Three reasons why Wout Weghorst could make his Manchester United debut against Crystal Palace
Man United play Crystal Palace on Wednesday night and new loanee Wout Weghorst could make his debut for the club.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial was hooked at half-time in the Manchester derby after a lethargic 45-minute display.
Erik ten Hag has previously warned reporters that Martial struggles to play 90 minutes twice in the space of just a few days due to his fitness, but the player only managed a subpar first half against Manchester City.
After the win, when asked why Martial had doubts about the match, Ten Hag said: “I was hoping to prevent him from getting injured, but he was complaining. That’s why he didn’t train that week either and it was a question mark [for the derby].
“We decided – and so did he – to start. He begged to start. I knew the start would be very important in this game and he is very good at pressing and is a very important element in our pressing, but I needed to re-evaluate at half-time.
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“As you saw, he wasn’t able to go 100 percent and that’s what you need. And also to prevent him from getting injured, so we took him out, but it also had a negative impact on our game after the break.”
Antony replaced Martial at half-time and the Brazilian started the second half playing at center forward, which came as a surprise as Marcus Rashford, who was often forced to play in the middle, was on the left wing.
Alejandro Garnacho was eventually introduced and Rashford was moved to centre-forward, with Antony moving into his preferred position, but the Brazilian winger having to play at No.9 was exactly why Wout Weghorst was signed on loan.
Weghorst was at Old Trafford with his young family on Saturday afternoon and must be seizing the opportunity as not only does he play for Manchester United but the only other recognized striker at the club is battling injury.
The 30-year-old is guaranteed minutes during his six-month spell at Manchester, although Ten Hag insisted he would have to consider whether to give the Dutchman his debut against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday.
“I have to think about it,” Ten Hag said of the prospect of starting Weghorst. “First calm down after this game, draw the right conclusions and then we will make a clear plan for Palace. Of course, I know a lot about Palace.
“We played them in pre-season as well and we know how their squad is doing – but the total plan I don’t have right now. I didn’t build it until now. So from this point we can build the plan and prepare the team on the way right.”
Ten Hag has kept his cards close to his chest, but Weghorst looks likely to start at Selhurst Park. United are in desperate need of a reliable centre-forward this season and Weghorst should be able to provide a clinical edge, which they are lacking.
Martial’s lack of fitness points to Weghorst in the starting line-up, while his stats this season compared to the Frenchman also justify his debut, in a match that needs to be won for an unlikely title run.
Martial and Weghorst are very different players. The latter is a traditional center forward, a throwback to the goalscorer of yesteryear, and this is seen in his stats for Besiktas, where he averaged more assists and shots per 90 than Martial.
Ten Hag praised Martial’s pressure but failed to make a single comeback in opposition midfield in the Premier League this campaign, while Weghorst averaged 0.63 recoveries per 90, which highlights his work off the ball.
Weghorst is diligent when it comes to pressure and also superior when compared to Martial in aeriiiiiiiiiiial duels, which is not surprising. Weghorst averaged 7.16 aerial duels for 90 this season and that’s more than double what his new teammate managed (2.92 for 90).
Rashford, Antony and Garnacho should all benefit from playing with Weghorst as he will give United a focal point in the box. He’s not someone who will float between the lines like Martial, but will be found around the six yard box.
Weghorst wasn’t a particularly exciting arrival, but he’s certainly a no-nonsense signing.