premier league

Manchester United: Solskjaer admits Martial's confidence was bruised by criticism

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels getting Anthony Martial to run more during matches is key to his development.

Martial's confidence was bruised – Solskjaer backs Man Utd forward after criticism

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the best is yet to come from Anthony Martial after the Manchester United forward bounced back from his slump with a string of impressive displays. Solskjaer has been urging Martial to cover more ground during matches and believes that is having a positive effect.

Martial, goals and assists

The French forward had a goal and an assist in an impressive display as a late substitute in the 0-2 away win at Everton in the EFL Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday. That came after he had the same production in the 2-3 comeback win at Sheffield United in the Premier League as well as recording two assists in the 6-2 home win over Leeds United.

Solskjaer believes criticism and the red card Martial received in the infamous 6-1 home defeat to Tottenham in October stalled his progress earlier in 2020-21. Despite his recent improvement, Martial is averaging just 0.14 goals per 90 minutes on the pitch in the Premier League this season - seven United players fare better in that category. But ahead of a key Boxing Day fixture away to Leicester City, Solskjaer is increasingly excited by the 25-year-old's progress.

"[Martial] has made important contributions lately, he has assists, scored goals," Solskjaer told reporters. "He is getting fitter and showed it against Leeds. He knows that I am on to him about this, his running stats from that game set a new standard for him, which I want to see more of. He is always going to have the quality. Maybe his confidence has been bruised a little bit by what happened earlier on in the season with the red card [against Tottenham] and he has had some criticism. But Anthony is going to get better and better and, when we get Mason [Greenwood], Marcus [Rashford] and Anthony firing on all cylinders, we will be even more of a threat for teams. These boys know what I want from my team."

Martial rates better when it comes to assists. Per Opta statistics, he has 0.42 per 90 minutes on the pitch, putting him above fellow forwards Rashford (0.33) and Greenwood (0). Of United players to feature for at least 500 minutes this season, only Bruno Fernandes (0.43) rates above him.

United chasing away record

United have won each of their last 10 Premier League away games and are looking to become only the third team in history – after Arsenal and Chelsea – to win 11 straight when they meet Leicester.

It has historically been a good fixture for United, who have scored in each of their last 22 Premier League meetings with Leicester. Against no side have they had a longer scoring streak in the competition.