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What Anthony Martial needs to do to Impress in pre-season

Pre-season is a brilliant opportunity for players to prove to a coach how they have progressed since the last season. This is an opportunity that Anthony Martial will need to take if he wants to stake a claim to a spot in Jose Mourinho’s starting eleven. He will need to have an especially impressive preseason if Manchester United are to get Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan, who would provide Martial the biggest competition on the left-wing. Other alternatives United currently have include Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford. Martial’s first preseason game was a mixed bag. He actually played at striker alongside Lukaku in a 5-3-2 formation and was able to assist Henrikh Mkhitaryan for a goal, and score one himself off of a Timothy Fosu-Mensah assist.

He also had a few efforts that went narrowly wide, meaning he could have had an even better night. With that being said, United were facing an LA Galaxy side which is currently not even on course to make the playoffs in Major League Soccer. The Galaxy continuously shot themselves in the foot giving the ball away in bad areas and were consistently caught with too many numbers forward leaving their defense isolated. So when looking at Martial’s performance, it is important to remember he had many more opportunities than he would usually have in a competitive match. There were times where Martial was both selfish and wasteful in possession, giving the ball away and hitting wayward shots.

Whereas Romelu Lukaku, his partner up top, looked to link up with Martial, he did not return the favor and was very selfish going forward. Following the match, Mourinho made a comment about Lukaku’s performance where he implied he believed Lukaku had played better than Martial, despite Lukaku not getting his name on the score sheet. While Martial’s goal and assist show promise for a strong pre-season, he needs to work on linking up with his teammates and varying his game from simply running at opponents anytime he gets the ball. Although he is deadly when running at the defence, if he varies his game to include more passing and interplay, it will make those runs at the defense even more dangerous, as his play will be much less predictable.

When comparing Martial’s performance to Rashford and Lingard, both of whom he will be competing with for a spot in the starting lineup, I would be inclined to say Lingard and Rashford both had stronger performances in a first half where United were both dominant and clinical. However, if Martial can show he is clinical and starts to link up more with his teammates in the next few matches, he has the potential to break into the starting lineup for United and claim his spot. Many United fans would like to see Martial in the starting lineup, including myself, however, he needs to show he’ll put the work in like Lingard and Rashford do in the same position if he is to lock down a spot.

Written by Andrew McGowan

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