The strict German manager will obviously be demanding more from his players to enjoy a prolific second half of the season. One thing is clear – if they’re unable to be more ruthless & discover their killer instinct against Brentford – they’re in for another potential upset.
Despite their recent poor form, Brentford have proven themselves as the best of the promoted bunch this season – getting points from Liverpool & Arsenal. Thomas Frank’s side are a real force to be reckoned with at their home ground. Unless United are able to produce their best away-game performance (so far) under Rangnick, their winless streak could further continue.
Brentford Likely XI
Fernandez, Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock, Roerslev, Baptiste, Norgaard, Janelt, Henry, Mbeumo, Toney
Brentford are likely to miss up to 4 senior players, with the likes of Mathias Jorgensen, David Raya Martin, Franck Onyeka & Joshua Dasilva all ruled out.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Tellles, McTominay, Fred, Greenwood, Bruno, Elanga, Ronaldo
Paul Pogba is still injured. Marcus Rashford is doubtful with an injury niggle, but Cristiano Ronaldo should be back for this one.
Brentford vs Manchester United Preview
Man United are treading a very dangerous line in the top-4 race. Constantly dropping points could come back to haunt them soon. They can’t rely on their top-4 rivals slipping up before making a charge for that 4th spot.
United have to rediscover their consistency to launch a solid top-4 charge in the second half of the campaign. The Red Devils might be facing a Brentford side that has lost 4 out of their last 5 league games, but they can’t take it as ‘one against the minnows’. United themselves have only won 1 out of their last 4 league outings! Rangnick cannot let complacency set in or risk another upset.
The Red Devils need to demand their attacking stars to start being more clinical. Bruno Fernandes seems to have his mojo back & he needs to continue being smart with his forward passes & get into clever areas in the final third to continue his goal-scoring run.
Mason Greenwood looks like an everbearing threat on the right wing with his swift movement & smart link-up play, but he has to be more decisive with his own decision-making to get among the goals again.
Both Mason & Bruno have to start being selfless and try to look for more accurate passes for Cristiano Ronaldo in prime scoring areas. CR7 is yet to score his first goal in 2022 and aims to break the duck on Wednesday.
He’ll need to be more clinical against Brentford, troubling the defenders with his movement & finish off chances clinically. Anthony Elanga should be given another go after impressing against Villa, with his directness, quick movement down the right & finishing ability likely to really torment Brentford.
Brentford usually operates with a stacked 5-man backline, with the centre-midfielders dropping in deep to frustrate opponents too. If United aren’t even more ruthless than they were in finishing off chances against Villa, they’ll find it difficult to break the hosts’ resolve.
Fred & Scott McTominay seem to have profited the most under Rangnick’s system. While they look to keep a sturdy midfield line & protect the backline, the duo also must be sharp with their forward passes to kick-start moves & look to get forward more often to put pressure on Brentford’s deep defensive line.
Diogo Dalot & Alex Telles also need to up their attacking game, producing better crosses or final third passes to set up more genuine chances. United have the worst defensive record among the top-10 PL sides this season and not many teams seem intimidated by their backline anymore. Brentford, for sure, won’t be scared to take on their defenders at their home ground.
Playing with the fans behind them, Thomas Frank’s side can threaten with their quick counter-attacking moves. Ivan Toney has troubled some of PL’s best throughout this season. His physicality, surprising pace & refined finishing ability can really trouble the Red Devils. Bryan Mbeumo can also be difficult to mark. He’ll look to drag defenders out of position to create more space for Toney, while also aiming to get a few stinging shots on goal himself.
Shandon Baptiste & Chris Norgaard can set up chances with clever passing, while also having the ability to pop up with tricky goalbound attempts. Brentford are also very potent in set-pieces, something United are still vulnerable against. If Rangnick’s side isn’t sharp in set-pieces, the hosts can really torment them with their smart routines.
Harry Maguire should return. The United captain needs a dominant performance to regain his confidence & has to maintain a sturdy defensive line alongside Raphael Varane to keep the hosts quiet. Because shaky his backline is, David de Gea must be ready to pull off more world-class saves to improve United’s chances of winning.
Brentford have been a fearless unit at the Brentford Community Stadium this season. After troubling Liverpool, Chelsea & Arsenal, they’re guaranteed to trouble United. The Red Devils need to be at their sharpest – both going forward & defensively – to survive a potential onslaught and come away with 3 points.
This should be an action-packed thriller. But I think United can benefit from Brentford being low on confidence. I feel the Red Devils will scrape a 2-1 win.