Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke at his press conference this week about the healthy respect between teammates Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic.
Usually one of them keeps the other out of the team, and lately it has been McTominay sitting on the bench.
Solskjaer told the club website: “I think Scott obviously is still a young boy, seven or eight years younger than Nemanja and Nemanja has been on record saying that he sees himself in Scott, so the two can bounce off each other.
“It’s never easy. I’ve told Nemanja before that Scott is going to play and he’s all right, because he rates him and vice versa. I’m sure Scotty can learn a lot from Nemanja. The way he’s gone about his job in the last few seasons here has been good.”
It will be tempting for Solskjaer to pick the same line up in midfield, but there is reason to mix it up to. Here is a look at the case for McTominay to start the game.
Playing too many games in a short space of time is not good for Nemanja Matic, 31. He has just played 259 minutes in a two week spell. It’s not ideal.
McTominay meanwhile is raring to go. He has played just 114 minutes during this same period.
Not only will he be fresher, but he will be highly motivated to prove a point. While Matic of course will be motivated, McTominay may have a little extra.
He has been selected to start only one Premier League match since the restart, and he will want to make the most of any minutes to gets, to try and earn a more regular role in United’s XI.
Minutes will pay off later
This is a winnable match for United, no matter which combination of our five preferred midfielders is selected.
All are fit and healthy now, but you never know what the situation will be like in a fortnight’s time when United have a FA Cup semi-final to play, or even a fourth place play-off with Leicester City on the season’s final day.
Scott McTominay may be needed in one of those games due to an unwelcome injury to another player.
He will be much better prepared for this circumstance if he continues to get Premier League minutes in the meantime, rather than suddenly being asked to start his first league game over a month, when it matters most.
Solskjaer has a duty to manage his squad well and spread the minutes out, and McTominay can benefit from this.
At the same time more rest for Matic means he is at lesser risk of an injury which could impact him for one of United’s ‘bigger’ games.
Extra goal threat
While United should not underestimate Villa, it is right to say we should be able to outscore them.
We have netted 12 goals in four Premier League games since the restart, while Villa have scored two goals in just five matches.
So there is a case to take the Matic handbrake off, and see how Scott McTominay can perform alongside Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.
A Pogba and McTominay axis worked against Chelsea on the opening day of the season, with United winning 4-0.
McTominay has more of a goal threat himself than Matic, he has five goals this season to the Serbian’s one strike.
Even if there is a defensive lapse, United have enough firepower to blow Villa away. McTominay can help contribute towards this and should relish the opportunity to play with a star-studded attack.
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