Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to utilise his squad over the coming months as Manchester United face a testing fixture pile-up.
The club’s reward for seeing off League Two side Colchester United in the Carabao Cup was a blockbuster two-legged semi-final tie against the current holders Manchester City.
With the semi-finals taking place next month, the opening to 2020 could not be much harder for the Red Devils with potentially 9 fixtures to take place in January.
After quick-fire festive games against Watford, Newcastle United and Burnley, United kick-off the New Year with a trip to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.
Then comes another tricky trip to Wolves in the FA Cup Third Round, the same opponents who dumped us out of the same competition last season.
Solskjaer would have ideally been hoping for a home draw against a lower league side where he can rest big names and give further first team exposure to the club’s talented academy prospects.
Wolves are flying this season and love playing against the big sides, but there a strong possibility that the game at Molineux like the league game earlier in the season could be a draw, which would result in another January fixture due to a replay being required.
But all being well and United come through the test, the fourth round ties are scheduled to take place in the last weekend of January.
Also in January, United have the small matter of a trip to Anfield to face the runaway league leaders.
United’s other matches in January are two home games against Norwich City and Burnley, which we have to win.
Solskjaer will have to rotate his squad
With the likes of Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Timothy Fosu-Mensah slowly building up their fitness levels. Solskjaer could have a clean bill of health to call upon in the not too distant future.
The Norwegian will have to rotate his squad with the demanding games coming so close together.
With Neil Wood’s under-23 side not playing until January 6th, the likes of Ethan Laird, Dylan Levitt, James Garner, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong could also get chances to impress.
United host Wolves on 1st February before having two weekends off as part of the inaugural winter break. It will provide a much needed rest.
We will not play on the weekend of 8/9 February before returning to action when they travel to face Chelsea for a late kick-off on Monday 17 February.
Three days later United will travel to Belgium to play Club Brugge in the first leg of the Europa League last 32 tie.
It is going to be a relentless and testing schedule for United, there are going to be opportunities for some of the players that have been on the fringes.
In an ideal scenario United will be entering February with a Carabao Cup final appearance on the horizon, our place in the fifth round of the FA Cup assured and still be in the running for a top four Champions League finish.
The next 6 weeks are going to be crucial in determining how our season takes shape or unravels and measuring what a successful campaign could be as we enter 2020.
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