'He's on fire!' - Smalling hails Manchester United's man of the moment Martial

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The French forward scored for the third league game running on Saturday and his team-mate says he is a danger on current form

Chris Smalling has revealed that Manchester United's players were instructed to pass the ball early and often to Anthony Martial on Saturday as the French forward netted for the third Premier League match running. 

Martial followed up strikes against Everton on New Year's Day and Stoke City last Monday with the winner in Burnley as Jose Mourinho's side were made to battle for all three points. 

The 22-year-old has been in scintillating form to start 2018, becoming United's biggest attacking outlet, and centre-back Smalling is full of praise for the former Monaco striker. 

"[His goal] was brilliant," said the England man. "He's on fire at the minute."

 "As soon as [Phil] Bardsley was on a yellow card the instructions were to just give it to him as early as we can because when he’s running at people he’s a danger."

Martial's upturn in form has coincided with a dip in the output of Marcus Rashford but Smalling nonetheless has praised the duo for their contributions from the left wing all season. 

"All year him and Marcus, the lot of them have played on that left and to be fair both of them have chipped in with goals and assists. It’s great for us that we’ve got such attacking flair," said the 28-year-old defender. 

It is expected that United will wrap up the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in the next few hours and Smalling believes the added attacking depth provided by the Chilean will give United more power up front. 

Alexis Sanchez Arsenal

"We all know it’s probably close," he said. "Until it’s done, it’s done. Any new addition that could strengthen our squad is a big welcome."

United remain 12 points adrift of neighbours Manchester City at the top of the table, who won at home against Newcastle United on Saturday evening. Smalling remains optimistic about his side's title prospects so long as they stay within touching distance of the summit. 

"We’ve all been there when leads have been dwindled and people have been caught," he said. "We can only focus on ourselves. There’s still a big points gap and at the minute we need to make sure we win our games because if we don’t there’s no point even talking about it.

"If we can be in with that shout towards that time of the season then that’s when nerves can creep in. Hopefully come those last few games we’re there or thereabouts.

"Whenever we play on a Sunday, we’re well aware watching Soccer Saturday of all the scores and watching the games so it is a little blow if you see all the teams around you winning. We can only do our job."

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Mourinho's men are back in action on Friday night at Yeovil Town in the FA Cup where Smalling is expecting an improvement on the team's showing in the Carabao Cup, where they were eliminated by Bristol City. 

"Being knocked out of one means we go strong in this one," he declared. "We’ve got a good draw and we'll go there. We’ve played there not too long ago as well, so we know the stadium and we know what we need to do.

"We’ve got a couple of days to refresh and we’ll be back in on Tuesday to make sure we’re ready for Friday."

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