Early team news for the Manchester derby
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeking a response from the hugely disappointing defeat at Everton as the Reds face City in the derby on Wednesday.
Despite a painful 4-0 reverse to the Toffees, Arsenal's surprise home loss to Crystal Palace suggests there could still be more twists and turns in the battle for a top-four spot in the Premier League.
City have their own agenda as they face a real scrap to retain the title. Matters remain in their own hands - if they win their last four fixtures, they will pip Liverpool to first place, but the Merseysiders are currently two points clear at the summit, having played a game more, and are primed to exploit any single slip-up.
There is some positive news with the return of Luke Shaw at left-back after a two-game domestic suspension and the European ban that caused him to miss the Champions League defeat to Barcelona. Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Diogo Dalot filled the gap in those three outings but our latest Player of the Month will be determined to show he is still in top form and a contender for our overall SIr Matt Busby Player of the Year award.
However, Phil Jones will need to be assessed after apparently picking up an injury while making a tremendous challenge at Goodison Park. The centre-back was withdrawn at the interval, with Young coming off the bench and Victor Lindelof reverting to a more familiar position at the heart of the defence, alongside Chris Smalling.
Solskjaer appeared exasperated after witnessing the poor performance on Sunday and it is highly likely he will be contemplating shaking things up for the visit of the Blues, whose Quadruple bid ended with the Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
Fit-again Alexis Sanchez is one option after an encouraging cameo at the Nou Camp against his old club, although he did not get off the bench at Everton. Scott McTominay was one of the substitutes used at Goodison by the manager, replacing Fred, and his energy could be valuable in trying to nullify City's passing and pressing tactics.
Solskjaer is likely to provide an update on the availability of Ander Herrera, Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia when addressing the media on Tuesday morning.
The manager may decide to inject some youth into the matchday squad, despite the magnitude of the occasion. Mason Greenwood came on against West Ham United recently and took his goal tally for the season to 29 in 28 appearances at all youth levels with a double in the Under-18s' 2-1 win at table-topping Derby County on Saturday.
This latest reminder of his potential came after Ole said:
“Mason Greenwood, 17 years of age and, yeah, you are for me. We want to give you a chance to be a top player at this club.”
Angel Gomes, James Garner and Tahith Chong were among those who, like Greenwood, impressed in the last Under-23s outing - a 5-0 victory at Newcastle United.
Watch as the U23s hit five at NewcastleVideo
For Pep Guardiola, Kevin De Bruyne picked up what is being described as a
“muscular injury” in the 1-0 win over Spurs with the City boss seeming to already rule him out of the derby.
That would appear to be the only issue for the visitors, except for the continued absence of back-up keeper Claudio Bravo, as the fact influential midfielder Fernandinho has not started the couple of matches is said to be due to tactical reasons.
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