Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have a big decision to make ahead of the Premier League clash against Arsenal on Monday. Thanks to the hard-fought win on penalties against Rochdale to calm some nerves at the moment. But it’s back to League action and it’s not been fun of late. United have now picked up only one win in their past five league games, amassing a mere five points out of a possible 15. It’s Arsenal up next and the game at Old Trafford is sure looking like it’s all set up for a 17-year-old Mason Greenwood to deliver.
Right now the 17-year-old is one of the few rays of light in such a troubled start to the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
And with no fit senior strikers available ahead of Monday’s crucial clash with Arsenal, Greenwood may just be the most important player at Solskjaer’s disposal.
For the second week in succession, the teenager demonstrated the class that has everyone at Manchester United so excited about his future. Just as he did against Astana six days earlier, Greenwood produced a moment of individual brilliance to raise the roof at Old Trafford on an otherwise humbling night against League One Rochdale.
In between those two wins came the 2-0 defeat to West Ham where Jesse Lingard ended up at centre forward following an injury to Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and a bout of tonsillitis for Greenwood.
Had he been available at the London Stadium, it might have been a very different story for United.
That Solskjaer is left relying on such an inexperienced prospect underlines the folly of failing to replace Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the summer.
But such is Greenwood’s natural talent that it would be unwise to rule him out of coming to his manager’s rescue in the coming weeks – starting with Arsenal in Monday’s showdown at Old Trafford.
Comfortable with either foot, he is deadly in front of goal in a manner that too few players at United seem to be.
While Lingard and Paul Pogba were guilty of wasting golden chances to put Rochdale away in this EFL third-round tie, Greenwood’s strike came from nothing.
In a flash, he shuffled past Rhys Norrington-Davies just inside the box before unleashing a strike that even the impressive Robert Sanchez couldn’t repel.
Six days earlier he came up with the winner against Astana in the Europa League that was all of his own making again.
And his two goals in 227 mins (all competitions), which puts him at an average of a goal every 123.5 minutes is currently the best of any United forward so far this season (via Whoscored). Yes his goals might have come against “lesser” opposition but one thing is certain, and it’s the fact that he does know how to score.
How United missed those game-changing qualities against West Ham – and how they will need them to avoid slipping further adrift in the Premier League against top-four rivals Arsenal.
In this form – and in United’s current predicament, they simply can’t afford to leave him out. Against a side like Arsenal, it might simply be worrying that United might have to call on a 17-year-old boy to deliver but Solskjaer can be encouraged by the fact that youngsters have impressed on couple occasions against the Gunners. Bringing back memories of an 18-year-old Rashford grabbing a brace against Arsenal back in 2016, on his Premier League debut.
Mason Greenwood might have featured for United already but no doubt this could be his very first start and his first real test to show his abilities against a “proper” side. It’s all left to Solskjaer to make the hard call and put his faith in an in-experienced teenager against such an experienced side.