Manchester United failed in their pursuit of the second Premier League win of the season, as they made their winless streak go up to three matches. The draw at Wolves and a loss against Crystal Palace have shown that this team will have a lot of ups and downs this season, but nothing truly changed against Southampton on Saturday.
There are some broader things we could look at with a positive feeling, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer truly is trying to implement a new style of play. But overall, three consecutive matches where United are not winning matches against weaker sides tells that this team still has a lot to change.
Here are some of the things we learned from the 1-1 draw at St Mary’s through looking at some numbers.
Lack Of Finishing
Man United outscored their opponents in expected goals in all four of their Premier League matches this season, but they won only against Chelsea. It was a similar story against Southampton as it was in the previous two matches – United had better chances, but were still unconvincing in most of the things they did.
Lack of finishing proved to be a problem once again, as Rashford failed to convert two decent chances and early opportunity went off target. Those three chances alone amounted to 0.92 expected goals per Understat, which means one of those was expected to be converted. In the end, the one that was converted was that of Daniel James, who continues to overperform his expected numbers.
His expected goals so far are 1.05 goals, but he has already scored three. What helped him here was a good conversion from decent, but not ideal positions and time will tell if this was only a hot streak or James is actually a really good finisher over a course of the season.
Andreas Pereira Offered Nothing Against Saints
Andreas Pereira started on right wing due to Solskjaer having problems with personnel and if he was expected to show some strength of depth of this team, than he failed miserably. His performance did not offer anything and that was obvious during the match, but numbers tell a similar story as well. Playing on the wing, he did not create a single chance, did not record a single successful dribble and even defensively has not done much – one tackle was less than what Juan Mata and Daniel James had completed.
United’s Press Does Less
Then, after all of that, it is not a big surprise to see that United’s pressing was much weaker this time around. Southampton were at the level of the Devils in that regard, having a PPDA (possessions allowed per defensive action in the opposition half) of 6.82. At the same time, United had PPDA of 14.69, which highlights that the team had done less work without the bal higher up the pitch. With Mata and Pereira in the starting XI instead of Martial and Lingard, that was to be expected, but that also made it easier for Saints to get to United’s half of the pitch.