Talking Numbers: Maddison v Matic, Creativity Problem And Pressing

Manchester United finally ended their winless streak, after beating Leicester City on Saturday. Marcus Rashford’s goal was enough to seal the win, but this was not a match that came without some problems in United’s game.

We spoke yesterday about four key things we have learned from this match, but today we are concentrating a bit more on the numbers behind this match and what are the underlying metrics telling us.

Not Many Opportunities

Neither side had many chances in this match. Obviously, the best chance in the whole match came early on, when Rashford converted his penalty, but apart from that, nothing hugely important happened. Expected goals are further confirming that, as the complete xG numbers were 1.10 for Man United and 0.46 for Leicester. Erase United’s 0.76 xG for the penalty, and you get less than a single goal in accumulated expected goals.

And that is a realistic representation of the match, too. Most of Leicester’s shots came from far out and United never had a menacing chance from the inside of the box.

Maddison Shows His Qualities

James Maddison has been rumoured with a potential move to Manchester United and those stories are probably not going to stop now. Whilst he did not convert his chance after just three minutes in, Maddison showed his qualities with the ball at his feet. He attempted seven dribbles on Saturday, completing five of them, progressing the ball forward nicely. Maddison, however, did not manage to create a chance for his teammates, but his display still caught the eye. Rumour mills will be full of his name.

Matic Struggles Defensively

Nemanja Matic, on the other hand, struggled in a position that mostly plays against opposition’s attacking midfielder – in this case Maddison. Matic attempted the most tackles of all Man United players, which is not a surprise. Still, from the seven tackles he attempted, he was successful only three times. That means he was dribbled past on four occasions and after 67 minutes, he was substituted as Fred got the opportunity. This was Matic’s second consecutive start for Man United, but the feeling is that Scott McTominay will still have priority for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Where Are The Chances Coming From?

We spoke yesterday about Man United’s midfield struggling to create chances and the reason we are mentioning that today again is that this stat shows nicely how unimaginative this performance mostly was. Man United had just four key passes overall, but two of them came from right-winger-made-left-back Ashley Young. Obviously, both of those key passes came from corner kicks, which implicates that United created only two chances from open play. That is simply not good enough.

Good Pressing Displays

And finally, a bit of a talk about pressing. We spoke a couple of weeks ago about PPDA, the metric that shows the intensity of a team’s pressing. The lower the number better the pressing and both teams did well in this department. Obviously, the eye test of simply watching the match shows enough in this regard, but it is worth pointing out that Man United’s PPDA was 9.72, while Leicester’s was even better – 4.77!

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