Hands up: Who successfully predicted Anthony Martial would start for Manchester United against Everton?
That’s right, nobody. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s surprise call ended up looking like an inspired decision.
This start on October 2 was Martial’s first Premier League start since the second week of the season in August away at Southampton.
The recent Carabao Cup start did not go his way either. Martial’s poor display was widely criticised.
There does not seem to be a way forward for Martial up front – but on the left wing he may have a role to play.
Martial was starting out wide in place of Paul Pogba, who has looked like he needs a rest during his last couple of appearances.
Good call from Solskjaer
Solskjaer gets paid to make the big calls and his choice to pick Anthony Martial could have backfired.
The Frenchman blew an early sight of goal when he got his header all wrong after an excellent Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross.
Then with the game threatening to drift to a goalless score for half-time, Martial’s big moment came.
A terrific pass from Bruno Fernandes found Martial in acres of space on the left of the penalty box. With his first touch the Frenchman struck the ball high into the net past Jordan Pickford.
Martial’s strike took a deflection but it didn’t matter. He took his shot well and struck the ball strongly enough to ensure it ended up where he wanted it to.
Immediately Martial’s confidence looked to be restored. He struck a shot from outside the box shortly after which forced a save from Pickford.
Martial’s first goal of the season could not have been better timed. In the short-term, United needed it to break the deadlock.
For his own season, it is a weight lifted off his shoulders, his first Manchester United goal since the 9-0 win over Southampton back on February 2.
Martial has now staked a claim as an option from the left wing, which was ideally timed considering Marcus Rashford is on the verge of a comeback.
Now United have an extra option here, in addition to Rashford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is spoiled for choice.
Solskjaer made a bold call to start Martial in Saturday’s game and it ended up looking like a masterstroke. The Manchester United boss deserves credit when he gets it right.
Poor result doesn’t take away Martial contribution
The game ending 1-1 was a big disappointment where United were concerned.
But Martial will feel as though he played his part, and Solskjaer could not have asked for more from him.
Martial was taken off after 59 minutes, appearing to have picked up a slight knock. A disappointing day should not take away his contribution, or Solskjaer’s inspired decision to start him.
Solskjaer clearly has a lot he has not got right. The team’s defensive record is simply not good enough, and the attack is not clicking. The Martial call was one thing he did get spot on.
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