Manchester United need Marcus Rashford to break goal drought to ease Ronaldo reliance
Cristiano Ronaldo struck Manchester United’s winner over Norwich after winning a second half penalty. It was his 13th goal of the season.
Starting alongside him was Marcus Rashford, who is going through a troubled spell of his own right now.
After scoring in his first two matches after his return from an operation in October, Rashford has hit a wall. He is currently in the midst of a goal drought and his place is under threat.
Rashford has not scored a goal since October 30, when he netted the third goal in Manchester United’s 3-0 victory away at Tottenham.
The forward has now not netted for eight consecutive games, six of which he has started. While he has one assist, the cross for Ronaldo’s second goal against Arsenal, Rashford’s goal output has not been good enough.
In recent weeks he has been playing as a second forward, usually alongside Ronaldo, rather than on the left of a front three. It seems Rashford is still adjusting to the tactical tweak as he is not hitting the goals United need him to.
Against Norwich, Rashford had three shots and none of them were on target. In the match against Palace, Rashford did not even attempt a shot at goal, likewise against Chelsea, and just one shot on target from one attempt against Arsenal.
So in Rashford’s last four starts, he has attempted just four shots at goal, one of which has been on target.
Last season Rashford averaged 2.1 shots per game in the Premier League, this season that figure has been cut to 1.1 per game, per WhoScored.com.
His lack of goals therefore is not necessarily a product of wayward finishing, it is more that he is not getting into shooting positions or taking enough attempts.
It could be pointed perhaps that this might be a by-product of playing alongside Ronaldo, yet, against Chelsea when he failed to register a shot at goal, it was Jadon Sancho who lined up with Rashford in attack. The England forward’s struggles appear to be of his own making.
Does the bench beckon?
Rashford may have blown his last opportunity to keep his place in United’s win at Carrow Road over Norwich City.
Mason Greenwood contributed one goal and one assist in his first two appearances under new interim boss Ralf Rangnick, and was unlucky not to start ahead of Rashford in the last game. He will feel like he deserves his chance.
Edinson Cavani is also on the verge of a return, and he will be looking to resume his partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo which was devastating in their last Premier League game together away at Spurs, where Rashford came off the bench to score.
With Rangnick preferring a 4-2-2-2, Rashford is now competing with Greenwood and Cavani for a place, rather than playing alongside them, as the trio battle it out to partner Ronaldo in attack.
Ronaldo is playing well, and United need another goalscoring forward to ease reliance on the iconic number 7. Rashford is more than capable, but he is not showing it right now.
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