Manchester United vs. Arsenal.
The rivalry renews this Sunday as the Reds are set to pay the league leaders a visit. They will have to do so without a few key squad members, as was the case in September, but also do so on the back of a busy January schedule. As games pile up, so does importance, and United will want to continue building on the positive vibes under Erik ten Hag.
Anthony Martial is out for the match on Sunday
United’s no. 9 Anthony Martial will not feature in the trip to London at the weekend. He was absent in the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace in midweek, and was withdrawn at halftime of the 2-1 victory on the Manchester Derby last weekend.
His individual contributions have been limited since returning to action, but his presence has been a boost for United’s attack even without scoring loads of goals. His movement, his interplay with Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, and his ability to not eat up the space of his teammates unlike some previous United forwards has been a welcome change to United’s performances since the World Cup. New arrival Wout Weghorst provided in a similar way in the first half against Palace, and was a part of the movement that led to the goal, but having only a crash course at Carrington before going up against Arsenal is a big ask.
Either way, United have options to shuffle the pack, but could miss the Frenchman.
Jadon Sancho is back in training, but not back in the plans yet
After several weeks of individual, personalized training away from the club, Jadon Sancho has returned to the Manchester United first team.
After a promising start to the 2022-23 campaign, Sancho’s form began to slip. He wasn’t as effective as everyone had hoped for, and he soon found himself out of the team. An illness kept him out until the World Cup, after which the manager sent him to train with coaches in the Netherlands to help develop his game and get him back in a good headspace.
After returning to training at the start of the week many hoped Sancho was back in the fold, but it seems unlikely he’ll feature right away. He was left out of the squad that went to Crystal Palace, and probably won’t feature against Arsenal unless there’s a sudden personnel emergency. ten Hag has made it clear that he wants Sancho to play again only when they think he is ready.
Diogo Dalot status unknown after missing multiple matches
Erik ten Hag provided a pretty vague update on Dalot after the action on Wednesday, only saying that they will have to continue monitoring both him and Martial ahead of the weekend. With Martial confirmed out, Dalot could be unlikely to feature as well.
Dalot cemented his place as the starting right back under ten Hag with a series of strong performances at the start of the season, as well as a good World Cup showing with Portugal. However he’s struggled to find the pitch since the tournament, and an injury picked up on national team duty appears to have persisted in his attempts to return for United.
In the meantime Aaron Wan-Bissaka has once again had his chance to impress for United, and has done so in recent matches. He was particularly effective in the Manchester Derby, and could be asked to perform a similar lockdown role on Sunday against Arsenal.