Bailly to come in?
A United fan joked on Twitter this week Eric Bailly would have to win the Ballon d’Or to end Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Scandinavian solidarity with Victor Lindelof, yet to be dropped on the United manager’s watch.
Lindelof was unconvincing once more in the midweek trek to Brighton and Bailly was so authoritative the official United Twitter account’s viral clips appeared to be lobbying Solskjaer to start Bailly today. Bailly has not been a first-teamer for 20 months but may have a chance to regain that status.
The gaping caveat is Bailly’s reputation has been enhanced by his lack of Premier League starts and he is often good for a clanger. Even without Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale,Harry Kane, Lucas Moura or Steven Bergwign are capable of forcing an error.
United did not reap the benefits of Nemanja Matic’s league recall at Brighton, where he failed to neuter Leandro Trossard and never got a stranglehold against Brighton’s wing-back system.
Giovanni lo Celso’s half-time withdrawal in Tottenham’s Europa League Play-off thrashing of Maccabi Haifa all but confirmed his starting role at Old Trafford and the Argentinian is becoming an increasingly pivotal player for Jose Mourinho.
Matic is the only specialist defensive midfielder United have and, given the quality of the opposition, that may ensure he starts again.
Or is Van de Beek accommodated?
Sooner or later, United’s sole summer signing will line up in the league. Donny van de Beek scored on his debut and without him United would not have won at Brighton: it was Van de Beek who won the corner from Marcus Rashford’s overhit lay-off.
Van de Beek was tidy in the League Cup rematch on Wednesday, drifting to the left and deftly assisting Juan Mata. But Bruno Fernandes is undroppable and Paul Pogba’s crowdpleasing Carabao Cup cameo suggests Van de Beek may have to wait until after the internationals for his maiden Premier League start.
Can Wan-Bissaka recover?
Last week was Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s lowest ebb as a United player. He is usually useful in defence and useless in attack but at the Amex he was abysmal at both ends and it is essential he responds with a performance to swiftly quell the doubters.
Gary Neville peculiarly suggested Wan-Bissaka should not have to focus on enhancing his attacking game when any modern full-back worth their salt is proactive in the final third.
United invested £50million in Wan-Bissaka and, though their scouting was hardly perceptive, they are entitled to demand a more complete performance level.
Martial to get going?
It is not just Odion Ighalo who has underlined United’s need for another striker. Anthony Martial, devoid of any credible competition for his place, has been tepid in his outings so far this term and is under pressure to address his form before the doubts resurface.
Martial was unconvincing at Tottenham in June, when Solskjaer told him to get into the box and he didn’t. He claimed a clinical hat-trick in his next start but traditionally struggles against Spurs, with just one goal in seven games.