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What are Man United's attacking options for tonight's Champions League assignment?

Louis van Gaal has a dilemma for this evening’s PSV clash with a selection of names in the frame.

Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

WITH WAYNE ROONEY unable to make Manchester United’s trip to Eindhoven for tonight’s Champions League clash, Louis van Gaal has a dilemma regarding his attack.

Against Liverpool, he went with Marouane Fellaini in the centre forward’s role and, quite inevitably, the Belgian struggled to make any impact. The former Everton man is a midfielder, a deep-lying attacker occasionally but certainly not a striker. And his inability to influence proceedings at Old Trafford will surely factor into van Gaal’s thoughts ahead of kick-off against PSV.

So, what are the different options he has?

Here are the forward players United can select for the game:

Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Ashley Young, Memphis Depay, Marouane Fellaini, Anthony Martial, James Wilson.”

Clearly, van Gaal will have to be a little imaginative with his selection owing to the slim pickings.

Option 1


This looks the best bet for United. When Ashley Young was introduced against Liverpool, he brought an energy and directness that helped change the game and he’s more than deserving of a place in the starting XI after such an eye-catching impact.

Young replaced the ineffective Memphis Depay at half-time but with the young Dutchman  having had such a positive experience in the Champions League so far – a brace against Club Brugge in the first leg play-off game at Old Trafford – van Gaal may be keen to push him further forward and use his pace and skill-set to unlock the PSV defence.

The Spanish duo of Mata and Herrera should keep their places, especially having started each of the last three games.

Option 2


It’s easy to get excited about a player after they score 20 minutes into their very first appearance for a club. And many United supporters will desperately want Anthony Martial to be afforded more playing time immediately.

Still, that’s not really how van Gaal does things. He’s already gone to some lengths to rein in the mass praise the French youngster has received since Saturday and try to lower expectation.

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Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the United boss seemed to hint Martial would be eased into life at the club – not rushed into becoming a first-choice striker.

“His impression is good. I only can say that up until now it’s good. But also for him, it’s the same as for Memphis [Depay], you have to give him time. And that’s what I am asking also to the fans, because he can’t change the market price”.

A start for Martial against PSV is unlikely but don’t write off another impressive contribution from the bench.

Option 3


Certainly a curve-ball but van Gaal clearly sees a lot of Dirk Kuyt in Ashley Young. As Holland boss, he played Kuyt in a variety of positions, knowing the veteran’s work ethic and energy meant he was useful all over the pitch.

He’s had something similar with Young who has played at wing-back and even full-back as well as in his usual wide left position.

Young was used in advanced positions while at Aston Villa, sometimes as a number ten, but a striker’s role would be different for him. Not that he’d have a problem with it. In the build-up to this game, he revealed there has been conversations between him and van Gaal in the past about playing up front.

“If the manager wants me to play there then yes, of course I would. I can play in lots of positions and I have done that under the manager, whether it is up front or in midfield. Hopefully I can play there [through the middle] but it’s up to the manager. He has said it to me before, but it is down to him.”

Option 4


James Wilson is still at United and he’s in the squad. He continues to have many admirers at the club and can score goals but rumours continue that he’s set for a loan deal with a Championship club, probably Derby.

So, will van Gaal select him in a Champions League game knowing he probably won’t be around much longer? Well, Adnan Januzaj started four games for United before being loaned to Borussia Dortmund so van Gaal can conjure a surprise when he wants to.

This would be a big one.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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