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Bournemouth in the Premier League.
Wednesday 13th December 2017, KO 20:00 UTC.

Who should start: Romelu Lukaku or Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Romelu Lukaku
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:38 am

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Home toManchester City in the Premier League
Sunday 10th December 2017, KO 16:30 GMT


With Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to fitness, Jose Mourinho has a big decision to make. Should he persist with Romelu Lukaku up front? Or is it time to unleash last season's top scorer?

Lukaku made a blistering start to his Manchester United career, scoring 11 goals in his first 10 appearances, but he finds himself in the spotlight having only found the net twice in his last 12.

The pressure is heightened by Ibrahimovic's return to the fold, with Mourinho confirming the Swede has a "big chance" of being available for Sunday's Manchester derby, live on Sky Sports. So who should he pick?

The case for Lukaku
Lukaku has struggled in front of goal recently but his strike against CSKA Moscow could be exactly the boost he needed. "Make no mistake, that goal was as important as any goal that he has scored in his career," said Jamie Redknapp on The Debate on Tuesday. "It will give so much confidence ahead of the Manchester derby at the weekend."

Having only found the net once in his previous 11 appearances, Mourinho will be hoping Lukaku's first goal in a month is the first step towards regaining his self-belief and rediscovering the ruthless streak that defined his first few weeks at the club. Indeed, United are already well-aware of just how clinical he can be.

Finishing aside, it is also worth remembering the important contribution Lukaku has made to United's general attacking play in recent weeks. There was an assist in the 4-2 win over Watford, and he played a key role in United's first and third goals against Arsenal. He even won the header which allowed Juan Mata to set up Marcus Rashford's winner against CSKA.

Lukaku has been criticised for his work-rate in the past but recent evidence suggests he is more than capable of providing the off-the-ball intensity Mourinho demands from his attacking players. Against Arsenal, when United employed the kind of high-pressing tactics they may look to use again against City, Premier League tracking data showed that only Lingard made more sprints than Lukaku.

The Belgian was similarly energetic against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, and United will need more of the same at Old Trafford on Sunday. That level of intensity is something Ibrahimovic, 36 years old and only recently back from a serious knee injury, might not be able to provide.

Time for Zlatan?
He might not have youth on his side, but Ibrahimovic remains one of the most reliable goalscorers in the game. The Swede hit 28 of them last season, including a stunning volley the last time Manchester City visited Old Trafford. It was an example of his ability to conjure something out of nothing and also highlighted his tendency to rise to the big occasion.

Indeed, Ibrahimovic's record in big games is considerably more impressive than Lukaku's. The Belgian has failed to find the net against Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool this season, and the issue stretches back to his Everton days. In fact, since 2014/15, he has only hit five goals in 39 meetings against the Premier League's big six.

brahimovic is also at an advanced stage of his recovery from injury. His omissions against Arsenal and CSKA allowed him to conserve his energy for Sunday's game, and his previous substitute appearances against Newcastle, Basel, Brighton and Watford have already helped him build up his match fitness.

Ibrahimovic would give United a talisman and a leader in the absence of the suspended Paul Pogba, and he might also be even more motivated than usual against Guardiola. The pair's fractious relationship at Barcelona is well-documented. Ibrahimovic would surely like nothing more than to get one over on his old manager.


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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:04 pm

Lukaku - gives us pace and power, and helps make us dangerous on the counter attack. Zlatan isn't match sharp at the minute anyway
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:23 pm

Lukaku with Zlatan off the bench

I would really like to see the team set out to give City a go, City look vulnerable defensively but if we go in with a defensive mindset and invite pressure then De Bruyne and co will find a way through, so really hoping Jose goes 4-3-3 rather than 5 at the back.

