Manchester United have done a good job on Saturday afternoon, defeating Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford, reaching 10 points from the possible 12 so far this season. It was all thanks to the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo, who first gave the Devils their lead just before half-time, before completing the brace following Newcastle’s equaliser. The win ended up being with a much bigger margin, as Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard both added their goals in the last 12 minutes of the match.
We wrote after the game about all of the things we learned right away, but in the meantime, we also decided to take a closer look at some of the numbers surrounding this game, in order to make the case for some things that we might have missed. Let’s have a look at some interesting things.
The Expected Goals – Best Performance So Far
Manchester United have played their best game in terms of chance creation and danger they managed to put in front of the opposition’s goal. After having 1.5 xG in their first two games of the season – which produced two wildly different outcomes – United had a poor game attacking wise against Wolves. Still they managed to win, but on Saturday, there were no real problems in this matter. Man United created 2.2 expected goals from their 21 shots. Newcastle had a total of 12 shots, but just 0.7 expected goals on their tally, meaning just how low scoring opportunities most of those shots were.
Man United strikers were efficient when they managed to get the ball on target. They made just six shots of those 21 go on target, a mere 29%, but that is far from a problem when you materialise four of those six shots.
Matic Does Well Against Deep Blocks
Whenever Man United are set to play against a team that is going to be more aggressive and more open, it feels as if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prefers to have two energetic central midfielders, most often in the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay. But against teams who prefer low blocks, as Newcastle did on Saturday, then Nemanja Matic seems to be a good solution. While he would do better playing alongside someone more defensively responsible, unlike Paul Pogba, Matic’s passing offers good things to this team. He has a much bigger range of qualities in that regard in comparison to McTominay and Fred. Matic completed 94 passes yesterday, with 91.3 per cent success rate. He made 15 passes into the final third, with only Pogba making more, but it is also worth noting Matic takes a much deeper position himself. Matic also made two key passes, while still adding three interceptions and two blocks throughout the game.
No Space To Dribble Into
One thing at the end is also worth mentioning. Man United really did not try to play one-v-one or similar situations. The total seven attempted dribbles for the entire team paints the picture quite well. That is somewhat expected when Newcastle put all 10 players behind the ball, but it is also telling when Jadon Sancho attempts just one dribble for 65 minutes.