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  1. Work-rate. Incisiveness. Nous. I don't ask for much. This is how it's gonna be. Build from the ground up. We've fucked about enough against these lot this season (an several times in the last few years). A lack of cutting edge in the home game, and a chronic lack of concentration combined with plenty of complacency in the FA Cup tie last month, mean that we must get our shit together for this fixture, which has added importance if we are to remain ahead in the title race. We can't allow the likes of Rashford (who seems totally disinterested most of the time) look like Thierry Henry every time we rock up at the Theatre of Leaks. He's got such a weirdly shaped head by the way. I bet his silhouette profile looks like an American fire hydrant. They are apparently going to be without a number of defensive options for this game, so make that tell. Last season's fixture in August 2022 was a total shitshow. It started badly when we could have been a goal down within minutes had Elanga found the net rather than the upright. The defence had been cut open repeatedly and Trent was having a wretched time of it. We were second to everything, and soon enough the Mancs found the opener when Rashford again found space down the left and squared for Sancho. He still had a bit of work to do but managed to put a defender on his arse before having all the time in the world to place a shot past Ali from 10 yards out. Virg didn't cover himself in glory with his non-attempt to even block the effort. We could have equalised in comical circumstances but the Mancs managed to scramble the ball clear after hitting their own woodwork. Into the second half, and again we let Rashford have the freedom of Old Trafford to race clear and slot past Ali. A quick VAR check to draw the lines to make Rashford onside even though he was more off than on (compare that to the gnat's chuff level of detail we are routinely subjected to), and the goal was given. We had very little fight, but managed a consolation goal when Mo reacted quickest to De Gea's save from Fabio's effort following a corner. We looked a mile away from the 2021/22 side. At the time it was suggested that we were suffering a hangover from the previous season's efforts where we fell just short in the league and in Europe. As the season wore on it became more and more clear that the midfield stalwarts' legs had gone. Jurgen has, at the time of writing, got all the players who were available for selection against Sheffield United, plus Endo coming back. Ibou might be rested if his recovery from the assault last night needs a bit more time, in which case I'd expect Jarrel to step in. Trent and Diogo are probably ready to rejoin the first team in training for next week, so Conor should start, with Danns an option off the bench. Whoever we pick, I want us to be a lot more diligent and less open in the early stages, much more ruthless in any spells when we are clearly superior, and with absolutely none of the complacency evident in the FA Cup tie. Do the job to the level we are capable of. Maximum concentration, motivation, attitude and application from first minute to last. Three points please, although a brilliantly efficient and effective performance is more than welcome in addition. Get it done!
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