Talking Numbers: Anthony Martial And The Skewed Brilliance

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In our third part of the ‘Talking Numbers’, we will discuss Anthony Martial and his numbers this season, but also last term. We will compare him to Marcus Rashford – we talked about him on Monday – and see why a is small sample size important for these statistical overviews.

Anthony Martial And World Class Numbers

Plain and simple: the French winger is having an astonishing season so far. He has been involved in 10 goals already, having played only 606 minutes. Six goals and four assists really the story on their own, but when you take a deeper stare at his numbers you see – world class.

Of course, ‘world class’ on its own does not mean too much. It is just a floccule when a player is playing at the highest level. More importantly, while all of these numbers assume we are talking about a player from the highest echelons of European football, Martial is still not there yet.

Martial has incredibly high numbers in four categories. He is scoring 0.89 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes (everything higher than 0.6 is superb), he makes 0.59 assists per 90 minutes (0.40 is where the world beating playmakers sit). That is not all. To have such high numbers, you have to do great in some other categories as well. For example, it is expected that Martial’s goal conversion percentage is high, as he had played only 606 minutes so far. And it is – 25% – as Martial is scoring from every fourth shot he makes.

And here we see how much he has improved on last year. His non-penalty goals stood at 0.22 per 90, considerably lower than this term. His goal conversion was only 9.61 percent and he was making a decent turnout of 0.27 assists per 90. Martial is more direct, finishes better than last season and his team-mates make more out of what he serves them.

Skewed Stats

Of course, when you play in a team that is scoring much more goals than they did previous season, it is expected that most of your attacking players are having better attacking stats – it is correlated.

However, Martial’s stats are ‘too good’. He has played only 6.73 full 90-minute matches which is not enough at this stage of the season to really have definitive opinion. His numbers will most probably drop with more time he spends on the pitch. And that is expected.

Though Manchester United fans should realise these numbers are skewed by a small sample, we could still draw some conclusions.


Anthony Martial is making better shots than last season. His expected goals per shot (xG/shot) amount to 0.12. Last season it was only 0.06. Since the start of 2016-17 season, Martial has not scored a single goal from outside of the box. And this season he is shooting less from long-range. Nine of his 13 shots in the league have come from central parts of the penalty area, only four of them from distance.

We can also conclude Martial is still prone to losing possession too often (2.67 this season, 2.61 per 90 last season), but he is also making more worthy passes in the final third. His key passes per 90 jumped from 1.44 to 2.52 this season and his expected assists per 90 (xA) grew from 0.21 last season to this term’s 0.39.

Over a whole season, we will have a better look how much has Martial improved. So far, we can with certainty say he is picking better positions when shooting, he is making most of his substitute appearances and he is simply finishing better than he used to.

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