Manchester United head into this weekend’s fixture with Everton aiming to keep the pressure on rivals Manchester City at the summit of the Premier League table.
United have only lost one league match since the start of November and will be on a real high following their 9-0 drumming of Southampton earlier this week.
In that match, striker Anthony Martial came off the bench at half-time to grab himself a second-half brace and simultaneously end a goal drought that had stretched for eight matches across all competitions previously.
These goals felt crucial for the Frenchman who has been under mounting pressure in recent weeks due not only to his lack of goals but also his general lack of contribution to the team’s overall play.
There’s even been talk that the team look a superior side without him, with Edinson Cavani in his place offering not only more of a goal threat but also a better work rate off the ball.
So far the Uruguayan international is averaging 0.47 goals per 90, whilst Martial’s average is just 0.33. Additionally, Cavani has averaged roughly 15 pressures per 90 minutes which again betters the average posted by Martial of 8.98.
Whilst questions of his work ethic and desire have naturally arisen during this recent below-par run, it’s more likely that a crisis of confidence has been the main reason for his struggles, as is the often the cause for any striker in the midst of a cold spell.
For this reason, his goals against Southampton would have been important to rebuilding his confidence, and so will the fact that United’s next opponents are Everton.
Sometimes, for reasons difficult to explain, certain players tend to produce some of their best performances and moments against specific sides, and in the case of Martial, Everton have proved to be one of these teams.
As highlighted in the above, the Frenchman has scored six times against the Toffees since coming to England, that’s the joint-highest number of goals against one opponent along with West Ham.
He’s also already scored against Carlo Ancelotti’s side this season when United won 2-0 at Goodinson Park in the Carabao Cup back in December.
Therefore, from a historical point of view at least, Everton have proven to be a favourable opponent for Martial in his United career to date.
If he can score again against them this weekend, then he’ll have netted three goals in a matter of days which will no doubt boost his confidence and get him back on the right track to again rediscovering his best United form.