Monday 1 October 2012

6 week Team Analysis - Manchester United

With 6 weeks gone it's time to start drawing some initial conclusions on each team's form so far and the fantasy potential of their players, starting out with Manchester United.

The popular opinion at this time is that Utd aren't playing well, so let's take a look.  

I will begin with an evaluation of their attacking and defensive stats from the 6 same fixtures last season and then have a look at the key player's form.

Team Form

First note that Southampton were not in the Prem last season so the 6 week totals ignore this game (so it's a 5 week total).

The biggest thing to note is the Goals Against value.  Utd have conceded 6 from the 5 fixtures whereas last year they conceded just the one in the same fixtures.  Obviously these match-ups occurred at different stages of the season and not in a subsequent weeks but it's a useful indicator of where teams are this year.  The key difference in United's play this year defensively is they are letting opponents get off shots in their box.  This season 2 out 3 chances United have conceded have been within 18 yrds of goal, whereas last year this was more like 1 in 3.

The numbers are very similar this year to last, and indeed Utd scored 11 goals both this season and last over the equivalent fixtures.  Despite scoring the same number of goals, their shots on target is down significantly from last season, meaning either  they have been "lucky" or that Van Persie has given them a real edge in front of goal.  Personally I think they have been lucky.  RVP's Goals:SoT ratio over last season was no better than the league average for forwards (2.5 - 82 SoT, 30 goals).

Overall Form
I am able to calculate average form based on results against opposition and the opposition's relative form.  I won't go into details but based on the data so far United are currently performing at a level akin to Fulham's form of 2011/12  in both attack and defence.  Not terrible, but not that of supposed Top 2 team either.

Player Form

The first thing to be wary of here is the rotation, particularly in midfield.  With the exception of Carrick no midfielder has played more than 400 minutes, out of a total possible ~600..  Up-front and in defense there is similar rotation but not so extreme, with only Van Persie, Rafael and Ferdinand getting reliable starts, but how will Rooney's return impact RVP?  Even when on the pitch though most of United's players have been underwhelming, with only one or two of them showing up for a game at a time it seems.  Quite a lot of their attacking contribution is coming from full-back.

Quite clearly United have yet to find their stride and have been hit by injuries, particularly to Rooney and Vidic.  Right now their players do not justify their fantasy price tags, especially ahead of a tricky set of fixtures.    Even cut-price ways in to their defence like Rafael and Jonny Evans do not offer great promise with the current lack of clean sheets and sieve-like defending.


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