Van Persie v Rashford: How do the 30-goal seasons compare?

Saturday 27 May 2023 19:00

Marcus Rashford's second-half effort in Manchester United's 4-1 victory over Chelsea on Thursday was his 30th goal of the season, making him only the 12th player to achieve the feat for the Reds.

The last time a United reached the total was during our title-winning 2012/13 campaign, when Robin van Persie finished the season with 30 strikes to his name.

Marcus still has two matches remaining - Sunday's Premier League clash with Fulham and the FA Cup final against Manchester City on 3 June - and could surpass the great Dutch striker's total by the time the 2022/23 campaign is over.

But with 54 matches under his belt this term so far, Rashford has reached the magical 30-goal mark, prompting us to compare his 2022/23 output to van Persie's 2012/13, thanks to Opta... 

Rashford's 30 goals in 2022/23 Video

Rashford's 30 goals in 2022/23

Player highlights | See how homegrown hero Marcus Rashford hit the 30-goal milestone across all competitions…

In 2012/13, van Persie reached 30 goals in 48 matches. Rashford has taken an extra six to hit that tally.

It is worth noting, however, that Marcus has played in a number of positions this term, whether being deployed as a left-winger or leading the line. Van Persie, as we know, was a central striker, and a deadly one at that.

Rashford only took four fewer starts than van Persie to get to 30 goals, being named in Erik ten Hag's XI 44 times, as opposed to Robin's 40 inclusions from the off.

Marcus's goal against Chelsea on Thursday, for example, came after our no.10 was substituted on in the first half, following Antony’s injury and subsequent withdrawal.


When you look close at the conversion rate of both players, the picture gets more interesting, too.

Rashford achieved the tally having had 159 shots, as opposed to van Persie’s 169. On these statistics alone, you could determine that Marcus is the deadlier of the two, but the spread of goals adds an extra layer to the comparison.

RvP notched a remarkable 26 times in the Premier League during 2012/13, while Rashford has 17 league goals to his name so far, with Sunday’s match against Fulham still to come.

Having found the net in the league and all three cups that we have competed in this year (Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup), Marcus’s efforts are distributed more evenly than his Dutch counterpart.

Van Persie only scored four cup goals in 2012/13, but three of these were in the Champions League, a competition United return to next season.

All The Goals: Robin van Persie Video

All The Goals: Robin van Persie

All The Goals | Watch all of Robin van Persie's finishes from his incredibly popular spell as a United player...


Despite the variation in competitions they have got goals in, the method in which both forwards found the net in their 30-goal seasons is similar.

Van Persie scored three penalties, compared to Rashford’s one (against Everton in the Emirates FA Cup third round), and also scored direct from a free-kick - a feat Marcus is yet to achieve this term.

Rashford appears to be more impactful in the second half of matches, as he found the net 21 times after the break, compared to Robin's 13. However, van Persie was more prolific in first halves, scoring 17 compared to Marcus's nine during the opening 45 minutes.

Both strikers are close in terms of goals with their favoured foot (Rashford's right and van Persie's left), with Marcus notching 21 times and RvP 20. The tallies for their weaker feet (van Persie 7, Rashford 5) are also similar.

Inside the box, there was nothing choose between the duo, with both racking up 26 goals, and Marcus’s four headers is just one more than Robin’s tally for 2012/13.

The full van Persie interview Video

The full van Persie interview

Robin van Persie discusses the impact of Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford and his own coaching work...


When Rashford scored against Chelsea on Thursday, he became the joint-fourth highest scorer for United at Old Trafford in a single season, moving level with Wayne Rooney behind Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 2001/02 (28 goals) and 2002/03 (21 goals) campaigns and Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2007/08 (26 goals).

When van Persie found the net 18 times away from home in 2012/13, he set a record for any United player in the Premier League era. This achievement is still yet to be matched by any Red to date.


Van Persie and Rashford are two very different players. One relies primarily on his pace and power, whereas the other played centrally and utilised his deadly left foot.

The stats reflect the variation between the two further, whether it be how prolific they are at home or away, or whether they scored more of their goals in the Premier League than in other competitions.

But, they are bound by one simple factor: they know how to find the back of the net.

Marcus still has two matches to try and surpass RvP's 30-goal tally and, at 25, there are many more years for him to try and match or eclipse other goalscoring accolades held by great United forwards that have graced the Old Trafford pitch.

It’s been 10 years since Old Trafford has seen a scoring season quite like van Persie’s 2012/13, but under the tutelage of RvP's compatriot Ten Hag, there is a feeling that Rashford is growing into a player who can take on that mantle.

*All statistics used in this article are taken from Opta.


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