Change of formation?
“We’ve analized them many times before but we need to find a solution to our game,”Ole Gunnar Solskjaersaid of Liverpool in the St James’ Park press room. “Is it a little tactical tweak, or whatever, because we’ve stuck to the same principles, same starting line-up, system, every single game. We’ve got to make the decision if this is the way to go.
“Eight games is not a big amount of games and we’ll probably continue as we are.” FewUnitedsupporters would advise that when the 4-2-3-1 system has proven unsuitable with or withoutPaul Pogba,fully fit squad or depleted squad.
A return to the 4-3-3 that served Solskjaer so superbly in his first two-and-a-half months seems logical, but there is a caveat …
Who would be the third midfielder?
Pogba and Jesse Lingard are out and Nemanja Matic was not spotted at The Lowry on Saturday night. Axel Tuanzebe deserves to start, be it in defense or midfield, but the likelihood is one of Andreas Pereira and Fred would have to line-up. ******
Pereira has inexplicably started the last five Premier League matches and the jury is in on the floundering Fred. Solskjaer has named Birkenhead-born James Garner, outstanding for the Under – 23 s, in the provisional squad and you would not blame him if he were to turn to the 18 – year-old as a leftfield solution. Newcastle benefited from hungry homegrown midfielders the other week.
United have not won a Premier League match without the aid of a penalty since the 2-1 against Watford on March 30 – Solskjaer’s first match in permanent charge. United have also been awarded more penalties in the Premier League era against Liverpool than any other side.
Referees have awarded United spotkicks in three of their four home league games so far this season and they should arguably have had one in the game they didn’t. Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac’s handball was inexplicably not reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee.
Will Martial return?
Solskjaer suggested in his chat with Gary Neville he has had little choice but to persevere with a careworn Marcus Rashford in recent weeks. He could – and should – have started Mason Greenwood in a league game and his importance has been reflected by a new long-term contract barely a year after he inked his first professional terms.
Those at Carrington this week have noted Martial’s happier body language and are hopeful he will return to a United squad for the first time in eight weeks. It would be a risk to start him but – if Martial is fit enough – Solskjaer has little choice.
United to rally?
Since they ended their top six away hoodoo at Arsenal in December 2017, United have claimed a number of impressive scalps against the elite.
Similarly to Newcastle’s response to their 5-0 shellacking at Leicester, United’s pitiful performance at St James’ could precede a spirited reaction against Liverpool. Van Gaal benefited from it two days after the Boxing Day disaster at Stoke in 2015 with a gallant goalless draw with champions Chelsea.
A goalkeeping clanger at Bramall Lane and a dubious penalty against Leicester have maintained Liverpool’s winning league run but they are not whipping teams. A three-pronged attack of Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial is cause for United optimism and Liverpool have only won once at Old Trafford in the last decade.