Manchester United will still be reeling from their harrowing Carabao Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Bristol City – some perhaps more than others following Jose Mourinho's fierce criticism of some members of his squad.
The United boss made 10 changes to the side that beat West Bromwich Albion last Sunday [17 December], with Marcus Rashford the only man to retain his place. Having said that, it wasn't exactly a weakened side out there, with the returning Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial and Marcos Rojo all in the starting XI.
It was a chance for the manager to bring in some of his squad players however and the thinly veiled criticism Mourinho levelled at some of those could have serious repercussions.
"In the first half we lacked the intensity that they had. I don't just mean physical, I also mean mentally," Mourinho said post-match. "For some of us it was just one more day in the office. Probably a day that some of them don't even want to come to the office."
With the festive fixture schedule on full swing, changes for Saturday's [23 December] trip to Leicester City were always likely. And having already fired a warning shot, Mourinho may feel more obliged than ever to make sweeping changes to his side.
Antonio Valencia missed out on Wednesday [20 December] night after limping off in the 2-1 win over the Baggies with his manager admitting his injury could be "big, small or medium" before describing the problem as a "December injury."
Ruled out ahead of Saturday, Ashley Young could be asked to come over to the right to replace him, with Matteo Darmian doing nothing to enhance his own first-team prospects against Bristol City. Luke Shaw on the other hand may have, however, turning in another adept display after improved performances against CSKA Moscow and Bournemouth this month.
Mourinho will be able to turn to the Paul Pogba-Nemanja Matic midfield axis once again this weekend after the Serbia international was handed a well-deserved rest having been playing with an injury in recent weeks. Pogba's influence is obvious and had a case for being the best player on the pitch in three of the four league games following his return from injury against Newcastle United, Watford and Arsenal before that red card at the Emirates saw him banned for three matches.
Also key in those performances was Jesse Lingard, thriving in a 3-5-2 formation playing just ahead of Pogba and behind a front two. That system simply didn't work in the Frenchman's absence; with his ability to spring clear from deep, lead a counter and support in transition phases instrumental to its success. Lingard's thrilling form suffered as a result. The England international was one of those given the night off against Bristol City which would suggest he has a role waiting for him in the starting XI on Saturday. It could be back in the system that has brought the very best out of him and Pogba.
Romelu Lukaku might have had the night off too on Wednesday had his side not been so profligate in front of goal, coming off the bench for the final 20 minutes and almost scoring a would-be winner only to be denied by Luke Steele's heroics in goal.
After Valencia was subbed against West Brom, Lukaku is the only other ever-present outfield player for United in the Premier League; his return to the starting XI should be considered a given. It is Martial who is developing the greater understanding with the Belgium international and with Lingard when he is deployed in that advanced midfield role; he could be preferred to Marcus Rashford.