After joining Manchester United last summer, Anthony Martial has made a significant impact in his first season at Old Trafford.
The French international was under pressure to produce for the Red Devils, particularly with Louis van Gaal side’s struggling for goals in general after opting to rely on youth having sold the likes of Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie.
While Martial has stepped up for the most part with 12 goals and eight assists in 44 appearances in all competitions, he has been moved around by Van Gaal as he has alternated between being played out wide and as the main striker.
According to Opta, as reported by Sky Sports, a pattern has emerged as to where the former Monaco star has been more decisive when starting on the left flank, as he has four goals and two assists in 13 starts compared to two goals and one assist in nine starts as a striker.
Martial’s total shots, shots on target, chances created, successful dribbles and touches per game are all better when starting out wide, and so it appears as though Van Gaal must find a way of allowing the Frenchman to play in his preferred role.
It will not only help the youngster continue his own development, but it is evidently making an impact for the team already despite the fact that he is still just 20 years of age.
Similarly to many youngsters around Europe over the years, and specifically with Thierry Henry with whom Martial has been compared to in the past, Martial appears to be enjoying more success out wide where he can use his pace and trickery to good effect.
His movement and ability to run the channels stretches the opposition defence and creates space for others, whereas when made the focal point of United’s attack, their rivals seemingly have an easier time of dealing with the threat that he poses.
In turn, it appears as though Van Gaal will have to allow Martial to play on the left for the benefit of both parties. However, with Wayne Rooney still out injured, it will be down to others including the likes of Marcus Rashford to find the goals as the main striker to ensure that the pressure isn’t entirely on a potential future Old Trafford hero.