Talking Tactics

Martial ready to be United's leading man after Ronaldo exit

By Adrian Clarke 23 Dec 2022

Adrian Clarke highlights the abilities of a forward getting a goal or assist every 50 minutes

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Anthony Martial (MUN)

Manchester United will resume their 2022/23 campaign boosted by the availability of Martial.  

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The 27-year-old forward’s season has been disrupted by hamstring, Achilles and back injuries, but he has impressed when involved.  

In his seven appearances in all competitions this term, Martial has scored four goals and laid on two assists.  

Two of those goals and both of the assists have come in the Premier League, with the Frenchman making a direct goal contribution every 50.3 minutes in the top flight.  

Of the players who have delivered at least two goals and two assists, Martial is second only to Manchester City striker Erling Haaland for minutes per direct goal involvement ahead of Matchweek 17. 

Direct goal involvements 2022/23*
Player Total Mins/involvement
Haaland 21 49.6
Martial 4 50.3
Nunez 7 86.6
Foden 10 91.0
Firmino 10 93.6

*Minimum two goals and two assists

Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Old Trafford should mean Martial becomes a regular starter in the centre-forward role, although manager Erik ten Hag has stated he is in the market for another striker.  

While Ten Hag has used Marcus Rashford in that position, he seems to prefer playing Martial down the middle, with Rashford moved to the left side of the attack.  

That was how Man Utd lined up in their last Premier League match, a 2-1 win at Fulham 

Productive when fit 

Martial has not enjoyed a long run of appearances in the first team since the 2019/20 season, when he produced an impressive 17 goals and six assists.

Across his seven and a half seasons with Man Utd, he has only reached 20 Premier League starts in two campaigns.

Yet overall, his record is pretty strong. He has scored 58 times, averaging a goal every 205 minutes.  

When you factor in his 28 assists, Martial has contributed directly to a goal every 138.8 minutes in the Premier League.    

Eye for a killer pass

Martial provides Man Utd with pace, creativity and strong finishing from the No 9 position.

He has the speed to make runs in behind defences. And, as he showed when supplying assists for Rashford in the 2-1 win v Liverpool and Antony in the 2-1 victory at Everton, he can also play precise through-balls that release team-mates for 1v1 situations. 

Man Utd have scored 17 times in Martial’s seven outings this term, averaging 2.4 goals per match.

Without him, they have scored 17 in 14 contests, averaging just 1.2 goals a match.  

Martial’s return is great news for Ten Hag and United.  

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