Manchester United already had a lengthy injury list going into their Premier League match with Tottenham Hotspur – and another man may be joining it.
It’s being reported Anthony Martial could now miss the huge fixture at Old Trafford as Jose Mourinho returns to the club for the first time since his sacking last December.
According to The Sun, the French forward is a doubt with a muscular injury and with the Red Devils light on options in their forward line it could lead Solskjaer to opt for a back-five against Spurs.
It’s believed Axel Tuanzebe might be the man drafted in at Martial’s expense, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Ashley Young playing as wing-backs.
If Martial is out he will join Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Diogo Dalot on the sideline, while Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay are doubts for the clash on Wednesday night.
LATEST FOOTBALL STORIES
A loss would seriously harm Solskjaer’s chances of keeping his job at Old Trafford, especially with Arsenal and Tottenham both acting to change head coaches in recent weeks.
The Norwegian, though, isn’t too worried about this right now.
He said: “It’s that time of year and it’s never nice to see your colleagues lose their jobs.
“It doesn’t make me more concerned, I’m just focusing on my job and that’s doing as well as I can, look forward to the next game and looking long term and planning things with the board.
“These next two games are a great chance to improve things.
“When you change managers halfway through the season it’s because a club isn’t where it wants to be.
“I’ve had 50 games since then and it isn’t where we want to be and we have to improve and we are working hard to do that.
“We’ve had too many draws for my liking and defeats of course.
“But the draws we should have turns into wins and football is a results business.
LIVE on talkSPORT
Check out all the live commentaries coming up across our network this week…
- Everton vs Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30) – talkSPORT
- Huddersfield vs Leeds (Saturday, 12:30) – talkSPORT 2
- Tottenham vs Burnley (Saturday 15:00) – talkSPORT 2
- Manchester City vs Manchester United (Saturday, 17:30) – talkSPORT
- West Brom vs Swansea (Sunday, 12:00) – talkSPORT 2
“We know we can do better and are working hard, the work is always geared on us improving but we’re not getting all the results we’ve deserved.”
A switch to a more defensive back-five may well do the trick but how will Solskjaer’s side line up? talkSPORT.com takes a look.
How Manchester United could look with a back-five against Tottenham
Ahead of the back-five, if Solskjaer believes the leaky Spurs defence are there to be got at, he may well opt for a central midfield two.
This allows him to operate with fast inside forwards who can overload the opposition backline, especially when Wan-Bissaka and Young get wide further up the pitch.
It would force a deeper Tottenham midfielder, possibly Eric Dier, to move in and help his teammates out, while leaving Fred and Pereira in one-on-one situations and able to join in attacks when needed.
Rashford’s movement on the left will be interesting in particular as Spurs right-back Serge Aurier has been operating a lot higher up the pitch under Jose Mourinho and if he does so again then their defence will be exposed at times.
Greenwood’s movement across the central duo of Tottenham could also cause havoc if Rashford and James are able to drift inside.
Another option for United might be sit back a little and try to create more chances with incisive build-up.
Winger James could provide movement between the lines and feed strikers Rashford and Greenwood who, centrally, can occupy both Spurs centre-backs.
This may allow opposition full-backs to get higher up the pitch but means the Red Devils can break the lines a little easier, especially as Tottenham’s defence may play a little deeper.
With Solskjaer’s wing-backs further up the pitch they can form a five-man midfield and force Spurs’ players into mistakes on the ball and firing off on counter attacks.
Either way, it promises to be a fascinating team from the Norwegian as he seeks all three points at Old Trafford and a vital win over Mourinho.