Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prefers to drift under the radar when it comes to elaborating on certain details surrounding tactics and team selection.
He’s no different to the majority of top coaches in that respect, aware of the competitive edges that can be gained by siding with the element of surprise around any given match.
The Manchester United boss picked his team as usual on Sunday – as did Jurgen Klopp – and the line-ups were revealed 60 minutes before kick-off only for the contest to be postponed shortly after.
The high-profile clash between the Red Devils and Liverpool will be rescheduled to take place at some point in the near future, but with both coaches aware of who will take to the field unless injuries emerge between now and then.
Solskjaer is unlikely to make any wholesale changes, but he’s been provided with a valuable opportunity to plan ahead for the upcoming bout even more so than normal.
Klopp picked many of his favoured starters on the day but made some key changes, such as selecting Nat Phillips, who was previously known to be injured.
Before Phillips’ inclusion was announced, Solskjaer will have expected Fabinho to form part of Liverpool’s defensive line, with Gini Wijnaldum or Thiago Alcantara as the team’s holding midfielder.
In terms of how that changes proceedings, Phillips certainly has limitations but he’s strong in the air, winning 70 of his 98 aerial duels in the Premier League this season, leaving him with a success rate of around 71.4 percent.
Harry Maguire is the only United player who boasts a better win rate in the air this season, with Phillips’ presence ultimately meaning that Liverpool are stronger when defending set-pieces and when long passes are made in his direction as a means of beating the press.
On the other hand, Phillips isn’t as comfortable in possession as Fabinho, meaning that Solskjaer could toy with the idea of pressing higher than normal in order to force mistakes from him, which could suit Edinson Cavani’s skill set.
Klopp also selected a midfield trio of James Milner, Fabinho and Thiago, which would have resulted in a front three rather than a front four including Diogo Jota.
The customary trident of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah was chosen, with the movements of those players well-known by most of the division as the Brazilian drifts into deeper areas while his two wider teammates drive inwards.
4-2-3-1 could have been more of an unpredictable shape for United to manage, but Klopp instead seemed to stick rather than twist by using 4-3-3.
It remains to be seen whether Klopp will throw a spanner in the works to catch Solskjaer off guard but if not, the Norwegian will have already picked up on a number of aspects without a ball being kicked.
If the match is suspended for days rather than weeks, Solskjaer could go into the contest with a few aces up his sleeve.