To challenge for the Premier League title you need players that can put the ball in the back of the net. This isn’t a revelation by any means but the importance of a goal scorer is often undervalued. Clubs try to cut corners when bringing in these sorts of players as they know the quality ones cost the big money.
If you cast your eyes to the 2013/14 season you’ll remember Liverpool came so close to the title, in part due to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. A decent striker can change your season from average to amazing.
Chelsea spent over £32 million on Diego Costa and Manchester City spent over £30 million on Sergio Aguero. The Argentine hitman has fired City to two Premier League titles in the past 4 years and the adopted Spaniard was key in Chelsea winning the title in 2014/15. Short term it was a large outlay but their influence on these title wins rewarded their clubs in the long run.
If you look at the pretenders for the title this season you have Arsenal, who primarily use the £12 million pound Oliver Giroud, and Manchester United who had Wayne Rooney, their all action defensive-midfielder/number 10/wide-man/striker. This is the reason they’ve fallen short over the past few seasons. Giroud seems to score plenty but at the same time he misses plenty, he’s not an elite striker. United missed the injured Robin Van Persie and never replaced his goals. Until they signed Anthony Martial.
Have United signed their Costa or Aguero?
The French youngster has lit up Old Trafford since his big money move from Monaco. If you’re familiar with Ligue 1 you’d have known United were getting a player with serious potential. There have been some comparisons to a Premier League icon, Thierry Henry.
In an interview on ligue1.com, he said:
“There have been some fantastic strikers here, like Sonny Anderson, Trezeguet and Henry too – I think he’s here – yes, Thierry Henry.”
Born in the same Paris suburb as the ex Arsenal legend, there are some similarities between the two strikers you really can’t ignore.
Martial has explosive pace yet for all the power in his running you rarely see a heavy touch with the ball at his feet. Premier League viewers regularly witnessed Thierry Henry square up his marker before turning him inside out and using his pace to carry him away. It’s this mannerism that Martial has and he used it to complete devastation against Martin Skrtel as he scored the third United goal in a 3-1 win.
How does he fare against his rivals?
The sample is only small for now and the minutes played by these 4 strikers are completely different but it’s worth a look.
As a striker you need to be able to link play up, so pass competition is important. Out of the 4 strikers we’re looking at it’s Martial who has the worst pass success rate with 67%, only 1% less than Giroud which is a surprise.
Next up is shot accuracy. In a league were chances are at a minimal it’s a must for strikers to make the most of their chances. You can’t be missing chances. Martial is joint top alongside Oliver Giroud with the other two chasing. Sergio Aguero is on 56% and Diego Costa on 50%. However to add some context to this Martial has only had 5 shots this season whereas Giroud has had 19, Costa 11 and Sergio Aguero 25. If after 20 plus shots Martial is still around the 60% mark then United are onto a winner and he’ll be scoring goals regularly.
Chances created and assists are also a good stat to look at when looking at your striker to see how much of a team player they are. Diego Costa creates more chances for his teammates than the other 3 strikers here and all of them except for Martial create over 1 chance per 90, so this is an area in which Martial has to improve as the season progresses.
Obviously the goals scored stat isn’t sustainable. Last season Diego Costa averaged 0.87 goals per 90 and Sergio Aguero averaged 0.93 per 90. These were the elite strikers in the League so if Martial is around that mark come May then United will more than likely be in with a shot at the title.
It’s still very early but have United found their match winner in Martial?