Raheem Sterling and Anthony Martial go into Sunday’s Manchester derby in the form of their lives and looking to inspire their respective teams to victory.
Sterling was in the headlines as City hammered Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday – for mixed reasons, first winning a penalty with a comical fall after kicking the ground but then scoring the third goal with a wonderful solo strike from long range.
Martial, meanwhile, has scored five goals in United’s last four Premier League games to leave manager Jose Mourinho hoping he signs a long-term contract, a dramatic turnaround from a pre-season in which he openly criticised the France international.
Here, Press Association compares the duo’s impact against each other and the rest of the top flight’s chief goal threats.
Sterling shines with goals and assists
Having had to work for his chance in the starting line-up, Martial’s goals have come in just 530 minutes of Premier League football this season. That is one of the best records in the top flight, but when assists are considered as well it is Sterling who stands out.
The England star has six goals and five assists in 768 minutes this term, meaning he has been directly involved in more than one goal per 90 minutes.
Among players with more than one goal or assist, his mark of 1.29 is bettered only by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard – with a league-high 1.42 after seven goals and four assists so far – Daniel Sturridge, with two goals in very limited action for Liverpool, and Tottenham’s Erik Lamela with four goals and an assist in 346 minutes.
Sterling’s team-mate Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Ross Barkley are the only other players over one goal or assist per 90, while Martial is at 0.85 despite not yet having an assist to his name.
That also ranks him behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Leroy Sane, Callum Wilson and Pedro, but ahead of the likes of Aubameyang’s Arsenal team-mate Alexandre Lacazette and Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Both Sterling and Martial have shown year-on-year improvement in recent seasons and are on track for new career-high marks in the early stages of the current campaign.
After an early-career peak with Liverpool of 0.57 goals or assists per 90 in 2013-14, Sterling had settled around the 0.4 mark until Pep Guardiola’s appointment as City manager. He then improved slightly to 0.47 in 2016-17, the Spaniard’s first year in charge, before making a huge leap forward.
Sterling contributed 18 goals and 11 assists to City’s record-breaking title success last season, good for a ‘goal involvement’ every 89 minutes or 1.01 per 90 – and even that mark is left in the shade by his barnstorming start this time around.
Martial has improved in similar fashion, from 0.51 goals or assists per 90 in his first season after arriving from Monaco in 2015 to 0.58, 0.80 last season and his current 0.85 mark.
His lack of assists leaves scope for that mark to improve still further – and consider, too, that Martial is almost exactly a year younger than Sterling, meaning an improvement to a full goal or assist per 90 would leave him on a par with Sterling at the same age.