Manchester United have started their Premier League season in convincing fashion, beating Leeds United 5-1 in the campaign opener at Old Trafford. The fans had the chance to experience seeing Raphael Varane sign for the club before the match started and then enjoyed incredible 90 minutes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side picking apart Marcelo Bielsa’s team.
We had the chance to see Bruno Fernandes score a hat-trick right away and even see Paul Pogba earn a poker of assists with his incredible performance. But what else was there for us to see, that maybe these big talking points have masked over? Here, we are taking a look into the underlying numbers and metrics which can also teach us something about this match.
Expected Goals – Not A Huge Difference Between Teams
Manchester United have won 5-1 and by that scoreline, it looks as if the Devils have completely destroyed Leeds. And whilst that is the case in the pure result way, in terms of expected goals, it shows a huge overperformance from Man united’s attackers. The Devils created chances which were by FBref valued as 1.5 expected goals, while Leeds stood at just 0.6 xG. Those 1.5 xG came from a total of 16 shots, eight of which went on target. The shots were not necessarily always coming from ideal positions, but United’s finishing was so clinical they were scoring with too much easy, especially in those minutes following Leeds’ equaliser. United were a much better team, but these numbers simply show us to not expect such rampant wins constantly. Our finishing was way above average.
Greenwood’s Overall Performance
Mason Greenwood had a great game as well, scoring one goal in the process and showing his finishing skills as something too good for a player that young. Usually youngsters can be erratic, but Greenwood always seems so efficient, whether with his right or left foot. But that was not everything he did on Saturday. He made a total of three shots from differing positions, two of which went on target. He also made things happen for others, after succeeding with four out of five of his attempted dribbles. It was a mature performance from the youngster, showing how he could be used as the proper ‘number nine’ more and more often.
McTominay’s Underrated Defensive Display
It is normal when a team scores five goals and wins in convincing fashion that everyone is going to talk about the attack. When Bruno Fernandes scores a hat-trick, that is going to get the headlines. When Paul Pogba gets four assits in a single game, especially during the media talk of whether he will sign the new contract or not, it is normal that people are going to talk about that. But in all that attacking football noise, we should not forget those who work behind. And boy did Scott McTominay work well during this game against Leeds. He was not catching the attention by a regular watcher, but it was obvious that he did plenty of stuff in his domain in front of the back four. The Scot was very active and efficient – he did a bit of everything. A successful tackle here, two blocks there, an interception here and then applying pressure wisely to nick the ball off Leeds players. His passing was calm as well, completing 25 out of 29 passes, mostly choosing those medium range passes, rather than the safe short ones. He progressed the ball with three successful dribbles, beating Leeds’ press and thus increasing stability into the team.