Ralf Rangnick is reportedly preparing to bench Harry Maguire for Manchester United’s crunch Premier League clash against Arsenal. The Red Devils are likely to need all hands on deck after a crushing defeat to Liverpool last time out, but struggles for form and a sickening bomb scare could see the interim boss take the bold decision to leave his captain out of the starting XI.
United’s woeful result against Liverpool was made more ominous by Arsenal’s triumph over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge the following night.
The Gunners therefore come into Saturday’s encounter full of confidence as they march towards the top four, while United’s players and fans are seemingly on the verge of giving up hope.
The Athletic claim that Rangnick is prepared to bench Maguire after a troubled few weeks was capped off by a bomb scare at his family home.
Cheshire Police confirmed that they had been ‘called to reports of a bomb threat at an address in the Wilmslow area’, adding: “No evacuations took place, but as a precautionary measure a police explosives dog has attended the address this afternoon, Thursday, 21 April, to conduct a search of the gardens and surrounding area.”
Maguire is believed to be preparing for this weekend’s fixture as normal, but Rangnick seemingly feels that removing him from the spotlight could be beneficial for all parties. The England international has left many Red Devils fans frustrated with his performances this season, and Tuesday’s 4-0 thrashing at the hands of bitter rivals Liverpool did little to turn things around.
As the club captain, Maguire is rarely missing from United’s XI but is set to miss the Gunners’ visit to Old Trafford on ‘compassionate terms’. The centre-back has taken plenty of the backlash from the team’s recent struggles as the mood continues to sour between players and fans after a series of timid performances.
Maguire has featured in 28 of United’s 33 Premier League outings this season, where the team’s defensive numbers have been poor. With 48 goals conceded already, the Red Devils have shipped more than Burnley who currently sit in the relegation zone, despite boasting a World Cup winner and an £80million recruit as their default centre-back duo.
Earlier this month, Rangnick said: “[Maguire] has been a very valuable player for the team and the club, the captain. Maybe [the criticism has] got to do with the high expectations around this club and people tend to compare with former players and legends. Harry is an important player and a player with the right attitude.”
In the Englishman’s absence, Rangnick will presumably turn to two of Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly or Raphael Varane. He fielded a back three against Liverpool, but the emphatic scoreline suggests that he may be keen to shake things up again.
The tie with the Gunners could have dramatic implications on the top-four race, as United’s faint hopes would be effectively ended if they fail to win. Arsenal, meanwhile, can pile pressure on Tottenham if they leave with three points.