Time for Sanchez, Lukaku to shine

The emergence of an invigorated Manchester United attack has seen Alexis Sanchez (far left) and Romelu Lukaku fall down the pecking order.
The emergence of an invigorated Manchester United attack has seen Alexis Sanchez (far left) and Romelu Lukaku fall down the pecking order.PHOTO: REUTERS

With Martial, Lingard injured, Solskjaer challenges misfiring duo to show their worth

LONDON • Caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku to step up for Manchester United after confirming that the injured Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard will be out for up to three weeks.

Forwards Martial and Lingard were forced off during last Tuesday's 2-0 Champions League last-16, first-leg home defeat by Paris Saint-Germain with groin and hamstring problems respectively.

At a press conference ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round clash with Chelsea, Solskjaer said: "It is a chance for anyone who plays, whether it is Alexis, Romelu or Angel (Gomes)."

If Martial and Lingard are out for three weeks, they will also miss the crucial Premier League match against Liverpool, and face a race against time to make the second leg at PSG on March 6.

Their injuries come as a setback for United, who have won 10 out of their 12 matches under Solskjaer.

Asked whether this was perfect timing for Sanchez and Lukaku, who have fallen down the pecking order, Solskjaer said: "Yeah, it might be.

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    Alexis Sanchez has scored just five goals in 37 appearances for United

"We've got forward options but Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong have also been training with us all week so there's a big chance they'll be involved.

"Anthony and Jesse have done really well for us; they're vital.

"But then again with Romelu and Alexis, they've got different skill sets and will be able to show what they can do so we need to gel a team together for Monday."

Sanchez again struggled to make an impact off the bench against PSG but Solskjaer insisted it is up to the Chilean to show he is worth the highly lucrative 4½-year contract he earned when he joined from Arsenal just over a year ago.

He has scored only five goals in 37 appearances for United, but did find the net for just the second time this season in their last FA Cup match, a 3-1 win at Arsenal when he linked up well with Lukaku.

The Belgian and Sanchez are expected to start alongside the in-form Marcus Rashford tomorrow.

Solskjaer is also confident his players can recover quickly from the defeat by PSG to inflict more damage on a Chelsea side who were thrashed 6-0 in the Premier League by Manchester City last weekend.

The Blues, however, have bounced back with a 2-1 win at Malmo in the Europa League last-32, first leg on Thursday.

"The defeat is a different feel of course. I hate losing games, and it seems like the boys hate losing games," Solskjaer added.

"They've been down but there's no point dwelling on it because there are big games against good teams coming up and we need to dust ourselves down and get going again on Monday.

"You've got to bounce back at this club.

"You will always have challenges and away against Chelsea is one of the tougher challenges."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 17, 2019, with the headline 'Time for Sanchez, Lukaku to shine'. Print Edition | Subscribe