Who should play at left back against Manchester City?

Much of Manchester United’s team to face Manchester City will pick itself, especially after the 2-1 midweek victory over Tottenham.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has three contenders for the left back slot, filled by Ashley Young in that Spurs win.

We’ve taken a look at Solskjaer’s biggest selection dilemma ahead of the first derby of the season…

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Ashley Young

Young’s continued presence at the club is evidence of a substandard recruitment setup and his name on the teamsheet for the very biggest matches provides a stark reminder every time.

But he remains by far the most experienced option at left back and performed well in midweek.

It’s likely his opponent will be a left footer – Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez – cutting in from the right, which suits him as a right footer. He’s kept Mo Salah quiet more than once.

Some United fans might not want to see it, and there’s always the chance his ageing legs and suspect positional sense will be caught out against a rampant attack, but there’s a case to be made for Young starting at the Etihad Stadium.

Maybe it’s a match for United fans to embrace Young’s selection instead of lamenting it.

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Luke Shaw

Shaw has been eased back into action after being out since August and came on against Tottenham to help see the game out.

But he looks way short of match fitness and his physique has again been the subject of discussion after an extended spell on the sidelines.

It would be a bold move for Solskjaer to hand Shaw his first Premier League start back since his injury in such a big match.

Shaw started the season as United’s first choice left back, but perhaps it could be argued he is third in the pecking order right now.

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Brandon Williams

Williams has had an exceptional breakthrough season and he would likely be in most United fans’ starting elevens for a match in which Solskjaer’s side will have more of the ball.

But he lacks experience of the big, senior matches. And showing faith in youth is one thing but throwing them to the wolves is another, which can do more harm than good for a young player.


Williams embodies the passion of the fans, but it would be a real risk if his fourth Premier League start were to come this weekend.

Solskjaer also needs to protect his young players, and that means keeping Williams in reserve with Young offering his experience from the off.

This isn’t a game where Williams would get many chances to show his attacking verve. His time will come, but this weekend is still a touch too soon.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.