Manchester United’s whole team is tricky to predict for Saturday night’s clash with Newcastle.
The midfield is the most complex area of the team, with six midfielders competing for three positions.
Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek, Fred, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba.
Mathematically speaking, there are 15 different combinations United can try.
Against Newcastle this weekend the selection dilemma is wide open.
The so-called best trio of Matic, Pogba, and Fernandes were poor against Tottenham and there have to be changes to this line up as United look to show a reaction.
So here is a look at the five most likely alternatives which Solskjaer could select…
Fred, Van de Beek, Fernandes: This more mobile midfield could work for United and it would be an attacking approach.
Whether this is wise, putting pressure on an under-performing defence, is uncertain. But United need to do something to try and get Fernandes and Van de Beek on the pitch together, and Fred is the best player at re-distributing the ball quickly, high up the pitch for his teammates to do damage.
Matic, Van de Beek, Fernandes: Instead of playing Fred, United could go with Nemanja Matic’s midfield solidity in front of the defence.
While Matic had a poor game against Tottenham, he has also had two weeks rest after retiring from international duty and this should be a factor.
McTominay, Fred, Van de Beek: If Solskjaer goes for a team of grafters at a time when players need to dig in, this is the moment.
Fred and McTominay have proven themselves as a partnership and they played well together recently in the win over Brighton, with Van de Beek in front of them.
The case for leaving Fernandes out is that United may choose to rest him ahead of the PSG game in midweek, and subsequent fixtures against Chelsea, RB Leipzig, and Arsenal.
Fred, Pogba, Fernandes: This is the midfield which started the Europa League semi-final against Sevilla, so it is one Solskjaer trusts.
While United narrowly lost this game, this was down to poor finishing rather than below par performances in midfield. All three players performed well.
Fred, Pogba, Van de Beek: This is another alternative which allows United to rest Fernandes and give Van de Beek a start.
Again the axis of Fred and Pogba can help United pass the ball quickly and effectively upfield, and try and get the team into Newcastle’s attacking third as quickly as possible.
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