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In the eighth moment of asking, Manchester United striker Anthony Martial finally opened his Premier League account for the season with a goal against Sheffield United.
As a supposed forward, the goals will always be bread and butter, or “pain au du buerre” in the case of the French. However, despite Martial’s goal drought, he has shown that his use of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils extends well beyond the number of times he makes the ball hit the back of the net, contrary to popular belief.
When Martial regained his number nine jersey last season, it was clear that moving forward, leading the Manchester United line was his main wish. The decision to hand him the jersey was also justified, as he finished as the club’s top scorer during the 2019/20 season and collected the Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
Martial was no longer the ‘grumpy’ winger, he was scoring goals that would produce a smile. Interestingly, one of his highlights as a center forward last season was when he beat Sheffield United in a 3-0 win over the Blades.
However, this season, with suspension problems and minor injuries, Martial has been unable to get going in front of goal. However, as a number nine, he has shown a new dynamic in his game and that is one that favors the team even when he is not scoring.
Martial’s name as a forward who doesn’t score, but who is crucial in the way his team plays, is not as attractive as Roberto Firmino or even Harry Kane this season, but that is the role he has taken on for the Red Devils. , even though he will always find the net (eventually) given his natural instincts in front of goal.
Against Sheffield United, Martial created the most opportunities of any Manchester United player, including Bruno Fernandes. In addition to showing off his creative skills with an assist and 14 last third passes, the Frenchman showed a more robust side to his game with three ball recoveries.
Of course, any player can create a series of opportunities as unique. But this has not been unique with Martial.
Despite playing significantly fewer minutes than Firmino, he has created a third of the ‘great opportunities’ the Brazilian has this season, in five fewer games. Going back to last season, Martial finished the season with eight great opportunities created, compared to Firmino’s 10 in the Premier League, while finishing just two behind the Liverpool man in terms of assists.
While the stats are not identical or better, they are extremely similar.
Martial is respected at Manchester United, where he should be scoring all the goals, while Firmino’s minor goal returns are explained as his unique role in a team that has Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah scoring a ton of goals.
When you consider that Marcus Rashford scored 22 last season and Mason Greenwood 17, the logic doesn’t add up when it comes to Martial: He’s not just a provider, he’s also a clinical finisher.
One of his goals this season is a slim comeback for him, and it’s a number that Martial will have set about improving quickly. But as his game evolves and he continues to play a central role for United, it is clear that the former Monaco star is not your typical forward. Edinson Cavani is an absolute scorer, Martial is much more complete and will put up the hard yards with his play and link movement.
So please put aside the rhetoric that Martial is not scoring enough goals and take off our Firmino polarized glasses; they are more similar than you might think, and the United striker should be judged as the type of striker he really is.