Manchester United’s opening Premier League match did not go as planned. Tottenham Hotspur are not an easy opponent, but the Devils managed only to salvage a point through a second half penalty when Bruno Fernandes scored. Last night, we wrote after the game about the four things we have learned from the match. This time, however, we will be expanding into some things we have realised by looking at numbers.
Sure, David De Gea’s mistake is still a big deal, but let’s focus on other things too.
Expected Goals Say A Lot
For example, expected goals can be useful if used carefully and last night’s numbers suggest what he have seen, what the eye-test suggests. Man United did not create much from open play, although they did create more than Spurs. In the end, it was 1.77 xG for Man United, largely thanks to the 0.76 xG that the Fernandes’ penalty was worth. Spurs, nevertheless, ended at 0.53 and they mostly had shots from distance, when they were unable to create chances closer to De Gea’s goal.
But United did have one really good chance, when Fernandes slipped the ball to Martial in the second half, but his stuttering with the ball at his feet and not-so-great shot meant he was blocked. United are still struggling to create against deeper defences.
Not Rashford’s Night
This was simply not the night for Marcus Rashford to shine. Man United’s forward was centre of the attention due to his off-the-pitch victories that should definitely be celebrated. His outspokenness and courage have been nothing short of extraordinary and afterwards, much was expected of him in the first match following the break. But he was mostly quiet, with just one real chance throughout the 90 minuts, when Hugo Lloris saved his shot 21 minutes into the match.
But apart from that, there was not much happening. He only had one more shot – a low-quality chance following a header – and he failed to complete a dribble from his three attempts, whilst also several times losing the ball on the left flank.
Spurs Have Liabilities In Defence
Jose Mourinho wanted to invite the pressure from Man United so that his side can have space to attack on the counter attack and that simply strategy brought Spurs lead through Steven Bergwijn’s strike. But in the end, it was Eric Dier at centre-back and Serge Aurier at right-back that showed they can be liabilities. Dier is better as a defensive midfielder, although many are not convinced of his qualities even there, but at centre-back in a four-man defence, he can be a problem and he was the one who was guilty for the penalty United got.
Aurier, on the other hand, is often error-prone and he made a huge one positioning-wise when he lost his man, after which Man United almost got another penalty. But referee Moss showed everything was clear and Ivory Coast international was saved. He also lost possession six times on the night, more than any other player on the pitch. And all of that playing at right-back…