Man United set to unleash new attack in Europa League match vs Omonia Nicosia
After the 6-0 loss to Manchester City in Sunday’s derby at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester United are set to make things right again and they preparing a new set of attacking forces to unleash at Cyprus.
The Red Devils will resume their Europa League group stage campaign later this week, traveling to Cyprus to face minnows Omonia Nicosia. The Cypriot outfit are pointless after their first two group matches, making United overwhelming favourites to seal back-to-back away wins in the competition.
The trip will mark just United’s second game of a hectic October period that will see them complete nine fixtures in the space of just 29 days. It is a relentless task for any club to manage, but United are fortunate that they have the strength in depth to rotate their pack and still deploy a star-studded team.
With the Everton game at hand, Ten Hag is going to be mindful of his team selection on Thursday evening which is likely to provide a clear indication of his plans for the clash with the Toffees just 72 hours later. Mass changes, originally, were to be expected, but United are under pressure to bounce back with a vengeance following Sunday’s horror show at the Etihad; Ten Hag may not have a choice but to go with a stronger side than he originally wanted to.
If that proves to be the case, you can guarantee that some changes will still be contemplated by the United boss, even if not on mass. After all, the likes of Casemiro and Cristiano Ronaldo will be hungry for minutes after being left out of the starting line-up against City.
Despite being 4-0 down at half-time, Ten Hag refused to call on Ronaldo to try and spearhead the comeback of all comebacks, instead choosing Anthony Martial to come off the bench. He replaced Marcus Rashford and scored twice, ensuring United put a slightly more respectable look on the scoreline.
Rashford, as was the case against Arsenal four weeks earlier, started in the center of United’s front three, flanked by Jadon Sancho and Antony. Neither of them two covered themselves in much glory, with only an outstanding effort from Antony to make it 4-1 sparing him from more criticism at the full-time whistle.
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Sancho, by contrast, was a virtual spectator for much of the game, until he was hauled off and replaced by Fred with 20 minutes to go. He couldn’t give Tyrell Malacia the defensive cover he desperately needed and he failed to make his mark against his former club.
It is why his position could be under threat against Nicosia. Rashford, as he has proven time and time again, is more effective coming in off the left flank, so could move out wide against the Cypriots, paving the way for Martial to come into the No.9 role.
The Frenchman has been directly involved in three goals in just two substitute appearances so far this season and did enough against City — even if his goals meant nothing in the grand scheme of the contest — to put his name in contention for a starting berth. He was a key figure for Ten Hag in pre-season, often being flanked by Sancho and Rashford during the tour of Thailand and Australia.
Ten Hag has made it clear from the outset that he prefers a front-three blessed with pace, fluidity and trickery, meaning a trio of Antony, Martial and Rashford at the top end of the pitch could work wonders. Even though United need to put on a show and get a result for their fans on Thursday night after the derby, it is an opportunity for Ten Hag to experiment.