Erik ten Hag will take over as Manchester United manager without Anthony Martial, who suffered a hamstring injury in the team’s 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in Oslo.
Martial appeared to be the only match-fit recognized striker at the club for Sunday’s Premier League opener against Brighton.
Cristiano Ronaldo has only played 45 minutes of football this season after missing the majority of the pre-season tour due to family obligations.
However, Ten Hag often used a false 9 system in his time at Ajax and we think he might do this on Sunday, with Donny van de Beek a possible candidate for the role.
The good news for United is that Jadon Sancho, who missed last weekend’s friendly games through sickness, is back. He will almost certainly take up a position on the right wing.
Luke Shaw has also recovered from sickness but may not walk straight back into the team after the fine pre-season form of new signing, Tyrell Malacia, at left-back.
Most people expect that in midfield, Bruno Fernandes will play in the number 8 position with the trusty pair, Scott McTominay, and Fred, in the double 6. However, we think it is possible that, especially if the false 9 system is employed, Ten Hag might want more creativity from deep, with Christian Eriksen poised to make his competitive debut.
McTominay could be the most likely to miss out in that circumstance.
Elsewhere, Diogo Dalot appears to be unchallenged as United’s starting right back and David de Gea will, of course, continue in goal. We also think Ten Hag will start with the established partnership of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof at center back, even though new signing Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane impressed against Rayo Vallecano last week. The former pair have played most of the pre-season.
Ten Hag will continue with the role reversal of the pair, with Maguire at RCB and Lindelof at LCB.