Soccer

Man Utd boss Solskjaer explains why he picked Victor Lindelof over Eric Bailly v Liverpool

Liverpool v Man Utd: Match in pictures

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained why he picked Victor Lindelof in his starting XI against Liverpool on Sunday. Lindelof had not started a Premier League match since the 2-2 Boxing Day draw with Leicester. Eric Bailly started the three matches since then but was only named among the substitutes at Anfield.

Bailly had impressed in those three games, with United only conceding one goal in that time.

Lindelof was struggling with a back problem towards the end of 2020 but was brought back into the side to play reigning champions Liverpool.

The Swede wasn’t in the squad for the 1-0 win at Burnley in midweek and Solskjaer said his plan was always to play him at Anfield.

Solskjaer told MUTV: “Victor [Lindeof] has been training this week to get ready for this game, to be prepared. I gave him the Burnley game off.”

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Solskjaer also explained the makeup of his midfield for the much-awaited fixture on Merseyside.

Nemanja Matic dropped to the bench, with Paul Pogba moving forward into a slightly more advanced role.

That allowed Scott McTominay and Fred to come into the team as the two sitting midfielders.

“It’s a game that we think we need the energy of Scott and Fred,” Solskjaer added.

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“I thought Nemanja and Paul in midfield last time was incredible.

“This is a different game, we wanted different options in front of them, so we wanted Paul one step higher on the pitch.”

Anthony Martial limped off late on against Burnley but was fit to start against Liverpool.

“It was more of a cramp, working hard for the team,” Solskjaer said of Martial.

“When he comes off with a cramp he’s given everything for the team. So he’s ready now.”

The match will be the first between the two sides to be played behind closed doors since the coronavirus pandemic.

And Solskjaer joked it was a nicer atmosphere than normal for Liverpool vs United encounters.

“It’s nicer [with no fans at Anfield], to put it that way,” the Norwegian said.

“It’s a stadium you go to and you expect the crowd to be at you.

“That’s not here today unfortunately because that’s the world we live in.

“But that gives them less of an advantage, hopefully we can pounce on that.”

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