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How Can Manchester United Cope Without Pogba And Fellaini Against Liverpool – A Tactical Look

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How Can Manchester United Cope Without Paul Pogba And Marouane Fellaini

Manchester United will face-off against a top tier club for the first time this season, on October 17th, as they travel to Anfield to play fierce rivals Liverpool. The fixture will undoubtedly be a major challenge – Liverpool are strong at home and have one of the deadliest attacks this time. Unfortunately for United, the challenge will be further compounded by the fact that they have to do without the services of Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini.

Pogba’s injury came as a major blow since that will see him be sidelined for a couple of months. In his absence, there was a lot of speculation as to whether or not Fellaini will be able to fill the void. The midfielder did end up performing well and was slowly working his way into the hearts of his critics – until he too sustained an injury.

Moreover, the international break could also take its toll since Mourinho will not be sure of how exactly damaging this international break has been until the players start training. Club talisman Romelu Lukaku is said to have missed Belgium’s World Cup qualifier against Bosnia with an ankle injury, so the Portuguese manager will hope to have him back against Liverpool.

The match against Liverpool will represent United’s biggest game of the season so far, and if the Red Devils are to continue their magnificent run at Anfield, they will have to make do with what they have.

Presently, Mourinho has just two recognised senior midfielders in Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be an issue but as seen from previous games, Mourinho prefers having three central midfielders against Liverpool. For example, in the 0-0 draw at Anfield last season, the manager deployed Pogba, Fellaini and Herrera.

If Mourinho is left with just Matic and Herrera against Liverpool, he could utilise either Daley Blind, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay or Axel Tuanzebe in midfield. Out of the four, McTominay is the only natural central midfielder but he is very young, with only three senior appearances so far.

Alternatively, Mourinho could just go ahead with just Matic and Herrera. It would be a risk but doing so would create room for four attacking players instead of three. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford could all start behind Lukaku – if he is fit.

Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United.

Mourinho’s third option would be to field three centre-backs and two wing-backs, since that would remove the need for a third midfielder. In fact, United did use this formation against LA Galaxy in the pre-season game which ended in a positive result for the club.

Liverpool did struggle against Spartak Moscow’s back five in the Champions League, making it all the more likely for Mourinho to deploy this tactic. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – Klopp’s key attackers, found it difficult to find space and were restricted for most of the match.

It remains to be seen how Mourinho chooses to deploy his troops on the big day, but this match has the potential to be a turning point for both clubs as the season progresses.