How Anthony Martial justified a place in Manchester United's starting line-up against Leicester City
Given that Anthony Martial came off the bench to score in both of Manchester United’s opening Premier League fixtures, it was about time that he was given an opportunity in the starting line-up. Against Leicester, he got that chance.
The Frenchman didn’t score, which let to criticism from some bizarrely, but it was an influential display from Martial and should have done enough to ensure that he is in the team against Stoke next weekend.
Martial proved to be more of a creative outlet than he had been as a substitute, instead creating opportunities rather than getting on the end of them. With pace, energy and trickery on the left flank, he often looked to cut inside and play others in.
His four key passes was the joint highest alongside creative maestro Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and if his team-mates had had their shooting boots on, Martial could easily have ended the game with an assist or two.
Martial did have opportunities come his way too though, as only Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba had more attempts on goal. Many of those may have been speculative efforts from the edges of the box, but it provided an offensive option out wide for Jose Mourinho.
What was clear was that Anthony Martial provides a different option to Marcus Rashford on the wings. Whilst Rashford looks to drift central and cut inside, exploiting gaps exposed by Lukaku, Martial instead bombs down the flanks with long dribbles on the ball, often looking to play others in.
The importance of having that quality and strength in depth was clear, as it was two substitutes who were on the scoresheet for Mourinho again on Saturday. If the manager knows that he can call upon his bench to come on and score goals in every game, as they have so far this season, then it could be a lucrative campaign for the Red Devils.
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