Manchester United’s lack of creativity adds to Anthony Martial’s goal drought

Manchester United Old Trafford 2

A look at Manchester United's creativity in the final third alongside Anthony Martial's struggle to find the back of the net.

21 minutes after stepping foot into the Premier League, Anthony Martial had made an instant impact by scoring the killer goal in Manchester United’s 3-1 win over rivals Liverpool.

The following weekend, the teenage French striker was handed his first Premier League start, repaying Louis van Gaal for his trust by scoring two goals in a 3-2 win at Southampton.

At one stage, Martial had scored three goals in less than 90 minutes of English football. Since then, the goals have dried up, he’s played more games on the left wing than up front and prior to facing West Ham United today, the France international is 536 minutes without a goal in all competitions for the Red Devils.

So what has gone wrong with the big-money striker?

Simply, Manchester United do not create enough chances for all of their possession and dominance of games.

Anthony Martial’s movement when he plays up front certainly has a say on this because that’s one area of his game the youngster, who turns 20 today, can improve greatly.

Finishing in front of goal has not been a problem for the former AS Monaco man, but getting in those scoring positions has been.

The table below shows the number of passes every Premier League team has taken on average between shots after 14 games this season:

TeamPassesShotsPasses per Shot
Manchester United 7,947 146 54
Stoke 5,789 140 41
Swansea 6,834 166 41
Newcastle United 5,353 132 41
Aston Villa 5,838 148 39
Bournemouth 6,767 177 38
West Bromwich Albion 4,701 125 38
Everton 6,456 172 38
Chelsea 6,972 196 36
Norwich 5,681 172 33
Liverpool 6,849 208 33
Sunderland 4,865 150 32
Arsenal 7,856 244 32
Southampton 6,278 201 31
Manchester City 7,726 248 31
Watford 5,368 176 31
Tottenham 6,477 220 29
West Ham 5,517 189 29
Crystal Palace 5,089 182 28
Leicester 4,714 200 24

As you can see, Manchester United come out far and above every other team here; more than twice as many passes per shot compared to Leicester City, who are above them in the Premier League table.

Arguably, the Foxes play a counter attack style and Manchester United like to pass the ball around in their own half to help dominate their possession statistics.

Anyone who has watched Louis van Gaal’s side this season will be able to tell how slow they are in the opposition half in creating chances. The next table highlights that, as again, United top this table showing the number of passes in the final third per shot:

TeamFinal Third PassesShotsFinal Third Passes per Shot
Man Utd 2,436 146 17
Chelsea 2,644 196 13
West Brom 1,606 124 13
Everton 2,003 172 12
Bournemouth 2,042 177 12
Newcastle 1,490 132 11
Arsenal 2,747 244 11
Man City 2,790 248 11
Norwich 1,930 172 11
Stoke 1,533 140 11
Aston Villa 1,598 148 11
Liverpool 2,209 208 11
Watford 1,868 176 11
Swansea 1,682 166 10
Southampton 1,993 201 10
Crystal Palace 1,721 182 9
Sunderland 1,383 150 9
Leicester 1,775 201 9
West Ham 1,637 189 9
Tottenham 1,850 220 8

Interesting to see struggling Chelsea in at number two.

For Anthony Martial, the numbers aren't pretty. In nine Premier League appearances, totalling 745 minutes, the striker-come-winger has only managed 11 efforts on goal. Luis Suarez used to attempt similar numbers per game in his final season at Liverpool, when he won the Premier League Golden Boot!

A frustrating time up front for the youngster who clearly has the ability to be a star in this league and win the Golden Boot himself one day, but the system currently isn't working for him. Playmakers such as Juan Mata and Ander Herrera aren't being used to their full potential under van Gaal.

  AppearancesMinutes PlayedMins per GoalShots per Minute
Anthony Martial 9 745 248 68

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