This season has had its ups and downs. We’ve progressed a lot this year in comparison to recent seasons. Our attackers are a lot more clinical, less loose touches, winning a lot more and conceding a lot less. However, how much of that is down to the defenders?
This season we have seen save after save from David De Gea, who looks like he’s better than ever before. Having watched all the matches, it feels as though he’s been busier than he really should be in the Man Utd goal. But as good as he is, he shouldn’t be tested as much as he has been this season. Have the defence been doing their bit in defending the goalkeeper, or is all what it appears?
I’ve been researching the stats to see just how good or bad the defence has been this season.
Here’s how we compare to the rest of the top six:
In terms of the tackle success rate in the Premier League this season, Liverpool are surprisingly the most clinical; having a 72% tackle success rate which is second only to Bournemouth. The advantage to being clinical in tackling is the opposition are less likely to get through to shoot on goal. Fewer shots on goal will naturally give the opposition less opportunity to score a goal (Common Sense). Manchester United are ranked 18th in the tackle success rate with only 65%. Poor tackling means more shots on our goal which is one of the reasons we’re seeing so much of De Gea this season.
This is backed up by how many saves the goalkeeper has made from the top six. Man Utd sit second behind Swansea, De Gea has saved an average of 3.5 shots on target per match. The other top six team’s goal keepers have been the most quiet during games in terms of saves so far this season. De Gea is not being protected! However, due to his excellence between the sticks we have been one of the best defences in the league.
Just to drive the point home:
This table shows how many shots our opponent has had against the top six per game. Then shots on target, goals conceded, shot accuracy and conversion rate.
The top five in the table are ranked in terms of shots conceded per game and how many of those shots are on target from 1st – 5th in the league: However, Man Utd are ranked 8th, behind Crystal Palace and Huddersfield. United are having to save more than twice the amount of shots on target from the opposition than Man City, and significantly more than the other four teams.
You can also see our opponent’s shot accuracy: 37.13% of all shots against Man Utd are on target, which means they’re generally getting into better shooting positions than they are against our rivals. It’s starting to seem a myth that our defence is up to standard and it’s being masked by having the world’s best goalkeeper behind them. Only 6.75% of all shots against us have beaten the goalkeeper, which is the second best behind Burnley who have had to make fewer saves than Man Utd.
Our defence must start stepping up as it will continue to result in us haemorrhaging points as already demonstrated against Leicester and Burnley (Conceding two goals in each). De Gea is a brick wall, we all know that: But it doesn’t give our defence the luxury of switching off from their responsibilities!
*On a side note, it appears that Liverpool’s defence is actually doing well this season, and it’s the goalkeeper that’s the weak link at the back. Amusing that they have forked out £75mil on a defender; could have spent half of that on an excellent Goalkeeper which has been their problem position this season. Cheered me up anyways, hopefully it does you guys too!