Manchester United’s poor midfield showing and inability to play out of defence against Leeds United at Old Trafford in midweek could cause manager Erik ten Hag to ring the changes in the corresponding fixture at Elland Road on Sunday, but it is hard to know what those changes could be.
Christian Eriksen, Casemiro, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay all remain unavailable to the manager for Sunday’s game, leaving Fred and Marcel Sabitzer as the only fit central defensive midfielders.
So if the boss were to make changes, it would be a case of either playing a defender, for example, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez or Luke Shaw, or a more forward player in midfield.
Bruno Fernandes played in a six/eight role on many occasions for Sporting and his passing range could be an asset from deep.
However, the disruption to the team caused by the reshuffle necessary to accommodate such a change would be great so on balance it seems more likely that the “Freditzer” combination will be reinstated, perhaps with some corrections in the pair’s respective roles.
In defence, it is unclear as yet whether Aaron Wan-Bissaka will have recovered from the illness that saw him miss Wednesday’s game, and whether, if he has, he would be reinstated ahead of the returning Diogo Dalot. It is a nice problem for Ten Hag to have but on balance it is perhaps more likely that Dalot will play.
David de Gea, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw will most likely all continue in the other defensive roles.
Ten Hag also has decisions to make about his forward line. Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are, on paper, the only guaranteed starters. Antony missed Wednesday’s game with a minor knock and may or may not be available. Anthony Martial has not as yet returned to training so he is unlikely to play.
Wout Weghorst was poor on Wednesday and the Leeds defence looked much more troubled by a more fluid and quicker forward line. Alejandro Garnacho also struggled.
Jadon Sancho came on, scored and looked dangerous so it would be a surprise if he doesn’t start.
It could therefore be that with Bruno at number 10, Rashford could play up front with Sancho on the left wing and Facundo Pellistri on the right if Antony doesn’t make it.
This, then, is our predicted XI for Sunday’s game:
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