September 28, 2023
Three ways Manchester United could line up vs Crystal Palace amid midfield boost
Just over a week after Manchester United travelled to Munich with a threadbare squad, Erik ten Hag has a huge selection problem on his hands. United produced their best performance of the season on Tuesday night, defeating Crystal Palace 3-0 in the third round of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford. Their first-class showing coincided with Sofyan Amrabat making his first start for the club and Mason Mount returning from injury. Both players were drafted in during the summer transfer window to help United take the next step in their resurrection, following a successful 2022/23 campaign. Though they didn't play alongside each other in midfield, they both produced eye-catching performances, leaving Ten Hag with plenty to ponder ahead of Saturday's rematch with Palace in the Premier League. READ MORE: United targeting triple injury boost vs Palace READ MORE: Erik ten Hag has finally got the selection problem he wanted The Dutchman made seven changes for the cup encounter, meaning a similar number of alterations at the weekend cannot be ruled out. The likes of Victor Lindelof, Bruno Fernandes , Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund will all be targeting recalls. With United's squad now looking much healthier, and Amrabat and Mount determined to retain their places, MEN Sport has taken a look at three ways United could line up against Roy Hodgson's men for the second time in five days. 4-3-3 (1) Should Ten Hag stick with his preferred 4-3-3 formation, it is possible that he could deploy one of two different variations of it. United hope to have Sergio Reguilon back available after he missed out on Tuesday night through illness, meaning he could be deployed at left-back. The Tottenham Hotspur loanee requested to play against Burnley last weekend despite feeling unwell, but he was unavailable for the midweek cup clash. United are going to assess him in the build-up to Saturday's game . That means Amrabat could start in midfield. He started at left-back against Palace, moving inside when United had possession, and he could start in his natural role for the first time since joining the club. Should that turn out to be the case, he could join forces with Casemiro and Mount in the middle, with Fernandes deployed on the right-flank. Hojlund and Rashford would complete the attack. The first line-up Erik ten Hag could consider at the weekend. 4-3-3 (2) In the event of Reguilon not making the cut, it is possible that Amrabat could start at left-back for the second game running. Albeit up against a weakened Palace side in midweek, the Moroccan was not fazed in the slightest by being played as an auxiliary left-back, moving into midfield when United had possession. Amid that possibility, Casemiro, regardless of what happens elsewhere, should start in the No.6 berth, accompanied by Mount, who could pull the strings from his favoured deep-lying role. Fernandes, in this approach, would start centrally in the No.10 berth, though the prospect of Christian Eriksen being available again could push Mount forwards and reassign Fernandes to the right-wing. Should Fernandes start centrally, though, Facundo Pellistri could start on the right-wing, just as he did on Tuesday night. Hojlund and Rashford would once again complete the front-three. The second line-up Erik ten Hag could consider at the weekend. 4-4-2 (diamond) This is the formation that could create the biggest headache for Ten Hag. With Casemiro, Amrabat, Mount and Fernandes now all fit and available, they could form a diamond shape in midfield. Should the Dutchman adopt that approach, it would likely see Casemiro sit at the base of the diamond, Amrabat and Mount occupy the two slightly wider roles and Fernandes operate behind the front-two. It would, however, put an onus on the full-backs to provide the width. Furthermore, a diamond shape in midfield would result in United losing their natural width through the form of wingers. Ten Hag experimented with this shape in the 3-1 defeat to Brighton earlier this month. It would mean that Rashford, who is at his best when playing on the left, may have to start centrally and form a strike partnership alongside Hojlund. The former, however, could have a slightly looser role, allowing him to roam. The third line-up Erik ten Hag could consider at the weekend. Order your copy of Manchester United in Europe TODAY Manchester United are back in the Champions League after an impressive first season in charge for Erik ten Hag. Having won the famous trophy three times, the Reds have a wonderful history in the European Cup. Now the Dutchman has to live up to that legacy. Our special preview of United’s 2023/24 Champions League campaign provides the ultimate guide to the tournament. It costs just £3 and is on sale for advance order* on the online shop NOW and in retail outlets from September 17. Just click here to order your copy today. *Delivery from 13th September onwards
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