Manchester United’s draw with Stoke City on Sunday afternoon wasn’t an utter disaster, given Manchester City’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur later that day meant the gap between the two clubs went down to five points. Yet it was an incredibly frustrating result given how United had played for much of the afternoon, and how many chances Jose Mourinho’s side created.
Both Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were incredibly wasteful in front of goal, and arguably should have had the game won by half-time, yet after Anthony Martial broke the deadlock, Joe Allen provided a late sting in the tail to grab a barely-deserved equaliser for The Potters.
It means that United will return from international duty in two weeks’ time needing to be focussed and at their best, given they face a run of four games in nine days including meetings with Liverpool, Chelsea and City.
The Liverpool game inparticular will be fascinating, given that Jurgen Klopp’s side have started the season in fine form. They currently sit fourth, just two points behind City, and will be looking to win their first Premier League meeting between these sides at Anfield since 2014.
What needs to be changed from United’s perspective after Sunday’s game?
We know Mourinho is most likely going to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation. Marcus Rashford needs a rest, ideally. He won’t play every minute of England’s upcoming games with Slovenia and Malta, but the England international has played a lot of football in the last six months, and Mourinho needs to balance out the needs of his side with making sure the 18-year old doesn’t get overloaded. As such, the Liverpool game seems like the perfect opportunity to start Anthony Martial, and bring Rashford on with devastating effect later in the game if required.
Jesse Lingard is another player who might better serve United on the bench in two weeks at Anfield; the winger has been selected by Gareth Southgate for England’s upcoming matches but struggled on occasion against Stoke. Work rate and effort are never issues for Lingard, but his composure in the final third can still be problematic.
Luke Shaw should ideally be fit for the Liverpool clash, and given United’s likely strategy will be to hit their opponents on the break and absorb the pressure from Klopp’s side, his strength and pace at left back could be of greater use than Daley Blind in the role. The Dutchman is an excellent reader of the game, but Shaw’s raw power could come in more handy when the game at Anfield rolls around.