THE PREMIER LEAGUE is back, and it doesn’t get much bigger in the race for a top four position, than Manchester United’s trip to London, to play Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur.
United will be looking to welcome back French international midfielder Paul Pogba too; but will manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put him in his starting XI straight away?
Before the unforeseen break due to the coronavirus, United were in good form, playing themselves back into contention for a Champions League place.
So, could it be that Pogba, in the short-term, might have to make do with a spot on the bench?
We saw over the weekend on social media, some exciting link-up play between Pogba and Bruno Fernandes during the behind closed doors friendly against West Bromwich Albion.
The question is, does Solskjaer go with it straight away, or stick with some of the players that have helped him for most of the season?
The exciting XI, and one that would unleash Pogba and Fernandes in a midfield diamond formation, as well as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, will have United fans licking their lips.
Although unlikely, especially for the trip to North London, it would show Solskjaer’s attacking intent, and look something like this:
This XI would see Fred at the base of the midfield diamond, Fernandes at the tip, with Pogba slightly to the left, and Dan James right.
The negative is that this team only leaves Fred in a central defensive position in midfield, which could mean that Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof’s lack of pace could be an issue, particularly with the lack of protection in front of them.
From wide, James and Pogba, or possibly Rashford, would have to tuck back in and help full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams.
Away at Tottenham and against Mourinho though, Solskjaer probably won’t be as adventurous, which is why I think we’ll see a more defensive minded central midfield area, with Pogba on the bench.
My starting XI for the Friday night fixture would be:
It’s more of a 3-5-2 and the system that beat Manchester City.
Fit again Rashford would come in for James who played that day, and it not only provides a sound defensive platform, but allows the inspirational Fernandes to have that freedom to express himself in the attacking third.
Supporters may be eager to see Pogba back in the starting XI, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the team and its balance.
If Solskjaer can find a way to integrate Pogba whilst staying true to the defensive shape his team had found earlier in the year, then clearly, he’d be a welcome addition.
If the team continues its fine form from before the break though, then it might not be as easy for Pogba to walk back in as some have predicted.
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