What happens if Anthony Martial is not passed fit to start for United?
Over the last fortnight we have been pinning our hopes against Liverpool on Anthony Martial’s return to lead the Manchester United attack.
Paul Pogba and David de Gea’s injuries seriously complicate matters, but it is Martial who United really need, with the attack looking totally lost without him.
We have learned by now not to take Martial’s return as guaranteed. His recovery from injury has taken far longer than expected.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midweek comments did not exactly guarantee Martial would be fit to start Sunday’s fixture.
Solskjaer told the club website: “Hopefully Aaron (Wan-Bissaka) and Anthony will last through the training this week and be available for selection. If it’s for half a game or 30 minutes, I don’t know, but let’s see where they’re at.”
United have to be careful with Martial. He is returning from a muscle injury, and if he is not ready, United could do more damage by rushing him into a start, with important fixtures to follow.
So if Martial is not cleared to start, United have two options against Liverpool.
The uninspiring choice
Without Martial, United could revert to the formula prior to the international break. James on the left, Rashford up front, and Pereira on the right.
This would be a mistake. It’s a tried and tested failure. Rashford will not get enough change out of Virgil van Dijk. Pereira on the right is an experiment which has run it’s course.
The best possible alternative
Without Martial, the best front three United could select would be Rashford on the left, Mason Greenwood up front, and Dan James on the right.
This would see three out and out attackers selected, and Rashford can provide effective support for Greenwood from out wide.
Greenwood has shown an ability to create chances as well as take them, and if Martial is not available, United need to start him.
Solskjaer bottled a decision to start Greenwood at home to Arsenal. If Martial is not passed fit, he should give the teenager the nod.
It is still a tall order for an under strength United to win, but in this scenario this would be the front three which gives United the best chance, with the option to bring Martial off the bench.
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