Attacking Options for United if Anthony Martial Misses Southampton Clash

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Now that Manchester United will be jettisoning the highest paid player in club history, Alexis Sanchez, their forwards position group, already lacking depth and experience, gets shallower and younger.

United didn’t replace Romelu Lukaku after selling him to Inter Milan, and their only option for replacing Sanchez, once the loan to Inter is complete, would be via the free agent market. It doesn’t currently look like anything is going to happen there. United will stand pat with what they have, and that could be an issue on Saturday, with the status of Anthony Martial very much in doubt for the league fixture at Southampton.

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The Frenchman injured his left thigh in the historically bad loss to Crystal Palace this past weekend, and the club have yet to reveal the extent of the damage.

However, in loaning the Chilean to Inter, United have sent a couple signals. First, they must believe Martial’s injury to not be that serious. Secondly, they clearly expect 17-year-old Mason Greenwood to contribute significantly this season.

In the preseason, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that Greenwood is ready to be first team material, so perhaps he gets a starting nod this weekend at the St. Mary’s? What are some other ways Solskjaer could go with his starting XI?

Well, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has joked that he’ll come back if United need him to, but obviously that’s not a serious option; for a lot of reasons.

After Solskjaer took over, just before Christmas last season, his best front line consisted of Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. The production of that attacking trio has since declined, with Lingard being especially inconsistent in his form.

There have been calls to replace him with Juan Mata, and at this point, it’s probably a good idea. It’s also not outside the realm of possibility that Sanchez gets a last hurrah, as he’s yet to undergo his medical and finalize his deal.

No matter how Solskjaer lines ’em up this weekend, the attack will be centered around Rashford, who is the team’s most important forward, especially now with Martial likely out.

Google Result Probability: United win 47% Draw 28% Southampton win 25%

lingard rashford paris

Odds via Betway: United win 1 Draw 23/10 Southampton win 3/1

No matter what the Norwegian decides to do in accordance to missing Anthony Martial, it can’t be worse than what Jose Mourinho did for his final game in charge. If you recall, he started defender Diogo Dalot up top on the wing, while benching Paul Pogba, in the blowout loss to arch-rival Liverpool.

There is no way Solskjaer would go that route, and Dalot is unavailable for selection anyway due to injury.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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