How Manchester United should line up vs Liverpool FC
Man Utd return to Premier League action this weekend when they welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford.
Daniel James of Manchester United celebrates scoring with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
Manchester United will be hoping to revive their season when they host
Liverpool in the Premier League this weekend.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have won just twice in the league this season and will need to defy the odds if they are to secure a win over their fierce rivals.
United are currently unbeaten in their last five home league meetings with Liverpool, however the visitors are just one win away from equalling the all-time English top-flight record of 18 consecutive victories, set by Man City between August and December 2017.
In terms of team news, Paul Pogba will miss the match while Solskjaer has all but confirmed David de Gea is out. Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Jesse Lingard are all expected to undergo late fitness tests. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw could return.
Here, our writers have their say on who they think should start against Liverpool.
Manchester United vs Liverpool
The obvious issue is who the third midfielder is. If Jesse Lingard is fit enough to play the majority then it is worth playing him in his best role as the attacking midfielder in a three, however dire his form has been over the last year.
Axel Tuanzebe deserves to start and his pace is essential against Liverpool’s attacking trident. He has played as a defensive midfielder before and a deep role would offer United some tactical flexibility – and keep their maligned midfielders out of the team.
If Luke Shaw is fit, he goes straight back in. If not, Ashley Young is the logical left-back and has experience of pocketing Mohamed Salah.
Marcus Rashford has been abysmal for United but Gareth Southgate did Solskjaer a favour by taking him out of the England team against the Czech Republic before he made a goalscoring return in Bulgaria. United need to seize on that positivity and he could switch with Daniel James.
Six changes from Newcastle
Even if Solskjaer’s injury news takes a positive turn over the weekend it is difficult to select a side which you’d have any faith in taking points off a rampant Liverpool side.
In order to keep that glimmer of hope alive a back four of Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw would be necessary, although Tuanzebe might have something to say about that.
The biggest problem comes in midfield where Solskjaer has no obvious trio to cause Liverpool problems. McTominay gives the passion, while Lingard and Fred are needed to press at every available opportunity.
United’s inevitable approach on the counter-attack means pace is required upfront with James and Rashford the best suited to supporting Martial through the middle.
If Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw are fit then the back four picks itself, with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire reunited at centre back. Sergio Romero is a more than able deputy for David De Gea.
Solskjaer’s biggest headache is in midfield, where he could throw a curveball and play Axel Tuanzebe, whose defensive diligence and pace could be an asset, picking up Roberto Firmino when he drops into a deeper position. Scott McTominay has to start, while Jesse Lingard can play the more advanced role if fit.
Anthony Martial’s stock has risen through injury. The Frenchman is now seen as essential to United’s attack and he has to start with Marcus Rashford and Daniel James.
The return of Wan-Bissaka and Shaw in the full-back positions are absolutely integral for United. Both provide balance in attack and defence and Wan-Bissaka in particular will be crucial to shackling the dangerous Sadio Mane.
United’s options in midfield are (again) very limited, so Fred gets a(nother) chance to prove himself alongside Scott McTominay, while I’ve plumped for Andreas Pereira in a more central role than he’s been playing this season. The Brazilian shouldn’t be United’s right-winger and while neither Daniel James nor Marcus Rashford are best out there, they might have to switch positions and create a mobile and interchangeable front three with Anthony Martial.
Martial is the most important returning player in my view and he must provide a focal point for United, hold the ball up and be the fulcrum of their counter-attacks.
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