After failing to beat Leicester, Burnley and Southampton in their opening three fixtures of the festive period, Manchester United made an encouraging start to 2018 by turning on the style in the second half as they defeated Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park.
Luke Shaw was part of the defensive unit that comfortably kept the Toffees at bay in that contest, earning his third consecutive start for the Red Devils in the process, yet it remains clear that Jose Mourinho is not overly enamoured with the young full-back.
If reports in The Guardian are to be believed, then the Old Trafford outfit are already lining up a big-money replacement, with Napoli’s Algeria international Faouzi Ghoulam set to become the subject of a £53m offer.
Faouzi Ghoulam v Luke Shaw
Since arriving at Manchester United in the summer of 2016, Mourinho has afforded Shaw just 13 starts and a further two substitute appearances in the 60 Premier League matches that he has presided over, though the defender has rewarded his manager with eight clean sheets:
|26Y 11M||AGE||22Y 5M|
|6FT 1IN||HEIGHT||6FT 1IN|
|12ST 8LB||WEIGHT||11ST 8LB|
|SA | NAP |||| MNU | PL|
|08/16 - 01/18||08/16 - 01/18|
During the same period, Ghoulam has clocked up over three times as many minutes in Serie A, demonstrating his attacking instincts by delivering nine assists, but the 26-year-old is expected to remain on the sidelines until April after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has struggled to rediscover his best form since going down with a similar problem last season, so the Red Devils would want to see the Napoli left-back finishing the campaign strongly before going ahead with any proposed deal in the summer:
|POS: DEF||AGE: 26Y 11M|
|HEIGHT: 6FT 1IN||WEIGHT: 12ST 8LB|
|SA | NAP | 17/18||17/18 17/18 | NAP | SA|
As Ghoulam’s numbers in 2017/18 would seem to suggest, however, the left-back possesses the sort of winning mentality that Mourinho demands from his players, with the Algerian helping his Italian employers to win an extra 28% of their matches when taking to the pitch.
The Acca Smacker
There's plenty of action to keep us entertained this evening, with 8 of the Premier Leagues 20 sides in action, and the KickOff's all-new Acca Smacker is the place to build a winning bet.
Manchester City may have lost their winning run last time out, but the 'Form Stats' tab reveals that they've still won 9 in a row on home turf. Meanwhile fortunes in the Midlands could scarcely have been more different of late, with West Brom and Birmingham on 19 and 12 match winless runs respectively.
Explore the rest of our Predictions, Form Streaks and Form Stats below, and good luck!