It feels good to be predicting a line up for an actual game. Manchester United have a real fixture on Friday night, our first competitive match since March 12.
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham will be a far tougher test than LASK, sadly, and United will need to hit the ground running.
A fully fit squad barring the inconsequential injury absence of Phil Jones provides manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a handful of tough selection dilemmas.
We discussed last week how a 3-4-1-2 formation could be an advantage for United against Tottenham, who welcome Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son back from injury.
Strength in numbers defensively helps limit any rustiness from our centre-backs, and Solskjaer has utilised this formation on a regular basis in big away games, most recently in the 2-0 away win over Chelsea, which came after a far shorter break at the start of February.
Most of the back five picks itself, and we would expect Luke Shaw to get the nod on the left over Brandon Williams, although it is possible both play, and the former is one of the back three.
Solskjaer’s biggest decision is whether or not to select Paul Pogba in the heart of United’s midfield, in what would be his first start since September.
This may not be the right fixture for an experimental midfield, leaving Solskjaer with another dilemma of Scott McTominay or Fred.
We would expect McTominay’s tenacious nature and high fitness levels to see him get the edge in this one, although there is a case United could save him for the Sheffield United game next Tuesday.
Bruno Fernandes picks himself at this point, while United are a stronger team and have better shape with Nemanja Matic in midfield.
Put Matic in front of a five man defence and United are going to be really tough to break down.
Up front that gives Marcus Rashford an almost free role in support of Anthony Martial, and together they should be able to cause Spurs some real problems.
United would be able to call on the likes of Pogba, Fred, Mason Greenwood, Dan James and Odion Ighalo from the bench, enough game changers to come on and try and make the difference in a tight game.
What if Solskjaer goes with a 4-2-3-1 formation?
In this instance, Solskjaer gives himself a couple more selection questions.
One of these is who will partner captain Harry Maguire at centre-back? Will Victor Lindelf be given preference as he was before, or has a now fully fit and recharged Eric Bailly shown enough in training to demonstrate that he deserves the chance?
A question will also emerge over who should get the start on the right wing. Tottenham’s full-backs have been a weakness this season, so Dan James’ pace could cause them problems.
Alternatives there include Mason Greenwood, or a revitalised Juan Mata, who was really hitting form after Bruno Fernandes’ arrival.
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