Saturday’s match may not have been exactly what Moyes would have been hoping for but it was three points and that is very important with Manchester City and Chelsea also faltering. Attention now turns towards the return of the Champions League and David Moyes first match as Manchester United manager in Europe. The group consists of some tricky matches against Shaktar Donetsk, Real Sociedad and the opponents on Tuesday night, Bayer Leverkusen. The importance of taking the maximum haul of points from the home fixtures in the Champions League is one that cannot be overstated, but with a trip to cross town rivals Manchester City looming on Sunday this selection will be one of the toughest of Moyes’ reign so far.
In goal we can expect so see De Gea take his place between the stumps. The centre of the defence will likely consist of Ferdinand and Vidic, both have trained well and looked good in the run up to Tuesday nights fixture. Evra will be expected to start on the left but with Rafael returning to full training questions remain about who will take up the right of the defence.
Phil Jones also trained today, albeit away from the main group. While this puts him in contention for a start, I can’t see Moyes taking a risk ahead of Sunday’s match against Manchester City. Fabio has also made a claim on the position at the right of the defence after a strong showing in the game at the weekend against Crystal Palace. This to me would seem the best option available to Moyes, avoiding any risks of re-injuring the returning Rafael and Jones.
The centre of the midfield has all of a sudden become a hotly contested area, unfortunately for David Moyes this isn’t a result of great performances from his midfield options. The last appearance of Cleverley was a somewhat poor display against Liverpool. Anderson flopped when given the chance against Crystal Palace on Saturday as he put in a feeble effort and seemed to crumble under any pressure from the opposing midfield. This may mean that Fellaini get’s his first start for the club, the towering figure of the fuzzy haired Belgian was greeted with rapturous applause on Saturday. Fellaini then attempted to show why he was signed by Moyes and appeared to come through the game with one or two convinced.
I would expect that Michael Carrick will be the other name in the centre of the midfield, a good performance against Crystal Palace and a need to win the first match of the Champions League would seem to me enough reason for choosing one of United’s most consistent performers.
The suspension of Nani resulting from the red card received against Real Madrid last season will mean that the options available for Moyes are somewhat more limited than he would have hoped. After a good performance clouded by controversy at the weekend, I would expect that Ashley Young will be selected to start against Bayer Leverkusen. Ryan Giggs may make a start on Tuesday night, his experience on the pitch would be something that Moyes might be thankful of. The other options in this position Kagawa, Zaha and Valencia all seem unlikely. If Valencia is to feature then it will mean that there must stronger attacking strength on the right of the United midfield. My feeling is that Moyes will go with Giggs to add some composure to the centre of the park.
Any expectations of Kagawa starting this game would seem somewhat misplaced in my view, coming back from a mild flu I would guess that an appearance as a second half substitute for Wayne Rooney will be the most likely option if the game allows. This means that it will be ‘as you were’ up front, Wayne Rooney impressed on Saturday with some great passing, a beautifully delivered through ball to Van
Persie, and finishing the game off with a goal from a free kick. Robin Van Persie will complete the starting eleven and will be hoping to get back on the score sheet after scoring at the weekend.
The Champions League poses a completely new challenge for David Moyes, one that his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson became quite consistent in. Hitting the ground running will be the name of the game on Tuesday night and to do that Moyes will need the players he chooses to give it their all against a dangerous Bayern Leverkusen side.
What would be your starting XI against Leverkusen? Comment in the section below.