Which one is which?
Once again, here is a suggested Manchester United starting XI -- this time for the match versus Wolverhampton Wanderers. As always, keep in mind that this isn't an anticipated starting XI but rather the suggestion of one man. These selection choices factor in the specific match-up, possible fatigue from two matches a week during the past few weeks, and form -- recent recovery from injury can factor in for the latter as well.
Wolves are likely to be deployed in either a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 shape. New manager Terry Conner has blended elements of both systems together when he selects both Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher. In this situation -- when it is fundamentally 4-5-1 -- Doyle tends to play high, narrow, and near Fletcher. Jamie O'Hara, from his central-midfield position, then tends to drift out wide to the right. (Match Preview: Wolves vs. Manchester United)
Here is my suggested starting XI -- I'll be sure to text this to Sir Alex Ferguson:
* David de Gea (goalkeeper): Automatic first-choice right now.
* Rio Ferdinand (center-back): I don't want to jinx anything but Ferdinand is currently on a good run of fitness and form. Fergie generally has been conservative with the usage of his most experienced center-back due to chronic back issues. However, Ferdinand was used twice during the past week as the United boss showed clear intent to emerge victorious during their recent Europa League tie with Athletic Bilbao. There is no game at the upcoming midweek so if Ferdinand is fit enough for Wolves, he should likely start. Each of the remaining 10 league matches are massive.
* Jonny Evans (center-back): Losing Nemanja Vidic was obviously a big blow but kudos to Evans for deputising admirably. If this becomes a match where United dominate possession and need to patiently break down Wolves, then Evans can step out from the back at times and provide an extra man in midfield.
* Rafael or Fabio (right-back): Because Chris Smalling has just recently recovered from injury and shown inconsistent form over the past few months, and because he was torn apart by Matthew Jarvis in the reverse fixture, I'd very much prefer to see somebody else track Wolves' most dangerous attacker. Phil Jones is apparently ill so that leaves either Rafael or Fabio. If Rafa is fatigued after an intense full 90 minutes in Bilbao on Thursday, then use Fabio. He started here in the Champions League final in May so he's obviously more than worthy of being selected.
* Patrice Evra (left-back): I keep selecting Fabio here but I'd rather have Evra for this particular match. He's not fantastic by any means in aerial duels but he's decent enough for a full-back -- despite getting beat by Fletcher during the reverse fixture for Wolves' lone goal. He also links up well with Ashley Young as each have a good understanding with one another. The only other reasonable choice -- Fabio -- may need to be deployed at right-back.
* Paul Scholes/Michael Carrick: United will likely continue their possession game with these two maestros. They'll pull the strings from deep and if Wolves feel the need to close down the two deep-lying playmakers, then space may open up for United in attack. This is an added benefit that registas often offer that many don't appreciate enough.
* Danny Welbeck (right-sided midfielder): Welbeck was tremendous last weekend as an attacker based on the right-side -- but one that continually came inside and roamed in the space between the lines. His drifting often created overloads in attack. Antonio Valencia's match fitness is in question due to his recent return from injury while Nani is not expected to be available. The industrious Park Ji-sung spent 90 minutes flying around the pitch in Bilbao on Thursday while Young also went the full 90 minutes -- these two wide player are likely in contention but Park in particular isn't as effective when he plays twice in a week due to his running being such a vital contribution.
* Ashley Young (left-winger): United will need to break Wolves down so a creative player who can create chances from the left is necessary. Young and Giggs fit this description. Young is in good form and he combines well with both Evra and Rooney. It is also likely easier for him to recover physically after playing on Thursday in comparison to the 38-year-old Giggs.
* Wayne Rooney (striker): If Wolves deploy three in the center of the pitch, then Wazza will need to track back when United are out of possession so that they aren't outnumbered there. Our talisman is in fine goalscoring form as he's scored 16 goals in his last 15 matches in all competitions.
* Javier Hernandez (striker): If Welbeck is deployed out wide, then Chicharito is the obvious choice to partner Rooney. He'll need to do his thing: stay high and stretch the opposition's back line, work the channels, and bag goals. He's been a bit wasteful lately and perhaps unlucky at times but we'll need his goalscoring ways for the run-in if we are win our 20th title.