Manchester United vs Brentford
Marcus Rashford has been in fine form this season, particularly since the return of domestic action following the World Cup. However, the United forward looked lost at times against a Newcastle side that dominated for large parts of the game.
It’s difficult to pin the blame entirely on Rashford, with United looking rather poor on the whole. He failed to register a single shot against Newcastle, but don’t let that deter you from the fact that Rashford has been hitting the target consistently this season.
The Englishman has registered 2.80 shot P/90 this campaign, a healthy 1.30 of which have been on target. Even more impressive is that prior to drawing a blank against Newcastle, Rashford had registered a shot on target in 12 consecutive Premier League fixtures.
Rashford shots on target in last 5 league games: 0, 1, 1, 3, 1
As for opponents Brentford, they concede 5.43 shots on target P/90, and have been seriously overachieving. They have the second worst xGA P/90 in the league with 1.82 (1.96 P/90 away from home), suggesting that they’ll ship plenty of chances at Old Trafford.
Brentford conceded a staggering 15 shots on target against Brighton at the weekend, with wide men March and Mitoma combining for 6 of them. If Rashford can replicate anything like that form from out wide, then a shot on target should be comfortable.
Ivan Toney’s form this season really doesn’t come as a surprise whatsoever. The Brentford frontman has exhibited quality time and time again this campaign, and will be relishing the opportunity to go up against the United back line once again.
Provider rather than goalscorer the last time these two met, Toney notched 2 assists in Brentford’s 4-0 dismantling of the Red Devils. Whilst he failed to score, he tormented Martinez and Maguire that day, and his recent form would suggest that he’s capable of a shot on target here.
He averages 2.71 shots P/90, 1.08 of which are on target, and has been on a particularly impressive run when it comes to working the keeper. He’s failed to hit the target just once in his last 8, with the most impressive of his performances seeing him score once and hit the target twice at the Emirates.
Toney shots on target in last 5 league games: 3, 0, 1, 1, 2
United conceded 7 efforts on target in the reverse fixture back in August, and the 18 shots on target conceded in their last 3 matches combined suggests that their defensive stability is waning.
Martinez and Varane were largely bullied by Isak at the weekend, suffering in the same sort of way as they did against Toney back in August. The Brentford striker will be keen to face the United again, and will expect to dominate physically once more, particularly from crosses given that United conceded twice from such situations against Newcastle.
Luke Shaw has certainly established himself as one of the key figures in the United changing room, and the fact that he was once again the player to speak to the press following defeat on Sunday emphasises that.
The United left back sees to be one of the few players taking accountability for recent poor results, and you can be sure that he’ll be looking to put things right against Brentford. With that, I expect the Englishman to fly into a few tackles, and be aggressive and tenacious on the pitch.
Even then, the stats already look solid for a selection like this. Shaw averages 1.77 fouls P/90, and 1.91 tackles P/90. He will get stuck in, and is often rash in the tackle.
Shaw fouls in last 5 league games: 2, 3, 3, 1, 1
If at left back, he’ll be facing off against Brentford wing back Aaron Hickey, who will likely have Bryan Mbeumo facilitating attacks in front of him. Whilst Mbeumo is only fouled 0.62 times P/90, he is a tricky customer and a lot of the play will go through him. Hickey on the other hand, is fouled 2.03 times P/90, and his marauding runs down the flank will cause Shaw problems.
There’s a slight chance that Shaw is deployed at CB here, with Ten Haag seemingly unimpressed with the recent performances of Lisandro Martinez. Shaw has played in such a role a few times this season, making 5 fouls across 4 appearances at the heart of the defence. If that’s the case he’ll have Ivan Toney to deal with, and the forward is fouled 2.24 times P/90.
Christian Norgaard eptiomises everything that this Brentford side is about. Nothing is left on the table when it comes to the Dane, and he’ll work tirelessly to ensure that his side are able to get something out of the game.
As Captain, he’ll be looking to set the tempo for Brentford, and as the midfield enforcer, you can expect to see a few big challenges from Norgaard throughout the 90.
His stats are fantastic in this regard. Norgaard attempts 2.56 tackles P/90, and commits 1.52 fouls P/90.
In fact, his numbers of late in these metrics have been ridiculous. He’s received just 4 cards this season, but all 4 have come in his last 7 games, and it’s easy to see why. He’s made at least 2 fouls in 7 of his last 9 Premier League appearances.
Norgaard fouls in last 5 league games: 3, 2, 1, 2, 1
Norgaard committed 2 fouls back in August when the sides last met, and given that I expect Brentford to have less joy tonight, Norgaard could well end up with his back against the wall, and be forced into some cynical tackles.
In a similar game at the weekend, they were put under endless pressure away from home by Brighton. Norgaard made 3 fouls in that game.
It’s no surprise to see that he gave away 2 fouls in the last meeting given the opposition. Likely opponents such as Bruno Fernandes and Fred are fouled 1.08 and 2.11 times P/90 respectively. They’ll be accompanied by one of Marcel Sabitzer, or Scott McTominay, with both being fouled 1.22, and 0.76 times P/90.
There’s plenty for Norgaard to deal with there, and 2 fouls certainly has a chance of landing.