Man Utd verdict: Erik ten Hag now knows his best XI and it’s bad news for Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Manchester derby


ERIK TEN HAG now has 17 days to pick his team for the Manchester derby.

The Red Devils breezed past Sheriff Tiraspol 2-0 in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Ten Hag appears to have found his best XI after five wins from six matches

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Ten Hag appears to have found his best XI after five wins from six matchesCredit: PA

With their Premier League clash against Leeds postponed, this was United’s final match before the international break.

And Ten Hag chose to revert back to the side which beat Arsenal – albeit with Cristiano Ronaldo in for the injured Marcus Rashford.

And it is a team which seems to be forming a superb understanding… Ronaldo aside.

David de Gea is a certainty in between the sticks.

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Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez look rock solid at the back, with the latter beginning to show off his brilliant range of passing.

Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia look equally aggressive defensively and sufficiently creative going forward.

Scott McTominay is keeping five-time Champions League winner Casemiro out of the team and will be expected to start in the derby despite the ex-Real Madrid man’s experience.

Christian Eriksen has been United’s standout player in recent weeks, with his effortless range of passing a highlight of the Ten Hag regime so far.

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Bruno Fernandes remains a little underwhelming, but is offering glimpses of the form he showed during his first 12 months at Old Trafford.

And Jadon Sancho and Antony are providing the energy, pace and excitement on the flanks that has made United a force in world football over the years.

The only sticking point ahead of the Manchester derby is whether or not to bring Rashford back in for Ronaldo.

The obvious choice is to do so.

Ronaldo may have tucked away his first goal of the season from the penalty spot against Sheriff, but he looks well off the pace.

His inability to stretch the play like Rashford would be forgivable if he was looking his potent best in front of goal – but right now he is not.

As a result, the side Ten Hag will choose to put out for the trip to the Etihad in two weeks looks set in stone.

Expected XI vs Man City: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia; McTominay, Eriksen, Fernandes; Antony, Rashford, Sancho.

It is one which has already impressed in the Premier League and seems to need very little tinkering – if any.

SunSport exclusively revealed that the Dutch manager is set to receive £70million to spend in the January transfer window.

But given how his side are currently applying themselves, it is difficult to see where he would want to strengthen.

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He made five changes before the defeat to Real Sociedad – a stark warning that moving things around can create instability.

Expect him to revert to type for the trip to the Etihad – with Ronaldo, Casemiro and Co benched once more.





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