Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and his Manchester United side suffered one of their worst and most humiliating defeats in a very long time, losing 5-0 to Liverpool at Old Trafford. The defeat put the Red Devils out of the top four in the Premier League standings, as they’ve now dropped to seventh, with 14 points from nine games – falling behind West Ham, Tottenham and Brighton who have 17, 15 and 15 points respectively. In this post, we will look to analyze the defensive stats produced by Manchester United this season.
The Red Devils were in a decent position before the international break, as they were in the top four with 13 points from their first six games. Since the return of football after the break, Ole’s men have secured just one point against Everton and lost to both Leicester City and Liverpool by scorelines of 4-2 and 5-0. The game against Everton, a 1-1 draw was the last game Raphael Varane was a part of. He got injured, and the partnership of Harry Maguire and Viktor Lindelof have been playing since. They have conceded 11 goals in the last three games in all competitions, our against the Foxes, two against Atalanta and five against Liverpool.
The attack has been decent for Ole’s men, but the problems have been in defence. They had only conceded seven goals in the first seven league games, till Raphael Varane was fit. He was playing along with either Maguire or Lindelof, and United were doing decently well in defence. Since Varane’s injury, they have conceded nine goals in the two league games, four against the Foxes and five against Klopp’s Liverpool. They have conceded 15 goals in nine games till now, and have conceded fewer goals than only four teams, Leeds(16), Watford(17), Newcastle(20) and Norwich City(23).
The main problem with Man United’s defence is the lack of pressing and desire from the players to defend. They have been involved in the least number of defensive and aerial duels in the league, and as seen in the above viz, also have the least amount of clearances. For a team like Man City, who have all the ball possession and are dominating all of their games, it is normal to have fewer duels and clearances. But with United, they need the players to make more efforts in defence. Chelsea are on the top of the league, have dominated almost all of their games, but still, have the second clearances sheets in the league.
The above viz shows the PPDA(passes per defensive action) value for all the Premier League teams. It is the value that shows how many passes an opposition team has been able to complete before the team makes a defensive action like tackle, duel or clearance. Teams with higher pressing have a lesser PPDA value. Man United have a PPDA value of around twelve, which is more than 10 teams in the league.
Manchester United and their manager Ole-Gunnar Solksjaer have been highly humiliated by their home defeat to Liverpool by a 5-0 scoreline. there has been much talk of the backing of Ole, but the Man Utd board seem adamant that they will not sack him at this point. Therefore, he and his Man United team need to improve their defensive tactics and performances and keep scoring goals to keep their title challenge alive for this season, as they cannot settle for another top-four finish this season.