Paul Merson believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should rest star man Bruno Fernandes for this weekend’s FA Cup tie with Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Just a week on from their first tussle in almost a year, the rivals go head-to-head again on Sunday.
They meet in the FA Cup fourth-round, the first time they have been drawn against each other in the competition since 2012.
With United’s run of hot form taking to the top of the Premier League and Liverpool’s struggles seeing them drop to fourth, the Red Devils are the favourites going into the game.
It is a huge chance for Solskjaer’s side to not only progress, but to also prevent Jurgen Klopp’s men a shot at a trophy.
But despite that, Merson believes the United manager should give Fernandes a break. But he believes doing so would benefit them in the long run, particularly in the Premier League title race.
“Manchester United should rest Bruno Fernandes against Liverpool this weekend. He looks tired to me,” he wrote in his Daily Star column.
“He’s played every single game in the league and all those minutes start to add up after a while.
“For me, he doesn’t play in this game. United haven’t had a chance to win the league like this for a few years. They have to take this chance and prioritise the title race. The FA Cup just isn’t as important.
“It’s more important to keep him as fresh as possible for the league. He lifts them. They look to him to make things happen.”
Fernandes has played 50 games for United since joining just under a year ago. He’s scored 27 goals and provided 18 assists in that time, proving to be a driving force in his side’s resurgence.
After contributing so much, some have claimed the Portuguese midfielder is looking jaded. However, Solskjaer has denied those suggestions.
Another close game expected
Last week’s fixture at Anfield ended goalless, with defences very much on top. The two teams managed just seven shots on target between them.
It was a tactical and strategic affair, with Liverpool dominating the possession figures and United soaking the pressure up.
And Merson is anticipating a similar approach- particularly from Sunday’s hosts- despite it being a knock-out match.
“United basically parked the bus against Liverpool in the league game,” he said.
“Jose Mourinho would have got slaughtered for it. But it worked because they got a draw and that’s all they needed.
“They might have more of a go in this one but they won’t want to open up too much and lose heavily.”
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