The 20-year-old was paraded around Old Trafford ahead of United&aposs 3-1 pre-season friendly win over RC Lens on August 5, but has since been unable to grace the turf after a stress fracture in his back was flagged during medical tests. The club are taking an unusually opaque approach to injury news this season, but found the grace to tell supporters it would be a few weeks before his debut.
In that time, United have taken six points from a possible nine but no-one is going into Sunday&aposs trip to the Emirates with overwhelming optimism. The opening weekend win against Wolves was not deserved, but the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham the following weekend was.
Erik ten Hag&aposs side showed plenty of character to fight back from 2-0 down against Nottingham Forest last Saturday, but fans remain concerned about where those goals are coming from. No one in the typical front three has scored yet, with those four efforts coming from Raphael Varane, Christian Eriksen, Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes.
The pressure is already on Hojlund to bring the goals United so badly need. But while he is expected to build on last season&aposs tally of nine in the league, an equally big impact may come in the improvement of others&apos attacking threat.
Fernandes could count himself unfortunate to only have one goal and one assist this season, having been able to create far more for those in front of him. The Portuguese midfielder has forged 10 chances at an average of 3.3 per 90 minutes, while FBRef calculates that his expected assists total is 2.3.
However he has been left wanting when it comes to finishing off those chances. Antony has been frustratingly wasteful, while Marcus Rashford has either looked lost down the middle or not sharp when on the right.
United&aposs top goalscorer with 30 last season, Rashford is yet to show anywhere near his best form in front of goal – albeit he played a part in every goal against Forest. The 25-year-old looked better on the right last weekend but space in front of him was lacking and it wasn&apost helped by Anthony Martial.
United&aposs only fit No.9 on the day has a tendency to pull out towards opposition right-backs, and while it can be useful to overload areas, it also closes up any precious space with which Rashford can exploit. For much of his deficiencies last season, Wout Weghorst&aposs propensity to stay central kept the space out wide.