Manchester United vs. Bolton: Predicting United's Starting Lineup
Manchester United—still high from their midweek FA Cup win against league rivals Manchester City—will be looking to ramp up even more pressure on the noisy neighbors when they meet Owen Coyle's Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford this weekend.
Despite the win over City, Sir Alex Ferguson bemoaned his team's second-half performance against City and will be looking for a much more solid performance this time around.
Here are my predictions for United's starting lineup against Bolton.
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GK: Anders Lindegaard
I was slightly surprised that Anders Lindegaard started ahead of David de Gea against City.
It had been a habit of Sir Alex's to pick de Gea for the big games, but it was not to be this time around.
Much was made of Lindegaard's clean-sheet record and the stark contrast it made with David de Gea's—well, that's no longer an issue, is it?
With five goals conceded in his last two games, Lindegaard is now well on his way. Regardless, he is my pick to be picked by Sir Alex.
LB: Patrice Evra
Patrice Evra's performances for United this season have been underwhelming, but there is no current replacement for his position and it doesn't hurt that he is the captain—as such, Evra should start.
RB: Phil Jones
Phil Jones began the season on fire, tearing his way through opposition defenses and battering down the opposition.
Of late, though, he hasn't being the same player. Uncharacteristic crossing mishaps, poor control and over-pressing have been visible in his game, hopefully he will auto-correct soon.
CB: Rio Ferdinand
Another player who has been unconvincing is Rio Ferdinand, and his inconsistency almost cost the team against City.
Now a yard slower, and little lower on attention span, I still think Ferdinand will start. However, Jonny Evans is an option Sir Alex has at his disposal.
CB: Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling has rarely gotten a chance this season to play in his favored centre-back position, but, like he did against City, I think the young defender will play in the role again.
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LM: Luis Nani
No explanation needed, surely?
RM: Antonio Valencia
How Ashley Young got higher in the pecking order than Antonio Valencia, I'll never know.
One thing I do know is that Valencia will start against Bolton.
Anderson started from the bench for United's last two games as he was returning from an injury layoff.
Bolton are much lighter opposition, and having gone through the easing-in period, I expect him to start.
CM: Michael Carrick
Not my favorite player, but is apparently Sir Alex's, and his is the opinion that counts.
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Rooney recently made the 2011 FIFA/FifPro World XI—I'm pretty sure he'll make the United starting lineup against Bolton.
With Javier Hernandez's goal-scoring form not up to the levels of last year, Danny Welbeck's physicality and athleticism is the next-best thing for United in attack.