Anthony Martial did not look at all pleased to be subbed off during Manchester United’s 1-0 win over AFC Bournemouth.
The striker was hooked just before the hour mark, with on-loan Wout Weghorst replacing him up front.
And it was somewhat odd to see the Frenchman react as he did, staring to the heavens and shaking his head before storming off straight down the tunnel.
In truth, the striker played fairly well on the South Coast, getting involved in the build up phase and linking play effectively.
Martial completed all three of his attempted dribbles, registered 45 touches, and got himself into some good positions, with a good chance blocked just before his withdrawal. (SofaScore)
More than that, he seemed up for the fight against Bournemouth’s physically imposing centre-back pairing.
So he may well have had some cause to look so displeased with Erik ten Hag’s decision to bring him off, but he could hardly have been all that surprised.
Martial has endured a torrid time this season, plagued by injuries and struggling for fitness with each fresh attempt to reintegrate himself into the team.
With the Chelsea game on Thursday described by Ten Hag as “a final,” it was only prudent to withdraw his only serviceable striker, given those fitness issues.
Weghorst may have his uses, but there is no doubt that a fresh Anthony Martial would be preferred to lead the line upon the Blues’ visit to Old Trafford.
But it is perhaps an indicator of just how difficult the campaign has been for United’s number nine.
A stop-start season punctuated by injury is hard to deal with, and it seems that the frustration just got the better of Martial for a moment, just when he may have felt he had found his groove.
Ten Hag will surely be hoping that he remains just as determined to play a key role against Chelsea on Thursday, as Manchester United look to settle their bid for Champions League qualification.
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