Manchester United dug deep on Monday night to earn a late 3-2 victory against Crystal Palace. The match in London was not a good one by United players, but they found a way to bounce back after being two goals down 48 minutes into the match.
It showed a great character, but now one of the toughest tests will arrive. Liverpool are coming to Old Trafford and their hot streak must be a sign for caution for Manchester United. Here are some ideas Jose Mourinho could be thinking of ahead of the big clash. Not all of them are complementary, as you will see with our last two points, but are just thoughts about how things could pan out.
Play Luke Shaw
This is a thing that feels like an obligation for Mourinho. Luke Shaw has had a decent run of performances when he was given chance in recent months and he is a better option than Ashley Young. The older of the Englishmen had some fine matches this term, but on big occasions he often felt out of depth at left-back. That was notable against Manchester City especially.
Now, if Shaw would start, that would mean a better fit for a left-back to play against Mohamed Salah. The Egypt international is playing season of his life and he will be a huge test for any United player on that side. His speed alone is a great threat and his movement must be contained as much as possible.
Eric Bailly Must Start
This is also very important, especially after the Palace match. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof played at cente-back and were quite poor. Smalling did score first of the goals for United to start their comeback, but his defensive performances recently have been unsatisfying. Lindelof was not much better either and Eric Bailly should start against Liverpool.
His quality means he is now by far the best centre-back available and Mourinho could do with a little bit of calmness in his back line. Bailly certainly brings that.
Surprise With A 3-5-2
Okay, this might be a stretch, but could be a good idea. Three centre-backs would mean more solidity against Liverpool’s front three, while Shaw and Valencia would be more attacking minded. Pogba would still be able to play in a midfield three and freed to roam around the pitch, while Nemanja Matic would offer security behind him.
This would mean that Sanchez would be playing as a second striker to Romelu Lukaku, lurking around him with his great stamina. He would be able to roam as well, cutting inside and making runs alongside Lukaku, creating space for others as well.
Accommodate Martial On The Left
This would need to play in either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. The latter one could be a better idea in general, but Martial playing on the left could offer more positives to the team than Sanchez. The Chilean cuts inside too often which is not compatible with Pogba’s driving late runs. That could see Alexis play either on the right or inside – depending on formation – and he seemed better when he was put in number 10 role against Palace.