Luton Town travel to Old Trafford this weekend, a ground that the Hatters have never tasted victory at. However, three points in this weekend's match is vital for Manchester United, with pressure increasing on boss, Erik ten Hag, after an underwhelming start to the season.
The Red Devils are yet to feature in a game this season that they have performed in a convincing fashion. The basics of football have not been achieved, with individual decision making and errors costing the side in what seems like every single match. Ten Hag has struggled to inspire his team at both ends of the field, scoring only 1.09 goals per game on average, which doesn't live up to the United standards. Old Trafford is no longer a fortress and the reds concede the joint fourth most goals for a home side, 1.67 on average. After 11 matches, Manchester United sit in eighth, winning six and losing five.
The best football played by Manchester United this season occurred in a game that they lost 4-3 to FC Copenhagen in the Champions League. Rasmus Hojlund scored an early brace and the side looked set to cruise to victory, but a Marcus Rashford red card in the 42nd minute saw his team fall apart. By half-time, the score was 2-2 yet a Bruno Fernandes penalty gave United the lead once again, which was ultimately undone by lackluster defending at the back post.
This weekend, the hosts must put on a flawless display that makes the feel-good factor briefly return. United must remain patient and look to make the pitch as wide as possible, with Luton inevitably packing out the middle of the field. The creative responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Bruno Fernandes, but the Red Devils must start to utilise the strengths of Hojlund. The key to breaking down the Hatters low block may be to find the feet of the number 11 and use his hold/link up play, with the view of getting runners around him.
Albeit on goal difference, Luton are out of the relegation zone, accumulating six points from 11 matches. Their only win of the season came on the road to Everton and adapting to life in the Premier League has been a challenging task as predicted. The Hatters average less than a goal scored per game this season and they've also conceded the fourth most in the league. Carlton Morris is Luton's top scorer with three goals, but two of those came from the spot.
Last time out, Luton held Liverpool to an impressive 1-1 draw, which will do wonders for the team's confidence and togetherness, they have been desperate for a result like this that will give them belief. The Hatters saw only 26% of the possession, but they took the lead in the 80th minute after frustrating the visitors throughout. Unfortunately, Luton were unable to hold onto the three points.
Rob Edwards will take inspiration from last week's draw and deploy a similar low block against Manchester United. Overloading the central areas and ensuring that they double up out wide will be key out of possession, but they will have identified a method on how to unpick the vulnerable United backline. Luton will focus on transitions, with particular detail on hurting them from out wide and targeting the space inside of the full-backs. Crosses towards the back post and cut backs is how Luton will find joy.
As mentioned, Manchester United simply must win this game whereas for the visitors, it may be viewed as almost a free hit, where any points picked up is a bonus. Luton will get opportunities but it comes down to whether they are clinical or wasteful. That said, the Red Devils will win this game.
The final prediction is Manchester United 2-0 Luton Town.