Manchester United have had ample time to prepare for next Friday’s upcoming fixture against Tottenham Hotspur.
Originally scheduled for mid-March, this fixture taking place three months later has seen Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford recover from injury – which is a positive, yet clouds selection matters.
The very first decision Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to make, is over which formation his team should play in.
Rather than the 4-2-3-1 usually utilised by the Norwegian, there is a case for United to play 3-4-1-2.
Contain Tottenham’s attackers
Tottenham have been boosted themselves by the injury returns of Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Steven Bergwijn, who were all set to miss the March fixture through injury.
Defence was United’s strong point before the break, and what would have been a one-sided battle is on more of an even keel again.
That is why United should double down here and add an extra defender in, to deny Tottenham’s attack space.
Fans could finally get to see the defensive trio of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly in action together for the first time this season.
Add in the tenaciousness of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw on either side, and Tottenham will find it hard to create space for Kane, who will hopefully end up isolated and less of a threat.
It has worked before
United’s back three has yielded positive results in previous away fixtures this season, which should give Solskjaer confidence to use this formation again.
This included the 2-0 away win at Stamford Bridge in the league, and the 2-1 win there in the Carabao Cup, plus the 1-0 away win over City in the same competition.
This formation also saw us hold Liverpool to a point at Old Trafford, a game we really should have won if not for a late equaliser.
Still good attacking options
To gain a defender you would lose an attacker, but this should not be too big a deal for United at the moment.
Rather than three forward players, United will have two, most likely the dual threat of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. They should be enough to cause Tottenham headaches.
It would most likely be Dan James dropping out of United’s starting XI to the bench, where he could be more dangerous as an impact player in any case.
Full-back has been Tottenham’s weakness this season, so there is a case for United to go with the 4-2-3-1 and try to expose this with Rashford and James attacking these areas.
But United also have to respect the attacking threat Tottenham can pose, and with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes in midfield, we should be able to carve out enough chances for Rashford and Martial to exploit, while containing Kane and co.
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