Another away game, another loss, and another inquest into the team’s underperformers.
Although the overall performance against Arsenal wasn’t nearly as bad as they have been recently, a couple of names still stood out as the weak links in the team.
Anthony Martial’s anonymous display was recently discussed by The People’s Person, but there’s another attacker whose performances leave a lot to be desired- Antony.
The Brazilian came under a lot of scrutiny in the first two games but redeemed himself somewhat with an encouraging display against Nottingham Forest. However, things were back to square one against Arsenal.
The Antony experience
Receive the ball on the right, try to cut inside, and if that’s blocked off, pass it to the fullback or lose the ball trying to play a pass that’s not on.
That has pretty much been the experience of watching Antony in a United shirt for a while now.
He is yet to register a goal or assist this season despite starting 100% of the game and at this point, the best trait he offers is his diligent tracking back.
Nobody is quite sure what Antony is. He lacks the pace to beat his man off the dribble, he is one-footed to the extreme so blocking the inside lane cuffs him, and he lacks the technical prowess to create in close quarters, except for some moments of magic.
Yet, Erik ten Hag continues to select him. That would be excusable for someone like Anthony Martial pre-Hojlund, where the manager literally had no alternative.
However, at right-wing, he has one, and will soon have two.
Facundo Pellistri was stopped from going on loan this season because Ten Hag thought he would be used this season. After a similar reason last season, he ended up playing 280 minutes of football.
That’s a wasted season, especially at a young age. Furthermore, Pellistri has done everything that a model professional should in his position.
He hasn’t kicked up a fuss (take note, Jadon Sancho), he has tried to make the most of his scattered minutes and has the ability to provide that nobody in this team does- an old-school winger who goes outside and beats people off the dribble.
Still, Antony retains the first-choice spot. Pellistri either comes on when the game is already won, or the manager is throwing every attacker available on the pitch in hopes of scoring.
Then there’s Amad.
The Ivorian is currently recovering from an injury but when he’s back, he will also be vying for the right-wing spot, and provide something different to Pellistri.
Amad is a player who flourishes in close quarters and creates chances by slick one-twos and off-the-ball running instead of trying to force the issue.
There’s already no defending Antony’s continued selection, and with Garnacho proving to be such a useful option off the bench, there’s even a scenario where playing him on the right can be tried, where he can go to the byline instead of cutting inside.
Ultimately, there’s an unshakeable feeling that there’s an upgrade to be had on the right wing. The manager has the options, but he refuses to use them and drop one of his trusted lieutenants, regardless of form.