Manchester United visit Brentford in Saturday’s late kickoff and you wouldn’t be exaggerating if you called this a must-win game for the Red Devils. After an embarrassing opening day defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford and with Liverpool visiting next week (a team they’ve only beaten once in the last 8 games), the biggest fear for Erik ten Hag and his men is that there is a very realistic chance they could start the season with 3 consecutive losses & be rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table if they don’t get a win on Saturday. With Cristiano Ronaldo still pushing for an exit behind the scenes and the club still struggling to get signings over the line (most notably Frankie de Jong), there’s no shortage of distractions for the club on and off the field.
Brentford, on the other hand, would be satisfied with their performance last weekend at Leicester City. Just like Man Utd, they went 2-goals down but unlike Man Utd, they showed a lot of resilience in fighting back and earning themselves a draw. In fact, since the start of last season, Brentford has secured an impressive 16 points from losing positions; only Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have more.
This game would also see an emotional return for Christian Eriksen. After being out for several months due the cardiac arrest he suffered at the EUROs, the Dane signed a 6-month contract with Brentford and helped reignite their season when it looked like they were running out of gas. Between the time he signed and the end of the season, only Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Arsenal’s Martin Ødegaard created more chances than he did and there’s no doubt he’ll receive a hero’s welcome.
Brentford’s 4 clean sheets in their last 5 competitive home games would give them a lot of optimism heading into Saturday’s game but a desperate Man Utd side would fancy themselves to score.
These two teams have met twice in the Premier League and on both occasions, Man Utd claimed all 3pts.
Brentford 1 – 3 Man Utd (19th January, 2022)
Man Utd 3 – 0 Brentford (2nd May, 2022)
Brentford: The West Londoners have won 2 of their last 5 league games. (D-L-W-W-L).
Manchester United: Coincidentally, The Red Devils’ last league win came against Brentford when both sides met at Old Trafford. Since then, they’ve lost 3 games in a row. (L-L-L-W-D)
Brentford: New signing Mikkel Damsgaard could make an appearance in this game but there’s a feeling manager Thomas Frank would feel it’s a bit too early to start him. That aside, an unchanged side is expected in this game.
Starting XI: David Raya, Aaron Hickey, Pontus Jansson, Ben Mee, Rico Henry, Josh Dasilva, Christian Nörgaard, Vitaly Janelt, Bryan Mbeumo, Yoane Wissa, Ivan Toney (4-3-3)
Man Utd: Erik ten Hag would want to shake things a little bit after the defeat on the opening day. Scott McTominay didn’t cover himself in glory and could drop to the bench while Christian Eriksen who did well in a deep role especially in the second half could partner with Fred and Bruno in a 4-3-3.
Starting XI: David de Gea, Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Fred, Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo (4-3-3)
Ivan Toney (Brentford): Ivan Toney remains the key to this Brentford side. After finishing as back to back top scorer in League One and the Championship, he scored an impressive 12 goals (+ 5 assists) in the EPL last season and scored on the opening day against Leicester City. Last season, only James Tarkowski won more headers than him & Wilf Zaha was the only attacker that was more fouled than him. You can expect him to be a handful for Manchester United’s defenders.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United): The 5-Time Ballon d’Or winner has been the news because of his unhappiness at the club but while he’s still there, he remains key for them. The club is yet to win a game he hasn’t played in and given Man Utd’s woes in front of goal, especially with Anthony Martial still injured, he’ll be heavily relied on to produce in attack.
Brentford have kept 4 clean sheets in their last 5 home games.
Man Utd has kept just 2 clean sheets in their last 17 games.
Since beating Man Utd twice in the 1936-37 season, Brentford are winless against the Red devils in their last six attempts in the English top flight.
Man Utd scored 6 goals against Brentford last season, only Liverpool scored more against the West Londoners in 2021/2022.
Man Utd have lost their last 6 away matches (in the Premier League).
Over 2.5 Goals: At 1.80, this is an irresistible offer for a game where both teams’ strength clearly doesn’t lie in defence.
Both Teams To Score: Listed as 1.65 this is another good bet with Ivan Toney & Cristiano Ronaldo going head to head.
1X + GG: If you think Man Utd would score in this game but fail to get a win, then look no further than this mouthwatering 2.88 odds which is arguably the steal of the weekend.
Bookings O/U Away: Man Utd were very nervy in defence and struggled to keep up with Brighton’s swift attacking play as they received 4 yellow cards. They’re likely to continue this struggle and at 1.68, 2 or more yellow cards looks like a safe bet.