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Saturday, October 16, 2021

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Manchester United have their biggest decision to make with Jadon Sancho

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Changes

Nemanja Matic was never going to start in Bern and there was always bound to be a change in the defence and attack. Raphael Varane and Mason Greenwood are expected to return to the XI today and the line-up could be the same as last week’s against Newcastle.

Scott McTominay is not due back until late September, at the earliest, so Matic is needed in the Premier League until then.

Sancho to be dropped?

There could be few complaints if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dropped Jadon Sancho. He has failed to complete 90 minutes in five United appearances and has been substituted on his three starts.

West Ham have had a fine start to the season, their starting XI is still impressive without Michail Antonio and Solskjaer may be conscious of leaving Matic exposed against Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek.

That would mean retaining Fred next to Matic, which would mean Pogba staying on the left. Greenwood is fresh after not playing a minute in midweek and in finer form than Sancho.

Or go on the attack?

Despite a satchel of scalps to rival the Predator and managing United to 10 wins in which they have scored at least five goals, Solskjaer is still a stickler for pragmatism that doubles for negativity.

Against Young Boys, United played for a 1-0 win and did not have a shot with 10 men. They then played for a 1-1 and did not have a shot. They got neither.

With the result still raw, Solskjaer may shift to a more front-footed approach, despite West Ham’s obvious threats and home advantage at a united London Stadium.

Wan-Bissaka reprieved?

Solskjaer is not an impulsive manager and, as costly as Aaron Wan-Bissaka was in Switzerland, his competitor has not started a Premier League match in almost two years.

Much has changed since Diogo Dalot hobbled off in that demoralising defeat at Newcastle in October 2019. He is fitter, spent a year with a rejuvenated AC Milan, become a senior Portugal international and was courted by Borussia Dortmund.

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Solskjaer will only know if Dalot is up to it by playing him in the league but could keep him sweet by reserving starts for the Portuguese against West Ham and Villarreal in the cup competitions.

Away improvement

United’s undefeated league away record of 28 matches has looked in jeopardy with turnstiles open again. Southampton had the better chance at 1-1 and Wolves were the superior side the following week.

Solskjaer said on the eve of the Southampton fixture he expected tougher away matches with supporters present again. The atmosphere at the London Stadium for West Ham’s 4-1 dismantling of Leicester in their last home match was the best the club has ever enjoyed and they will relish coming up against a vulnerable United.

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