Manchester United go head to head with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, another big match after an international break, which will be the third time this has happened this season. United have previously faced Manchester City, a 2-1 defeat and Liverpool, a 0-0 draw after international breaks this season. Again Swansea City, almost a fortnight ago, United emerged as 3-1 winners of the match, a match which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic receive a one match suspension after amassing five yellow cards so far this season. Ander Herrera was banned for the Swansea match after getting himself sent off against Burnley the previous week. The suspension of Ibrahimovic will give Jose Mourinho a problem to solve; who will lead the line for Manchester United?
The Portuguese manager has a few options against Arsenal, but will not be able to use the full strength of his side with injuries costing the club at this stage of the season with Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, and Eric Bailly all being sidelines, Luke Shaw losing form and playing inconsistent football and other things that seem to have affected the team after their almost perfect start to the season. Mourinho will have three choices to form his attack, one of those will probably play in the left-wing position, effectively leaving the manager with two choices to lead the attack; Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney, with Anthony Martial the third choice. Who is the best choice to get the result needed against Arsene Wenger’s side?
The 19-year-old had a great time last season, making his debut against Midtjylland in February after an injury to Anthony Martial, scoring a brace in a 5-1 victory in the UEFA Europa League. His next match, his Premier League debut was against Arsenal just three days later, scoring a brace again with United winning the match 3-2. In total last season, Rashford made a total of 18 appearances for United, scoring eight goals in all competitions. This season, Rashford has made 14 appearances, scoring four goals, which has not shown the player on the same dizzy heights as last season, but he has been playing in different positions in a bid to become the ultimate striker which is something the player said he wanted to become, being able to play on the left, right and through the middle, which will only aid his development, one of the reasons why he has been utilised on the wing recently. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended for the visit of Arsenal, I fervently believe that Rashford needs to be given the chance to lead the line, as last season, he silenced Arsenal almost by himself, and that is something that they will not forget in a hurry.
The Frenchman has not led the line for United much this season, playing in his favoured left-wing role which sees him use his pace to beat his man and cut in from the left, scoring some bangers along the way. This season, Martial has scored one goal which came against Stoke City. He is an option to lead the line, but I feel Rashford would be the better option, with Martial on the left-wing providing the support needed on the flanks. Martial has not started the season in great form, which came on the back of a frustrating period for him whilst representing France in the European Championships in the summer, which saw France finish as runner’s up to Portugal. Martial seldom played in the competition, despite the blistering form he had shown since signing for Manchester United on deadline day in 2015. Martial has had his fair share of personal problems, which will affect his form, rising from them and getting back to football. This winter period, which sees a lot of football played between now and the New Year will be important for the Frenchman’s form, which will return to him being one of the best young players in Europe.
The captain was pulled form England duty this week with a knee injury, which needed to be assessed by the club. Rooney may still be a double against Arsenal, but will most likely play against Arsene Wenger’s men, maybe not as a starter, but from the bench. Rooney has something to prove this season; he is three goals away from breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s longstanding record as the club’s top goalscorer on 249 goals, so getting back to his best will be something Rooney needs to do in order to break that record. Penalties might see him break that record, but I would like to think the player would like to break the record himself, scoring some stunning goals to become Manchester United’s top scorer. Rooney’s form is questionable, the same can be said for his commitment to the cause, in my opinion anyway. Against Stoke City, in the dying minutes of the match, he had the ball at the edge of the box, with a good chance of scoring the winning goal, his instincts told him to pass the ball out to the left, in order to be crossed into the box, which failed. His predatory instincts should have seen him opt to shoot, trying to win the game. That for me shows the decline of the ‘captain’. Rooney is a good option to have leading the line, but with both Martial and Rashford being able to offer the pace and predatory aspects of the game, I would opt to leave him on the bench, bringing him on later in the match to guide United to the win, maybe offer something extra from the bench if United needed experience or skill late on to win the game.
Who would you choose to lead the line against Arsenal on Saturday?
Who should lead the line against Arsenal on Saturday?
— MUFC Latest News (@MUFCLatestnews) November 17, 2016