Anthony Martial came off the substitutes’ bench to score the winner as Manchester United maintained their 100 per cent record at Old Trafford courtesy of victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
With the game petering out towards a goalless draw, Martial capitalised on ponderous defending to slot a long ball past Hugo Lloris and inflict a first away defeat of the campaign on Spurs. United’s triumph keeps them in second spot, five points behind their Manchester rivals.
Here are three talking points from Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off in the Premier League.
Anthony Martial presses his case for a regular starting berth
He’s often been restricted to the role of super-sub this season, but it’s one that Martial has performed with gusto. Eleven minutes after replacing Marcus Rashford, whose exit was not well received by the United faithful, the Frenchman struck the decisive blow – his fourth goal from the bench in the top-flight this season.
In his post-match interview, Martial admitted he would like more game-time and his important contribution will have given Jose Mourinho food for thought. It is a good headache for the Manchester United manager to have. Currently, Martial is vying with Rashford for a place on the left side of an attacking three. Perhaps there is room for both in the starting XI?
No Harry Kane, no joy for below-par Tottenham
Even with Harry Kane in the team, Spurs might well have struggled to break down a watertight United defence. But such is the influence of the prolific England striker that it is impossible not to think his presence would have helped Tottenham’s cause. The visitors created very few opportunities to score, Dele Alli spurning the best of the bunch while the game was goalless.
Spurs are not a one-man team, but they do rely too heavily on Kane to score the goals, something which was emphasised at Old Trafford. The signing of Fernando Llorente from Swansea City in the transfer window should have helped, but even in Kane’s injury enforced absence he was once again restricted to a spot on the bench.
Ashley Young appears rejuvenated under Mourinho
For a player whose days at United looked to be numbered, Ashley Young has been rejuvenated this season. With Mourinho continuing not to trust Luke Shaw, there is a vacancy in the team for a naturally left-sided player – and the former Aston Villa man has grabbed it with both hands.
Young, who was allowed more freedom to attack than in previous appearances, was exceptional against Tottenham, a constant menace on the left flank and delivering deadly crosses. He has not played for England since 2013, but at the age of 32 he still has much to offer. Gareth Southgate will seriously have to consider recalling Young for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil.