In Focus: Defensive diamond Martinez shining bright for Red Devils
Lisandro Martinez has been a revelation for Manchester United this season.
Since arriving at Old Trafford from Ajax in the summer, the Argentine centre-half has quickly cemented himself in his new club's backline and is already an undroppable figure.
His defensive tenacity, battling spirit and pinpoint passing helped deliver the Red Devils' first major trophy since the Europa League in 2017 when they lifted the Carabao Cup last month.
This weekend, he will be hoping he can build towards another piece of silverware as United take on Fulham in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Ahead of that clash, we put Martinez under the microscope.
Lisandro the leader
Martinez plays a pivotal role in Erik ten Hag's team and has formed a solid partnership with Raphael Varane.
The Argentine is the more proactive defender than his fellow World Cup winner, regularly looking to step out and extinguish potential attacks.
United's No6 has blocked more shots (24) and recorded more interceptions (29) and clearances (86) than any of his team-mates this term.
Those contributions have helped the side to 11 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, behind only Arsenal and Newcastle heading into Matchday 28.
United boss Ten Hag has spoken highly of the 25-year-old's ability and hopes he can continue to be an influential figure at Old Trafford for years to come.
Ten Hag said: "I see [his nickname] 'the Butcher' in a positive way, not in a negative way. Martinez’s playing style is tough but not unfair.
"He is a defender, and he is defending in a good way because it is about positioning, anticipation and co-operation.
"It is sublime. It's extraordinary to work with him because he has that capacity and he wants to improve day by day. So it's nice to see his defending style.
"His attitude — everyone loves it. The fans love it, the defence loves it and it gives spirit to the team. When he is on the ball, he can deal with it.
"I like him as a player. I like the attitude and I hope that we can co-operate for a long time together."
Since joining United, Martinez has also become one of the team's key distributors.
The centre-half has completed a team-high 1,139 passes this season and has succeeded with all 12 of his attempted dribbles, demonstrating his importance to his side’s build-up play.
Additionally, the 5ft 7in ace has registered an exceptional 57 long balls and fired 107 passes into the final third.
His impressive ability to play line-breaking passes is crucial to helping the Red Devils attack with speed.
Coping without Casemiro
United's midfield general Casemiro was sent off against Southampton and will consequently miss the next four domestic games.
However, following the Brazilian’s dismissal, Martinez stepped up to keep a rejuvenated Saints side out.
He registered two tackles and two interceptions, as well as regaining possession seven times in the defensive third — with his defensive partner Varane impressed by how United coped in Casemiro's absence.
The Frenchman said: "Casemiro is a player who's very important for us. He brings balance to the team and to the squad.
"But we have a great squad and we have to find another balance without him. We have good players in every position on the pitch and we're ready for the next games."
Martinez’s ability to compensate for Casemiro’s absence will be crucial to United’s chances of positive results without their midfield anchor.
Fulham have enjoyed an impressive season under Marco Silva, with the Cottagers fighting for a spot in Europe next term.
Meanwhile, United look likely to secure a top-four finish and have been formidable in the FA Cup this term, beating Everton, Reading and West Ham by 3-1 scorelines.
The key battle in this fixture will be Martinez’s tussle with Fulham talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was out with injury the last time these two sides met.
The 28-year-old is suffering a scoring drought, with his last goal coming 10 games ago against Leicester — but he has still provided an assist in his last two FA Cup outings.
Martinez can expect a physical battle but will not be one to back down as 'the Butcher' aims to inspire his side to more silverware.