The France international picked up an injury during the warm-up before kick-off. As Marcus Rashford was rested and not in the squad, Wayne Rooney moved up front with Ander Herrera taking his place in midfield.
The Dutchman had already informed fans in his press conference ahead of the fixture that he was looking to rotate the squad and was hoping not to overload his players with back to back games.
Talking about Martial’s injury, he insists he wasn’t willing to take any risks by playing the youngster.
“Anthony felt something and I’m a manager who is not taking risks,” he said.
“He is 20 years old. I have to take care of him so he didn’t play and Wayne had to play the striker’s position. He gave an assist to Juan Mata and it has been solved very well.”
Van Gaal added: “When a player says he feels something, he shall not play. I think you have to be fit – especially in this weather as that is a big difference. We have to see tomorrow (Sunday) if the muscle is tight.”
Martial’s absence was felt on the pitch as we lacked pace moving forward but Rooney was on hand in the second half to set up Mata for the decisive goal in the 1-0 win.
It was a risky decision for van Gaal to make, especially without Rashford on the bench but fortunately we managed to secure a crucial win and stay in the race for the top four.
With a trip to West Ham United on Tuesday, a last-day game against Bournemouth and the FA Cup final with Crystal Palace still to come, we need Martial fit and healthy if we’re to finish this season with a bang.