Anthony Martial’s petulance when substituted and Jadon Sancho’s poor performance could see them both lose their place for Manchester United’s penultimate home game of the season against Chelsea on Thursday.
Marcus Rashford is expected to have recovered from his illness and Alejandro Garnacho is champing at the bit after his injury layoff, having had two electric performances off the bench in his two comeback games.
Martial was subbed against Bournemouth on Saturday and pulled a face before walking off straight down the tunnel. And while manager Erik ten Hag was quick to defend his star, the series of average performances combined with this act of defiance could relegate the Frenchman to the bench.
It also makes sense for Rashford to play up top rather than on the wing after injury and illness as it relieves him of a lot of defensive duties.
Sancho has been in very poor form lately and his work rate against the Cherries was also shocking. It would be very surprising if Ten Hag were to keep him in the side unless Rashford is still unavailable.
With Rashford up top, then, we think Garnacho could start on the left wing.
Antony was not much better than Sancho on Saturday but with no obvious replacement, he could keep his place on the right wing.
Bruno Fernandes is likely to play in the hole as usual.
Another possibility, however, if Ten Hag also wants to bench Antony, is to introduce Fred in attacking midfield and push Bruno out to the right wing.
It would also not be a total surprise to see a recall for the enthusiastic Wout Weghorst at CF, with Rashford left, Bruno right and Fred in the 8/10 role.
We expect no changes to the rest of the team. David de Gea is a nailed-on certainty to play in goal and Aaron Wan-Bissaka seems to have won the battle of the right backs over Diogo Dalot.
Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof were imperious against Bournemouth and Luke Shaw at left back is a no-brainer. The only issue might be whether Varane’s body will hold up to two games in 3 days, with the last Premier League match of the season against Fulham coming up on Sunday.
If he were to be rested, Shaw could partner Lindelof with Dalot or Malacia coming in at left back, or a straight swap with Harry Maguire could be in the offing – although that seems unlikely at this stage.
With all that in mind, here is our predicted XI for Thursday’s game:
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