Despite Manchester United’s 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Everton in midweek, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reverted back to the side that destroyed Leeds for the trip to Leicester on Boxing Day.
However, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka out injured and Brandon Williams – set for a January loan move – not called upon, the Norwegian was left with a shortage of right-backs to choose from at the King Power Stadium.
As such, having been impressed with Eric Bailly’s display at Goodison Park, the Ivorian defender was handed the call to start.
It was his first league appearance since October’s 6-1 defeat to Tottenham after recovering from injury.
But with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof also named in the starting lineup, plus left-back Luke Shaw, there were questions over the makeup of the United lineup, having been so impressive playing 4-2-3-1 recently.
Would Bailly be at right-back, tokeep the status quo, at least formation-wise? Or would United revert to a back three, used most recently in the loss to RB Leipzig?
Pre-game, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made Bailly’s position clear: “I can tell you now Eric is playing centre-back.
“He did really well against Everton so there’s no point putting him in a different position.
“He’s been out for a while but you saw what he can do.”
That confirmed United would revert to a back three, with Shaw at left wing-back and Dan James down the right.
It is a formation which Solskjaer has regularly reverted to during his time as United boss, mostly in tough away fixtures – notably this term at PSG – with varying degrees of success.
Axel Tuanzebe did well at right-back in midweek so may have felt aggrieved at not getting the nod, but seemingly, Solskjaer’s decision to start Bailly was made with the formation switch in mind.
It also shows that, amid continued injury issues for United’s No.3, he remains a player who Solskjaer trusts and continues to be keen to work with – even as the club keeps tabs on a number of centre-halves.
Leicester were unchanged from their 2-0 win at Spurs, while Caglar Soyuncu having failed to recover from his groin problem in time to feature.
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