Antonio Valencia's horror leg injury could prove the most crucial injury in the EPL this year. With him out for several months, Sir Alex is forced to resort to a varied collection of wing talent. Those capable of filling in on the right include Ji Sung Park, Ryan Giggs, Nani and Gabriel Obertan – his options run the gamut from the very old to the very young.
Park may end up being the best long-term option here, simply because Giggs' body probably won't allow him to play the minutes required on the right; Nani's best work for the Red Devils has come from the left and this year should be the one he establishes himself permanently in that position for the forseeable future. Obertan has the feet and the pace, but he is young and question marks remain about his suitability in big games – fan opinion is that he tends to lose his head very easily.
SAF must be cursing that he allowed Tom Cleverley to leave on loan (to Wigan) at deadline day – although his best position tends to the centre, he is also a capable right winger and could have provided United one extra body so the minutes don't mount so much on Park and Giggs. Perhaps another option, though one I'm sure Fergie will not want to rely upon, is to shift Wayne Rooney out to the left, moving Nani to the right and allowing Berbatov and Chicharito extra room up front. His performances during the second half of the 2008-09 season at left wing – Champions League Final notwithstanding – were nothing short of spectacular and he personally orchestrated their 5-1 drubbing of Tottenham in April as Cristiano Ronaldo moved forward. But Berbatov and Hernandez aren't anywhere of the standard of “the varnished one” and as a result this may leave them with a blunt spearhead.
With two draws snatched from the jaws of victory and now one key player down, Man U's season has started slowly. It's not panic stations yet as they've done this the past two years. Whether they can pick it up to mount a serious challenge to Chelsea and Arsenal may be down to who they find to best replace the Ecuadorian who's made such an impact on the United right.