Nani, who scored the only goal of the game at Sunderland on Sunday, has been in tip-top form this term, particularly since the turn of the year.
He's found the net four times in his last four United starts, but did you know those goals (against Sunderland, Tottenham and Bayern Munich (2)) were the winger’s first for United since August? Probably not. But it’s precisely because Nani’s all-round contribution was so significant that his lack of goals went largely unnoticed.
The well-held view that he's producing his best form since signing from Sporting Lisbon in 2007 is borne out in the statistics above, which show the impact the winger has had when he's taken to the pitch (and, perhaps more tellingly, when he doesn’t). For instance, United in 2009/10 win more often, score more goals and lose far fewer games when Nani plays. And of the 11 defeats United have suffered this season, only one has come when Nani has started. Even then – away to Bayern Munich – he won the free-kick and whipped in the resulting cross from which Wayne Rooney scored.