Manchester United are set to play Liverpool at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Liverpool defeated United 5-0 at Old Trafford in October last season and that was the beginning of the end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked one month later. United have suffered two humiliating defeats this term and it seems not much has changed.
United have lost against Brighton and Brentford and Erik ten Hag now has the challenge of winning the Reds’ first points of the season versus Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s side is also winless and they head into this game after drawing with Crystal Palace.
Darwin Nunez was shown a red card in that match and he’s unavailable through suspension. Regarding United’s team news for Liverpool, Victor Lindelof is still injured, but Ten Hag has confirmed that Anthony Martial is in contention to play.
United need to shore up before Casemiro is available to play and that means relocating Lisandro Martinez to defensive midfield. Tyrell Malacia deserved to start the season and a full debut is overdue.
Complementing Martinez with technicians in James Garner and Christian Eriksen would offer United more outlets in midfield, where they have been too one-dimensional. Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford’s form has not picked up this season.
Recalling Anthony Martial to his best role would be logical to freshen up the attack. Cristiano Ronaldo showed a genuine appetite to win at Brentford, unlike others.
United’s shortcomings have been well noted in the opening two matches of the season, but their squad is strangely still suited to playing on the counter-attack as the underdogs.
Maguire and Varane are the best centre-back pairing at the club and should both start, while Malacia is more deserving than Shaw on the left.
Fred and McTominay are still needed in order to press the Liverpool midfield and force them into errors, but Eriksen should be played instead of Fernandes.
Martial deserves to come back into the line-up from the start and Ten Hag should resort to the front three that had so much joy over the summer.
This should be the last game we see United play without a defensive midfielder for some time, thankfully. They have desperately needed a player in that position and the midfield will inevitably be unbalanced without Casemiro against Liverpool.
Ten Hag could play Martinez in defensive midfield to address that issue and that might be the best solution. Ten Hag started Fred, Eriksen and Fernandes last week against Brentford and eyebrows would be raised if he picked that three again.
Fernandes hasn’t performed since signing a new contract and he should make way for Eriksen. A midfield of Martinez, Fred and Eriksen is hardly inspiring but it might be the best choice for this game, as this side cannot suffer a third consecutive embarrassing defeat.
If Martial is considered fit enough to start, he should start over Rashford, who has been ineffective this season.