Friday, August 12, 2022

Manchester United Vs Stoke City – Woeful Finishing, Impressive Build-up Play And An Inspired Keeper

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Rainar Angelo
An ardent follower of Manchester United who in his spare time likes to unravel mysteries of football and music. He also believes in continuously interacting with people in order to view things from a different perspective.

Manchester United had their first draw under Mourinho against Stoke City and the irony is that the keepers swapped roles, well kind of. Lee Grant pulled off some stunning saves, 8 to be precise, while David De Gea’s woeful parry saw Allen score the equalizer for Stoke City. It is such games that, we as analysts, are equally confused as to why the scoreline wasn’t more of a 5-1.

What went wrong?

The score is a cloak of invisibility on United’s brilliance, especially in the first half. The likes of Paul Pogba being the hero and villain in the same game is another astonishing fact. According to Squawka, Paul Pogba had 91% pass accuracy, 6 shots, 4 chances created, 3 aerial duels won and 2 take-ons. The same player missed two glorious chances.

Pogba Shot map
Pogba failed to convert his attempts into goals.

It was evident that the miss in the first half would come back to haunt him. The shot that was placed wide and the header, which, unfortunately, hit the bar; this might seem harsh, but while he was sensational overall, one doesn’t expect a player of his caliber to not have scored from the chances that he had.

Grant saves

Grant saves
Grant single-handedly denied United with world class saves. 8 of them.

Having made 8 saves and all of them sensational, Stoke have only this man to thank. The goalkeeper is one of the reasons Stoke did not have a nightmare. The story would’ve been a whole lot different had he conceded from Lingard or Zlatan’s opportunities, which in my opinion, seemed inevitably net bound. De Gea’s parry saw Stoke convert an error from someone who usually nullifies the mistakes by his teammates.

The positives (with the negatives)

This was undeniably United’s best game in ages. Having created a whopping 18 key passes, the team is gelling wonderfully and on any other day the score would’ve have been massively one side like that of a round of FIFA. United’s play from the flanks has been developing well with good overlaps, co-ordination with the center midfielders and brilliant awareness in defense thanks to Eric Bailly.

Chances created
United had a whopping 18 key passes.

Lingard was fluid and did well along with Valencia. There is little doubt that the team will fire on all cylinders once Mkhitaryan is fit. The team is already doing that, but one can always use a better crosser than Rooney who once again failed to connect any of them. De Gea had a distribution of 64% ( and will want to move as quickly as he can from this one.

Moving on

United need to realize that, despite failing to capitalize, things always don’t go their way. A heavy set of fixtures after the break with the likes of City, Liverpool, Chelsea in the mix will be a season-defining test for Mourinho and his players. United look to win all their games and are looking to improve in every game that goes by. What lies in store? Only time will tell.

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