There was much change at Old Trafford during the summer. For the first time in over twenty-five years, Manchester United began the season without Sir Alex Ferguson as manager. What has followed has been United’s worst start in the league for twenty-four years. Whilst it was evident that the transition period would not be perfect, United fans would have expected more than ninth place with only ten points after seven games. Critics have stated that Champions League qualification would be an achievement for this squad, but it’s still early days and United could still mount a Premier League challenge yet. In order to assess where United are, we can look at their defensive, passing, creativity and attacking stats as well as their record last season after seven games.
Manchester United Defensive Stats
Defensively, United have conceded nine goals in their seven games so far this season. This has included just two clean sheets which will be disappointing for a club like United. Despite this, United have played Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City within this time and their average goals conceded currently sits at 1.29 per game. The stand out player in United’s defence has been their captain Nemanja Vidic. The Serbian has been particularly imperious in the air managing fifty headed clearances, all of which have been successful. He has also managed the most clearances (74) which have also all been successful.
Despite this, Vidic is one of only two United players – the other being Danny Welbeck – who has had an error which resulted in a goal. This shows the mixed bag that United have had in defence this season. In defensive stats Vidic is only bettered by Rio Ferdinand in outfield blocks and offsides provoked, both of which he has done four times. This shows the importance that Vidic’s form has on Manchester United’s defence. In terms of tackling, United have performed well having a tackle success of 80.17% but they will hope that they can gain more clean sheets in the coming games.
Manchester United Passing Stats
United have had a total of 3631 passes in open play, of which they have a completion rate of 84%. They boast the player who has made the most passes in the Premier League in Michael Carrick (583). Carrick’s passing accuracy is at 86.54% which is 2% above his team’s average. As one of the more direct teams in the league, the majority of United’s passes have been forward at 31.95%. Michael Carrick’s average is 36.02% which shows he attempts to get United going forward and not back as only 8.23% of his passes have been in that direction. Despite his deeper role in United’s midfield, Carrick has also attempted the most passes in the final third for United at 170 with an accuracy of 72%.
In the final third, Shinji Kagawa has had the best passing accuracy at 91%, justifying many United fans’ dismay at him not playing a more important role in the team. Since joining, his midfield partner Marouane Fellaini has had the highest passing accuracy at the club of 91% (not including Jonny Evans who has only started one game).
Manchester United Creativity Stats
Creativity is arguably what United have been lacking this season. Whilst they have scored ten league goals this season, they went five games between their first and most recent against Sunderland without scoring from open play. United have created a total of seventy-one chances but despite this, only four of these have been clear cut. It’s this lack of clear cut chances that have seen United struggle to score from open play. Surprisingly full back Patrice Evra has created the most chances for United (11) including ten from open play.
In terms of assists, Wayne Rooney leads the way with four. What is worrying for United fans is that Antonio Valencia and Patrice Evra are the only other players to have contributed assists. What is also alarming is that Valencia and Rooney are the only players to have created clear-cut-chances, creating two each. This means United have only created a clear-cut-chance every 166.3 minutes so far this season.
United’s most frequent dribbler Antonio Valencia has embarked on twenty-two dribbles at a success rate of 45% and a crossing accuracy of 15% which shows where the problem in creativity problem for United may lie.
Manchester United Attacking Stats
In front of goal, United have not been as devastating as in previous seasons. United have managed ten goals in seven games which means they have scored a goal every 67 minutes. United have a shooting accuracy of 50% and a chance conversion rate of 13%.
United have scored three of their six clear cut chances, of which one was a Robin Van Persie penalty against Crystal Palace. The Dutchman is joint top scorer for United alongside Wayne Rooney. Van Perise has not scored from open play since the first game of the season and Rooney is yet to score from open play at all. This is a real concern for United and is something that will need to change if they are to move up the table.
Van Persie’s chance conversion has been below his usual best as he has had twenty-two shots which means he has a chance conversion of 17%. Rooney has had the most shots on target for United with nine of his eighteen shots being on target. Youngster Adnan Januzaj has the best chance conversion for United at 33% after scoring twice in his first start against Sunderland. Only Van Persie, Welbeck, Rooney and Januzaj have scored for United this season which shows the dependence on their strikers to provide goals. David Moyes will need other parts of the team to contribute in the coming games.
Comparing To Last Season
It is clear that United have had a worse start to the season in comparison to the previous campaign. Last season United were on fifteen points after their first seven games. This was the result of them winning five and losing two games. At this stage United had also managed seventeen goals and had conceded nine giving them a goal difference of +8. This means United have conceded the same amount of goals, but have scored seven fewer goals, hence why they may be in ninth place in the league. A similar start to this season would have seen them in third place behind Arsenal and Liverpool.
In terms of the corresponding fixtures last season against Swansea (A), Chelsea (H), Liverpool (A), Crystal Palace (H) (replace with QPR), Manchester City (A), West Brom (H) and Sunderland (A), United picked up sixteen points, which would see them joint top. United managed to score ten goals and conceded only five giving them a goal difference of +5 compared to this season’s goal difference of +1. It is clear United have not done as well this season and they will need to both attack and defend better in the coming months.