|Image Source: TalkSport|
Manchester United stormed into the round of 16 with a 5-0 win over Club Brugge last night. Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Fred and Odion Ighalo got on the scoresheet with assists coming from substitutes Tahith Chong and Jesse Lingard for the latter two goals. United have now been drawn with Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub (LASK) for the round of 16 ties to be held on the 12th and 19th of March.
This article will take a look at which defensive pairings United should be using for the upcoming games as some really difficult and tricky games are in our path and squad rotation will become vital. With the return of Eric Bailly, we are better off than before but with good performances from the Ivorian, selection becomes tougher. We have games against Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspurs coming up in the league along with FA Cup games and Europa League round of 16 games which makes this a decisive month.
In my opinion, I feel that things seem to finally look brighter now as a recent stat has revealed that United have kept the joint second most clean sheets (17) in all competitions in Europe, sharing the spot with Liverpool and only PSG (22) above us. We have also conceded just 1 goal in the last seven games and have won five of those games. So let’s not fix a problem that isn’t there for now. Victor Lindelof should continue starting the Premier League games when fit and Eric Bailly starts the FA Cup and Europa League games when fit. The injury of Axel Tuanzebe is a miss as he could’ve been a good fit for our FA Cup campaigns.
However, we need to be challenging for the Europa League trophy as that is another way of getting into the Champions League and the unpredictable nature of the Premier League makes it tough to call the top 4 spots. The Europa League journey will be long and tedious with games coming thick and fast towards the tail-end of the season and a new pair of legs will be necessary twice a week.
What is concerning is that Harry Maguire does not have a substitute. Axel Tuanzebe has returned for full training but is still not cleared to start it appears. When he does get cleared to start, it’ll be better for Maguire as well because at the moment we have only 3 good centre-halves. In the worst-case scenario, Phil Jones will be given the nod for FA Cup games alongside Tuanzebe or Bailly. Again it all depends on how the competitions pan out. If the Europa League looks more and more likely, we’ll have to start our best defenders there.