Manchester United’s international break turmoil presents Anthony Martial with the chance to capitalise and stake his claim for more minutes under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The forward scored his first club goal since February, running onto Bruno Fernandes’ pass and firing beyond Jordan Pickford to put the Red Devils 1-0 up shortly before half-time.
Although he was making his seventh appearance of the campaign, Martial was named in the starting XI for just the third time, with opportunities in the United frontline harder to come by than ever.
The arrivals or Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho this summer have swelled Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attacking options, and the United manager does not yet appear to know his best system.
He has chopped and changed with the likes of Sancho, Martial, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba, and his selection headache will only increase as Marcus Rashford returns to the frame.
Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes have been the only two players to start every Premier League game in United’s attack; not even five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo has been spared rotation.
So while it is no surprise Martial has seen limited action this season, he may be poised for another start after the international break.
That is because Solskjaer is set to be without Cavani and Fred for the trip to Leicester City on Saturday 16 October, with the duo representing Uruguay and Brazil respectively in a World Cup qualifier just 24 hours earlier.
This leaves the Norwegian without one of his regular faces in midfield, Fred, and the services of centre-forward Cavani.
In the pair’s absence, Pogba appears likely to start in a central-midfield role rather than as a left-winger, where he has often been deployed this season.
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All of a sudden, Solskjaer is no longer blessed with so many options in attack and his forward line begins to pick itself.
Rashford is unlikely to be thrown straight back into the starting XI having missed the start of the season to recover from a shoulder injury.
With Ronaldo, Fernandes and Greenwood – spared international duty with England at United’s request – likely occupying three spots in the attack, this leaves the left wing open for Martial.
Of course, £73million summer signing Jadon Sancho is also pushing for minutes, but there can be no doubt Martial is in better form having scored against Everton.
The 25-year-old failed to make an impression at centre-forward earlier this season and appeared more comfortable on the flank, from which he emerged to rifle United in front against Everton.
With Solskjaer’s forward options unusually light against Leicester, Martial must build on his goal last weekend and stake his claim for minutes.
By the time the likes of Cavani and Rashford return to the fold, it could be too late.