Manchester United will go head to head with Liverpool in their opening pre-season match which will be played in the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. Both United and Liverpool will be playing their first matches this summer.
It will be a baptism of fire for United’s new manager, Erik ten Hag who will face a possibly fiery North West Derby – but the one in the Premier League next month will be the one to win – this one will be about match fitness and finding out which players have adapted to his methods.
It is possible that Ten Hag will utilise a 4-3-3 formation, which I have gone with but it is all very possible that he will revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation which has been used over the past few seasons, which shows United’s weakness in midfield, especially in the pivot.
This summer could solvate problems in that area, or at least it should as I feel this is the main position where United lose matches because they are lacking a player that can enforce the midfield and enhance both the defence and the attack.
Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Shaw;
Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;
Heaton; Bailly, Malacia, Telles, Wan-Bissaka, Laird; Amad, Pellistri, van de Beek, Hannibal, Savage, Iqbal; Elanga, Chong, Garnacho
Mabaya, Phillips, Gomez, Chambers;
Henderson, Morton, Carvalho;
Elliott, Diaz, Firmino
Adrian, Mrozek, Davies, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Konate, Thiago, Milner, Keita, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Tsimikas, Robertson, Nunez, Matip, Bajcetic, Williams, Clark, Clarkson, Alexander-Arnold, Van den Berg, Norris, Hill, Frauendorf
Both Liverpool and United have little to lose in pre-season based on the fact that this is all about getting match fit and ready to commence the new season. Granted, both teams will want the win, even for the bragging rights – but there are no trophies in pre-season – not proper ones anyway.
Both Ten Hag and Klopp and their respective coaching teams will be assessing which players will be ready for the Premier League season openers at the start of August and the matches they will be playing ahead of that time will get the squads ready for that.
There will be wholesale substitutions in this match with players seeking to get minutes under their belt. Perhaps some players will be given 30 minutes – those who have been training for a week, with others getting 45 minutes or more.
Ten Hag and Klopp have gifted many inexperienced youth players a place in their squads with United naming a 31-man squad and Liverpool naming a 37-man squad. This will give younger players a chance to get their feet under the table, or even get a loan move this coming season.
Written by John Walker