Marcus Rashford or Edinson Cavani? Manchester United vs Manchester City: predicted lineups

Will Solskjaer opt for a back three at Old Trafford, or use a 4-2-3-1 shape in the Manchester derby?

Edinson Cavani celebrates a goal with Marcus Rashford. Credit: Getty.

With the Manchester derby on Saturday, a massive analysis talking point is the respective team line-ups. With injury woes to adjusting your team to nullify the opposition , there’s plenty for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola to consider.

The Manchester United boss switched to a back five against Tottenham Hotspur, in a bid to become more defensively sound, and give more protection to Fred and Scott McTominay, who have proved that their two-man pivot and can be easily bypassed.

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The formation worked wonders as United ran out 3-0 winners, and didn’t allow Spurs a shot on target until the 82nd minute. Fred and McTominay seemed more assured, and the latter could freely drop deeper into a more familiar defensive midfield role, which allowed Bruno Fernandes more space and time to dictate play a little easier.

Raphael Varane will miss the Manchester derby through injury.

Unlike the games against Leicester City and Liverpool, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t look so isolated as he had Edinson Cavani to accompany him up front. Ronaldo has been criticised for his lack of pressing this season, but with Cavani partnering him, it allowed Ronaldo to be more himself, and this was shown as he bagged a goal and teed up Cavani.

Much of the worry of the back five was the responsibility on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The former Crystal Palace right-back has often been criticised of his inability to contribute going forward, but the defender had a fine game, much like his wing-back partner Luke Shaw, who shook off his recent shaky form, and having less defensive responsibility looked perfect for him.

The back three of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane looked solid, and nullified Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.

After shaping up the same against Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday, it looked as if Solskjaer had settled on a defensive structure for when facing top sides.

That was until summer signing Varane was forced off with injury. Mason Greenwood replaced the Frenchman, which forced Solskjaer to revert to a 4-2-3-1 shape.

Edinson Cavani celebrates his goal with Bruno Fernandes against Tottenham

With Varane injured and Lindelof also a doubt, United will probably change their shape. It is expected that they will revert to a back four, with De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Maguire and Shaw in the defence. Paul Pogba is still suspended after his red card against Liverpool, so the tried and tested duo of McTominay and Fred could patrol the middle, whilse the front four will most likely be Greenwood, Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Ronaldo.

Meanwhile, United’s counterparts have been more consistent with their line-ups this season. Gabriel Jesus has been deployed mainly as a winger as Pep Guardiola came under some critiscism from Manchester City fans after he chose to not replace club legend Sergio Aguero in the summer, and the Citizens have rarely played with an out-and-out striker this season.

Guardiola has rarely tinkered with his squad, which perhaps lacks the depth of United’s or Chelsea’s. Aymeric Laporte is set to miss out after his red card on Saturday, with John Stones expected to partner Ruben Dias at the back, while Walker and Cancelo will fill in either side of them.

Rodri will likely be the anchor of the midfield, sitting back allowing Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne freedom to press into the area vacated by the lack of a striker. Slightly advanced in the side, Jack Grealish could stand out on the left and test Wan-Bissaka in what may be a great duel, with Jesus on the right, always cutting in, although Riyad Mahrez is also an option. Phil Foden has acted as a false-nine in recent weeks, and Guardiola could deploy him there again at Old Trafford.

The threat of Greenwood and Rashford will prohibit Cancelo and Walker from being as free to roam as the usually are, while the interchanging pattern of Silva, De Bruyne, Foden, Grealish and Jesus/Mahrez should cause havoc for a back four that looks vulnerable.

The game kicks off at 12:30 pm, in an encounter you will not want to miss.