in , , , , , ,

17.2 shots on target faced p/g: Manchester United have clear area to work on for Chelsea clash as shocking stat emerges

Man United take on Chelsea for mid-table bragging rights — Whom does the data favour?
Man United take on Chelsea for mid-table bragging rights — Whom does the data favour?

Man United take on Chelsea for mid-table bragging rights — Whom does the data favour?

Manchester United are due to face Chelsea next in the Premier League.

The Red Devils are looking to make a late claim for a Champions League spot for next season, while the Blues, currently lying in the bottom half of the table, will be keen on at least switching the half and see if they can’t grab a European spot at the death.

The likeliest scenario currently is that the two finish the season in mid-table mediocrity. But can either of them at least come out of this Thursday affair with a smile on their faces?

A Scott McTominay brace sealed the three points for United when the two sides met earlier in the season.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
A Scott McTominay brace sealed the three points for United when the two sides met earlier in the season. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

United have not lost to Chelsea since the mid-COVID days of Project Restart, but there’s every chance that changes this week if the data is to be believed.

As per a BBC Sport report, Erik ten Hag‘s men are conceding 17.2 shots per game with a fifth-highest-in-the-league expected goals against (xGA). This is particularly concerning in contrast to Chelsea’s cumulative xG per 90’ of 1.62, which puts them sixth in the league.

What does the data hint towards?

These numbers tell us that we should expect an open game, clean sheets on either end being a rare commodity either side will find hard to afford.

Also, when these numbers are put alongside reality, we start seeing the shortcomings of cumulative expected numbers. Chelsea’s high xG per 90′ is a result of the many shots they take, many of which have been wasteful this season. United, on the other hand, despite taking all those shots, have put up eight clean sheets—third-most in the league this season.

Ten Hag cannot rely on the numbers to bail him out, though, and will need to extract every ounce he can from his defence, which has received fresh injury blows to go on top of the existing ones. Expect United to set up in a counter-attacking manner, looking to plug gaps off the ball and pounce on every loose ball.

Conversely, if Chelsea are able to match their xG on the pitch on the day, we could just as well see a score line closer to the 7-0 United took home from Anfield last March.

Jobs on the line

Both Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino are on borrowed time, time that will further shorten for whoever drops the points on Thursday.

Both Ten Hag and Pochettino have come a long way since their Champions League semi-final days. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Both Ten Hag and Pochettino have come a long way since their Champions League semi-final days. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

More Manchester United News-

Neither team can afford to be passive or settle for a draw, so this will be a watchable affair for everyone. Expect chaos to reign.

Written by Anshuman Joshi

INEOS wants Erik ten Hag to focus on coaching if he survives the summer

Erik ten Hag’s influence to be reduced in key area even if he stays at Manchester United