The return of Manchester United’s talented player Anthony Martial from injury has undoubtedly boosted and propelled the Red Devils team to victory against Norwich City at the weekend.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have hit upon a new formation after seeing his Manchester United side successfully stifle Liverpool at Old Trafford last weekend.
But it was a different formation and a very different type of performance from United in the 3-1 win at Norwich on Sunday. This was a display of pace, verve and no little quality in the final third.
The Frenchman has not featured for United in the Premier League since August but his return coincided with Solskjaer’s side winning away from home in the competition for the first time since February. Against an admittedly open Norwich team, United also scored more goals than they had managed on all their previous away days this season combined.
It would have been more had both Martial and Marcus Rashford not seen first-half penalties saved by Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul. But even those spurned opportunities did not detract too much from their efforts. Rashford made up for his miss by scoring soon after, while the pair combined brilliantly for Martial’s goal after the interval.
When it was put to Solskjaer afterwards that the link-up play between the pair was reminiscent of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke in their pomp, the United manager could not resist a quip in reply.
“Or Sheringham and Solskjaer,” he said with a smile.
“Of course, we have missed Anthony the last two months and it is great to have him back,” he added. “Him and Marcus, they are just going to improve and that partnership is going to grow.”
The speed of the passing interchange was far too much for this Norwich side and it is obvious just how much the two forwards enjoy playing together. They had four shots on target each. The only other duo to manage that in the same game this season are Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy at Southampton on Friday, when both walked away with hat-tricks.
There could have been a repeat here, given the ease with which they carved open their opponents. It might even be enough to offer a different perspective on United’s season.
This was the first time that the two players have been on the pitch together since Martial was injured late on against Crystal Palace, when United were chasing a late winner. At that stage, they had picked up four points from the first two games against Chelsea and Wolves.
“We feel Anthony is an important player for us and we have felt the effect of him not being there,” said Solskjaer. “We are pleased to have him back and scoring goals. He is vital for us. He’s a top striker and to have him back fit, smiling, enjoying his football is a big thing.”
Source: Sky Sports