Manchester United FC

Even on a bad day, Marcus Rashford proves he's one of the Premier League's best

Jan 13, 2021, 1:15 PM GMT
Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford | Pool/Getty Images

Manchester United moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League table on Tuesday thanks to a 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor, in a game decided by a single moment of quality.

The first half was bizarre, with VAR intervening on several occasions to keep the game goalless, before United dominated the second half. As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side attempted to break down the solid Burnley defence, they looked to the quality options they have in attack.

Edinson Cavani had a fairly quiet night, nothing quite worked for Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes just didn't click during the game. Marcus Rashford was arguably the worst of the four, struggling to beat his man from the right hand side, but it was he who held the keys to the three points.

Despite a relatively poor performance, the 23-year-old picked up the ball on the right and found Paul Pogba with a pinpoint cross for the Frenchman to volley home the winning goal. It was Rashford's 50th goal involvement since the beginning of the 2019/20 season (36 goals, 14 assists) and means he has now been directly involved in 50% of United's goals away from home in this campaign.

It's a credit to the player that despite a poor performance, he still had a match-winning influence. It's something that he isn't being given enough credit for, but it's what the best players do constantly.

He did it against Wolves, scoring the winning goal in the 94th minute after what was a rather torrid display from everyone on the night. He did it against Sheffield United when the club went 1-0 down early on to drag the team back into a game they went on to win.

It's often the sign of a championship winning team when they can play poorly but still come away with a result, but it's the sign of a top level player that can do the same thing on an individual basis.

When Mohamed Salah is playing poorly, he inevitably still ends up on the scoresheet. When it's not quite clicking for Kevin De Bruyne, it's inevitable that he'll come up with a defence splitting pass to help Manchester City get points. Rashford is entering that realm of importance for United.

While the attention is on Fernandes, and deservedly so, Rashford is quietly going about his business and ensuring that his numbers match up with those top players. He has 14 goals this season in all competitions for United, bettered only by Fernandes and just eight goals short of his tally for the entirety of last season.

Since 2019/20, Rashford has played played 48 games in the Premier League, scoring 24 goals and registering 12 assists. Overall this is more goal contributions than Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Christian Pulisic and Anthony Martial in the same time period.

Marcus Rashford
Rashford is among the superstars of the Premier League players | Michael Regan/Getty Images

He's a threat for as long as he's on the pitch, whether it's working for him or not, because he has such a wide skillset. Whether it's running at players with his pace and skill, or linking play with his passing in congested areas, or using his excellent ball striking technique to cross or shoot from range, he is always making the defenders think and work hard.

Rashford's off the field work to give children free school meals even while they're not at school has earned him an MBE and critical acclaim across the UK. He is a household name even away from football now because of it, but his performances on the field are not suffering - despite what some strange takes will have you think.

He is the face of United, on and off the pitch, and if the charge towards the league title is to continue you can almost guarantee that Rashford will be involved in a big way.