Early team news for United against Liverpool
Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may still be without Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial for Sunday's Premier League match against historic rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.
The pair picked up injuries during the UEFA Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain on 12 February, which forced them to miss the second half and both players subsequently sat out Monday’s Emirates FA Cup fifth-round victory at Stamford Bridge.
“I don't think we will see them in the next two games,” Ole told us last Friday, when the club legend was previewing the cup tie at Chelsea.
“Let's hope they heal quickly, but it looks like they might be out for two or three weeks.”
With Lingard and Martial unavailable, Solskjaer selected a three-pronged attack of Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford last time out. Alexis Sanchez stepped off the bench in west London and earned praise from his team-mates for working hard to secure a vital win. It will be fascinating to see which of our forwards starts against Liverpool.
Meanwhile, David De Gea is expected to return after making way for Sergio Romero to start on Monday night. Our Spanish stopper has not missed a single minute of Premier League football this season and is determined to keep a third consecutive clean sheet, following the recent top-flight wins over Fulham and Leicester City.
In defence, Solskjaer can select between Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the centre of defence. All four of them have started at least once in the last three matches, and it looks like Marcos Rojo is closing in on full fitness as well after training with the squad for several weeks.
Ashley Young earned a one-match ban as a result of the yellow card he received in the match at Chelsea, but that suspension only applies in the FA Cup and he is therefore available to start against Liverpool.
It remains to be seen if experienced defenders Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian are available to return from injury this weekend.
Solskjaer will hopefully provide an update during his press conference at the Aon Training Complex on Friday. The exact time of that briefing is still to be confirmed.
WHAT ABOUT LIVERPOOL?
The visitors are expected to welcome defender Virgil van Dijk back for the trip to Old Trafford, after he missed Liverpool’s 0-0 Champions League draw against Bayern Munich through suspension.
With centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez also missing, Jurgen Klopp was forced to select a pairing of Joel Matip and Fabinho at the heart of defence on Tuesday night. Yet, Van Dijk’s return could see the latter step into a midfield role.
The Brazilian, Fabinho, will likely start alongside two of Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and James Milner in a midfield three.
Up front, Liverpool will almost certainly opt for the dynamic trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane who, between them, have netted 38 Premier League goals so far this campaign.
Trent Alexander-Arnold returned from injury to play at right-back against Bayern Munich and helped the Merseysiders to keep a clean sheet.
Gini Wijnaldum insists Liverpool are braced for a serious test at Old Trafford this Sunday.
“I think it is going to be a real big change from December,” the Dutchman said this week.
“Since the new manager came in there is a new flow, they played good games and have won a lot and that is building confidence in the team.
“It's also a home game for them so they will have a lot of confidence as they don't have the problems they had before. It is going to be a difficult game but I'm looking forward to it. I think for them we come at a good moment but we're also doing well so it is going to be a nice game to watch.”
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