Manchester United face up against Manchester City on Sunday afternoon and Erik ten Hag must make changes in order to have the best chance of getting a result.
The Reds are currently in a strange situation after winning three games in a row for the first time this season. It still doesn’t seem like they’ve kicked into gear.
At the moment, results are the most important thing. Yet, with a game against their city rivals, United need their best performance of the season to get anything from the game.
You could easily argue that there should be many changes to the team for the game on the weekend. However, one thing that the manager and the team need is consistency.
Saying that; small adjustments must be made. Half-time substitute Christian Eriksen was able to turn the table against Copenhagen, but if United play as they did in the first half of that Champions League bout against Pep Guardiola’s men, they will not be in a position for someone from the bench to make such an impact.
So, we’ve looked at two players who should be replaced in the starting lineup for Ten Hag, which could give United the best chance of victory.
Scott McTominay was awarded back-to-back starts after his incredible injury-time double against Brentford. Whilst he scored during the win over The Blades, he also has given away two penalties in those starts.
He completed 38 passes in the 153 minutes that he was on the pitch. The lack of influence on the ball was shown and United cannot simply concede in this aspect against City.
It’s quite clear that the Premier League champions will look to control the ball but United need players in the midfield who can attempt to combat the strong City team in possession, whilst also looking strong defensively.
And that’s not what McTominay has been recently. His goalscoring moments for both United and Scotland are the product of his attacking runs, late into the box, not what he is offering at the other end of the field.
Mason Mount, who was benched for the last two games, offers the energy and pressing out of possession but also the qualities in possession to be useful in this tie. However, Christian Eriksen also deserves to start after positive impacts in multiple games.
And that leads us onto the next player.
Antony, the Brazilian winger, has failed to impress since returning to the squad and should be demoted to the bench despite United’s lack of natural right wingers available.
Jadon Sancho is unavailable and seems likely to be leaving Old Trafford in January, however, neither the Englishman nor Antony have shone when placed on the right flank at the club.
Whilst his defensive assets could be useful against what will likely be a dominant Manchester City side, there are two main reasons – which are linked together – why he should at least start from the bench.
Firstly, it links to the midfield. United must be compact and that could mean that Bruno Fernandes is not played in the engine room. A new-look midfield of Sofyan Amrabat, Mason Mount and Christian Eriksen could provide the right balance of defensive stability and ability in possession that Ten Hag is looking for.
Instead, the Portuguese could be stationed on the right flank as he looks to get the most out of his transitional threat, despite it not being his most comfortable position.
And even if that isn’t the approach that Ten Hag takes on Sunday. Many would agree that Alejandro Garnacho has done enough in recent cameos to take a position in the front three, with Marcus Rashford moving to the right side.
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