MANCHESTER UNITED face the daunting task of taking on Liverpool as they look to halt their slump at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have won just once in seven league games since the opening day – and face a red-hot Reds side that have marched to eight wins out of eight.
And if Solskjaer’s mission wasn’t already tough enough, the Norwegian is likely to be without a number of first-team stars when he takes on Jurgen Klopp and Co.
David de Gea picked up a thigh injury on Spain duty, and while the problem is not as bad as first feared, Solskjaer is still expecting to be without his number one.
He said: “I don’t expect [De Gea] to play but it wasn’t as bad as feared.
“When I saw the game I thought that’s him out until next international break because we’ve had some long-term muscle injuries but it’s not as bad as feared.”
Sergio Romero is expected to deputise between the sticks – and the Argentine international has a good record for the Red Devils.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has missed United’s last three matches with Tonsillitis, but should return on Sunday and take his place in the back four alongside Ashley Young, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
The Swede Lindelof also missed the abject 1-0 defeat at Newcastle last time out with injury – but will return, having featured for his country in the international break.
Amid further transfer speculation following a meeting with Zinedine Zidane, Paul Pogba has been struggling with an ankle injury and is very unlikely to return on Sunday.
With Jesse Lingard also struggling to be fit, Solskjaer will likely partner regular anchor Scott McTominay with bruiser Nemanja Matic and £52million flop Fred.
Everyone at Old Trafford is hoping that Anthony Martial will return to face the Reds at the weekend.
But having been missing with a hamstring injury since August 24, the Frenchman is unlikely to be fielded from the start.
This leaves Solskjaer likely to persist with a front three of Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and the underwhelming Andreas Pereira – although Juan Mata could be given the nod.
The Spaniard even admitted, however, that players like himself and Mesut Ozil are becoming extinct in the modern game.
United could desperately do with a morale-boosting result at the Theatre of Dreams – but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has remained bullish on his future at the club.
He said: “I’ve never felt it’s too big for me and I’m confident in what we’re trying to do and with my staff.
“The mood here is always good, we’ve come a long way on what you call the culture, environment we’re working in, it’s positive.”
But if defeated as is expected, United will have just one win in their last eight league games – and Woodward has sacked othr managers for a lot less.