After a much improved performance on Saturday that saw Manchester United keep a clean sheet and put three goals past Spurs, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be tempted to keep the same side and formation for tomorrow evening’s Champions League clash with Atalanta in Italy.
The switch from 4-2-3-1 to 3-5-2 seemed to plug a lot of the gaping holes that had been troubling United’s defence and also solved the problem of Cristiano Ronaldo being isolated up front.
However, keeping the same side means relying on a forward line with a combined age of 70 for the second time in four days, which could be a tall order, especially as Edinson Cavani appeared to be limping and struggling when leaving the pitch on Saturday.
As for the formation, retaining that could have implications in terms of squad harmony, with a number of exciting wingers such as Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho and potentially Jesse Lingard having to settle for a place on the bench because the formation uses wing backs.
Reports have suggested that Rashford was ‘fuming’ after having been left out of the starting XI on Saturday and Greenwood must also be disappointed after his superb start to the season.
Gary Neville at the weekend also fired a warning that Jadon Sancho is in danger of becoming the next Donny van de Beek – a new star signing that Solskjaer ends up not using.
On the other hand, the old maxim ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ might mean that Solskjaer has to risk the disgruntlement of his stars in order to secure three points and in so doing, take another step toward securing his own position at the club.
The Norwegian cannot afford any mistakes.
He clearly signalled his intentions to play Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Cavani on Tuesday by bringing them off early against Spurs, although as mentioned, the latter looked to be struggling.
Given all of this, we think he will stick with the 3-5-2 and largely the same side, with Cavani possibly the only one to be rotated.
Greenwood could be an option to partner Ronaldo in attack but given his excellent goalscoring cameo on Saturday, Marcus Rashford is more likely to get the nod.
Any other injury concerns will be revealed at today’s pre-match press conference but given what we know now, this is our predicted line-up for tomorrow’s game: