Manchester United’s defeat at Anfield gives us some alarming stats. For example, the Reds are devoid of taking opportunities they create, brilliant opportunities, but is it only the lack of opportunity conversion that’s limiting their performances?
While Rashford and Martial are oozing with talent, they aren’t in the best of form to bring hope to an underfire team led by Solskjær. Fans are finding comfort in their mocking of Jesse Lingard, but is he just the scapegoat as well? Let’s deep dive into the answers.
While Liverpool had clear chances like Salah who missed an opportunity in the 48th-minute and Mané who also missed a good chance when he put the ball out wide, it was Manchester United that went into their dressing rooms thinking about the what-ifs.
There were two golden chances that United will not fondly look back at. One came in the 41st minute when Pereira could not guide the ball inside an open goal, after a brilliant play between Martial and Van Bissaka.
And then in the 59th minute, Martial volleyed the ball over the goal after a quick and skilful one-two with Pereira, Alisson could not have stopped it had it been on target. The work was there, the output wasn’t. What went wrong?
The overall quality of Manchester United’s game is debatable but when they do click, they can burst through and create exciting moments of play. Manchester United sold Lukaku without a replacement which meant that Martial and Rashford were expected to shoulder goalscoring duties.
A few months down the road, it is pretty evident that there is a void. Marcus Rashford currently sits at no. 9 in the English Premier League (EPL) for big chances missed with 9 chances, and now we can argue that 9th in the list is not as bad when Mané, who is arguably in the best form of his life, has also missed 15 chances, but there is some difference, right?
So are Manchester United really missing chances or lacking the service? Let’s compare some of the statistics of the current top 4 teams in the EPL along with Manchester United as of the date of publishing.
|Team||Manchester United||Chelsea||Leceister||Manchester City||Liverpool|
|Total big chances created||35||44||48||68||59|
|Total goals (not just goals scored on big chances)||36||39||48||64||52|
Scroll <left or right> to view the full table
We couldn’t find a clear definition of big chances on the English Premier League’s website, except for an old article that states:
“A ‘big chance created’ is defined as providing an opportunity where the receiving player would reasonably be expected to score and manages to get a shot away. These usually occur in one-on-one scenarios or from very close range.”
Manchester United’s defence doesn’t look too bad if you look at the numbers, it is very much in line with the top 4 barring Liverpool, of course. This doesn’t mean it’s unimportant but it is certainly not the only reason for an underwhelming showcase in the EPL 19-20 so far.
Let’s look at their offence this season. It remains unclear how many goals came off the big chances, but the number of big chances is clearly proportional to the goals scored. Manchester United does not show an obvious deviation off this trend, so they are certainly lacking team chemistry, which means fewer chances are created.
There could be many reasons for the low number of big chances; maybe the midfield isn’t as dynamic as the top 4, maybe the forwards are not getting into good positions, but those would all be assumptions, of course.
At the end of the day, football is a team sport and it would be unfair to blame it solely on Rashford, Martial or even Lingard.
Furqan is a marketing professional in the tech sector and an avid sports lover. He is a devout follower of cricket, football and tennis. You can follow him on Twitter.