This post originally featured on our dedicated Red Devils Report site, reddevilsreport.com
All eyes will be on the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon when Manchester City host rivals Manchester United in a mouth-watering Premier League encounter.
Two men that will be looking to have an impact on the match, and write their names into ‘Manchester Derby’ folklore, will be Raheem Sterling and Anthony Martial.
The City and United attackers have enjoyed a stellar start to the campaign as Jose Mourinho’s men will be aiming to inflict the first league defeat of the season on their neighbours.
If you look towards the pitch at any direction on Sunday and near-on every player is worthy of being called a match-winner.
Here, we will be analysing two possible match-winners in Sterling and Martial by comparing their performances in the Premier League this season:
Running down the wing…
In the image below, we take a look at the attacking duo’s stats in the final third and straight off the bat Sterling is ahead of his man. The England international, who netted 18 league goals last term, is already beating Martial in the goal department with six strikes this season. Added with that, he also has five assists to his name, with his rival yet to register an assist for his teammates. However, it must be noted that Sterling has spent more time on the field of play (772 mins) than Martial (531).
Analysing the stats a little deeper and it vividly indicates that Sterling is doing more of the talking and having more of an impact in the final third. The 23-year-old is averaging 2.7 shots per game to Martial’s 1.7, though some will point towards the tactics of the men from Spain and Portugal, who are prowling the touchline in a passionate manner. Added with that, Sterling is on average dribbling significantly more (2) than his weekend opponent (1.1). The same story is told when looking at the number of times the duo have been fouled on average per match.
The area where Martial is, metaphorically speaking, beating his opponent for pace is in the technical department. Sterling’s stats don’t fare well, and despite the enormous improvements in his game since Pep Guardiola’s arrival, many will not be surprised. He has been dispossessed nearly three times per game this term, with Martial losing the ball on average of 1.6 times per game. Furthermore, Sterling’s bad touch has resulted in him having an average of 2.2 unsuccessful touches per game, with Martial coming in at 1.6.
Running down the wing… the other way!
This is a department where, to no-one’s surprise, Martial takes a big hit. The Frenchman is not known for his defensive work rate and you will see why in a minute. When it comes to average tackles and interceptions per game, Martial makes an average of 0.1 in both categories. The argument could be made that it is all about what happens in the final third, but he is being beaten in that department already. Saying that when you stick Martial him up against the man in blue then there is a difference. Sterling produces an average of 1.1 tackles per match added with his 0.7 interceptions per game. Impressive numbers for a player who spends most of his time in the final third.
Pass and move
This is Guardiola’s dreamland, so as expected, one of his student’s trumps his opponent in this category. Sterling makes an average of 42.6 passes per game whilst Martial makes 28.1. Not only is Sterling attempting more passes, but his accuracy is a lot better too. But the main stat which would irk United fans is assists. Sterling has already produced five assists this term whilst the France international is yet to put his name on the assists sheet. It could be argued that if Martial was wearing blue then his passing statistics would look a lot better, but even for the more defensive-minded Mourinho, the former Monaco man was soundly beaten in the previous category.
Just like the previous campaign, there is no doubt that Sterling is standing head and shoulders above Martial. But that could soon change if the Frenchman can continue his positive form in recent weeks. Whilst Sterling continues to add goals and assists to his name, United’s winger has a tendency to switch off and go missing during parts of the season. Saying that, he is in devastating form, at this moment in time, so it won’t be surprising to see him hit the winner at the weekend. Nor will you be left perplexed if he is substituted at half-time for a lacklustre display.