Talking Numbers: A Closer Look Into Man United’s Win At Selhurst Park

Manchester United are still fighting for the place in the Champions League next season. A 2-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park was a crucial one at this point in time, with Chelsea and Leicester City getting the three points before the Devils even played. Now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is back to being one point off third place and equal on points with fourth-placed Foxes. Two wins in the remaining 180 minutes of football would suffice, but before all that, we should take a closer look at what happened in London last night.

The Devils won somewhat comfortably, despite having their fair share of scares. David De Gea’s brilliant saves helped a lot, but it was in the end goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial that pave the way to victory. Here are some new talking points to discuss about the game, after more closely inspecting the numbers.

Expected Goals Looking Fine

This is our usual drill – looking at expected goals to see if they closely represent the chances we have seen throughout the match. This time, it could be said that the score was in line with what the underlying metrics have shown. Man United scored two after getting 1.90 expected goals and Palace failed to score after adding up to 0.57 xG. But what is interesting here is that these numbers are somewhat skewed, due to that Jordan Ayew’s disallowed goal. In expected goals, that chance is worth exactly 0.00 as it was an offside, but it was a big scare for the Devils.

Attacking-wise, things were good enough for United to get a much needed win.

Man United Position Themselves Well

In fact, despite Man United not creating the very best chances, they did create quite enough. The two goals came from lovely sequences that opened up the hosts’ defence and allowed two of the best chances for United. Rashford and Martial materialised them both. And it was not only those chances.

Man United were there to put themselves into good positions for shooting, making another 10 shots from the inside of the box. with Harry Maguire making two close-range headers during first half. Not all of thsoe 10 shots were something we could cast as high quality opportunities, but Palace were under pressure with their deep block and United did well against it.

Martial Tries To Do It All From Centre-Forward

We have been praising Anthony Martial here in the past few weeks and he has been giving us reasons to do so. He was excellent once again, scoring the second goal after Rashford’s assist, but it is actually really interesting to see the numbers and how much Martial is trying to do from his center-forward position.

Martial made three key passes in this match, he attempted seven dribbles and five tackles and made plenty of his 49 touches in the middle third of the pitch. Sure, most of his dribbles and tackles were not successful, but his eagerness to be proactive and make things happen from wider and deeper areas of the pitch is really good to see.

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