Talking Numbers: A Dive Into Manchester United’s Lucky Win At Brighton

Manchester United have managed to win the game at the Amex Stadium yesterday, but no one really knows how they managed to do so, considering the chances the two sides had and the fact that the match at first ended 2-2, before the referee consulted VAR to give Devils the penalty which Bruno Fernandes materialised after 100 minutes of play.

But here we are – Man United got their first win of the Premier League campaign. After talking yesterday about the four things we learned from the match, here are another four things we should discuss after taking a further look into the underlying numbers.

Expected Goals – Not Good Once Again

That was bad. Manchester United were poor in this regard of chance creation against Crystal Palace and conceded a penalty in the process and all of that happened once again against Brighton. The Devils ended the match with 1.1 expected goals yet managed to score three, whilst Brighton stood at 2.3 xG and scored two goals. Tough luck for Seagulls that is, but Man United were really lucky in this match.

One of the three goals was Lewis Dunk’s own goal, whilst the only goal Man United scored from a really good open play chance was the one Marcus Rashford created for himself on his beautiful solo run. Apart from that, there were no big chances for Man United, only a few blocked shots from tough situations inside the penalty area.

Brighton Hit Woodwork Five Times

On the other hand, Brighton were much better in that regard. They had 18 shots in this match, but those were not just Hail Marys. Apart from the two goals, they had another couple of high quality chances, with that Trossard close range shot saved in stoppage time leading the pack. But also, there were five woodworks from Brighton where David De Gea was ultimately already beating and those shots just somehow stayed out.

Whilst you do not get anything for hitting woodworks so many times, it can tell you a lot about the defensive state of a team who allows such shots to occur.

Pogba’s Appalling Performance

Paul Pogba was appalling and completely disappointing yesterday. There is no doubt about that. And look at just how bad his numbers were, as well. Pogba failed to create a single chance throughout the match, he did not make a single shot on Brighton’s goal and he did not make a single tackle nor an interception whilst he was on the pitch. Also, of all Man United players on the day, Pogba had the lowest pass accuracy of just 71 per cent, which is incredibly low for the Premier League level.

He also made just two progressive passes in total, which further highlights how non-existent he was yesterday.

Seagulls Dominate Devils

Not only in terms of shots and good chances did Brighton do better than United, but there were also other facets of the game. They comfortably held the ball longer (53 to 47), made more touches and passes, controlling the game for a big chunk of the match and also made Man Untied work more defensively. The fact United had to make 21 clearances to Brighton’s four is a big tell in that regard, whilst PPDA (the metric that shows how much teams were trying to press) shows that Brighton were also more proactive. Their PPDA according to Understat was as low as 6.64, while United did not press all that much, with 11.13 PPDA.

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