Talking Numbers: A Closer Look Into Manchester United’s Win In Newcastle

Manchester United have restarted their campaign after an international break in the best possible way. They went to Newcastle and got all three points with a comfortable win. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team won 4-1 at St James’ Park, although through three late goals. And while that is true, it is also true that Man United dominated, created chances and had enough about them to seal a comfortable victory earlier than they did.

Yesterday we spoke about the four things we learned immediately after watching the game, but in the meantime, there was enough time to look at some numbers as well and see how they compare to the eye-test. Here are some things that caught our attention.

Good Chance Creation Overall

Usually, our first part of the article is reserved for some talk of chance creation and expected goals. Manchester United really dominated in that regard as well. Their expected goals amounted to 2.7, which is a high number for xG and usually suggests someone was really getting enough chances in this match. Newcastle, on the other hand, ended up with just 0.5 xG according to FBREF, who are using Statsbomb’s data.

This is something that confirms what we had seen last night. Man Untied had the best chance from that penalty Bruno Fernandes did not score from, but there were also plenty of other shots. Not many of them were of the highest quality, but the quantity of them meant Newcastle were under constant pressure and they conceded a total of 16 shots from the inside of the box alone! That just shows how dominant United were and that they should not have maybe waited that long for their second goal.

Domination Through Possession

We had seen Man United dominated through chances, but those chances were coming after long spells of ball possession. Man United had 63 per cent of the ball and had made 555 passes in that time, basically double the number of Newcastle’s passes. But that is not all there is to say. Man United were progressing the ball a lot and they even made 42 touches of the ball in the opposition’s box. Compare that to Newcastle’s nine touches and you get the picture just how much pressure the Magpies had to soak up.

Juan Mata’s Brilliance On The Ball

Juan Mata was brilliant on the ball. We mentioned that right after the game, but his underlying numbers are also interesting to look at. Juan Mata made 60 passes from 65 attempts, a 92.3 per cent success ratio. More importantly, he made 53 carries of the ball, progressing the ball for 200 yards in total, which is only beaten by Harry Maguire’s 246 yards. Considering Mata operated in a highly advanced position, it really shows how well he was using the space. He also made 10 shot creating actions, three of which were also goal creating actions.

Bruno Fernandes Presses Well

We had seen Bruno Fernandes do a lot of things really well, but one of those we do not talk so often about is his pressing. It is true that his pressing cannot be done the best possible way since Man United are not operating with a properly constructed high level of pressing, but Fernandes did his bits well. He made 14 pressures, which only Scott McTominay and Fred bettered, but he also won possession eight times through his pressing. He was pressing high up the pitch, before Newcastle were able to get the ball out and that was a useful thing for the Devils throughout.

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