Manchester United march on to keep pace with Manchester City after a beautifully taken shot by Anthony Martial to win it in the early stages of the second half.
WIth the gap now at 9 points, Manchester United look to continue their run of 8 games unbeaten into the coming weeks after a narrow win against Burnley. It was a game that United look devoid of options and chances with the best one coming just at the end of the first half from a curling effort by Ashley Young before the ball drifted just wide of the post.
United have had a habit of having trouble creating chances against some of the lower table sides with only a 2-2 draw on the previous meeting between these two teams. Clinical finishing is needed in order to compete for trophies and dropped points against weaker teams last season cost them a spot in the top 4. United have been accused of being too reliant on just a few players to create and score goals.
The acquisitions of Lukaku and Pogba go a long way in helping their cause for clinical finishing and creating. However, it is the development of Anthony Martial that is the key factor if United are to push forward into regaining their place in the upper echelons of European and domestic football.
Martial exploded onto the stage in his first season when acquired from Monaco by Louis Van Gaal scoring 11 goals and assisting 4. A memorable game against Liverpool in which he skinned Martin Skrtel at the edge of the box to drive home a fine individual goal saw the Frenchman announce his presence onto the big stage.
Since then, he’s gone on to be an in and out figure at United with varied performances with a dip in form and consistency in his sophomore season. When Mourinho arrived at Manchester United, Martial was seen as unhappy.
Behind the scenes, Marial was dealing with a very public break-up with his partner and mother of his daughter. Along with him losing his number 9 shirt to Ibrahimovic, Mourinho and his staff were concerned that Martial’s difficult private life was affecting his performances. He started six of Mourinho’s first seven matches for United but only featured in the starting XI for just seven of the next 22.
10 months on, Marital seems to have found his stride under Mourinho. Enjoying one of the best spells of his career, Martial’s goal against Burnley was his 9th of the season in the Premier League and his third goal in his last 3 games.
Martial is the key for United’s future success in European and domestic competitions. His ability to directly run at opponents combined with his speed and tricky dribbling make him a nightmare for opposing defenders. His shot has seen immense improvements as well as his clinical finishing in front of goal.
Whether he starts on the wing or up front, he is an integral part of United’s front four and his knack for scoring at the key moments give him the necessary components to succeed at United.
Many doubted weather a 50 million dollar teenager acquisition could live up to the hype at the biggest club in the world. 3 season on and Martial is proving them wrong. At just 22 years of age and surrounded by a team that oozes quality in Pogba, Matic, Lukaku and the soon to be United player Alexis Sanchez, Martial is poised to become one of the best in the world.
United will be keen to keep Martial playing and Mourinho has finally gotten the best out of his young winger. Finally, it seems that both manager and player are happy.