Manchester United Potential XI vs Shrewsbury

Credit: Lineup Builder
Credit: Lineup Builder /

FA Cup Fifth round pits United against Shrewsbury

Manchester United will continue their FA Cup quest against League One side Shrewsbury in likely their last hope of winning any silverware this season.

The Red Devils cruised to a 3-1 victory over Derby County in the previous round via goals from Wayne Rooney, Daley Blind, and Juan Mata. However, as supporters will be keenly aware of, Manchester United will be without the services of Rooney and David de Gea, arguably the two most important players in the team, when they face the Shrews.

With the surprising loss in the Europa League still fresh in their minds, Louis van Gaal and the players will need to make a quick mental recovery in order to progress in the domestic competition. For his part, van Gaal’s squad selection will go a long way in determining the result.

At keeper, Sergio Romero will get a second consecutive start in the wake of de Gea’s injury during warm-ups against Midtjylland. The Argentine international stepped in admirably, making multiple reflex saves to give his side a chance at victory. The biggest concern will be his propensity to take unnecessary risks with his distribution.

The defensive make-up will rely heavily on the injury statuses of several players. Donald Love got the start in the Europa League clash as both Guillermo Varela and Matteo Darmian were sidelined with injuries. However, Varela is on track to return to action this week and could regain his previous, albeit brief, starting role.

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Cameron Borthwick-Jackson missed the previous match with illness and was rested instead. With a couple of days between the two matches, the young defender should be back at full fitness and available for selection. That will allow Daley Blind to move central and continue his partnership with Chris Smalling. The defense as a whole has struggled when under pressure against inferior opposition in the most recent two matches, and they’ll look to right the ship.

In midfield, Marouane Fellaini is also out injured with an apparent muscle issue, leaving Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin as the only healthy natural options. Neither has enjoyed a good run of form in recent matches, with the Frenchman in particular struggling in his first season as a Red Devil. The expectations were high for Schneiderlin when he signed from Southampton in the summer, but his transition has been a difficult one. Ander Herrera got the nod ahead of him in the Midtjylland match but struggled in the deeper role.

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On the wings, Memphis and Jesse Lingard should retain their spots. Memphis capitalized on his involvement in the Europa League match, netting United’s lone goal. Similarly to Schneiderlin, the Dutch winger has experienced a tumultuous season in Manchester as he adapts to Premier League play. The manager can only hope that his goal will grant Memphis some newfound confidence.

In the no. 10 position, Juan Mata has found a second wind. Earlier in the season, the Spaniard had struggled in his natural position, but recently he has found a good bit of form, including one of the goals against Derby. Despite Herrera having performed adequately earlier in the season, van Gaal has consistently turned to his fellow countryman.

To round out the team, Anthony Martial will get the start at striker. The French international is the only remaining senior team striker in the squad, with James Wilson on loan and Will Keane more so a reserves player. As the target for the rest of the team, Martial will have to hold up play and distribute instead of his usual bursts down the flanks.

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The match against Shrewsbury offers Manchester United a chance of turning their form around, but considering the last two matches, it will be anything but smooth sailing.

Credit: Lineup Builder
Credit: Lineup Builder /