Manchester United continue their Premier League campaign this weekend with the match against Leicester City this Saturday night. It will be their 19th match of the campaign, after which the season will be halfway through.
It is, therefore, a good time to look at things Manchester United are doing on the pitch. Sitting in second, ahead of champions Chelsea, is not so bad. However, there is a feeling Man United are not doing as well as they did early into the season.
Sky Sports made an analysis of Manchester United going forwards. Their claims were that the Reds are not the same with and without Paul Pogba in starting XI. That is something we have all seen and pretty much everyone agrees with that. But what else?
Manchester United are creating less chances in general. The average chances created are sitting at 9.22 according to Sky Sports. However, after first seven Premier League matches, that average was at exactly 13. That was the period before the 0-0 draw at Anfield.
It was also when United seemed most fluent going forwards. Since then, Jose Mourinho’s players created 10 or more chances in only three out of 11 matches – against Newcastle, Brighton and Watford. Of course, factors like Pogba being absent and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s form vaporizing had an effect.
Manchester United’s defence had a lot of work this season. While no other team has conceded less than the Reds (12, same as Man City), there has been too many things for David De Gea to deal with.
United have been conceding 12.28 shots per match, a league average. That is not good enough, as even West Brom have been conceding 11.28. Of course, this does not have to be a huge problem, as Burnley have shown, but things could get tricky.
De Gea has been phenomenal and if he was just in a slightly poorer form, United would have certainly conceded more goals. What is a good indicator is that Man United face on average 18.42 shots per goal conceded. This makes them second best in the league, as Burnley are the only team that concedes more shots per goal conceded (24.33).
Where Can Manchester United Improve?
Manchester United need to improve chance creation and apply more pressure when defending.
The first part of this conclusion means that United have been good in attack, even though they did not create as much as other teams. Manchester United are overscoring their expected goals (39 scored, expected goals is at 32.31), which could mean the finishing has been of high quality. Yet, the chances created depend a lot on Pogba. If Ander Herrera plays alongside Nemanja Matic, it is expected for United not to create enough. Still, Man United will have to improve against bigger sides, as they created only 22 chances in those five matches.
The second part means opposition players easily get shooting opportunities. This does not necessarily mean the opposition is making high quality, dangerous shots. Yet, in this case that is exactly the truth. Manchester United were expected to concede 22 goals this season, yet the current number is just 12. When you remember all of De Gea’s heroics, it is not hard to understand why that is the case.