Manchester United are almost at full strength ahead of the first game of their resumed Premier League campaign against Tottenham.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes his side to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a meeting with Jose Mourinho’s side, with defenders Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe the only United players unavailable through injury.
Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are available for selection, having recovered from long-term ankle and back injuries respectively. Odion Ighalo will also be in the squad after agreeing an extension to his loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
Solskjaer’s puzzle will be how to line up his midfield and whether to use Pogba and star playmaker Bruno Fernandes in the same side for the first team.
Below, MEN Sport’s United writers pick their teams to face Spurs:
Pogba should not just come straight back in because he is fit. Many forget he has not produced a proper performance since Chelsea away in the FA Cup last season and Bruno Fernandes and Fred are undroppables. Nemanja Matic offers balance as the holding midfielder.
The back five of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, and Brandon Williams served United well against City, even if that feels like it was in a parallel universe. Shaw has been a revelation at left centre-back.
Playing Fernandes in the hole gives United flexibility behind Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, forwards that pull into the channels and are capable of occupying the full-backs.
This game is basically the first game of a new season, after a three-month break, and United should treat it accordingly, while remembering what brought them success before the break.
That means Pogba should be seriously considered to start by Solskjaer. For the balance of the team, it’s probably better to leave the Frenchman to make an impact off the bench, as has been suggested. Fernandes is very much the man in possession in the attacking midfield role, while Fred and McTominay form an excellent defensive midfield partnership.
Lindelof or Eric Bailly is a close-run thing at centre-back, but the latter when fully fit is arguably United’s best defender and should partner Maguire.
The only other big decision for Solskjaer is whether to play an extra defender and a back five, or to go with the 4-2-3-1 that gives United more attacking thrust. The four-man defence allows Daniel James to play on the right, with his pace a vital asset.
With two of the star players now back to match fitness there is an obvious temptation to put them both back into the starting XI, but there is an argument to say neither of them should start.
Solskjaer has often preferred utilising a back three in big away games this season and with most players back fit there is certainly a strong reason to suggest Maguire, Lindelof and Shaw should start.
This would also accommodate Wan-Bissaka and Williams out wide, with Fernandes joining Fred and McTominay in the centre of midfield, with Matic perhaps needed as a sub if Pogba also comes on.
Up front Martial simply has to start while James should get the nod ahead of Rashford purely because the latter hasn’t played since January and is returning from serious injury.
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