For and against: Should Nemanja Matic start against Liverpool?
Nemanja Matic spoke to the club website after Manchester United’s win over Burnley.
The Serbian said United are ‘ready’ to compete at Anfield and is backing his teammates to step up.
Matic said: “I think this kind of win shows that we are ready to compete for the title
“I’m happy for the team performance and spirit and let’s see Sunday against Liverpool. It’s the biggest derby in England and we go there to compete with them and see where we are against one of the best teams in the league. I think we are ready.”
One of the questions facing United this weekend is the selection dilemma in midfield.
Matic himself is building up a case to start – although there are reasons against too. Let’s look at both sides…
Matic should start
In big games you need your big players, and Nemanja Matic is one of them.
He was benched for United’s two most recent semi-final defeats to Sevilla and Manchester City and the team could have done with him.
Matic gives United better shape and protects the defence. He is vital if United play a four man midfield at Anfield as nobody else has the discipline to play the anchor role as effectively.
He has also been coming into form over the past few weeks after a slow start to the season.
The last four games Matic has started have seen United keep clean sheets. Everton (a), Wolves (h), Watford (h) and Burnley (a).
It’s easy to forget Matic has won the title previously with Chelsea. His big game experience could be vital.
Liverpool’s strength is their attack and the extra protection Matic gives to the defence could be vital. He has emerged as an interesting option for this fixture, which didn’t seem viable a month ago.
Matic should be on the bench
There are two sides to this argument. It is only a month ago that Matic produced a lifeless display against RB Leipzig. Solskjaer made the wrong selection call that day.
Solskjaer has been setting up for this game with alternatives in mind. Fred has sat out the last two matches, presumably resting up for this fixture.
Matic on the other hand has played both. Will he really be asked to start three times in eight days?
United have other big game players. Fred and Scott McTominay stepped up away to Paris Saint-Germain, and have done so frequently in big games.
Paul Pogba’s excellent performance against Burnley also has pushed him right into the mix for a starting spot. United can’t fit them all in.
Matic will be an option late in the game as a substitute if United need him, hopefully to try and protect a lead, just like he was brought on against Aston Villa.
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