Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hands Liverpool an early advantage with his Manchester United team selection against Atalanta. The Norwegian faced an impossible decision.
Manchester United host Liverpool on Sunday in one of the biggest games of the entire season. It is every year, to be fair, but this time it feels gigantic. United, after all, want to show that they can compete at the top, while Liverpool need to prove they’re back after last year’s blip.
But there was a complication thrown in for this one – the Champions League. Both United and Liverpool faced huge European fixtures just days before their meeting.
The Reds travelled to Madrid to face La Liga champions Atletico Madrid. That was never going to be easy but Jurgen Klopp’s side saw out a tough 3-2 win.
For United, they faced a must-win fixture against Atalanta. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have had two difficult fixtures thus far and really needed a win at home against the Italians.
Both teams, then, needed their strongest XIs to play in Europe and the weekend. The urge to rest players would be there, though, in order to gain an advantage over their rivals.
Neither manager eased up, however. And with that, Solskjaer handed an advantage to Liverpool with his team selection.
Solskjaer makes statement with team selection
Solskjaer made one significant decision – he left Paul Pogba on the bench. Other than that, though, you’d have to say he put out his best XI.
In fact, there’s a solid argument that this was the XI Solskjaer should use against Liverpool. He went with two hard-working runners in midfield – players he’ll surely need against the high-possession Reds.
Jadon Sancho sat on the bench, too, but his slow start to life with United doesn’t make him a first-choice player to face Liverpool. So again, you’d back the Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo & Mason Greenwood front-three to play at Old Trafford.
But this highlights the advantage Liverpool have. They played on Tuesday, United on Wednesday, giving their first-choice players an extra day of rest ahead of the massive fixture.
The only way Solskjaer could have avoided that is with more rotation. Instead, he went with his best available side. As a result, the Liverpool stars may be a bit more fresh than their counterparts come Sunday.