While Manchester United could go for a more heavily rotated team with a formation change and four personnel changes against Crystal Palace, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s pre-match comments seemed to suggest against this.
Solskjaer said the Premier League game at Selhurst Park is his top priority, and that the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Saturday would not play too much on his mind.
While Sunday’s match is not exactly ‘irrelevant’, as Solskjaer said, his comments offered a clue into how seriously he is taking this fixture against Palace.
It is a must win if United want to keep our Champions League fate in our own hands.
Leicester kick off against Sheffield United at the same time, and if they slip up, then United can move into fourth place with a win.
Even if they win too, a better goal margin of +3 than Leicester’s result would see us climb above them on goal difference.
What changes could there be then?
United have named an unchanged starting line up for the last five Premier League games.
That run likely comes to an end tonight, and so it should after the team dropped points on Monday and looked laboured at times during a hard fought game.
Solskjaer told the club website, “There might be one or two fresh legs coming in,” and that would be wise.
Of course United’s strongest team in principle is the same XI which started against Southampton, but the way they performed, and with injury doubts, United will actually be stronger for freshening it up, and better for it on Sunday too.
The first change most likely comes at left-back, with Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams battling to overcome injuries.
United have a fresh player in Diogo Dalot who has played at left-back before, so he will be ready to fill in if need be. The last thing Luke Shaw should want on a dodgy ankle is to go up against quick-footed Wilfried Zaha.
Solskjaer’s comments suggested Williams will be in line to start though, for the first time since lockdown, providing his injury doesn’t worsen.
He said: “Brandon [Williams] should be fine, he has a gash over the eye but if he can see out of it then…”
The second change will be in midfield. It just is not realistic for Nemanja Matic to play three games in seven days, and he will be needed on Sunday.
He played all 90 minutes against Southampton, while Paul Pogba got some rest at least, so expect the Frenchman to start in midfield at Selhurst alongside either Scott McTominay or Fred.
Then there is the injury to Mason Greenwood to factor in. There is no need for United to risk him in this game.
Either Dan James or Juan Mata are the most likely replacements, unless United do opt for that change of formation after all and select Odion Ighalo and move to a 3-4-1-2.
But assuming United stick with a 4-2-3-1, here is a look at how the team could line up this evening…
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