Talking Numbers: Digging Deeper Into Manchester United’s Loss To West Ham

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Manchester United lost yet again. For the third time in the Premier League this season, Manchester United have lost and for the third time they conceded three goals. The loss to West Ham could be best described as soft, as the Red Devils never looked like a side willing to fight all the way. In those circumstances, the Hammers took the most out of this match and earned the three points.

Here are some of the things we have noticed post-match, looking at the stats.

Nemanja Matic Is Not Ideal First Choice Passer

This has not been the case only against West Ham. Man United’s player with the most passes was Nemanja Matic. The Serbian midfielder is a good passer, but does not really offer much. He can be reliable with the ball and is good with preserving it with his long legs and strong physique. But he is not a player that is supposed to have 95 passes away at West Ham. Matic’s best comes when he is used in a slightly different role, a more defensive one, where he contributes with good passing as a partner to a technically more skilled midfielder.

Man United did not have such a midfielder on Saturday. Marouane Fellaini cannot do that job, and probably could not do what Matic did at West Ham, while Paul Pogba was further forward and could not make such an impact from such an advanced role.

Do Not Let West Ham’s Low xG Fool You

West Ham scored three goals while their xG was just 1.30. This means they overscored what was expected of them, but do not let that fool you completely. Expected goals are not perfect and they should be analysed. First, one of the goals came as an own-goal and that counts as 0.00 xG, as West Ham were lucky to score. Also, when the Hammers had a two-goal lead, they did not continue creating as many chances and taking as many shots, because they did not have to risk the lead.

In fact, the two goals Anderson and Arnautovic scored were by far their best chances, so it could be said this was a mixture of good finishing and taking the presented chances.

Plenty Of Dribbling, But Still Nothing Creative

Man United had attempted 22 dribbles in this match, but nothing really came of it. Getting past opposition players is good when you need to progress the ball when the passes cannot help you. What is more important than just dribbling past players is what the player with the ball does afterwards. And Man United players did not do much. Firstly, only seven of those 22 dribbles were successful, but only one of Martial’s three dribbles actually creating something good for Man United.

Pogba Remains Inefficient

Paul Pogba’s displays should not always be summarized by pure numbers, as context is needed. But, a person who watched the game could point out that this time that is exactly what could be done. Pogba was ineffective and passive. He did not create a single chance for his teammates, he was dispossessed five times and he made three shots, two of which were easily blocked from long range. Pogba never offered anything substantial to Man United’s display and no wonder he was subbed off.

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