PRE MATCH FOCUS – Manchester United vs Arsenal

Replacing Sir Alex Ferguson was never going to be easy, regardless of who was given the job. As it was, former Everton manager, David Moyes, was the one handed one of the most sought after jobs in football. The new season is now 10 games old and United find themselves in unfamiliar territory – in 8th place and 8 points behind leaders Arsenal whom they also play later today at Old Trafford. We decided to compare the first 10 league games of this season with the first 10 games of last season to see if the change of managers also impacted the style of play of the Red Devils.

In the first 10 games of last season, United were involved in 689.2 attacking actions per game. This is slightly higher than the 659.5 attacking actions per game that they have been involved in this season so far. Last season, through these attacking actions, they managed to get to into scoring chances or instances where a scoring chance could result on 83.5 occasions per game whereas this season, they only managed this 74.5 times.

From these instances, last season they averaged 14.3 chances per game. This season, however, they have only managed 12.4 chances per game so already it seems their attacking potency has diminished. When it comes to actual shots on goal, last season they recorded an average of 9.3 shots on goal per game in the first 10 games whereas this season they have only managed 7.6 shots per goal.

Whilst they did send in more crosses this year, the quality of those crosses was not as high.. Last season they averaged 28.7 crosses per game whereas this year they averaged 29.4. From those crosses, 15% resulted in a chance being created for the team whereas they only managed 10.5% this year. This year’s team is also dribbling a lot more than last year but this is also one of the reasons that they lose the ball more often when building an attack.

All of this seems to have given teams the belief that United are vulnerable and thus they feel confident to attack much more. Last season, the team found themselves in pressured situations on 419 occasions whereas this year the number has increased to 561. It is not all bad for Moyes and his coaching staff, though, as they managed to get out of these pressured situations on 39.7% of the time as opposed to only 38.1% occasions last year.

There is no doubt that when a team gets a new manager, there will be a transition period as the players get used to new tactics and in a case where the previous manager had been in control for 26 years, United will need time to integrate Moyes’ tactics and only then will we know if he was the right choice as manager. Today’s game against Arsenal gives Moyes a chance to bridge the gap and prove his credentials.

Images courtesy of:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/90074625@N00/3489357206
http://www.flickr.com/photos/illarterate/4352805051/sizes/o/in/photolist-7CDghX-dWSQqx/

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