Sports Mole looks at how Manchester United could fare in their 2022-23 Premier League opener against Brighton & Hove Albion on August 7.
Manchester United will complete their preparations for the 2022-23 season this weekend with friendlies against Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano on back-to-back days.
The Red Devils have now completed their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, playing a total of four games, beating Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, in addition to a draw with Aston Villa.
Erik ten Hag‘s side now have their full focus on their Premier League opener against Brighton & Hove Albion on August 7, with the new head coach looking to make the perfect start to his time at the helm.
Here, Sports Mol predicts how the 20-time English champions could fare against Brighton, with the majority of their key players so far heavily involved in their preparations.
The Red Devils have arrived Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen this summer, while a deal for Lisandro Martinez has been agreed, but there is still no official confirmation on the Argentine’s move to Old Trafford.
Malacia has been heavily involved in the preparation for Man United, but it seems that Luke Shaw starts the season as first-choice left-back.
Eriksen is expected to train with the Red Devils on Tuesday and there is a good chance he will make his unofficial debut against Atletico on Saturday, while the same is true for Martinez, who is expected to be involved in one of the two. games, with an official announcement likely to arrive in the coming days.
However, it would be a huge surprise if Eriksen or Martinez started against Brighton, while other potential new signings between now and the start of the campaign will also have to wait for the start; a deal for Frenkie de Jong threatens to collapse, with Barcelona now seemingly open to holding the Dutchman if he accepts a pay cut, while Ajax has insisted that Anthony is not for sale.
There is also the small matter of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is reportedly traveling back to Manchester for talks with the club about his future. Even if Ronaldo stays, he has not been involved in preparing the team for the season, and Anthony Martial flowered in his absence.
As a result, Martial, who has scored three goals in four games this summer, will take the lead with the support of Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashfordwith the English couple also excellent on tour.
Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Scott McTominay are also likely to start against Brighton, while Ten Hag has given Dalot plenty of football during pre-season, suggesting he will be the right-back starter.
Ten Hag will have to assess the suitability of Raphael Varanewho has had injury problems on tour but the head coach hopes he can select the Frenchman in addition to captain Harry Maguire in the middle, with David de Gea between the sticks for the 20-time English champions.
Despite the team’s struggles last season, there’s a good chance there won’t be a single new addition to their squad ahead of the Brighton clash, but Malacia, Martinez and Eriksen could all work their way to the side in the coming weeks, while the fans will hope that a few more new faces will come to give the squad a boost.