Lisandro Martinez names Gabriel Jesus as his toughest opponent since arriving in England – despite shutting out the Brazilian in 3-1 Old Trafford win – and claims his Man United team-mates are ‘ready’ to beat Newcastle in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final
- Lisandro Martinez’s height was called into question following his summer arrival
- The 25-year-old has scored only once in the league – in a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal
- Manchester United’s new Argentine cult hero claims it’s hard not to KILL rivals
Lisandro Martinez has been quick to adapt to life in the Premier League, and although coming up against the likes of Harry Kane and Erling Haaland in his short career in England, he named an Arsenal star as his toughest opponent to date.
Martinez – or ‘Licha’ as he is affectionately known – arrived in the English top-flight amid plenty of questions over his ability to adapt to the physicality of the league at just 1.75m tall.
But he has become one of the leading defenders in the country, forming a resolute partnership alongside Raphael Varane which has under-pinned much of the resurgence of Manchester United this season.
And while the league is home to some of the most prolific strikers on the continent – as well as centre-forwards who are prone to physical play – Martinez named perhaps a surprise player as his toughest competitor so far in 2022-23.
The Argentina international claimed that Gabriel Jesus – the injured Arsenal No 9 – was the player that has posed him the greatest discomfort at the heart of the Red Devils’ defence in an interview with the Telegraph.
Lisandro Martinez (R) claimed that Gabriel Jesus (L) is the toughest competitor he has faced in the Premier League
Martinez has only faced Jesus once this season, beating his Arsenal side 3-1 at Old Trafford
He may have only come across the Brazilian once for United this season, but the striker clearly made an impression on a player that has made a name for himself as a fierce competitor and willing tackler.
Martinez came out on top in the clash between the Gunners and the Red Devils at Old Trafford back in September, with Jesus unable to make in-roads in a 3-1 win for the hosts.
And the Argentina star’s one goal in the top-flight came in a 3-2 defeat in the reverse fixture in north London in January.
Jesus is credited with having a transformative impact at the Emirates Stadium after his summer arrival, despite scoring only five times in the league, and has galvanised an attacking unit that has lacked a clinical touch in the past.
The 25-year-old has been missing for Arsenal for two months since a knee injury at the World Cup, but is now approaching a return with his side in the race with his former club Manchester City for a first Premier League title in 19 years.
But Martinez will be preparing to end his own club’s six-year wait for silverware this Sunday, when United take on Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley – an opportunity the defender claimed his side ‘are ready for’.
‘It means a lot to reach the final, for sure,’ Martinez said. ‘It’s my first cup final here, it’s not done yet, but we will prepare for the game, we are ready for this game, to fight, and it would be fantastic to get this trophy.
‘That’s why we work hard, we try hard. When you do the right things, these finals come, you know?
‘The mood is amazing here, everybody is positive, we have a lot of motivation as well. We are hungry, we want to win and that’s the mentality of the team.
Martinez’s only goal for the club in the top-flight came against Arsenal at the Emirates in a 3-2 defeat in January
‘The motivation is really high, you know? This club demands to win trophies, so the minimum is to win every final.
‘We’re looking forward [to it] for sure. Like I said, every game is really important, and we need that support from our fans.’
‘It is like you open the door for more to come,’ he he added. ‘It is very important to win a first trophy for confidence, to improve more.’
Martinez has already won the World Cup this season with Argentina, but is still competing in four competitions with United, including Sunday’s Wembley showpiece event against the Magpies.
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