Anthony Martial will be missing again for Manchester United this weekend and Erik ten Hag is considering how best to use Antony’s signing against Arsenal.
Having kicked off his reign with grating losses to Brighton and Brentford, the Dutch manager followed up on the key win against rivals Liverpool with a couple of 1-0 away wins.
Martial missed his first two games of the season with a hamstring problem and returned as a half-time substitute against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, assisting Marcus Rashford’s decisive goal.
But a complaint from Achilles ruled the French international from away triumphs in Southampton and Leicester, with the striker back on the bottom when leaders Arsenal arrived at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“Anthony Martial will not be involved on Sunday,” said Ten Hag. “I can’t tell right now (when it will be available again).”
The availability of Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka is less clear after both full-backs missed Thursday’s 1-0 victory at King Power Stadium with “minor complaints”.
Asked about their availability for Sunday, Ten Hag said, “It’s hard to say when I’m talking about Luke Shaw and Aaron.”
The United manager tends to keep his cards tight on his chest, but he has shown with Casemiro that he will not necessarily launch new signings directly in his formation.
The 30-year-old has started off the bench in both games since joining Real Madrid for an initial £ 60m and compatriot Antony could be in the same boat.
The Brazilian striker reunites with his former Ajax manager in the Northwest after completing his signing for £ 80.6 million plus add-ons before Thursday’s transfer deadline.
“(Thursday) he had his first training, individual,” said Ten Hag.
“(Friday) we have a team session and on Saturday we have a team session, so I’ll think about it and then we’ll make a decision.”
Ten Hag will also think about giving Casemiro his first start on Sunday as a hectic schedule of matches begins to pick up pace.
“It’s an option, but I also have to (think about it),” the United manager said. “I saw Arsenal, a tough opponent.
“They started really well, as we all know. In the season we see that there is a team that stays together longer, with a coach who is bringing his philosophy to the team, so for us it is a good test.
“I’m really looking forward (at this point) and we’ll pick the right XI to get started.
“But as you can see, it’s not just a team. We have a team.
“Even today the substitutes who entered did really well, so I’m happy with that and that’s what we need to build further.”
Cristiano Ronaldo and Fred joined Casemiro as they stepped off the bench to see a win that had Ten Hag’s meticulous footprints, a far cry from last month’s chaotic 4-0 defeat to Brentford.
“I’ve seen some good things,” he told King Power Stadium. “They are more than details, but I see the structures are coming.
“We are building and it is good to see. But we have to do it and improve from game to game.
“This is training ground work, this is video work and this is game work.
“It’s about training, taking and creating lines and then making the right decisions.
But also decisions on the ball and out of possession, we are making good steps, we have a base but there is still a lot of room for improvement. “
One area that has greatly improved is defensive strength, with Ten Hag’s decision to join Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as center-backs to bring three wins and two goalless goals.
“Collectively, I see that the whole team is defending and that makes things easier for our defenders,” added the United manager.
“But I think what they do well is to collaborate and they do it together, they support each other and then they do a good performance.
“It is difficult for opponents to create chances and I think this is what we are seeing on the pitch.”