Manchester United return to Premier League action today, hoping to translate their Europa League form into another win today over Southampton.
The Red Devils may have seemingly put their Anfield disaster behind them, but the horrors of that afternoon remain fresh in the memory of those who took to the field against Liverpool. Perhaps they could seek to inflict their own humiliation, revisiting the past to once again wreak havoc on the Saints.
To do this, Erik ten Hag might seek to reemploy a tactical ideal that he has flirted with on occasion to not only give his team more balance but far more attacking impetus too.
Whilst one might assume this should come from the front four, by instead returning Luke Shaw to centre back and starting Tyrell Malacia, he could have two offensive-minded defenders willing to play on the front foot from the back.
It could be the key to administering another 9-0, should history seek to repeat itself.
Will Tyrell Malacia play against Southampton?
Although the 23-year-old has seen his minutes wane of late, the Dutchman likely remains a key figure for the future of the Ten Hag regime.
Of the last seven league fixtures, Malacia has started just once. However, he did find himself as a mainstay throughout the early portions of the campaign where he announced himself as an incredibly solid asset who can help defend from the front.
His 6.69 average rating perhaps belies the 1.1 interceptions, 1.9 tackles and 2.1 clearances per game that support this earlier statement (via Sofascore). Relentless in the tackle, the left-back has more than earned the title of “machine” that the United U21 star Matej Kovar labelled him.
It is this addition of defensive security that could allow Shaw more freedom from centre-back, where he has also excelled.
His manager even lauded him for his positional dexterity, noting: “He’s the example at this moment, and with his skills and his physical power he brings a lot to the team.
“But now also with his mentality. He’s an example of how to win big games. I’m really happy with his development. I think it’s been huge either at centre-half or left full-back. He’s a great player and a great personality for the dressing room.”
Moving his 84% pass accuracy and 1.1 key passes per 90 to a role where he would see far more of the ball could be a stroke of genius from the Dutch manager who has already begun showcasing his vast knowledge of the game at Old Trafford.
Therefore, Malacia’s introduction could be a necessity, as the £75k-per-week star facilitates moving the 25-year-old in a potential change of formation. Indeed, it would offer far more defensive security than their 7-0 defeat last weekend.
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