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Man Utd’s chances of Brighton win hinges on Anthony Martial’s duel with Lewis Dunk

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Oh how Manchester United have missed Anthony Martial these past couple of months. The France international had started the campaign off on fire, with two goals and an assist in his opening three Premier League games, but was ruled out of action for almost two months with an injury.

In that time, the Red Devils struggled to find their goal-scoring touch, with Marcus Rashford going through a drought of just one goal in seven league games in that period. But since Martial’s comeback from injury against Liverpool, United have looked sharper and more clinical going forward. The defeat to Bournemouth aside, United have racked up four wins in their last five games, with their number nine finding the back of the net in three of those games.

After netting in the 3-0 triumph against Partizan Belgrade on Thursday night, Martial will be hoping to take his good form into the weekend’s Premier League clash against Brighton. But that will not be an easy feat. For standing in his way, is 6 foot 4 defensive rock, Lewis Dunk.

Having replaced club stalwart Bruno as captain for this season, Dunk has continued to be the cornerstone of the Seagulls’ back-line under Graham Potter. The 27-year-old has played every single minute of the Premier League campaign, and has helped the side to an impressive eighth position in the table. And judging by both Martial and the Brighton defender’s numbers, it is easy to see why this could be the contest that decides the outcome of the game.

As United fans witnessed first-hand in mid-week, Martial’s ability to beat players is almost second-to-none. The close control, the speed and the technique all combine in pretty devastating fashion, and that will pose a significant threat to the Brighton defence. The Frenchman has averaged two dribbles per game in the top-flight this campaign, and his penchant for running at players will really test Dunk’s ability to maintain his fine tackling stats.

Whilst it would be unfair to pigeonhole the Seagulls skipper as an old-fashioned centre-half, there’s no questioning that he will put his body on the line for the cause and smash it into row Z when needed. He has averaged 0.6 blocks and 3.4 clearances per game, and if United and Martial are in the groove like they were against Partizan (they racked up 14 total shots), Dunk will need to be at his best to keep them out.

It promises to be a fascinating match-up, and one that if Man Utd’s £36m star can win, could tilt the game in the Red Devils’ favour.