Heading into a tight schedule of four games in approximately ten days, Manchester United will be without the services of first-choice forwards Anthony Marital and Antony.
United manager Erik ten Hag confirmed in the latest press conference that both players would be out for the foreseeable future, refusing to comment on a date for their return.
This puts Ten Hag in a pickle with the Red Devils playing four games between February 8-19. The first game will the club take on Leeds United on February 8 in the Premier League.
United play Leeds again on Sunday, before playing Barcelona in the Europa League play-offs in midweek. They return to league action against Leicester City on February 19.
While Tem Hag will hope the two forwards can return during that run of games, he will probably make his plans without them. There are several ways the Red Devils could line up.
Fans could see youngsters Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Elanga get starting roles. Jadon Sancho could also make his much-awaited return to the team.
Let’s look at three ways United’s forward line could shape up in the upcoming games.
#1. Jadon Sancho could make his return to the starting line-up
Sancho has not been in the reckoning to play for United for some time now.
Since the 2022 World Cup, the English star has been away from Old Trafford, training with coaches in the Netherlands to get his form back on track. He recently returned to the squad and could feature in this tight run of games.
The recently recruited Wout Weghorst will likely start in most games, while Marcus Rashford will be on the left flank. Sancho could return on the right wing and play a pivotal role with his pace and dribbling acumen.
Alternatively, Bruno Fernandes, who has played on the right several times this season, could reprise his role. That will mean Sancho plays as an attacking midfielder.
The front three of Rasford, Weghorst and either Sancho or Fernandes could wreak havoc on most defences.
#2. Alejandro Garnacho could also get a starting role
Garnacho has been impressive since making his debut for United. His pace, combined with the desire to run at defenders, has left several defenders in tatters.
However, he has not started recent games, owing to the great form of Rashford and the arrival of Weghorst. He was also taken off in the latest game against Crystal Palace, where he came on as a substitute after Casemiro was shown a red card.
Garnacho will look to secure his position in the starting line-up, and there could be no better time than the current run of fixtures.
The Argentinian could play on the left of the front three, with Rashford moving to the right and Weghorst retaining his central role.
In an attempt to keep Rashford fresh, Ten Hag could also replace him directly with Garnacho while Sancho takes up the role on the right wing.
#3. Anthony Elanga could also make his return to the starting line-up
Elanga has also been knocking on the door for a starting role, but his chances are few and far between. He has delivered some good performances, but they have not been enough to start regularly.
This could change in the coming few days as Ten Hag weighs up his options. If he rests Weghorst ahead of the Barcelona game, Elanga could come into the line-up as a right winger. Rashford would play through the middle.
However, Elanga may have to compete for places with Garnacho and Sancho, depending on who the manager chooses. Based on form, Garnacho is the likelier option to start on the left wing if Rashford leads the line.
A forward three of Garnacho, Rashford and Elanga could work wonders owing to their pace and dribbling abilities.
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