Manchester United player Axel Tuanzebe could solve key squad problem
It was a mixed night for Axel Tuanzebe as he made his return to the Premier League spotlight on Monday night.
Two years after he made his Manchester United league debut as a right-back against Arsenal he was up against the same opposition, this time as a makeshift left-back.
A crucial error from Tuanzebe gifted Arsenal their way back into the game through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but it was still an evening of genuine promise from the emerging fan favourite at Old Trafford.
Playing out of position the English youngster deserved some slack for the nature of his error, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was always running the risk with such a defensive gamble.
However the way in which he further piled the misery on Arsenal summer signing Nicolas Pepe highlighted a genuine showcase of his impressive natural talents.
The issue which is now presented to Solskjaer is whether he looks to persevere with Tuanzebe as a makeshift full-back amid their current injury crisis, or whether to utilise him as a centre back, perhaps even as a new first-choice option to partner Harry Maguire.
Yet there could be another option for the United manager to ponder after the most recent under whelming display earlier this week.
As has been a common theme amongst every United performance this season they continue to possess any real creativity or cutting edge in midfield, and surely Solskjaer must now be looking to make changes.
Paul Pogba quietly went about his job well against Arsenal, keeping things neat and tidy in the reduced role as a defensive minded midfielder. Even from deep he has managed to be United’s biggest creative threat this season, but in order to break down smaller teams a move higher up the pitch for the Frenchman seems the most logical.
The reluctance Solskjaer has over such a change is that there are no players that can be regularly relied on to fill the defensive void which would then be left by Pogba.
But this is where Tuanzebe could come in.
The 21-year-old demonstrated earlier this week both the positives and negatives of his game within the raw nature of his defensive display.
While his pace and athleticism aided United at calming some rather erratic moments at the back it was the one lack of concentration which ultimately dealt a deadly blow in the match.
Moving the United youngster into a central holding role would not only ease the pressure on Tuanzebe if he were to make a mistake, but it would also allow for him to add a much needed versatility to the base of midfield.
While it might not be the preferred set-up for one of United’s biggest games of the season, utilising Tuanzebe as a defensive midfielder in a scenario like against Newcastle at the weekend could be the perfect anchor to allow Pogba to push higher up the pitch.
Without a new central midfield signing United will struggle to break down even the most mediocre of sides, but a subtle shift in midfield could be the next logical step in utilising their current options more effectively.
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