Anthony Martial has been back in training this week for Manchester United ahead of Monday night’s home match against Liverpool.
Whether manager Erik ten Hag will start the Frenchman, who has not played a competitive game this season after getting a hamstring injury against Atletico Madrid in preseason, remains to be seen.
We believe that he will be eased back into the side, but that begs the question as to whether Ten Hag will start with Cristiano Ronaldo or try again to play a false nine, as he did unsuccessfully against Brighton in the opening game of the season.
Ronaldo was part of the dismal side that succumbed 4-0 to Brentford last time out and his attitude was criticised by Ten Hag after the game, along with the rest of his teammates.
System that didn’t work vs. unfit player vs. player whose heart and head is not in it: it’s not much of a choice for the boss but we think he will stick with the latter, at least for 45 minutes.
Wingers Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho are expected to provide the crosses for Ronaldo, although Ten Hag must be tempted to ring the changes, with Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Elanga champing at the bit.
There have been two reports this week about Ten Hag’s intentions in regard to his centre backs and whichever of those options he goes for could determine the midfield as well.
Other reports claimed that Lisandro had been working as a defensive midfielder in training matches, which suggests that might be the boss’s intention for Monday. In that case, the centre back pairing would be Maguire and Varane.
With McTominay having been dropped for the Brentford game and Fred hauled off at half time, it could well be that the manager is fed up with both and so it makes more sense for him to play Lisandro in the CDM role and Maguire at the back. It could be something of a last chance saloon for the skipper, though, because Casemiro’s imminent arrival will mean Lisandro will be challenging again for centre back places next week.
Luke Shaw was another player hauled off at half time against Brentford and his replacement, new signing Tyrell Malacia, looked leaner, meaner and more determined. We think he will start this time, with Diogo Dalot at right back.
The midfield three will probably come from Lisandro (as explained above), McTominay, Fred, Fernandes, Eriksen and Van de Beek. If Lisandro holds then Eriksen and Fernandes may cling on to their places, but if he does not then we could be looking at McTominay – Eriksen – Van de Beek or Fred – Van de Beek – Bruno. It seems unlikely that “McFred” will be trusted again at this stage.
In goal, there is little choice other than to play David de Gea again despite his awful form in the first two matches.
This, then, is our predicted line-up for Monday’s game:
Kick off at Old Trafford on Monday is at 8pm.
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