When Anthony Martial trudged off to be substituted in the 69th minute he did so with the impression of a player who had put a real shift in.
Except watching his performance, save an odd burst here and there, it didn’t look like it.
Martial produced another dud of a display and in the first half in particular it was barely noticeable he was on the pitch.
Playing in his favoured striker’s role, it was not so much a surprise he was substituted, more a surprise that it took so long.
These displays are becoming too common. His 23-goal season last year seems like a long time ago.
This season he has scored just seven goals in all competitions and he is desperately out of form.
Martial has scored in just two of his last 16 appearances for United. He has three goals in that span, with a brace against Southampton.
It’s a worrying trend that Martial not only fails to score, but he also fails to play well.
He had just one shot during the match which came in the second half. He did well to get into shooting position before firing it straight at Karl Darlow.
Once regarded as an ice cold finisher in front of goal, Martial has been anything but this season.
He lacks composure inside the penalty area and goes through games on the fringes without troubling the defence.
He touched the ball 33 times in 69 minutes and when he was taken off it was a case of putting him out of his misery.
Could he turn it around?
One big goal could change Martial’s fortunes. Last season he scored at Stamford Bridge in a 2-0 win and it sparked a revival after a lean spell.
United head to Chelsea next weekend in second, needing a win to extend the gap over the fifth placed Blues to nine points.
The biggest problem for Martial is that if Edinson Cavani is fit, then he probably will be back on the bench.
Solskjaer is giving him chances, and he isn’t taking them. Eventually those chances will run out.
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