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The Stats Which Show How Defensive/Negative Man United Were Last Night

The Stats Which Show How Defensive/Negative Man United Were Last Night
By Gavin Cooney
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Last night's 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Manchester United featured all the hallmarks of a 'Mourinho-away-at-a-rival' game, ending in Mourinho justifying the ends justifying the means post-game.

He spoke after the game of how it a point was an "acceptable result", and talked of how his tactics paid off.

When asked afterwards about his style of play, and it being perceived as negative, Mourinho flipped it around and told the media that Liverpool were, in fact, negative:

How many shots on target did Liverpool have on target today? Two. Two shots on target with 65% of possession, you have to be critical of Liverpool. It is their problem, not our problem.

Mourinho got the draw he sought, and although he won't admit it, United were extremely defensively-minded. The stats bear this out.

According to Opta, United had just 35% of the possession across the game, their lowest percentage ever recorded in the Premier League. Mourinho later disputed this fact, leaving his press conference only to return to tell journalists that his stats guy registered the figure at 42%.  Who had Mourinho down as the man to take the Premier League into the post-fact age?

While there may be some doubt surrounding that figure, there is no doubt about how little attacking threat United offered. They took an astonishingly low number of touches in Liverpool's penalty area: just six.


To put that number into context:

Mourinho may point out that City, for all of their offensive touches, didn't win this weekend either.


Liverpool failed to make many inroads either, but this was partly due to how Mourinho set up his team. Have a look at the average positions of his wingers, who spent much of the game stood beside their full-backs.


Ashley Young was Mou's main man here:



The United manager said afterwards that he was disappointed in the performance of Paul Pogba. The Frenchman really failed to offer anything attacking-wise - bar one miracle cross for Zlatan that resulted in the Swede heading across the face of the goal.

This is what ultimately cost Mourinho three points. Had Pogba played better, United would have created far more goalscoring chances. Not exactly cutting-edge analysis, but true nonetheless.

If you're willing to take a journey into the heart of darkness of Expected Goals, this is borne out as true:


For those unaware, Expected Goals, or xG in their abbreviated form, are a formal way of presenting the quality of a goalscoring chance in football.  They take into account things like where a shot was taken from, whether it was a header, the kind of pass that assisted the shot and then a heap of complicated factors designed to measure the degree of defensive pressure on the shot.

The best chance of the game was Pogba's cross for Zlatan in the second-half, and had it been converted, it would have been Mourinho's finest hour at United thus far.

Elsewhere, he has apparently turned Ander Herrera into a defensive midfielder of some merit, judging by these stats:

His eleven interceptions are more than any other Premier League player has managed this season, and is increasingly important to United: they've lost the two games he's missed this season.

But credit Mourinho: only twice has Klopp's Liverpool failed to score at Anfield since he took charge, and now both games have been against Manchester United.

Also, last night marked just the second 0-0 draw Klopp has been involved with at Liverpool. The first was his debut game away to Spurs. Both games took place on October 17th.

Not that that means a whole lot.

See Also: Player Ratings From A Painfully Boring Clash Between Liverpool And Man Utd

See Also: Watch: Gary Lineker's Bizarre Indian Bus Driver Impression


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