As the Red Devils sink in the success that they have tasted in the past few weeks, their new Caretaker Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be itching to gain those crucial 3 points when they travel away to Wembley Arena this week for the Spurs Vs United.
It would be fair to say that Tottenham Hotspur would be the toughest opponent for Solskjaer so far. The London-based club will wait for United at their fortress after gaining a crucial 1-0 advantage over Chelsea on the back of a Harry Kane stunner in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal earlier this week.
Tottenham are third-placed and just 6 points adrift the table-toppers Liverpool.
It is a slight peculiar situation for Solskjaer as he not only faces a tough opponent but also a manager who is staked pretty high to take over the permanent managerial job at Old Trafford at the end of this season.
Solskjaer seems to have rubbed off shoulders against Ferguson’s as the United players flew off to Dubai for warm weather training this week which was a regular feature under Ferguson’s leadership.
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Last weekend, Alexis Sanchez made his first start under Solskjaer and looked on song before being brought off midway through the second half with a troubled hamstring which saw him off the field for past 2 months.
After the unconvincing 2-0 win, Solskjaer was hopeful that Alexis Sanchez makes a return for the crucial Spurs Vs United game on Sunday. After being sidelined for almost 2 months and picking the same injury again in just 90 minutes on field, the Chilean’s place in the playing XI is a question which only time will answer.
“He was feeling his hamstring. He should have told me before, though, because I made two subs. Hopefully he’ll be okay for next weekend.”
“I think maybe he’s happy that he got through 60 minutes. Hopefully he won’t be too bad, because he’s been out for a month now, he had 20 minutes against Newcastle, maybe, he’s had 60 minutes [today], and of course you know the quality he has.”
When asked about the availability of Pogba for the Spurs Vs United game, Solskjaer replied,
“He looked ok towards the end so he’ll be fit. He did have some problems but came through the last couple of sessions well.”
Solskjaer is known for employing his best midfielder Pogba as the most advanced in his potent midfield. Being out for the Reading game after a horror tackle by Jonjo Shelvey in the game against Newcastle, Pogba is declared fit and is likely to replace Andreas Pereira from the last game.
Lukaku has not been a starting feature in two of the last three games but given the form of the Belgian, Solskjaer would be tempted to start with him in place of Martial for the Spurs Vs United fixture.
Marcus Rashford could then be pushed to the left-hand side, a void which he filled well after Alexis Sanchez was seen going off clutching his leg.
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Fred and Scott McTominay who were seen taking up the midfield duties against Reading, could make way for Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera who have been silent assassins in the games under Solskjaer so far.
Diogo Dalot, who featured in the starting XI as a right-back against Reading is likely to make way for Luke Shaw with Ashley Young taking up the right-back duties.
Victor Lindelof has looked decent in the recent past with crucial contributions to the attack as well. So, him replacing Matteo Darmian seems a possible move.
David De Gea, who was rested for the FA Cup 3rd round, is likely to replace the Argentinian Sergio Romero.
Solskjaer updated the Marcus Rojo situation talking to the press before the eve of the game:
“He’s gone back to Argentina for a while with his injury so how long is a piece of rope, it was mentally important for him to get away and come back fresh again.”
Solskjaer was reminded by the press about Tottenham being his toughest opponent. He was indeed around his usual calm. He responded by saying:
“No we’ve had tests. Newcastle away was a test, the first game how everyone reacted away to Cardiff was a test, the second game, how crowd would affect is a test… You get tested every single game in the Premier League but of course this is against a top top side and if we want to get close to them and go past them we will need a good performance and a good result.”
Solskjaer is well aware that this would be his toughest tactical assignment so far and having said that, if the Red Devils are able to trounce the North London heavyweights in their own backyard, Solskjaer’s authority will get a notch higher.
The Spurs Vs United game remains less than 24 hours away from us. This may well turn out to be the game that decides the fate of United. Two managers trying to stamp their authority on a club that is trying hard to get back on the perfect groove to prove its metal against the top clubs in the recent past, what promises to be a perfect end to a tiring week.