Manchester United manager Eric ten Hag has a number of health and fitness issues weighing on his forward players as he prepares for Sunday’s trip to Villa Park to face Aston Villa.
Anthony Martial has returned to training but is unlikely to consider himself fit enough to start the game. He could play off the bench, with Ronaldo keeping his place up front.
Jadon Sancho has had the flu and may recover in time, while United are still assessing Antony’s knock that has ruled him out of the last two games.
Marcus Rashford was also not a starter against Real Sociedad due to a blow that is being managed.
Meanwhile, Bruno Fernandes is definitely out serving a suspension after receiving five yellow cards.
Donny van de Beek played in the number 10 position against Sociedad but was disappointing and seems unlikely to start again.
Rashford also seemed to be playing in the hole as he entered the second half, but that didn’t seem like a successful display either.
Aside from Van de Beek and possibly Christian Eriksen, there are no obvious alternatives at No. 10. And if Eriksen is deployed there, there are no natural alternatives as a deep-lying playmaker unless someone like Zidane Iqbal gets the chance.
Ten Hag could therefore switch to a 4-3-3 for the Villa match, with Rashford, Ronaldo and one each of Sancho, Antony, Anthony Elanga or Alejandro Garnacho in attack and three in midfield from Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Fred behind them.
Garnacho has impressed in his early days in the Europa League, but Ten Hag may be concerned that the Premier League is a different pot of fish. So he can go with whatever Antonio or Sancho are available (most likely Sancho), or even the unimpressive Elanga again.
In defence, it seems that Victor Lindelof’s substitution against Sociedad was tactical, so we expect him to keep his place alongside Lisandro Martínez in the center of defence. Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw will almost certainly continue as full-backs, with David de Gea in goal.
With all of that in mind, here is our predicted XI for the game:
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