Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has some issues to solved this weekend as Manchester United return to action.
Harry Maguire is out of form and in need of a rest for club and country. It is time for him to sit out.
Earlier this week we predicted Solskjaer would play a 3-4-1-2 formation. Even taking Maguire out of the line up, United possess the options to do so.
With two at the back, it would be Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof to start, as they did away at Brighton in the cup, keeping a clean sheet in the process.
But this may be time for strength in numbers at the back, and with Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani unavailable, the chance to shift formation and play both Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood up front together as a two makes sense.
So here we may have a reprieve for Luke Shaw, who would get to keep his place as part of a back three.
Tried and tested
Shaw got a run of games in a back three earlier this year and played his part well.
Solskjaer threw him in away to Liverpool and despite the defeat he performed well. This shows the manager would have no qualms using him in the run of big upcoming games in the same role.
Shaw played at centre-back in away wins against City in the Carabao Cup second leg, and against Chelsea, in addition to matches away at Club Brugge and at home to Watford.
While an unfamiliar role to him, Shaw played well and he is a dependable solution.
Shaw and Telles together
United have just signed a new left-back and the wing-back role in a 3-4-1-2 is the ideal way to get the best out of Telles, to give him greater license to attack.
This suits Solskjaer’s squad management too, as he can then still have Brandon Williams on the bench as cover.
Having Shaw as part of a back three can help Telles as he will be able to cover while the Brazilian surges forward.
When Solskjaer played Shaw at centre-back earlier this year, he created a new option for himself.
Essentially that was a test run for this very moment, when extra defensive help is needed.
A return to this role may be good for Shaw too, after a poor run of games at left-back, he gets to keep a role in the team instead of simply being discarded for Telles.
The trip to St James’ Park won’t daunt Shaw, even if he is played ‘out of position’. A return to centre-back could turn out to be his best role.
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