Talking Numbers: A Closer Look Into Man United’s First League Loss

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Manchester United have lost a match for the first time in this Premier League season. After getting 13 points from the possible 15 in the first five rounds, it is Aston Villa who managed to strike a blow to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sied, beating them 1-0 at Old Trafford, through the goal from Kortney Hause late into the match.

Bruno Fernandes’ missed penalty deep into the stoppage time made sure United did not get anything from this game, making it already the third loss of the campaign, all of them coming in the past four matches, or rather, in just 11 days. After the match, we took a look at all of the things we have learned from the game, but now, we take a closer look at some of the underlying numbers, to make sure we see if we have missed anything else.

The Expected Goals

Manchester United have made 27 shots in this match, almost averaging a shot every three minutes, but the inconsistency with the shot-making decisions, positioning and quality of the strikes meant there were only four shots going on target of Emiliano Martinez’s goal. Then, it is not even that great of a surprise Man United did not score, despite accumulating 2.3 expected goals. Strip away the penalty and we get 1.6 expected goals in all of the other 26 shots, which is just 0.06 expected goals per shot made. That is what plenty of long range and tight angle shots will do.

Aston Villa, on the other hand, had 1.2 expected goals tally, which is great, considering they made seven shots altogether, three of which went on target. That is 0.17 expected goals per shot, a much higher chance quality. In fact, Villa’s goal did not come from an ideal opportunity, but they also had very good chances through Targett, Watkins and Konsa.

Greenwood Puts In A Lot Of Work

Mason Greenwood has recently had some quieter performances, but this one against Aston Villa was not such. This time, Greenwood really tried to make things happen, whenever he had the ball, there was something clear he was trying to do. That was obvious watching the game, but the numbers support it as well. Greenwood made four dribbles in this match, all four successful, managing to progress the ball from wide areas inwards. He also had staggering eight shots. Sure, only two went on target, but 0.6 expected goals for him in this match show his eagerness to get United somewhere. He made six passes in the final third, most of any Man United player, and he also created one chance. With the Devils seriously lacking in attacking cohesion and clear system, Greenwood wanted to individually get United forward.

Villa Target Wan-Bissaka

Interestingly enough, Aston Villa tried to do some of the pressing against Man United, but not too high and not on all of the players. Certain players, like Aaron Wan-Bissaka, were far more under the pressure when in possession. It was an obvious strategy from Aston Villa, as Wan-Bissaka made 15 passes while under pressure by an opponent, the most of any Man United player, more even than Bruno Fernandes. It was those mid-range passes when Wan-Bissaka had to quickly find a solution where he had the most problems, completing just 68 per cent of them.

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