Two games without victory make Sunday’s fixture at Old Trafford versus the Villans a significant game for Solskjaer’s men and definitely the man himself. The team should be well rested given virtually all of our normal first teamers were left behind at Carrington under the supervision of Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick whilst a very young team fell short in Kazakhstan on Thursday night.
Every game at this moment in time is a must win, but you feel it is even more paramount to get the victory on Sunday given the tough Spurs game and all the drama that is attached with it and then the tough Derby next weekend. Therefore, anything other than a win on Sunday would mount severe pressure on Solskjaer and his side, something they could desperately do with alleviating rather than growing in this current volatile situation. The debate on Ole’s position is a big debate already, but will only intensify if Villa get a result.
Despite the loss on Thursday, a few youngsters stood out and deserve to be at least talked about as possibilities for Sunday. Ethan Laird looked promising going forward and would certainly provide more attacking thrust than Aaron Wan Bissaka at full back in certain situations, but it would be a surprise if the latter will not play on Sunday all the same. Dylan Levitt and James Garner were arguably the brightest sparks from the performance, showing composure and nous in midfield that we have often lacked throughout the campaign. Whether Ole can trust them on Sunday is a different matter, but you have to feel with the state of our midfield as it stands, they certainly could add a different dimension.
Axel Tuanzebe’s recovery from injury comes at a good time, after a questionable time for United’s centre-half partnership. I have always felt that Axel is our best current option to partner at the heart of our defence for Maguire, given his recovery pace. Whether Ole trusts him to remain fit after a tough away game in Kazakhstan days before the game though remains to be seen.
All this being said, it is unlikely we will see a side too dissimilar from what started against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday. This is a shame as some youngsters, despite the result, could certainly add something to what can only be considered to be the worst United squad in decades.
In terms of formation, Ole must get more out of United’s attacking three. They were virtually redundant at Bramall Lane and need to be unleashed for us to cause our visitors damage. However, with a lack of creativity in midfield, it is hard to see how they can really affect the game anymore than they currently are. This is rather concerning. That is why a Garner or a Levitt would be nice to see, given their bravery in midfield to pick a pass and feed our forward stars.
Villa present an interesting challenge, where their threat comes from midfield. Jack Grealish, and particularly John McGinn, have had impressive seasons and could feasibly take advantage of the state of our midfield. Villa have just recovered from three league losses in a row in winning 2-0 at home against Newcastle. They would likely sit off us and break, given our lack of nous in breaking down sides who sit deep this season.
It is a vital game for us. One that could define our club and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future.