Talking Numbers: Man United Press High, Maguire Does Well Again

Manchester United had a good chance of securing the second win of the season in as many matches, but Wolves continued to be the team that stops wherever they see them. In a 1-1 draw that was not filled with a lot of clear cut chances, a saved penalty from Rui Patricio was too much to miss out on. The Devils still have a good start to the season, with four points from two tough matches and there are some things the underlying numbers are showing us.

Not Many Chances

It was a closely fought game and in a way that neither team created much. Whilst expected goals are not ideal measure for a single match, sometimes they actually can tell a good story. That is such case, because according to Understat, Man United were expected to score 1.15 goals and Wolves only 0.31. In United’s number is included the penalty Pogba did not convert, which is worth 0.76 (as 76 per cent is the average at which penalties are being scored).

Without the penalty, the difference between the two teams is just 0.08 expected goals. In the end, Man United did not take by far the biggest chance of the match and the hosts scored from an unlikely long-range shot from Ruben Neves, worth just 0.03 xG per Understat’s calculations. Expected goals sum things up quite nicely this time, as Man United can only rue the unconverted penalty.

Man United Press High

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke a lot during pre-season about Manchester United becoming a team that presses the opposition a lot and it is good to see the Devils are becoming that team. Sure, things will take more time to perfect it, as there were some ‘irregularities’ both against Chelsea and Wolves, but it is a process that cannot happen over night. The match against Wolves showed some good things again in that regard, especially as it means Man United slowly start getting their own identity on the pitch.

The stat called PPDA – or passes allowed per defensive action in the opposition half – is a really good indicator of how hard a team presses. It does literally what its name says it does – it counts the average number of passes a team allows to the opposition in the opposition’s half. Man United’s PPDA against Wolves was at just 7.96, with the Devils pressing high up the pitch and trying to disrupt opposition’s game.

For a contrast, Wolves had PPDA of 21.61 and that goes well with the ‘eye test’ – you have seen Wolves pressing far less than the Devils. It’s still early to see how the team will press across the entirety of a season, but last season’s match at the Molineaux saw United at 11.73 in PPDA. Considering that match was also under Solskjaer’s guidance, it shows that a progress is being made in that regard.

Maguire Composed In Defence

And at last, this was another good performance from Harry Maguire. Man United did not keep a clean sheet, but considering how Wolves scored, you cannot be unsatisfied with the display of world’s most expensive defender. He was calm and composed, both in and out of possession. He kept the ball well (90 per cent of passes completed), he made six clearances, one successful tackle and one interceptin. He won possession nine times and won six out of seven aerial duels.

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