If Man Utd are ‘better’ with Anthony Martial, Harry Maguire should be starting too…

Will Ford

In response to questions about Anthony Martial leaving Manchester United this summer, asked because Anthony Martial definitely should be leaving Manchester United this summer, Erik ten Hag said his side “play better” with the Frenchman in the team.

When the alternative is Wout Weghorst, Ten Hag is absolutely right. United earn more Points Per Game (2.11:1.56), score more goals per 90mins (1.43:1.26), and concede fewer (0.82:1.26) when Martial is playing ahead of Weghorst.

But if Ten Hag is saying Martial is playing for the betterment of the team as a whole, according to those same stats, the much-maligned Harry Maguire – who’s just got himself another England call-up to spark predictable incredulity – should be playing too.

We’ve looked at the United captain’s stats in the Premier League compared to his fellow centre-backs at Old Trafford.


Points Per Match

Harry Maguire – 2.47
Raphael Varane – 1.91
Lisandro Martinez – 1.85
Victor Lindelof – 1.83

What that figure shows is that if Maguire had played every minute for Manchester United this season, they would have won the Premier League. It does though count Maguire’s various substitute appearances as whole matches, and he has featured for a total of 29 minutes in seven wins and a draw.


Goals Allowed (while on pitch) per 90mins

Harry Maguire – 0.80
Raphael Varane – 1.04
Victor Lindelof – 1.06
Lisandro Martinez – 1.40

Manchester United haven’t conceded a Premier League goal with Maguire on the pitch since the 4-0 defeat to Brentford in August. 489 minutes, including five full 90s, no goals. Zero, zilch, zip, nada.

United would have conceded the same number of goals as West Ham and Wolves had Martinez played every game. You can take that apology back, Carra.


Goals Scored (while on pitch) per 90mins

Victor Lindelof – 1.74
Harry Maguire – 1.73
Lisandro Martinez – 1.49
Raphael Varane – 1.19

Well fine, but presumably United’s attack suffers. Errrm, nope. In fact it’s Varane who sucks the life out of United if anyone does. Maybe they should go back to the trusty Lindelof/Maguire axis?


xG scored minus xG allowed (while on pitch) per 90mins

Harry Maguire – +0.88
Victor Lindelof – +0.81
Lisandro Martinez – +0.17
Raphael Varane – +0.16

Even xG is on the big man’s side, and once again Lindelof’s score is also significantly better than both Martinez and Varane, who would no doubt suggest we look at the opposition they’ve played against compared to their centre-back rivals. We could do that, but would also then be forced to remind them of the seven goals they conceded as a centre-back pairing against Liverpool.