Man United striker proves he may not be a natural number 9 as Champions League stats have him emphatically first in negative metric

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It’s natural that some forwards will be played in the wider areas when they first break into senior football because it’s seen as a safer option and their pace could cause problems on the flanks.

The problem is that they can start to lose their ruthlessness in front of goal and drift towards becoming a creator rather than a goal scorer, so you need to make a decision pretty quickly for their long term future.

Anthony Martial has been caught in that bind for years where he bounces between playing as a 9 or wide on the left where he can cut back inside, but it does look like his scoring touch has started to desert him.

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Even when he plays through the middle he starts to drift into the wider areas in search of space so it’s hard to tell where he’s most effective just now.

Whoscored have looked at some of the stats from the Champions League this season, and this is another clear sign that Martial is really struggling to take the big chances when they come along:

From Martial’s point of view you need to look at the positives here and be encouraged that he’s getting into the right areas, but it just looks like he needs to get some confidence back and develop that deadly touch in front of goal.

He will need Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s patience and confidence to allow him to keep playing through the middle to make that happen, but you do wonder how long he’ll get for club or country before he’s written off and pushed back onto the wing again.