Signed from Everton last summer for £75million, Romelu Lukaku is meeting expectations at Old Trafford having netted 24 times in 43 all-competitions appearances for the Red Devils.
The Belgian No.9 has been on a hot streak of late, too, directly contributing to seven goals in his last six games (five goals and two assists).
For the Seagulls, 34-year-old striker Glenn Murray has been in superlative form, breaking double figures in the top flight for the first time in his career, leading to calls for England manager Gareth Southgate to hand the veteran a first international cap ahead of the World Cup.
Murray’s 11 Premier League goals have helped Brighton climb to 11th in the table after promotion from the Championship last season.
With a place in the FA Cup semi-finals at stake, both Murray and Lukaku will be hopeful of firing their side to glory on Saturday.
When comparing the two centre-forwards statistically, as the above graphic shows, Lukaku comes out on top in most measures.
The 24-year-old former Anderlecht prodigy is finding high-quality chances more frequently, evidenced by his average of 0.51 expected goals per 90 minutes (xG90) versus Murray’s 0.36, and making marginally more completed passes per 90 minutes.
Lukaku, as the focal point of José Mourinho‘s star-studded attack, is proving more of a creative force than Murray. The older striker is yet to register an assist in the Premier League this term, while the United man already has seven to his name.
However, Lukaku’s return of 0.24 assists per 90 might be somewhat misleading when attempting to accurately measure his creativity. By their nature, assists are just as reliant on the player receiving the pass holding up their end of the bargain and scoring.
The expected assists (xA) metric is more instructive as it measures the xG value of the chance a player ‘creates’. Lukaku’s xA90 average of 0.08, juxtaposed with an actual assists per 90 of 0.24, shows his colleagues are finishing the opportunities he conjures at an above-average rate.
The Belgian’s statistical superiority is, in some part, owing to the fact he plays for a higher-ranking team who see more of the ball and tend to create more chances.
While both men are in fine form, Lukaku clearly leads the way when it comes to Football Whispers’ unique Player Performance algorithm. By analysing a player’s statistical performance over a rolling 25-game period, considering key performance metrics for every phase of play, we are able to assign a score out of 100.
The Red Devils striker is rated at 81.2, while Murray is at 75.2. For context, Sergio Agüero, at 91, is currently the Premier League’s highest-rated out-and-out striker according to our algorithm.
One key area where Murray comes out on top, however, is in his performance against his xG. While Lukaku’s game is more about high-volume chance-getting – i.e. getting into positions to receive a lot of chances and finishing them accordingly – Murray is showing he is able to do more with less, scoring at a rate which far exceeds his xG.
If these traits come to bear at Old Trafford on Saturday, Lukaku will prove the more regular threat, while Murray will be waiting for his one chance to strike.