Manchester United are close to doing what they did under Jose Mourinho – Samuel Luckhurst

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Romero in?

If Sergio Romero was ever going to start a Premier League game ahead of David de Gea this season it would have happened by now. The cup specialist should be back on duty at basement club Norwich but however Romero performs he is unlikely to oust De Gea at Brighton on Tuesday.

Romero has kept 11 clean sheets in 14 this season and while his stats are skewed by the fodder of the League Cup and Europa League, he is mainly responsible for keeping United in the FA Cup with that world-class save from Matt Doherty at Wolves in the third round.

The Argentinian has 38 shut-outs from 58 United appearances and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to give him rhythm ahead of resuming Europa League duty in August.

More changes?

United had the luxury of resting five of their front six in the last 10 minutes of their stroll against Sheffield United and Norwich away is ripe for rotation. Eric Bailly often starts in the cup ties, Nemanja Matic, so impressive on Wednesday, could be saved for Brighton and Marcus Rashford’s performance level has been low since his return. Odion Ighalo scored two in the fifth round at Derby.

 

Diogo Dalot has fallen behind Brandon Williams in the pecking order and the latter could feasibly get the nod at right-back. Luke Shaw is the only one to have started all 13 matches in United’s unbeaten run.

Closing in on surpassing Mourinho?

United went 17 undefeated across all competitions in 2016-17 and the sequence was only halted in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final at Hull, where they prevailed on aggregate.

Solskjaer has already beaten the 11-game start he enjoyed as caretaker manager and, with Norwich, Brighton, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, and Southampton to come, he should be aiming to surpass Mourinho.

Penalty preparations key

Had the Video Assistant Referee not overruled Jon Moss at Tottenham Rashford would have taken United’s stoppage-time penalty. VAR potentially spared United a sequel embarrassment to the penalty palaver at Wolves, where Paul Pogba was inexplicably allowed to step up eight days after Rashford had converted against Chelsea.

Bruno Fernandes has scored three out of three from 12 yards for United and at Spurs the United coach Kieran McKenna could be heard hollering ‘Bruno’, as if urging him to take the ball off Rashford.

Tim Krul thwarted Rashford and Anthony Martial at Carrow Road in October and is in his element in shootouts, as Costa Rica and Tottenham will attest.

Cup catalyst?

The hope was the League Cup-Europa League double of 2017 would provide the clichéd springboard for United to lift more treasured trophies but the club museum has not had to make room for anything since.

Norwich away is about as desirable a last-eight cup draw United could have hoped for and Carrow Road has doubled as more of a neutral venue since the season restart. Norwich lost at home to Southampton and Everton and a return to the Championship is imminent.

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