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Evra returns to add impetus to United’s left

Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans can also be added to the list of people returning from injuries, but the big plus will undoubtedly be Patrice Evra’s return. With an imposing defence a given, Evra’s presence can give that bit of thrust that, at various stages of our campaign, has seemed missing.

His tireless running, determination, and ability to show sudden bursts of acceleration to surge forward will be very important for our upcoming games — especially in Europe.

However, the coaching staff is not willing to take any risks with regard to Wayne Rooney. For once, I am quite happy about that. Rooney, while having amazing powers of recovery, has in the past been rushed back to fitness. It has served him well from time to time, but he also takes an inordinate amount of time to get back to his scoring vein of form. He adds a lot to our attacking threat and is crucial in our counters. But I’d rather take a fully fit Rooney. We have enough squad members to do the job while he’s away. Wait, what am I saying — Berbatov and Tevez is a forward line most managers would kill to have. They aren’t squad players, are they?

There is an account of Michael Carrick by Paul Hayward in the Guardian, which I think is occasionally over the top. The article was on Carrick’s importance in England’s — Fabio Capello’s, specifically — scheme of thinks. Yes, he’s a good passer of the ball. Yes, his ball retention is important to England. Yes, he’s been rather good for United this season. But when he goes as far as calling him “a decent bet for world footballer of the year”, then I can’t help but frown. Carrick for England is yet to prove himself and stamp his authority. He has had excellent games for United, but there is still an element in his game that keeps him from the Xavi’s and Pirlo’s of the world.

Well, I couldn’t care less about his England fortunes. When someone like Scholes can get a raw deal in his England outings, I’d rather Carrick makes a name for himself for United than England.

On today’s game, I think the lineup will be full strength (whatever that means) as Fergie will hope to avoid a replay. So it should be EVDS, Rafael, Vidic, Rio, Evra, Park, Carrick, Fletcher, Ronaldo, Tevez and Berbatov. Of course the central midfield could be a little different — Giggsy’s form could see him make it. Or Brown could play instead of Rafael.

Prediction: 2-0 to United.

Live Blog: Yes, hopefully. I will put up the link about 15 minutes before the game if I do it. Will update the post with the link, or you could just refresh the main page 15 mins prior to the game.