Manchester United have gone on their international break, but with a sour taste in their mouths. After losing three out of four matches, the Red Devils managed to beat Villarreal in the Champions League last week, but on Saturday they just could not get past Everton. A 1-1 draw disappointed Man United fans, especially considering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to not start Cristiano Ronaldo nor Paul Pogba, in order to keep them fresh. United drew in the end, we do not know whether that is exactly what backfired, but we do know that this match has once again shown some of the limitations from Solskjaer’s team.
After the match, we took a look at some of the things we learned, but today we will have a glance at some of the underlying metrics and see what we can learn from them.
Expected Goals Paint The Picture
It is not always the case that the metric of expected goals is showing the ideal picture of the match that played out, but this time that was the case. Manchester United managed to accumulate mere 0.9 expected goals from a total of 13 shots in this match. That tally was only once lower for Man United this season, in the 1-0 win over Wolves, when it stood at 0.6 xG. It is even more interesting that Everton had 1.1 expected goals to their tally, meaning the 1-1 draw was about right considering the chances the two teams had on Saturday.
Benitez’s Side Does What It Can
This match reminded us a little bit of some of the Rafael Benitez’s Premier League sides of old, even from his best days. Benitez drilled Everton into a low block to help negate United the space they need to express themselves. Everton had 28 per cent of posssession, made just 189 passes in comparison to Man United’s 629, and had just one corner to United’s 10. But in the end, they created slightly better chances from their 12 shots (Man United had 13), despite only two of those 12 went on target. Everton were clinging on, but they also did enough to get a point. And Benitez really likes stopping Man United…
Greenwood And Bruno Look Forward
It was a surprise to see Anthony Martial start on the left and it was also unexpected to see Edinson Cavani up top and not Cristiano Ronaldo. But the other two memebers of that front four were expected – Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood – and both of them tried to be proactive and to look forward to make things happen. Bruno made the assist for Martial’s goal, but also created another chance. He made four passes into the final third and also 10 progressive passes. Greenwood, on the right, also made sure he was doing his part of the job – he made nine progressive passes and five passes in the final third. He also attempted a couple of dribbles in those wider areas, trying to get past a deep block from Everton. In the end, their attempts did not bring much more, but that is what happens when United do not have a good team structure when they play such teams. Nemanja Matic was missed in the deeper midfield role to pick his passes, as Fred and Scott McTominay started instead.