Marcus Rashford will be missing for the next few matches at the very least, after being withdrawn at the weekend with a groin injury. Since the turn of the year, the England international has been one of the in-form players in European football, scoring at a very impressive rate for Manchester United. Erik ten Hag will now need to find a way to replace the talismanic forward, as they continue to compete on multiple fronts. With the top four far from secure, it could be a tense end to the season at Old Trafford.
Since the World Cup, Rashford has scored 20 goals across all competitions, while adding five assists. It is an incredible run of form and one that has led to him emerging as one of the best attackers in Europe. The potential has always been there with the academy graduate, but a mixture of injuries and confusion over best position have restricted his development. The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo also hindered him, as the Portuguese legend became the leader of the attack. Rashford had to take on a secondary role and that didn’t suit him. Now, it is clear that he is the main man and he has benefited from that certainty.
Manchester United have scored 24 Premier League goals since the restart and Rashford has scored 11 of those, just shy of 50%. That underlines how talismanic he has been. No other player has scored more than three Premier League goals in the same period.
Rashford has averaged 0.65 expected goals (xG) per ninety minutes during this time. This is the highest average in the Manchester United squad. Anthony Martial is just back from injury and averaging 0.62 xG per ninety minutes. It will be hoped that the Frenchman can step up in Rashford’s absence, but he is still building up his own match fitness.
Antony and Jadon Sancho are others that ten Hag will need to improve. The former seems to be trusted more, but he hasn’t contributed a single Premier League goal or assist since the World Cup. There are a lot of doubts about whether he will ever be a reliable attacking force in the Premier League.
Sancho has shown more in the final third, with flashes of quality in recent weeks. The England international has added two goals and an assist in the league, but he is a player that isn’t fully trusted by the coaching staff. There is a long way to go before he is established at the club. It would be asking a lot for him to replace Rashford on his own.
In terms of being a talisman, Bruno Fernandes will be the player that the team look towards. Since the restart, he has three goals and five assists. Recently, he has been playing deeper, but it is likely he will be moved to a more advanced role during Rashford’s absence.
Ten Hag has a tricky few weeks ahead of him. The two players he can’t replace easily are Casemiro and Rashford. He has had to be without the former and he is now without the latter.
There will be hope that Martial can come in and offer a goal threat in attack. Meanwhile, Fernandes can step up and contribute more, but if Rashford is missing for a longer period, it is a real concern for Manchester United in the short term.
Stats taken from Understat