Manchester United travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers for their final Premier League game of the season. Both teams are in mixed form, and both have nothing meaningful to play for with second place and mid-table secured respectively. For United, of course, they have one further game to prepare for next week.
It has been a long, at times endless, campaign with little letup in commitments for the players, managers, and coaching staff. Lessons about protecting the game rather than squeezing as much time and money out of it seem to have not been heeded despite the front and centre challenges of ensuring the show must go on in a pandemic.
"We want to go into the final with lots of energy but also confidence, so we will freshen up a few faces on Sunday," Ole adds.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 21, 2021
"We want to enjoy it and give a few minutes to some who might need it before the final."#MUFC #WOLMUN pic.twitter.com/0pdPptsgBc
For Ole Gunnar Solskjær on Sunday, there will be an emphasis on showcasing youngsters, protecting first choice players for Wednesday’s Europa League final, and providing some team momentum. Not an easy balance but a headache you always want in May.
Against Wolves, we might learn more from who is rested than who's playing with regards to next week. But a chance to see United’s understudies competitively is a welcome one.
For an end of season dead rubber, David de Gea would normally start as he is now second choice. Solskjær, though, reckons they are simply taking turns until the end of the season. There was previously a clear promotion and demotion - swapping Premier League and Europa League concerns - which has been muddled somewhat with a bunched run of league commitments to finish the campaign.
De Gea potentially had his send-off in front of 10,000 United fans at Old Trafford on Tuesday. He could, feasibly, not play again for United. Many want him to start in Gdańsk on Wednesday night as the fitting send-off, if he is to leave.
More pressingly, Dean Henderson hasn't played since the 4-2 defeat to Liverpool, in which he was culpable. Henderson will need to show on Sunday why he's United's no. 1 with a rock solid display.
To partner Axel Tuanzebe in defence who played on Tuesday night, and both can make a case for partnering Victor Lindelöf next week. On the assumption that Harry Maguire is only fit enough to attend a film premiere. And because Eric Bailly and Tuanzebe would be good, wholesome, end of term fun. Perhaps not for whoever's in goal.
Bruno Fernandes will surely, surely play no part on Sunday, and who better than Juan Mata for this fixture? Mata has had to play wide right for too much of his United career and any opportunity to see him in the middle without jeopardy while we can.
From the start, please.
Impressed against Leicester City this month on the left of the attack, Anthony Elanga.
Daniel James will want minutes before next week but we may, happily, even see the same front four front six outfield which started that fixture.