Talking Numbers: Digging Deeper Into Manchester United’s Important Wembley Victory

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera
Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera

Manchester United have got what they needed the most since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became the manager – they won against a top Premier League team. Even better, they did it away from home, at Wembley, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0, as Marcus Rashford scored the only goal just before half-time.

It was a really good performance for the opening 60 minutes, before United had to withstand pressure from the hosts. In the end, it was an important win, not just in terms of three points, but of realizing that this group of players can do great things. Just imagine how important this will be for team’s belief in themselves ahead of the matches against Paris Saint Germain in Champions League next month.

Here are some things we noted from a tactical and statistical point of view that we did not mention in our post-match report.

Ander Herrera And Nemanja Matic Enabling Plenty

Since Solskjaer arrived, he made a very obvious change that he has been faithful to – he has put Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera as his holding midfielders and has enabled a lot of freedom to Paul Pogba. And the Serbian and the Spaniard have been really enabling plenty of things to their more offensive team-mates, not just Pogba.

Herrera’s tireless energy also works well for Matic, whose positioning has improved and his passing has also been more composed. They fit well together and together they had combined five successful tackles, four interceptions, six blocks and four clearances, losing the ball just twice. This had let Pogba be even more flamboyant and creative and even his 10 lost possessions are not so obvious when these are doing their work at a high level.

Defensive Issues Still Exist

Manchester United have kept a clean-sheet and that really matters, especially against a team like Spurs. And defensively, they have been very good for about an hour. Yet, in the last 30 minutes, plenty of things could have been better. David De Gea was the savior and sometimes that is needed, but that should not mask the fact that Spurs could have easily scored twice in those last half hour.

Victor Lindelöf had some good moves in this match, especially in prevention of dangerous attacks with his positioning, but defensively speaking, United had let a lot of things sleep. Sure, it is a really good opponent and Harry Kane would have had a brace if it was not for such a great performance from De Gea. But still, the Devils should keep this in their minds as a some warning of sorts.

Rashford Deserves To Be Main Centre-Forward

After another great performance, it is easy to say Marcus Rashford should remain the centre-forward in the coming matches. He has made that easy for us. Another goal and another vital goal in a big clash is what he did, but that was not all. Rashford was a real modern forward, roaming all around the pitch, creating numerical advantages on both flanks and helping out his teammates, while still remaining a threat in and around the opposition’s box.

He made three shots, two dribbles to move the ball forward and also made six touches in Spurs’ box, from Man United’s total of 14.

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