Talking Numbers: A Closer Look Into Man United’s Win Over Brighton

Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion was one of the more enjoyable ones so far this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side creating chances and never truly compromising their victory. Yesterday we spoke about the key things we learned from the match, including the fact that this was Fred’s best performance since joining the club in the summer of 2018.

But today, we will be delving into finer numbers in order to find some important information.

Comfortable Win Despite Missing The Best Chances

This was quite a comfortable victory for United and we mentioned that yesterday after the game, but it is worth pointing out that the numbers are confirming that. The expected goals model is saying that United were expected to score 3.65 goals and concede 1.13 in this match. That is basically what happened. Brighton deserved to score, but United deserved to win comfortably.

However, it is important to note the fact that the three best chances per xG were not taken. Scott McTominay’s shot from close range early on was saved, Harry Maguire had a chance before half time and Daniel James failed to score midway through the second half from six yards. In the end, good finishing in two goals and a bit of luck with the own goal meant United got their three goals anyway.

Martial Creates For Others

Anthony Martial did not get on the scoresheet this time – which is fine, mostly because of *that* goal he scored against Partizan on Thursday – but he did create chances for others. He made four key passes in this match, three of which came in the box and two of which were goals. Both Pereira’s and Rashford’s goals came after Martial set them up with a pass. It is good to see your main striker being able to do that as well.

Brighton’s Aggressive Approach

Brighton are a peculiar team and they played in a classic 4-4-2 this time, rather than a 3-5-2 they used before. Playing with a double bank of four players means your players have to run a lot and do several different jobs at the same time and their midfield four really did that.

The quartet of Alzate, Propper, Stephens and Trossard played in there and all of them were quite aggressive. And by that we mostly mean their ability to chase around, tackle and try to get the ball off of United players. In total, they attempted 25 tackles on their own.

Proactive Wingers

It was interesting to see that both Daniel James and Marcus Rashford were trying to be proactive with the ball at their feet. Both of them were eager to dribble, attempting six dribbles each, but particularly interesting was where they attempted them.

Rashford’s dribbles were coming in and around of the box, on the left flank, a lot closer to the goal, whilst James’ were on the right flank, but much more towards the centre of the pitch. This summed up quite well how the two players operate on the pitch throughout the match.

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