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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:59 am

We'll look to soak pressure, and catch em on the break me thinks. IMO, probably the best way to play em. Pogba is a massive miss!
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:37 am

Home game - we have to take the game to City

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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:09 am

Possibility of a back 3 and a packed midfield?
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:17 am

dbecks07 wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:37 am
Home game - we have to take the game to City

Jose is incidentally not bothered by such ideals.

De Gea is asked by sky sports, "can united stop city?" His response: "can city stop united?" - which I shared his confidence, but brilliant!
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:35 am

Dante wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:09 am
Possibility of a back 3 and a packed midfield?
It's a definite, not a possibility

expect Jones to replace Lindelof, rest of lineup the same from watford and arsenal game (Y)

1-0 scrappy win, set-piece or something
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:47 pm

You'd think so, again that's my issue with Jose's 352, as I've mentioned before, it's more a 523 with just 2 in the middle. If we get the balance of 352 right, with Fellaini as the most advanced, we have a good chance of bullying them into a win
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:19 pm

Agreed , that’s my issue as well

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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:00 am

I would also like to see us playing a 3-5-2. I do not want to see us setting up in our penalty box inviting wave after wave of City attack and our primary defense is to kick the ball as far down the pitch as possible while waiting for the next wave. I think we have to take away their wings and tie them up in midfield, jump on every turnover and attack quickly.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:45 pm

So we'll park the bus then.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:20 pm

United team: De Gea, Young, Rojo, Smalling, Valencia, Herrera, Matic, Lingard, Rashford, Martial, Lukaku.

Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw, McTominay, Mata, Ibrahimovic.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:16 pm

Just not good enough so far.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:18 pm

Fully deserved.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:00 pm

Worst performance. Defending at Old Trafford is pathetic. Not the United way. We can do this away, not at home.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:29 pm

Edgardos wrote:
Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:00 pm
Worst performance. Defending at Old Trafford is pathetic. Not the United way. We can do this away, not at home.
costly mistakes on set pieces. Lukaku with that assist to City. demn.
We atleast tried to attack after the 1st goal. But we still really lack that creative player.

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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:16 am

One of the weakest reffing performances ive ever seen, not that it cost us a game, but it needs to be said. Our defending was deplorable, which was a pity, we actually were finally able to stop a better side while trying to be attacking
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:33 am

Well I guess it's settled....we're a Jose Mourinho team.
In fact we looked pretty much as I remembered Chelsea playing against Barcelona under Mourinho looked....with the same fornicate results.
Young and Valencia have been fairly potent in attack lately but they sat back and defended for most of the game.
Walker got an early yellow card, so did we pressure him on their right....nope.
Lukaku was once again nowhere, but was he for once subbed........nope.
We supposedly have a better defense than they do, so did we try to pressure their defense.....nope.
We were at home.....our yaaaad....did we try to take the game to them.
Nope, we looked from the start as if we'd be happy with a draw.
Are we better under Mourinho than under Van Gaal and Moyes....yes.
Are we playing like Manchester United......fornicate no.
What's changed?
Looks like we may be second best instead of fourth or fifth best.

Am I pissed off....obviously, as most of you probably are.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:01 am

Simple fact is that Man City are miles better than us - without Pogba we lack all creation, composure and flair.

Game plan = once we get possession we hoof it to the big guy up front - unfortunately our hoofing wasn't even accurate and the big guy up front was horrendous.

The scary thing is I don't think City played all that well but were still miles better than us - two awful goals to concede.

The chasing pack keep dropping points and city keep motoring on - the title is already out of sight and it isn't even Christmas - expect Jose to focus on the cup competitions now.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:05 am

Devil Pikney wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:33 am
Well I guess it's settled....we're a Jose Mourinho team.
In fact we looked pretty much as I remembered Chelsea playing against Barcelona under Mourinho looked....with the same fornicate results.
Young and Valencia have been fairly potent in attack lately but they sat back and defended for most of the game.
Walker got an early yellow card, so did we pressure him on their right....nope.
Lukaku was once again nowhere, but was he for once subbed........nope.
We supposedly have a better defense than they do, so did we try to pressure their defense.....nope.
We were at home.....our yaaaad....did we try to take the game to them.
Nope, we looked from the start as if we'd be happy with a draw.
Are we better under Mourinho than under Van Gaal and Moyes....yes.
Are we playing like Manchester United......fornicate no.
What's changed?
Looks like we may be second best instead of fourth or fifth best.

