Three points are imperative for Manchester United as they return to Premier League action on Saturday with a must-win home clash against Brentford.
Another calamitous night in Europe cast further doubt on Erik ten Hag’s managerial future at Old Trafford. United spurned two separate leads in a frustrating 3-2 loss to Galatasaray on Tuesday.
Not long ago glorified and worshipped by the Theatre of Dreams faithful, the Dutchman now stands on the brink of the sack after overseeing the club’s worst ten-game start to a new campaign since 1986/87.
Galatasaray’s comeback didn’t just send the Red Devils’ hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stage into complete disarray, it also condemned them to an alarming sixth defeat in ten matches.
It’s only been seven rounds into the new season, but Man United already seem well past the title conversation, proving us terribly wrong for putting them in a top-two frame in our 2023/24 season preview.
Visiting Brentford may not be enjoying the best of times after a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest left them stranded in the lower reaches, only three points clear of 18th-placed Burnley.
However, they’ve earned a flattering tag as the ‘giant slayers’ since earning Premier League promotion two years ago.
In addition to being the only side to pull off a league double against perennial champions Manchester City last term, Thomas Frank’s side have proved well-versed in taking big scalps in 2023.
The Bees have emerged victorious in three of their last six Premier League away games (D1, L2), taking down two of the traditional ‘big six’ teams in Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in that sequence.
Defying the odds in Manchester may go a long way in fulfilling our mid-table expectations for Brentford in 2023/24, though it will require the visitors to turn their fortunes around.
After going unbeaten at home for over a year, Man United have suffered three defeats in their last four outings at Old Trafford since relinquishing a jaw-dropping 31-game undefeated streak in mid-September.
Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace have snatched away all three points from the Red Devils’ collapsed home fortress across the last two Premier League rounds.
Having left to pick up the slack in the wake of another continental disappointment, Ten Hag could be running out of excuses as he stares down the barrel of an unwanted piece of history.
You’d need to go back to 1979 for the last time Man United lost three consecutive league matches at the Theatre of Dreams, highlighting the importance of grabbing three points on Saturday.
Brentford’s visit potentially bodes well for United’s bid to get back on track, with the Bees being on the receiving end in three of their four Premier League meetings (W1) since joining the top flight in 2021.
The visitors’ problems at Old Trafford are long-standing, with their last away win against the Red Devils dating back to 1937.
After that, it’s all been doom and gloom for the London outfit as they’ve lost five consecutive visits to this stadium, including a brace of defeats ‘to nil’ across their only previous Premier League H2Hs.
If that’s not enough to make Frank scratch his head, Brentford’s barren run in England’s elite division stands at five matches (D3, L2), although their only league win of 2023/24 came on the road.
Given the number of goals Man United have leaked at home, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw cannot recover soon enough.
However, they remain unavailable for selection. The same goes for Tyrell Malacia and Sergio Reguilon, while Jadon Sancho is no longer a friendly face in the locker room.
Antony’s return to the fold is the only positive in an otherwise tumultuous time for Ten Hag’s troops.
Brentford’s injury list doesn’t look any better, with Ben Mee, Kevin Schade, Rico Henry, Mikkel Damsgaard, Josh Dasilva and Shandon Baptiste all stuck in the treatment room.
Ivan Toney’s ban adds insult to injury.
Manchester United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Andre Onana; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Jonny Evans, Sofyan Amrabat; Casemiro, Mason Mount; Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Rasmus Hojlund.
Brentford potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Mark Flekken; Mads Roerslev, Nathan Collins, Ethan Pinnock, Aaron Hickey; Mathias Jensen, Christian Norgaard, Vitaly Janelt; Bryan Mbeumo, Neal Maupay, Yoane Wissa.
We Say: Manchester United 1-0 Brentford
Any failed attempt to get three points on the board against an injury-plagued Brentford side would probably put the final nail in Ten Hag’s coffin.
While Man United’s showings this season don’t inspire much confidence, we back the Dutchman to avoid the axe with a narrow win.
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