Wednesday 24 January 2018

Man United have the worst big chance conversion rate - and it's costing them Champions League football

Manchester United's Paul Pogba reacts after his missed chance yesterday. Reuters / Phil Noble
Manchester United's Paul Pogba reacts after his missed chance yesterday. Reuters / Phil Noble

Jack Austin

Liverpool halted Manchester United’s nine-game winning streak on Sunday, but the 1-1 draw did extend Jose Mourinho’s side’s unbeaten record to 11 games.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late equaliser saved United from defeat and set up a tense finish for both sides at Old Trafford, but his clever header would not have been needed had the Red Devils taken some of their earlier chances.

Paul Pogba, who struggled throughout the game, was guilty of missing a glorious opportunity in the first half when he dragged his left-footed shot wide of Simon Mignolet’s goal despite being through one-on-one.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan also missed a golden chance when Ander Herrera played him through as United continued their wastefulness in front of goal.

United have scored nine fewer than any other member of the top six so far this season with data from Opta revealing Mourinho’s team have the worst clear-cut chance conversion rate of any of the 20 Premier League sides this season.

The Old Trafford side have only managed to convert 12 of their 37 chances which you would normally expect finish nestled in the back of the net, giving them a conversion rate of just 32.43 per cent.

If you compare this to other members of the top six then it is clear to see why United are facing an uphill battle to secure a Champions League place.

Liverpool have a 60 per cent chance conversion rate while Arsenal are the only other member of the top six to have a strike rate below 50 per cent – although at 48.89 per cent it is still far superior to United’s.

Matches against Everton, Burnley, West Ham, Arsenal and Stoke – all of which ended in draws – have seen United dominate the chances yet come away without the three points.

Herrera thumped the woodwork moments before Leighton Baines equalised for Everton at the start of December while Jesse Lingard missed a hat-full of chances against the Hammers with Darren Randolph in inspired form between the posts.

If United had managed to convert a larger percentage of their chances in each of those games, they could reasonably expect to have 10 more points than then do now, which would place them in second and only two points behind leaders Chelsea.

Ibrahimovic, who has also been guilty of missing key chances, has scored 14 of United’s 32 goals this season, emphasising not only their dependence on him but also the need to finish more of their chances if they are to secure Champions League football for next season.

Independent News Service

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