Am I pissed off....obviously, as most of you probably are.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:01 pm

City weren't that good to be honest - we gifted them their goals and I don't think they made too much themselves.

If we had pressured them more we would have got a result. There were periods we were all over them, but it wasn't sustained. It was a home game, we should be sustaining it.
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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:07 pm

Dante wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:01 pm
City weren't that good to be honest - we gifted them their goals and I don't think they made too much themselves.

If we had pressured them more we would have got a result. There were periods we were all over them, but it wasn't sustained. It was a home game, we should be sustaining it.

Thats the sentiment - we didnt take the game to them. We have the players with the pace, ball playing ability and finishing ability to hurt City or any team - but seem to play too cagey in these types of games

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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:55 pm

dbecks07 wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:07 pm
Dante wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:01 pm
City weren't that good to be honest - we gifted them their goals and I don't think they made too much themselves.

If we had pressured them more we would have got a result. There were periods we were all over them, but it wasn't sustained. It was a home game, we should be sustaining it.

Thats the sentiment - we didnt take the game to them. We have the players with the pace, ball playing ability and finishing ability to hurt City or any team - but seem to play too cagey in these types of games
Agree. Last 15 minutes or so, City became sloppy and just keeping the ball. But we really didn't do enough chances against them. I hate those long balls and then just City to win the headers towards the end. Should have played better than that since it ain't working.

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Re: Pre-Match Discussion: Premier League vs Man City (h)

Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:57 pm

The City game was just another example to show that without Pogba we do not have the personnel to make a 4-2-3-1 formation work. The midfield pairing that looks like it should work, Matic and Herrera, are more suited to defending that creative flair. Far too many time the first look is to pass the ball lateral, from one midfielder to the other, or backwards to one of the central defenders who recycle it between themselves until it is finally launches down field. I do not know what has happened to Herrera, last season he was able to play solid defense and still maintain an attacking flair, always looking to advance the ball to one of the forwards. However, this season that facet appear to have totally gone from his game. He still plays good defense, although he is a little melodramatic for my taste, but he no longer tries to run the ball forward and more often than not will play the safe pass to Matic or backward to a defender. Matic tries to get the ball moving forward but without Pogba to help neutralize defensive pressure the opposition put a couple or three players on him and he gets overrun.

Lukaku is something of an enigma; he is big and strong and looks like he should be able to hold up a long ball even with a couple or three defenders on his back. Unfortunately, his first touch is so poor that defender just lay off him and pick up the rebound wherever it ends up. Playing long balls up to him is totally counterproductive because more often than not he will lose the and the opposition goes straight back on the attack. To get the best from Lukaku, Rashford and Martial the ball needs to travel through the middle of the pitch quickly and on the ground. When we play with a four man back line our backs (Young and Valencia) must think defense first and we lose not only outlets for the GK and CD but any chance of width when we attack. Not have traditional attacking wingers (we do have them but we are playing them as defensive backs) and with our backs having to concentrating on defense makes us very compact and easier for defenders to handle.

This is not the United of the Sir Alex era, we do not have a starting eight that picks itself and three others to fill in roles as needed. The league has also change in recent years, the money provided from the television contract(s) means that are very few pushover teams and cheap points are nowhere near as plentiful as in past years. Even with Pogba available as part of a two-man midfield there have been games where we have been outmanned and overrun in midfield. Therefore, with the personnel we have available I believe that we should be using a 3-5-2, this would give us the best chance to impose our will on the game and best utilizes the skill set of the player we have.
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