Ever since Anthony Martial announced himself on the Premier League stage with a sumptuous strike against Liverpool back in September, the Manchester United faithful have watched in awe as their latest teenage talent has come to prominence in rapid time.
With five goals in nine games, it's easy to see why Martial has quickly surpassed fellow youngsters Memphis Depay, James Wilson, Adnan Januzaj and co. as the next big thing at Old Trafford.
Cool, calm and collected, the France international, at the tender age of 19, has a mature head on young shoulders. He really does; he oozes class: not only is Martial a robust, dominant figure, but he's rapid, extremely fit and has a rather extraordinary work ethic. He's also somewhat gifted in front of goal and already appears to be one of the most natural finishers at the club. What's not to like?
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Unsurprisingly, then, with Wayne Rooney's recent struggle up top, United fans haven't exactly been delirious with Louis van Gaal's decision to hand the aforementioned Martial a role out wide.
But on the left-hand side of the pitch is where he currently finds himself. There's a reason for it, of course. After Van Gaal's side were decimated at the hands of Arsenal before the international break, a change was always going to be imminent.
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It was clearly time to take Depay out of the firing line while Herrera was the obvious choice to replace him in the starting XI. But, by placing the Spaniard in his side, Van Gaal had no choice but to put Martial on the wing.
And in United's last two outings, Martial has continued to impress despite his far more reserved role. During the Red Devils' outstanding 3-0 victory against Everton last week, the influential forward was brilliant as he produced a dazzling display, proving a constant threat to the usually reliable Seamus Coleman.
He impressed defensively, too; working tirelessly, he nullified the threat of Coleman and co. as Van Gaal's side kept Roberto Martinez's team at bay throughout proceedings.
It must be noted, however, that he was at fault in the Champions League on Wednesday night as the Red Devils endured a tricky first-half against CSKA Moscow. Handling naively in the penalty area led to CSKA taking the lead on the night, but the ex-Monaco man wasn't to be denied in his pursuit of redemption.
Battling tirelessly, Martial grew into the game and was eventually rewarded as he met an Antonio Valencia cross with a perfectly timed header. 1-1, Martial the man...again. The notion that he should play up front is difficult to disagree with, of course, but you can hardly blame United's ruthless Dutch master for playing him out of position at this stage.
Role to play
In away games and colossal clashes on home soil - much like the one United are about to embark upon - there's reason to play the versatile forward on the wing.
Manchester City will enter the Theatre of Dreams without the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva, but they will take to the field with the stylish duo of Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne.
Van Gaal will no doubt deploy a cautious approach to the derby showdown; he will look to pack the midfield while keeping things compact in search of controlled possession. In a game of this magnitude, the United boss can't afford to completely change the dynamic of his side.
Martial will be key to the plan in an attempt to prevent the threat of City's attacking stars. However, he will remain instrumental in the final third of the pitch. With the speed of Martial down the left flank and the class and guile of Mata on the right-hand side, the Red Devils will once again possess a balanced yet wondrous attack, ready to ruthlessly penetrate in the final third of the pitch.
One thing is for sure, United fans shouldn't be worried about Van Gaal's plan to move Martial around. He will one day soon become United's out-and-out striker, but, right now, he has a job to do for his new team.
Manchester United fans: should Martial stay on the wing for the City clash? Have your say below!
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