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Are United As Potent As Goals For Column Suggests ?
Friday, 22nd Sep 2017 10:32

With 16 goals scored in their opening 5 Premier League fixtures Manchester United have scored twice as many goals as every other team bar Liverpool and Manchester City , but does this stat tell the full story.

In their opening 5 Premier League fixtures Manchester United have scored 16 goals, ironically the same number as cross town rivals Manchester City who lead the table only on alphebetical order with both clubs having identical starts to the season.

Indeed the third highest scoring team is Liverpool with 9 goals then Chelsea with 8, Saints of course have only 4, but if we look at the league and see that there are 7 other teams who do not have more than that total and another 4 who are within 2, then that gives us hope that there is not too much wrong with us that another goal or two cannot put right.

But are Manchester United really as free scoring as their goals for tally suggests and are they really slaughtering teams as their results seem to imply ?

Of course the stas don't lie do they ? the answer is no, but sometimes they can give false impressions.

So far in their five Premier League games they have beaten West Ham and Everton at home 4-0 plus Leicester 2-0 whilst away they have put 4 past Swansea and a 2-2 draw with Stoke.

On the face of it they look invincible but perhaps we need to look at the manner of those victories rather than the final scoreline.

On the opening weekend they beat a por West Ham side 4-0 but it was not quite the rout tthat it looks, 2 of the goals came in the final 3 minutes of the game to make a result what West Ham would probably have been happy with look much better.

This was repeated in their next game away to Swansea, with 10 minutes to go the sides were seperated only by a single goal, but in the final 10 minutes United hit three in quick succession.

Leicester were up next at Old Trafford with 20 minutes left they were in sight of a draw, but two late goals, one of which was after 80 minutes had passed on the clock saw them beaten.

Stoke away was 2-2 and the only game where United have failed to score in the final 10 minutes of a game.

The last game at home to Everton saw them score early doors, initially batter the Blues and then be lucky to be still level until they then scored 3 in the final 7 minutes to make the scoreline look like the game had been a total rout.

Indeed the shots on target in any of those games was not spectacular, either in shots wide or more importantly those on target, against the Hammers they only had 5 for instance.

So although it cannot be denied that United are top scorers in the Premier League, it is not the full story, 9 of their 16 goals have come in the final 10 minutes of the game, that is over half their goals, in fact 4 exactly a quarter of their total have come in the final 3 minutes.

So United are far from the free flowing attacking team of old, they are far more of a side that rather than batter you into submission with multiple chances, they are clinical and play right to the final minute of the game.

In the old days when you played United it was usually your keeper who was the man of the match, far less so these days, they don't rip you apart, but when they do get a chance then they put it away far more than most.

We found that out at Wembley when we were tight for most of the game but left players unmarked at vital moments, chances they did not spurn.

So on Saturday Saints task is clear, the game is not over till the final whistle, this is a United side who have less flare than before, but who are far more disciplined than the one of old, you cannot relax for a single minute, if you do then they will take their chances.

Stoke showed how to get a result against them and this is perhaps good news for Saints because this will suit our game, we will be pushed back, but we now have the strength to hold them and then go on the counter, this suits us.

But we need to get into those final minutes still in the game, the pattern from their opening fixtures is clear, they score late on when the opposition have to push forward in order to try and get something out of the game and that leaves gaps at the back.

This shows that United are struggling to kill games off, teams can easily shut off their lines of supply and keep them at bay, they do not rip sides apart as they did for a couple of decades, their game is about wanting sides to come at them so they can go on the break .

At the end of last season and at the start of this we could have been torn apart by them, but with the signings of Hoedt and Lemina and Virgil Van Dijk likely to play some part in the game we are a different proposition.

If we can stay tight and get into that final ten minutes at least still on even terms then e have a good chance of a result, but it is that final part of the game we have to beware, that is when they are at their most dangerous.

So to go back to the question in the headline, Are United as potent as the goals for column suggests ? I would say no, so far all their games have been against sides who are in the bottom 8, they have flattered to deceive with a flurry of late goals, they have yet to play anyone of note.

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iank1978 added 10:52 - Sep 22
We've hardly played anybody of note yet either, and although potentially having the snake back in the back four may help, I wouldn't suggest for a minute that we are defensively sound. The less we say about our chances of scoring the better, if we were offered a point now i'd gladly take it. I see Saturday's game as a bit of a season maker, play well and its game on, play like we did against Watford and its going to be a long long long season.

saintpp added 10:53 - Sep 22
We have a chance as long as the fans get behind them and the boo boys grow up and dont vent their spite at VVD in some kind of self fullfilling prophecy that he wont play his best.

SaintNick added 11:45 - Sep 22
Ian This was about Man Utd's ability to score so why bring up our frailties of earlier in the season, especially as only four teams have conceded less than us, 3 games ago I would have feared this game, now I dont as Lemina has proved his class as has Hoedt and we have Van Dijk back in the squad, who whatever his faults is our best defender by a country mile

bstokesaint added 12:33 - Sep 22
Some good stats Nick, particularly as I haven't really found myself getting into the season from the perspective of what other teams are doing. I didn't realize Man U were scoring quite so many late goals. It would be pretty careless of MoPe to ignore the warning signs and have some sort of tactical formation change in mind if we're in any sort of danger of forcing a result.

Like you Nick, despite playing a poor Palace side, I felt the last game gave us some assurance that the balance of the team looked good and that Lemina and Hoedt look to be more than capable signings, with the former giving us something that I suppose Clasie was supposed to provide, and something we've not seen at Southampton for some time, a true box to box midfielder who can tackle and attack. Awesome stuff.

I also think Ian's point is relevant in that we're not going to score more than once unless we really throw caution into the wind and maybe do something like two up top with Gabbi and Shane running their nuts off. On that basis we're going to need the defensive display of the season. Under normal circumstances I'd have said a VVD/Hoedt partnership and in-form Forster with Romeu in front would have been enough, but there are the obvious questions.

BoondockSaint added 13:23 - Sep 22
After ManCity winning the title by beating ManU on goal differential, most teams have learned their lesson: Score as many as you can, no more up by 3 goals, put the subs on and play knock-about to run out the clock.

We need to stay sharp all game long.

iank1978 added 16:34 - Sep 23
Sorry Nick I didn't realise I wasn't allowed to make comments unless it is direct response to the article......💩

however, the point I was trying to make was that given that our defence is still in a state of flux, with no one actually knowing whose playing and where, then we would do well to remain switched on for the whole match, particularly the last 15 where United seem to dominate teams so far this season.

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