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

Manchester United have won another Premier League match and got further in their race for the Champions League spot next season. The Devils are in fine form, getting their second consecutive 3-0 win in the league, this time against Brighton and Hove Albion. Last night we spoke about the four things we learned from that match from the perspective of a just finished match, but now we will take a closer look after consulting numbers.

Every time, there are certain interesting things to find and pay more attention that we may have missed from the so called ‘eye test’.

Man United Create Enough In Expected Goals

Last time we spoke about Man United’s expected goals, it was a clear battle – Man United’s win over the Blades was a clear one in terms of xG as well, but this time it is a bit different. Against the Seagulls, it was a tighter battle, with Man United getting 1.21 xG according to Understat, whilst Brighton stayed at 0.30 xG. That is still enough to call it a win, but there could be a couple of explanations why United had such a low xG this time around.

The chances from which they tried to score were not as good and Fernandes’ goal from the outside of the box, for example, had the xG value of just 0.07. But also, there is the fact that United scored two goals early on that were not coming from really good opportunities. That gave the chance to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to step back and control the game without risking too much, which could be seen by a very low xG of Brighton’s.

Martial Stays Away From The Box

Anthony Martial had an amazing game against Sheffield United, scoring hat-trick, but this time he was much more quiet. It was no surprise to see the map of his touches of the ball from last night’s game. During 80 minutes he spent on the pitch, he had just 23 touches of the ball, but just a handful came inside of the box. And not only that, it is not always easy for players to get to the ball in the box, but he was often far away from the box, usually drifting outwards to the left flank.

Fernandes Does Defensive Work As Well

Bruno Fernandes scored two goals last night and he could have had more. He hit woodwork whilst the score was still goalless and that was all as good as it gets from him. But the Portuguese was amazing with his energy off the ball. Usually, players who are so important attacking-wise for a team does not do so much defensively, but Fernandes was happy to go the extra mile. He made six tackles and although just half of them were successful, it was still a great thing to see, especially since he is setting a great example for other players, too.

Brighton Cannot Do It In A 4-4-2

Brighton really struggled yesterday, playing in a 4-4-2 formation. That way, their two strikers were often cut off from their midfield, which in turn was unable to get any hold of the ball with just four players there. They just could not do much against a midfield triangle of Fernandes-Pogba-Matic and it seems a bit naive from Graham Potter to go out with this system.

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