Four home matches in the Premier League, through control and domination, but the same end result. Four draws, eight points squandered, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are rapidly making their way out of the title race.
No Manchester United team till date has managed to draw four games in a row at Old Trafford in 26 years. This year has seen the Red Devils’ worst start to the season ever since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Such ignominious records don’t bode well at all for Mourinho and his squad.
United currently lie in the sixth place in the Premier League and are a massive 11 points behind league leaders, Chelsea, this early into the season, making their title prospects look bleaker every passing week.
The Red Devils enjoyed a great start to the campaign, winning the Community Shield, and followed it up with 3 wins in their first three Premier League games. But things have just gone downhill from then. Only 2 wins in the 10 subsequent games, including 3 losses against title rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and a lowly Watford side and an away draw at Liverpool have meant they are well off their initial expectations for the season.
What has been the most surprising and appalling for fans to see is their run of four draws at home against Stoke City (1-1), Burnley (0-0), Arsenal (1-1) and West Ham United (1-1). All teams, including Arsenal, that they were expected to walk over with much ease.
Manchester United have had a staggering 220 attempts on goal so far this season, fourth highest tally in the league. But have only managed to score 18 goals. 17th placed Crystal Palace (21) have managed to score more than Mourinho’s men.
They have created 163 clear cut chances so far this season, but the Red Devils have converted only 12 of those opportunities into goals. They are the fourth best team in the league, in terms of chances created and are ahead of Arsenal as well who have created only 139 opportunities. 71 of these chances were created in those four draws at the Theatre of Dreams, but United failed miserably to make the most of these chances as they scored only three times in those four games. According to Opta Stats, no pair in the Premier League has managed to create more opportunities for each other than the 16 chances created by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 28, 2016
Those are some numbers. But why is it that United languish 11 points behind Chelsea? Why have they struggled to make it count despite creating a bucketful of chances?
The answer is simple. Their attackers’ wastefulness in front of goal. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is leading the charts in the number of shots taken in the Premier League with 63 attempts with only 23 of his strikes on target and 17 efforts blocked. Meaning a shot accuracy of 50%. And he has managed to score only 7 times so far for the 20-time Premier League winners. A goal in every 9 shots he attempts.
Teen sensation Marcus Rashford has made 10 appearances so far for United, most of which have been coming on from the bench, and has managed to score three times. He has taken 10 shots at goal, 5 of which were on target and 5 missing, with 6 more blocked strikes. His shot accuracy also stands at 50%. But a goal every 5.33 shots he takes, is an improvement on Zlatan.
Last season’s top scorer Anthony Martial has been relegated to a squad player this season, having suffered a line of injuries that have made it hard for him to prove his worth to Mourinho. He has only played 8 times for United in the English top flight this term and has managed a single goal. But the Frenchman has managed to test the opponent goalkeeper more prominently, with a shot accuracy of 63% for his 10 shots. But, yet the again the conversion rate is poor.
But it is captain Wayne Rooney who has disappointed the most. Having had 18 shots at goal (47% accuracy) in 12 appearances so far, he has managed to score only one time in the Premier League.
Juan Mata has been United’s most clinical player in terms of shot accuracy with 78% of his 21 managing to test the opponent shot-stopper. But he too has managed only three goals so far at a rate of 7 shots per goal.
|Player||Goals||Shots Taken||Accuracy %||Shots per goal|
Comparing these numbers to the strikers of their rival teams, Aguero for Man City has scored 10 times this season, with a shots-to-goal ratio of 5.5, while Chelsea’s Diego Costa has 10 strikes from 41 shots meaning he scores every 4.1 shots he takes. The numbers are quite similar to Alexis Sanchez’s who scores every 4.75 strikes he attempts for the Gunners and Sadio Mane for Liverpool, scores a goal per every 5 shots he takes.
Going by the numbers, it is clear that United have some issues at the top, with all their forwards going through a lean spell in front of goal. They have been at times thwarted by some brilliant goalkeepers, but it is high time for United forwards to stand up and start pulling their weight if they’re to stop this season heading into an abyss. Mourinho needs to take note of the problem and needs to do something before it is too late for his team. And him.