Manchester United: Predicting the Red Devils Starting XI vs. Norwich City

Max TowleAnalyst INovember 14, 2012

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 07:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United celebrates his goal with Wayne Rooney during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between SC Braga and Manchester United at the Estadio AXA on November 7, 2012 in Braga, Portugal.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Manchester United may be playing quite appalling football at the back at the moment, but are still proving one of the hardest teams to beat in the Premier League.

Aston Villa were the most recent side to find out the hard way that this United team never knows when it's beaten—the Red Devils coming from two goals down to storm to a Javier Hernandez-inspired 3-2 victory in the final half hour of the game.

The Mexican striker has been quite magnificent when called upon this season and will surely be rewarded for his efforts with a starting berth in the upcoming fixture against Norwich City.

Predicting the other 10 United players who'll take the field at Carrow Road this Saturday may not be so easy.

Sir Alex Ferguson is facing a mini injury crisis this week, as both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie have pulled out of their respective international squads.

It is not yet known whether or not either will miss this weekend's clash, but the chances of both playing are relatively slim.

Therefore, I've gone with van Persie playing and not Rooney, though it could just as easily be the other way around.

So, working my way back through the XI, the team may be forced to play a more conventional 4-4-2 with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia on the flanks.

Predicting who Sir Alex will plug for in the middle hinges on his ongoing faith in the much maligned Michael Carrick.

He and Paul Scholes' midfield partnership against Villa failed completely in providing the back four with enough protection to prevent the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann running riot.

Personally, I'd like to see either Darren Fletcher or Anderson get the nod alongside Tom Cleverley, but knowing the Scotsman and his occasionally baffling decision-making, Carrick is more likely than not to keep his place in the team.

The defence virtually picks itself, with Patrice Evra looking improved in recent games and Rafael the only genuine right-back available, while Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling are the only fit central players at present.

Despite Sir Alex previously claiming he'd play the rotation game with his goalkeepers, Anders Lindegaard's spell on the sidelines has given David de Gea a true opportunity to prove himself in the role, and quite frankly, he's been excellent.

The most impressive part of the Spaniard's performance against Villa was his confidence dealing with crosses.

Rather than trying to claim the ball in the air, he has become a serial puncher—a short-term turn for the better, in my opinion.

So there you have it—my prediction for the team and formation Sir Alex will deploy at Carrow Road this Saturday.

With a run of winnable games on the horizon for United, now is the time for them to kick into top gear and extend their lead at the summit of the Premier League table.

Fans will be hoping they don't have to come from behind to do it this time.


Who do you think will line up against Norwich City this weekend? Will Sir Alex spring any surprises?

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