Satisfied with striking options

Anthony Martial, taking a shot against Inter Milan in Singapore in July, will bear a heavier striking burden with forwards Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku leaving for Italy.
Anthony Martial, taking a shot against Inter Milan in Singapore in July, will bear a heavier striking burden with forwards Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku leaving for Italy. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Solskjaer happy with current array of attackers despite departures, injuries

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and 17-year-old Mason Greenwood have the quality to be Manchester United's main centre-forwards after loaning Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan.

Romelu Lukaku, the club's top scorer for the past two seasons, has been sold to the same Serie A club yet the manager is not concerned over his apparently weakened strike force.

"I'm trusting Anthony, Marcus, Mason to be our centre-forwards," the Norwegian said ahead of today's Premier League trip to Southampton. "We've got wingers in Chongy (Tahith Chong), Dan James, (Andreas) Pereira. We have loads of options. For me it's time for our boys to feel that pressure and responsibility, to be more robust.

"I trust the fitness staff and medical staff and the pre-season work; we're mentally and physically more ready. That's the next step for our young players."

United are without the injured Martial and left-back Luke Shaw today, and academy prospect Greenwood could make his first start after coming off the bench in the last three league matches.

Chilean forward Sanchez moved to Italy this week on a season-long loan, and Solskjaer believes the decision is the right one.

"Alexis needed to go - at the moment we know he's been here for 18 months and it's not really worked out for him," he said. "For him to restart and get himself playing regularly and scoring goals, that will only benefit everyone."


    GROUP A Paris Saint-Germain (Fra), Real Madrid (Esp), Brugge (Bel), Galatasaray (Tur)
    GROUP B Bayern Munich (Ger), Tottenham (Eng), Olympiakos (Gre), Red Star Belgrade (Srb)
    GROUP C Manchester City (Eng), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr), Dinamo Zagreb (Cro), Atalanta (Ita)
    GROUP D Juventus (Ita), Atletico Madrid (Esp), Bayer Leverkusen (Ger), Lokomotiv Moscow (Rus)
    GROUP E Liverpool (Eng), Napoli (Ita), Salzburg (Aut), Genk (Bel)
    GROUP F Barcelona (Esp), Borussia Dortmund (Ger), Inter Milan (Ita), Slavia Prague (Cze)
    GROUP G Zenit Saint-Petersburg (Rus), Benfica (Por), Lyon (Fra), RB Leipzig (Ger)
    GROUP H Chelsea (Eng), Ajax (Ned), Valencia (Esp), Lille (Fra)


    GROUP A Sevilla (Esp), Apoel (Cyp), Qarabag (Aze), Dudelange (Lux)
    GROUP F Arsenal (Eng), Eintracht Frankfurt (Ger), Standard Liege (Bel), Vitoria SC (Por)
    GROUP G Porto (Por), Young Boys (Sui), Feyenoord (Ned), Rangers (Sco)
    GROUP J Roma (Ita), B. Monchengladbach (Ger), Istanbul Basaksehir (Tur), Wolfsberg (Aut)
    GROUP K Besiktas (Tur), Sporting Braga (Por), Wolves (Eng), Slovan Bratislava (Svk)
    GROUP L Manchester United (Eng), Astana (Kaz), Partizan Belgrade (Srb), AZ Alkmaar (Ned)

The United boss also wants his team to target clean sheets after keeping just one this season in the 4-0 opening victory over Chelsea before conceding in the 1-1 draw at Wolves and last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace.

"The last two (games) we've conceded three goals and they've had three shots. We hope to look stronger at the back, it's what we've always needed," he said.

In the Europa League, United were drawn in Group L yesterday with Kazakhstan's Astana, Serbia's Partizan Belgrade and Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. Last season's runners-up Arsenal are in Group F with Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege of Belgium and Portugal's Vitoria SC.

In the Champions League, holders Liverpool will face the Italian Serie A's Napoli, Austria's Salzburg and Belgian side Genk in Group E.

The draw produced two fascinating match-ups in Group F: Barcelona face Borussia Dortmund, Inter and Slavia Prague, and Group D: Italian champions Juventus take on Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2019, with the headline 'Satisfied with striking options'. Print Edition | Subscribe