Solskjaer and Rashford preview Atalanta clash
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Manchester United, for now, have eased some of the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian looked a dead man walking as his side fell 2-0 down to Atalanta on Wednesday night, only for his team to produce a memorable comeback to claim all three points. Despite that, however, problems remain.
It wasn’t United at their vintage, swashbuckling best.
But that won’t bother Solskjaer, who cut a jubilant figure at full time after goals from Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and the mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo secured victory.
The win means Solskjaer is safe. With Liverpool next up on Sunday, however, things could change.
It really was an evening where United’s flaws, and biggest strengths, were all on show. Nobody deserved a 10/10 and yet the way they responded to falling two goals down was impressive.
Paul Scholes, after the game, insisting they must do better if they’re to challenge for the biggest trophies on offer.
So Express Sport will now take a look at three changes Solskjaer should make for the match with Liverpool, in a showdown that will go a long way to deciding their narrative for the rest of the campaign.
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Victor Lindelof out: Eric Bailly in
Victor Lindelof is an oddity.
Sometimes, the Sweden international is slick and composed at the back. On other occasions, he looks a liability.
And it was certainly the latter against Atalanta on Wednesday night, with the former Benfica star struggling during the first 45 minutes.
Lindelof failed to track Mario Palasic for Atalanta’s opener, prompting Mike Phelan to turn away in disgust on the touchline.
And with Liverpool’s front three fully firing, Eric Bailly’s pace makes him an attractive option to come in with Raphael Varane still sidelined through injury.
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Scott McTominay out: Nemanja Matic in
This was a poor showing from Scott McTominay.
Though he ended up playing the whole 90 minutes, the Scotland international was carved open time and time again in the first half.
Coaches Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna have been working hard behind the scenes to try and morph McTominay into a commanding defensive-midfielder.
But Liverpool are so strong in midfield that replacing him with the experienced Nemanja Matic would be a shrewd move.
Matic remains the best United have in the holding role and he was perhaps benched for Wednesday’s match with Sunday’s fixture in mind.
Fred out: Paul Pogba in
Paul Pogba remains an enigma for United.
But, given how vulnerable the Red Devils are at the back, going for the jugular against Klopp’s side could be the right way to go.
United have through about using a 4-3-3 system, with just one sitter and two attacking midfielders.
And Liverpool represent the perfect chance to try that out, even if it would a gamble from their end.
If Pogba can play for United like he does for France, Solskjaer’s side will be enhanced. If they’re to beat Klopp’s team, they need their best players involved.
Speaking after United’s win over Atalanta, captain Maguire hailed Ronaldo for his heroics at the end.
“I had eyes on it all the way [Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal]. I was right behind him,” he said.
“His leap, his timing, it was perfect right in the corner. We see it day in, day out in training and in the goals he has scored throughout his career.
“He has come up with a massive goal for us again in the Champions League.
“It is normally with my head [that he scores]. I have not managed to put one away. It is my first goal for the season and the Champions league. A proud moment with my family here.
“We were two goals down and we need to sharpen up with that.”
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