man for the cup competitions assumes his usual role. Rumours are that Romero wants out in order to play more minutes. Can't blame him because he has been really good for us when called upon. What will be interesting is if he promote Joel Periera or sign a new goalkeeper. 

In defence, we can not afford another injury and a rotation is a must. At the same time, we really need to get better at defending set pieces which is surprising because we have never been shocking at the back. So this is a rather new feeling for me. Derby will look to capitalise on our set piece frailties to score and put the pressure on. 

In midfield, Matic showed signs of weariness against Everton which indicated that he clearly needed a rest. This would have been the ideal game to play Carrick alongside a youth player like McTominay. It is a shame he's injured. Fellaini has returned to fitness though and should be in contention for this game. 

Up front, despite Lukaku's return I feel we should rest him this weekend. Mkhitaryan has to play this weekend. IF he still draws a blank and drops a 0/10, his Manchester United career will be all but over. Mourinho may look to ship him out as early as this January. Anyway, let us see how the team should line-up, in my opinion.

Predicted Lineup: Romero; Darmain, Smalling, Tuanzebe, Shaw; Herrera, McTominay, Pogba; Martial, Rashford, Mkhitaryan.

Predicted Score: 2-0

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