Ralf Rangnick explains why he dropped captain Harry Maguire for Arsenal vs Man Utd

Ralf Rangnick has explained why he dropped Harry Maguire from the Manchester United starting XI for the trip to Arsenal in Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off.

Maguire has been a mainstay at centre-back this season, missing just five of United’s 33 top-flight games. However, Rangnick chose to deploy Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane at the heart of defence for the clash with the Gunners, which could prove vital in the race for a top-four finish.

His decision came after Maguire was subject to an appalling bomb threat which led to police and sniffer dogs extensively searching his home in midweek. The England international has come under scrutiny for his performances throughout a troubled campaign, most recently facing criticism for his display in Tuesday’s calamitous 4-0 defeat at Liverpool.

Speaking ahead of kick-off at Arsenal, Rangnick admitted Maguire’s “tough week” influenced the bold call to go with Lindelof and Varane instead of the club captain. “I had to make a decision between the three of them [Lindelof, Varane, Maguire]. Two could only play,” the German told MUTV.

“Harry has had a tough week. I decided to give him a rest and play with Rapha Varane and Victor Lindelof.” Rangnick’s mention of “three of them” comes as a further blow to Eric Bailly, who appeared to plead for a chance in the starting line-up on Friday. The Ivorian finds himself far down the pecking order and his manager even decided to start Phil Jones ahead of him as part of an experimental five-man defence at Liverpool.

Elsewhere, United lined up with a midfield duo of Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic with Fred still unavailable due to a knock. “Hopefully in the next couple of days Fred will be resuming training,” Rangnick added.

Do you agree with the decision to drop Harry Maguire? Have your say in the comments…

Ralf Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick explained his decision as he spoke ahead of kick-off

The United interim was boosted in midweek as Varane, McTominay and Cristiano Ronaldo returned to training. The first two players had been nursing injuries while Ronaldo was unavailable for the trip to Liverpool following the tragic death of his baby son. “For today, it was important to have those three players available, even more so since Paul Pogba will be injured,” Rangnick said of the trio.

On how United would approach the clash with Arsenal, the former RB Leipzig boss added: “We have to make sure it’s not too open, as we were at Liverpool. So for us it’s about being compact and good on the counter.

“Having our own pressing and counter-pressing moments. And on the other hand, we need to control their offensive line which is good, they have three fast wingers and good offensive midfielders. So it’s about the balance of the game and being compact.”

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