Man Utd’s synchronized forward line more productive than Barca’s

Top of the Premier League and one of two English teams to emerge from a favourable round of Champions League fixtures with a victory, Manchester United have plenty to be buoyant about.

Aside from the obvious confidence winning games and leading leagues brings, the Red Devils’ rapidly-gelling forward line adds to the blood-orange aura around Old Trafford.

Just how effective an attacking quadrant of Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay would be was uncertain this season, despite lofty expectations and hundreds of millions spent assembling them.

However, as Martial unveils a new string to his line-leading bow with every outing, and Mata dismisses critics with continued star turns, Louis van Gaal can already lay claim to some of the Premier League’s most potent weaponry.

Indeed, the four-piece have had a hand in more top-flight goals than the forward lines of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – their Champions League brethren.

Throw in European appearances and the productivity the Red Devils receive from their attacking pack looks even better.

Martial, Memphis, Mata and Rooney have provided 15 goals or assists in their top-flight and continental outings. Arsenal have Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey to thank for 14, while Chelsea and City’s first-choice attacks are languishing behind on seven each.

Half of Man Utd’s forward line celebrate a Kyle Walker own goal against Tottenham

In a week when the validity of the Premier League’s power in Europe has been questioned, it is poignant that the majority of the continent’s elite all boast better records.

Bayern Munich’s poker-hot pairing of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, in combination with new arrival Douglas Costa, have helped the Bavarians to a whopping 30 goals or assists across the Bundesliga and Champions League this term.

While Pep Guardiola’s behemoths are unrivalled at the top of list, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain both better United’s output with 25 and 18 forward-line goals or assists respectively.

As a feather in Van Gaal’s cap though, he can currently claim to have a better forward line than Barcelona’s celebrated goal-machine trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Those three, who were the talk of the town in scoring 122 all-competition goals between them last season, have only contributed to 14 (assists included) across La Liga and the Champions League this time around.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.