Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville inevitably sparked plenty of debate when he posted his Premier League Team of the Season on Twitter this morning.
One of the biggest talking points was the lack of any United players in the line-up, with Marcus Rashford’s absence particularly questionable.
Having often been accused of bias towards the Red Devils, there is undoubtedly a suspicion that Neville has slightly overcompensated on this occasion.
A tough call at first glance, but Neville has botched this one
There is little to choose between the two players in terms of headline statistics – Rashford has scored 16 goals in 33 games, and Martinelli has netted 15 in 36.
They each have five assists, their shooting accuracy and shooting success are similar and they both make a similar amount of forward passes.
However, Neville’s desperation to avoid accusations of bias has resulted in him making the wrong choice.
Martinelli has had a fine season with Arsenal – that point cannot be questioned. He has been helped in no small part by having a better team around him.
Producing a dreaded ‘combined XI’ of the two teams tells its own story – you’d be hard-pushed to select more than three United players. Rashford would be one of them.
The Arsenal forward’s statistics have been achieved with superb assistance from Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saya, Gabriel Jesus and others.
By contrast, United’s only other notable productive outlet has been Bruno Fernandes, and even he hasn’t quite hit the heights of previous seasons.
Rashford has largely carried United’s attack on his shoulders – a point that should have been sufficient to get him into Neville’s team.
If the United star had been in Arsenal’s line-up, he would likely have blown Martinelli’s numbers out of the water.
Attempting to avoid bias is an admirable trait, but Neville has made a mess of this one.