Lisandro Martinez sees the Arsenal star as his toughest opponent since arriving at Manchester United

Lisandro Martinez calls Gabriel Jesus his toughest opponent since arriving in England – despite the Brazilian being ruled out in a 3-1 win at Old Trafford – and claims his Man United teammates are “ready” to beat Newcastle in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final

Lisandro Martinez adapted quickly to life in the Premier League and although he had to deal with Harry Kane and Erling Haaland in his short England career, he called the Arsenal star his toughest opponent to date.

Martinez – or ‘The Devil’ as he is affectionately known – arrived in the English Premier League amid many questions about his ability to adapt to the league’s physicality at just 1.75m tall.

However, he established himself as one of the country’s top defenders, forming a determined partnership with Raphael Varane which was largely instrumental in Manchester United’s resurgence this season.

And while the league is home to some of the continent’s most prolific strikers – as well as centre-forwards who are prone to physical play – Martinez called the perhaps unexpected player his toughest opponent to date in the 2022-23 season.

The Argentine international claimed Arsenal’s injured No. 9 Gabriel Jesus was the player who caused him the most discomfort at the heart of the Red Devils’ defense in an interview with the Telegraph.

Lisandro Martinez (right) said Gabriel Jesus (left) is the toughest player he's faced in the Premier League

Lisandro Martinez (right) said Gabriel Jesus (left) is the toughest player he’s faced in the Premier League

Martinez has faced Jesus only once this season

In September, Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 at home

Martinez has only faced Jesus once this season, beating his Arsenal side 3-1 at Old Trafford

He may have only met the Brazilian once at United this season, but the striker has clearly impressed a player who has made a name for himself as a fierce competitor and eager striker.

Martinez took the lead in the clash between the Gunners and the Red Devils at Old Trafford in September, with Jesus unable to get in the way in a 3-1 win for the hosts.

And the Argentine star’s one goal in the top flight came in a 3-2 defeat in the second leg in north London in January.

Jesus is credited with influencing the transformation at the Emirates Stadium after his summer arrival, despite only scoring five goals in the league, and electrifying an attacking unit that has lacked clinical touch in the past.

The 25-year-old has been absent from Arsenal for two months since suffering a knee injury at the World Cup but is now close to returning with his side in the race with his former club Manchester City for their first Premier League title in 19 years.

But Martinez will be preparing to end his own club’s six-year wait for a trophy this Sunday when United face Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley – an occasion for which the defender says his team is “ready”.

“It certainly means a lot to reach the final,” said Martinez. It’s my first cup final here, it’s not over yet but we’re going to prepare for the game, we’re ready for the game, we’re ready to fight and it would be fantastic to win this trophy.

“That’s why we work hard, we try hard. When you do the right things, these finals come, you know?

“The mood here is amazing, everyone is positive and we have a lot of motivation. We are hungry, we want to win and that is 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

Martinez’s only goal for the club in the top flight came against Arsenal at the Emirates in a 3-2 defeat in January

“Motivation is really high, you know? This club requires trophies to be won, so the minimum is to win every final.

“We are definitely looking forward to it. As I said, every match is really important and we need support from our fans.

“It’s like you’re opening the door for more to come,” he added. “It’s very important to win the first trophy to gain confidence and improve even more.”

Martinez has already won the World Cup this season with Argentina but is still competing in four competitions with United, including Sunday’s exhibition event at Wembley against the Magpies.

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