Manchester United head to TW8 tonight seventh in the Premier League, a full 24 points behind rivals and league leaders Manchester City. More pressingly for United, they need to make up a five point gap to the Champions League places over the second half of the season.
The Red Devils parted company with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in mid-November on the back of a 4-1 defeat to Watford. Since then, United have won five of their nine games in all competitions under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, losing just once. They do, however, come into tonight's game off the back of a disappointing draw against Aston Villa on Saturday which saw them concede twice in the final 13 minutes.
Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return in the summer has borne fruit on the goalscoring front. The Portuguese striker has 19 goals in 26 games for club and country this term, which is ten more than any of his teammates. His brace in United's 3-2 victory over Arsenal back in November took him past 800 top-level career goals.
Defensively, United have been pretty porous, conceding 29 times in their 20 Premier League outings. Only West Ham, who've played two games more, have conceded more in the top nine with United keeping just six clean sheets in all competitions this term.
It's as you were from Sunday's trip to Liverpool meaning David Raya, Julian Jeanvier (both knee), Tariqe Fosu, Zanka, Charlie Goode, (all hamstring), Frank Onyeka (international duty), and Josh Dasilva (hip) will be the absentees.
Manchester United welcome back Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay from suspension, while Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo may be in contention for starting spots after injury issues. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (illness) and Paul Pogba (thigh) are definitely out while Jesse Lingard (ankle) and Anthony Martial are gametime decisions.
Writing for Hot Off The Press, United journalist Tom McDermott expects: "Rangnick has often used the unusual 4-2-2-2 formation that is rarely seen in the Premier League, but which he believes is ideal to exploit the ‘red zones’. The obvious issue with this formation is the lack of width during certain passages of play, which is essential when you have a player like Ronaldo (pictured above) in the middle who feeds on teasing deliveries from wide areas."
Ralf Rangnick is regarded as the "godfather" of modern German football and is credited with developing Gegenpressing.
After an uneventful career as a player, Rangnick began his coaching career in 1983, aged 25. Following a decade-and-a-half in youth and lower league football, Ragnick was hired by former club Ulm 1846 in 1997. He won the Regionalliga Süd in his debut season, the first of seven titles he would win with four different clubs.
At VfB Stuttgart he won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2000 and followed that up with the 2. Bundesliga title at Hannover 96 in 2001/02. He took 1899 Hoffenheim from the Regionalliga Süd to the top flight with back-to-back promotions in 2006/07 and 2007/08. He departed the club in 2011 and returned to Schalke 04, where he won the 2011 DFB-Pokal and reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. He later served as head coach at RB Leipzig across two periods between 2015 and 2019. The first spell ended with promotion to the top flight and the second saw a trip to the DFB-Pokal final.
In 2019, Rangnick was promoted to head of sport and development for Red Bull GmbH, overseeing global football initiatives, including New York Red Bulls and their takeover of Red Bull Bragantino. In July 2021, he signed a three-year contract as manager of sports and development for Russian Premier League club Lokomotiv Moscow, a post he left last November to take over at Old Trafford.
THE OPPOSITION VIEW
Speaking to manutd.com, Ralf Rangnick said: "I think they've had some good results at home against top teams. It will not be an easy game, nobody will expect this to be an easy game but the same was true before we played Aston Villa at Villa Park. We showed we're up to that kind of standard and level and, as I said, we should have taken those three points. I think at the end, we ran a little bit out of steam in the last 20 minutes, but in the first 70 minutes I was really pleased with the performance"
LAST TIME OUT
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistant Referees: Simon Long and Scott Ledger
Fourth Official: Andrew Madley
Video Assistant Referee: Paul Tierney
Additional Video Assistant Referee: Neil Davies
Manchester United 21/22
212 fouls - Eighth-most in Premier League
43 yellow cards - Third-most in Premier League
2 red cards - Joint-most in Premier League
All adult supporters must fill in a Covid-19 Self Declaration form before coming tomorrow and be able to show proof of an NHS COVID Pass or negative test result within the 48 hours up to kick-off.
Get yourself match ready here
Wednesday's game is live on BT Sport and around the world through the Premier League's broadcast partners.
Supporters can also listen to live Bees Player commentary with Jonathan Douglas and Charlie MacDonald joining Mark Burridge.