The optimism that surrounded the beginning of Louis van Gaal’s reign at Manchester United seems to have evaporated quickly as United languish in the bottom half of the table after picking up just 2 points from their opening three league games against Swansea, Sunderland and Burnley. And then there is the small matter of an embarrassing League Cup exit at the hands of Milton Keynes Dons, on the very day United found their new No.7 in the form of the man of the match from the 2014 Champions League final, Angel Di Maria.
Since then, Ed Woodward has been able to change many people’s opinion about his and the club’s ability to attract the biggest names on the planet after United secured the biggest coup of the summer after landing Falcao on a year long loan deal with the option to make it permanent, not to mention the versatile Daley Blind.
Louis van Gaal’s experiment with the 3-4-1-2 formation has been nothing short of a work in progress to put it correctly, as the Dutchman looks to manage his defensive resources to allow his world class attacking line to flourish. United’s failings in the transfer market over the years, and the forecasted drop in revenues coinciding with the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, calls for a return to the elite company at the earliest opportunity. The game against QPR provides an opportunity to get their season up and running and a sun-kissed Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon could provide the perfect backdrop for the likes of Di Maria and Falcao to strut out their stuff in the red of United.
There seems to be a renewed buzz at Old Trafford, in anticipation of the game against Queens Park Rangers. United fans have been starved of big name players over the years, after the likes of Ronaldo and Tevez moved to pastures greener, or apparently at least, and to be able to witness the likes of Falcao and Di Maria in action at the Theatre of Dreams is a different yet exciting prospect. Falcao’s arrival was the most surprising as United acted late yet swiftly to secure the services of the Colombian forward. And to top it all, the occasion is set for the home debuts of record signing Angel Di Maria, while the likes of Rojo, Shaw and Blind could all be involved. While United fans would be pleased with the transfer business in the summer, the decision not to buy another central defender could mean a switch to a back four with Di Maria in a central midfield role similar to where he played for the Los Blancos last season.
Queens Park Rangers meanwhile have had another busy transfer window, with Harry Redknapp landing Sandro and his favourite boy Niko Kranjcar to the eight other new faces at Loftus Road, including an Old Trafford legend in Rio Ferdinand. Rangers have managed to find the back of the net only once this season, and the loss of Loic Remy to Stamford Bridge does little to help the cause. And Ferdinand and co. will have their task cut out to stop the likes of Rooney, Falcao and Di Maria from running riot on Sunday.
Louis van Gaal has a wealth of attacking riches at his disposal, players for whom teams would do anything to land their signature, and yet, even with Falcao, Di Maria, van Persie, Mata and Rooney in his ranks, van Gaal has to devise a way to fit them in and get the balance right. The season promises to be a long, yet exciting journey for Manchester United and their fans. The ride begins on Sunday.
Manchester United vs QPR Predicted Lineups:
Manchester United (4-3-1-2): De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Rojo, Shaw; Herrera, Blind, Di María; Rooney; Van Persie, Falcao.
QPR (4-3-1-2): Green; Isla, Caulker, Ferdinand, Hill; Phillips, Sandro, Kranjcar, Hoilett; Fer; Austin.
Manchester United vs QPR Match Facts
- Richard Dunne could make his 400th Premier League start in this game; he would become only the 22nd player to reach the milestone.
- Since 2009-10, Falcao has scored 104 goals in 139 league apps (for Porto, A.Madrid & Monaco combined).
- Only three Premier League players (Sturridge, Bony, Sterling) have had more shots at goal than Steven Caulker this season (seven, six headed)
The Red Devils have won 10 and lost none of their 12 previous Barclays Premier League meetings with QPR.
Queens Park Rangers have not kept a clean sheet against Man Utd since September 1992, when they drew 0-0 at Old Trafford in the first ever Premier League meeting
Harry Redknapp’s side have had just two shots fewer than Chelsea this season, but have scored 10 fewer goals (one goal from 33 shots).
The Red Devils have entered September with only two competitions to compete for the first time since 1962/63, when they only entered the league and the FA Cup.
Only three Premier League players (Sturridge, Bony, Sterling) have had more shots at goal than Steven Caulker this season (seven, six headed).
Facts compiled from asia.eurosport.com
Manchester United vs QPR Prediction:
From a neutral’s point of view, United are the team to watch this weekend. All the new signings could be in action and the mouthwatering prospect of the likes of Di Maria, Falcao and Rooney combining could be a sight to savour. This is the ideal game for the new boys to come in and get some confidence under their belt. United should win this. 3-0 is my bet!