Manchester United will face Brentford in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
Erik ten Hag’s side were defeated 0-1 at home by Crystal Palace in the league last weekend, making it four defeats in their first seven games of the season. They also lost 2-3 to Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday and are currently last in Group A, putting Ten Hag under a lot of pressure.
Brentford, on the other hand, has had a difficult start to the 2023/24 season and is on a five-game losing streak. They travel to Old Trafford after a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest the previous Saturday.
With both clubs eager to return to winning ways, here are three key battles that could decide the outcome of this Premier League fixture.
#Sofyan Amrabat vs Bryan Mbeumo
Signed on loan from Fiorentina on deadline day, Sofyan Amrabat has been featuring as a makeshift left-back due to Man United’s injury crisis in that position. And with Sergio Reguilon a big doubt, it looks like Amrabat is set to continue in that position for the time being.
Operating as a left-back, the Moroccan often tends to drift infield and help United progress the ball from midfield. This, in return, has vacated the space at left-back which right-wingers in the last two games have exploited—something that is going to make Bryan Mbeumo lick his lips.
Mbeumo has bagged four goals in seven appearances this season and is Brentford’s biggest threat going forward. With his pace, movement and trickery, the Cameroonian will look to cause all kinds of problems for Amrabat and United’s leaky defence. He will be determined to overload that flank in conjunction with Kristofer Ajer. In that case, Marcus Rashford will need to put in a defensive shift and track back diligently to help Amrabat.
On that note, how Amrabat deals with Mbeumo will be an interesting watch.
#Rasmus Hojlund vs Ethan Pinnock
He had to wait for some time to make his debut for the club due to a back injury but since making his debut against Arsenal, Rasmus Hojlund’s all-around centre-forward play has been a breath of fresh air for the fans. He scored his first goal for the club against Bayern and netted twice in United’s 2-3 defeat to Galatasaray on Tuesday.
The big Dane will be in high spirits heading into the game on Saturday. Hojlund will come up against Brentford’s best defender last season, Ethan Pinnock. The 30-year-old relishes physical duels, is good with the ball at his feet and for someone so tall is deceptively quick. What he lacks at the moment is form and any lapse of concentration from Pinnock could end up being punished by Hojlund.
Despite tasting back-to-back defeats, Old Trafford will be in full voice which should push Hojlund to continue his good form. So, Pinnock and co. will have to be at the top of their game against the Danish striker to stand any chance of a result at the weekend.
#Mason Mount vs Christian Norgaard
Mason Mount has put in promising displays since returning from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for almost a month. He and Hojlund were the only positives in United’s 2-3 defeat to Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday.
In his last couple of appearances, Mount has provided much-needed energy and spark to United’s midfield that has been cut through multiple times by the opposition this term. Similarly, the England international has also shown he can split defensive lines in quick succession and also create scoring opportunities for his teammates in attack.
The above makes it difficult to monitor his movements in the final third, and there’s definitely no doubt that Christian Norgaard will have his work cut out in this encounter. Defensively smart and energetic, Norgaard is the initiator of Brentford’s attacks from a deeper midfield role, while his ability to man-mark and close down his opponent is great.
Hence, keeping Mount under tabs will be one of the Dane’s priorities in this clash.