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Man Utd v Brentford - Football: Big Game Preview

Manchester United's top-four ambitions are all but over following Thursday's 1-1 Old Trafford draw against Chelsea and now the wayward Red Devils are looking over their shoulders as far as Europa League spots are concerned with West Ham and Wolves not far behind.

Three points will be the aim when United host Brentford in the Premier League on Monday and the hosts are 7/10 to gain a much-needed victory. The Bees are 7/2 with the draw a 3/1 shot. 

Divisive Rangnick set to stay on

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag will take over at Old Trafford in the summer but unpopular incumbent Ralf Rangnick confirmed on Friday that he will stay on at United in a consultancy role despite being appointed as coach of Austria's national team.

The 63-year-old German's stint as Red Devils manager has been criticised by supporters, although the bulk of fans' ire has been directed at a Glazer regime which is seemingly content to run a listless ship, lurching from one poor result to another.

United, once English football's most feared club, have become something of a parody and, under Rangnick, they have arguably got worse - the Red Devils have won just two of their last 11 matches in all competitions, both 3-2 victories against Tottenham and Norwich.

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Those results tell their own tale for a home side who have shown glimpses of quality going forward but have looked hapless in defence at times. Ten Hag has a big job on his hands while Rangnick's continued presence threatens to further muddy the waters.

Stark contrast in approaches paying dividends for Bees

While United's season has been chaotic at the best of times, Brentford's numbers-based approach has paid handsome dividends and Thomas Frank's Bees, well on their way to a respectable mid-table finish in their debut Premier League campaign, should be proud of how they have acquitted themselves throughout the campaign.

The threat of relegation did loom in the early part of 2022 but the decision to sign Christian Eriksen has proved to be a masterstroke for a club who rarely make a misstep in the transfer market, something that cannot be said for scattergun United.

The remarkable Dane has played a significant role in sealing Brentford's Premier League status for another season, helping them to five wins from their last seven matches, a run which includes road victories over Norwich, Chelsea and Watford.

While victories over a pair of relegation strugglers came as no real surprise, the 4-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge - where Eriksen was on the scoresheet - really did catch the eye and there are plenty of reasons to think that the visitors will cause trouble for illustrious opposition once again.

Eriksen's signing has been just one of a number of success stories for Brentford, who have long been hailed as English football's first 'moneyball' team, but while the work behind the scenes has produced results on the pitch, Bees' boss Thomas Frank also deserves the plaudits having delivered the goods from the dugout.

United difficult to trust at the odds

It's difficult to make a concrete case for the Red Devils, who remain a top-six side but have performed like a team at a lower level over the last few weeks.

Squad morale looks to be at its absolute lowest at Old Trafford and a summer clearout is expected once Ten Hag takes the reins with Paul Pogba number one on most supporters' lists for a departure.

The 29-year-old Frenchman, brilliant at times but frustrating in more-than-equal measure, has failed to endear himself in his second spell at Old Trafford and reports suggest that a transfer away from Manchester beckons.

Pogba, who will be absent for this contest, is far from Manchester United's sole problem. They have a hapless defence which is devoid of leadership and the midfield simply isn't strong enough to support an attack which has flattered to deceive and looks blunt when Cristiano Ronaldo is unable to bail them out.

Ronaldo has shone

Ronaldo has provided a few bright spots in an otherwise dismal campaign but the veteran Portuguese forward was always a short-term option for a club with little long-term desires and there are only so many times when he can get them out of jail.

United are winless in three, admittedly against high-class opposition in Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, but they are without Jadon Sancho (tonsillitis) - the England man may not feature again this season - which will hamper their attacking threat.

Their recent performances, coupled with Brentford's excellent recent displays, are enough to temper enthusiasm in odds-on quotes about the hosts, but goals could be on the cards in a contest which has a distinctly end-of-season feel.

For all their struggles, United have scored eight goals in their last four Premier League home matches and Ronaldo's quality is always likely to see them knock on the door at some stage, while Brentford also carry plenty of attacking threat.

Expect an open clash between two teams with little to lose - United can't get much worse while Brentford will have designs on a top-half finish. Both teams to score is 7/10 and that looks a better bet than a home win.

Ronaldo, United's hero at times this season, is 3/1 to net first with dead-ball specialist Eriksen 16/1 to fire the Bees in front first.

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