Manchester United will look to extend their four-match winning streak in the top flight when they take on minnows Middlesbrough in the Premier League on New Year’s Eve. Aitor Karanka’s side have fared well away from home this season with draws against Manchester City and Arsenal, and they could offer a tough test to United’s credentials.
Jose Mourinho’s team have been one of the in-form clubs in the Premier League over the past month, and much of it is due to the manager’s decision to stick with a preferred bunch of players whilst using the similar setup.
Spain international David De Gea has all started all of the previous 17 league games for United. He will definitely retain the number one role.
Antonio Valencia is by far United’s best option in the right-back position, and he will undoubtedly keep his place with Daley Blind on the left side of the backline. Blind overcame a tough start against Sunderland to get himself a goal, and he will probably keep his place ahead of Matteo Darmian at left-back.
The central defensive partnership of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have been crucial to United’s long unbeaten streak in all competitions. Mourinho has highlighted that he won’t be making any changes to his squad, and this could see the pair retain their ninth consecutive start together in the league.
Moving to the midfield, veteran Michael Carrick has been instrumental in keeping it solid, and this has allowed the likes of Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba to showcase their skills further forward. Pogba has amassed four assists and a goal in his previous seven outings, and he finally looks worthy of the world-record sum he commanded in the summer.
Club-captain Wayne Rooney remains a doubt for the key encounter, and this could see Juan Mata retain the left-wing role with Henrikh Mkhitaryan earning his first start on the right following an ankle problem. The Armenian Football of the Year came up with a superb back-heel flick to enter the scoresheet as a substitute against Sunderland, and he will be prepared to test Boro’s defence from the start on Saturday.
Swedish sensation Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to defy his age, and net goals on a regular basis. The 35-year-old insists he is talking with the ball at his feet, and his tally of 50 goals in 2016 is only bettered by Barcelona great Lionel Messi, who has 52 for the calendar year. The veteran will no wonder want to break his former teammates’ record against Boro despite being in awe of the Argentine’s abilities.