Manchester United’s Premier League opener with Leeds is less than a week away. The team warmed up with a 4-0 friendly win at Old Trafford this past weekend.
United brought back a number of Euro 2020 stars for the win over Everton, and there will be a strong United side available for opening day.
Whether United’s line-up will include Paul Pogba is unclear. The Frenchman played 45 minutes against Everton after being introduced at half-time with the team already three goals up.
United have three options with Pogba for opening day, so let’s take a look at the decisions available to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer…
Play Pogba on the left
This was the role in which Pogba featured most prominently in the second half of last season. It could also be the big compromise for Solskjaer with regard to Pogba’s fitness.
United are without Marcus Rashford, who has undergone an operation, while Jadon Sancho is unlikely to be ready to start.
Dan James is probably the most likely alternative, having started two pre-season games. He did well against Leeds last season at Old Trafford and he will have the work rate to combat Bielsa’s super-fit side.
Anthony Elanga missed the pre-season game on Saturday with a knock, denting his chances of a start this weekend after a strong July.
So with the position out wide up for grabs, this represents an ideal way for Solskjaer to slot Pogba into the team, if he is deemed to be ready.
Pogba in central midfield
United will line up with three midfielders including Bruno Fernandes and this is likely to be where Pogba plays most of his football this season.
The key for United is trying to find the right combination, which is why United fans are so keen for a defensive midfielder to be signed to provide the side with the necessary balance.
Nemanja Matic could get the nod, along with Pogba and Fernandes. Although this may be harsh on Donny van de Beek, who played well at the weekend and is further along with his fitness than Pogba.
Fred is at the same situation as Pogba fitness-wise, with Scott McTominay carrying a knock.
With Pogba not at 100 per cent in terms of fitness, this selection is the most risky for United.
Leave him on the bench
The safe option for Solskjaer would see him leave Pogba on the bench, as he did last time Leeds visited Old Trafford.
United saw last season against Palace that playing Pogba when not at peak fitness can backfire. He was substituted after an hour.
United’s midfield trio of Matic, Van de Beek and Fernandes looked well balanced last weekend, and there is no urgent reason to disrupt that.
Pogba can come on as a substitute and make an impact, and this could well be the choice Solskjaer settles on.
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