Anthony Martial back with a vengeance for Manchester United

Anthony Martial back with a vengeance for Manchester United

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Despite Manchester United claiming both the Europa League title and League Cup last season, Anthony Martial endured something of an ordinary campaign.

That is a vast contrast to his debut campaign in 2015-16, where he finished as the Reds’ top goalscorer with 17 goals in all competitions.

The 21-year-old only managed to find the back of the net eight times in all competitions last season, as he struggled for consistency and confidence under then new manager Jose Mourinho.

However, there has been huge improvement in the Frenchman’s attitude and commitment this season, with his confidence at an all time high.

These changes have been recognised by his Portuguese manager, who has praised Martial’s more focused approach and attitude this season.

When you compare the Martial we are seeing currently and the one from the previous campaign, it is scary how much of a vengeance he has returned with.

He is putting defenders back on ice skates, running at them with such pace that either sees him flashing past them with his quick footwork or a foul being committed.

The forward has managed to score five goals and provide five assists in just nine appearances already this season, not to mention he has only started in four matches.

He scored in the opening two games of the Premier League season, first against an already demoralised West Ham on the opening weekend of the season and then Swansea City in Wales the following week.

He scored his third league goal against Everton from the spot after an amazing dribbling sequence that saw him squeeze between two, before going past former teammate Morgan Schneiderlin who left an arm out to block this path.

Remarkably, he is already on the verge of levelling his league goals tally from last season, which was four.

Despite starting only one of his side’s seven Premier League games this season, he has come off the substitutes bench to devastating effect. All three of his league goals and two assists so far have come off the bench, which have played a massive role in United putting teams to the sword late on in matches.

He was named Man of the Match in his side’s 4-1 victory against Burton Albion in the third round of the League Cup after setting up teammate Jesse Lingard in the opening 45 minutes, before scoring United’s fourth and final goal to round off victory and their passage to the fourth round.

His most recent Champions League performance against CSKA Moscow in Russia highlighted just how much swagger and confidence Martial is playing with this season. He put in a man of the match display despite being substituted in the 71st minute. He provided two assists for Romelu Lukaku, while converting a penalty himself in the first half to set United on their way to an easy 4-1 win.

He caused CSKA havoc, whether it was taking on players from left-wing or drifting in centrally to receive the ball in-between the lines. It was the Red Devils’ best performance thus far and it is not a surprise that the young forward was at the forefront of it.

Against Crystal Palace in United’s last league outing, he replaced Marcus Rashford with a little under 20 minutes remaining and moments after being introduced, he performed a ridiculous nutmeg on Andros Townsend, whose reaction said it all. The forward teed up Lukaku to cap off another comprehensive 4-0 Premier League victory at home, as United’s very strong start to the season continued.

A conversation that has surfaced around the Old Trafford faithful has been the exciting battle between Rashford and Martial. Both players are alternating on the left-side in United’s settled 4-3-3 formation, which has brought them a lot of success so far this campaign.

In Rashford’s six Premier League starts, the young Englishman has scored two goals and set up three, with two of those assists coming against Palace.

The two youngsters are taking their opportunities when called upon by Mourinho and with their biggest test of the season coming up against Liverpool after the international break, the United manager will have a very tough decision to make on who he elects to start at Anfield.

Even if Mourinho does choose Rashford ahead of Martial for the Liverpool encounter, you can be sure his impact off the bench will be big and could prove pivotal if United are to come away from Anfield with all three points.

Surprisingly, Martial’s efforts this season have not warranted callups back to the French national team. With an obvious eye on being apart of Les Blues for next year’s World Cup in Russia, the former Monaco man will have to keep up his hard work and electrifying performances to the point where France manager Didier Deschamps has no choice but to recall him.

But for the time being, he needs to keep delivering for United, whether he is starting from the outset or not, as they look to build on their achievements from last season.

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