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How will Marcus Rashford’s Expected Goals affect Manchester United in 2019-20?

In two of the last three Premier League seasons, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford failed to exceed his Expected Goals (xG) target. Last season saw Rashford score 10 Premier League goals which were 1.61 fewer goals than his xG target of 11.61. So, how will Rashford’s xG tally effect Manchester United in 2019-20?

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Rashford’s promising rise

Rashford debuted for Manchester United at the age of 18 and surprised everyone with his pace and finishing in the second half of the 2015-16 season. Rashford played just 11 games in the Premier League scoring five goals in 870 minutes of football.

In his debut season, Rashford’s xG of 3.03 was well exceeded. Yet, inconsistencies in his goal scoring have seen his xG fluctuate over the last three seasons.

Rashford hit double digits in Premier League goal scoring for the first time in 2018-19 with his 10 strikes. With his inconsistencies apparent and Manchester United’s team finishing sixth last season, there should be questions over whether Rashford can reach double digits once more.

The Manchester United N0. 10 finished tied for third in most team Premier League goals with 10. Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were the only two better off. Meanwhile, Anthony Martial finished on 10 as well.

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Rashford’s new contract

The striker signed a new Manchester United contract earlier this summer. He will remain at Manchester United until 2023 and earn a whopping £200,000-per-week, or £10.4 million per season. At just 21, Rashford is still the future of Manchester United’s attack, especially if Lukaku is sold to Inter Milan this summer.

Like Rashford, Lukaku underperformed in xG goals last season. Despite bagging 12 Premier League strikes, the Belgian was 1.11 goals off the pace. His xG tally of 13.11 was slightly missed. In addition, Lukaku missed the mark of 2.32 Expected Assists thanks to his goose egg in the Premier League.

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Of course, Lukaku’s poor performances last season aren’t a revelation as Manchester United supporters bemoaned the striker’s awful play for much of the term.

But how did Lukaku and Rashford compare last season? First off, Rashford played 247 more Premier League minutes than Lukaku. The Belgian was able to tally two more goals while Rashford did set up six more goals than his teammate.

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Rashford’s assist numbers, six in the league, exceeded his xA of 5.27.

How did Rashford score his goals?

The striker’s 2018-19 goals came from three situations: eight from open play, one from a sensational free-kick, and another form a set piece. Only three goals came from outside the penalty area, or 30% of his strikes during the season.

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The figure shows Rashford can score from long range, but when comparing his three goals outside the 18-yard box to his misses or saved shots from long range, it shows that the striker isn’t quite as prolific.

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Some of Manchester United’s poorer results during the 2018-19 campaign can be down to poor shot selection. The Red Devils turn the ball over with long-range shooting, killing possession and attacks. That 30 % of Rashford’s goals outside the penalty area were fantastic to watch, but the eight he scored inside it were better. Remember, only two goals from outside the area came from open play.

Rashford may have immense potential, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs him to be closer to goal if the Englishman is to score more goals in 2019-20.