As shown once again at Old Trafford this season, Anthony Martial is essential to how Manchester United want to play.
The France international has been ruled out through injury for a long duration of this season, but has come back with a newfound energy and goals.
Against Partizan Belgrade, in a match which secured the club’s knockout participation in the Europa League, Martial produced a moment of glamour as he waltzed passed three defenders and calmly disposed of the ball into the back of the net and past the flailing goalkeeper.
Martial has always been a mercurial talent, but with the arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku, he lost his way and confidence in the intermittent years. Now 23-years-old and with the number nine back on his jersey once more, he is ready to stake his claim as the Red Devils’ out-and-out centre forward.
Due to Martial’s injury, Marcus Rashford has been tried and tested through the middle. And while he can do a job there, he does not have the same aura and assuredness in his game to deliver goals when the pressure is on – as fans have seen from September onwards.
Since coming back, in the Frenchman’s four starts, he has three goals to his name. The confidence emanating from Martial is there for all to see, which has not shined so brightly since he first joined the club.
Martial has long been used as a left-sided player, with the ability to cut inside and become another forward. With the arrival and addition of the brilliant Daniel James, Martial should and will now be used solely as the main focal point of attack. Due to limited numbers, it presents Martial with the perfect opportunity to show the club why he is number one for the position.
Manchester United have to prioritise the Europa League, just as they had done in the year José Mourinho won it in 2016. With the top four looking too far away to even look at right now, the Red Devils have an opportunity to go all the way through how they are playing and better suited in Europe.
Martial has to continue to work hard and improve on his deficiencies if he is to reach the next level, as well as being consistent in all areas of the pitch. His time has come now and the Red Devils’ fans will be hoping that he can remain injury free from now until the end of the season.