Harry Maguire is doubtful to play in the Manchester derby this Sunday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) as the Man United captain suffered an ankle injury in training.
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Man United host Man City on Sunday and not having their best central defender will be far from ideal.
Following United’s comfortable FA Cup win at Derby County on Thursday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed the following update on Maguire’s fitness.
“It is touch and go because he rolled his ankle and twisted his ankle. But hopefully he will recover quickly,” Solskjaer said. “I wasn’t going to rest him today. I didn’t give him the day off birthday wise. So I hope he will be fit.”
If Maguire isn’t fit to play then that leaves a huge hole in the heart of United’s defense. Victor Lindeelof and Eric Bailly will likely play alongside one another and then it is all about what formation United play.
In some of their bigger recent games against Chelsea and Liverpool they’ve deployed a 3-4-3 formation with Luke Shaw as a left-sided center back and Brandon Williams as a left wing-back to provide some more defensive stability. It is likely they will do that against Man City as they aim to sit back, soak up pressure and hit City on the counter. With City playing two false nines against United in a recent League Cup win, Pep Guardiola has plenty of options to try and bamboozle this United defense.
Maguire has really stepped up his game in the second half of the season following his $90 million arrival from Leicester City in the summer. He had a surprisingly slow start to life at United (we are talking 6/10 stuff, not bad but not great) but since he was handed the captains armband in January his performances have improved and he’s even becoming more dangerous at the other end of the pitch from set piece situations.
Defensively United have improved this season and that has been a big reason why they sit in fifth place in the Premier League table, three points behind Chelsea. They have kept seven clean sheets in their last nine games in all competitions and Maguire’s form has been a big part of that.
Let’s see how United’s backline copes without their main man against Man City.