Brighton vs. Manchester United Match Analysis

Image from UtdArena

It was a good evening for Red Devils as they conquered over the Seagulls by 3-0 at the American Express Community Stadium. Looking back at it, the lads dominated the game and played very well and the setup by Ole was inch-perfect as well. But what metrics made the difference? How the formations adjusted? And what were the key points? Let's break down the game and analyse everything -

Starting with lineups, this is how both the teams lined up on paper -

Image from Google

Image from Google

While Brighton looked to set up as a 3-5-2 on paper but they started on field more like a 4-4-2 and as soon as the United team started with their high press, this formation reverted to a 5-3-2 in no time. The continuous high press by the Red Devils from both the flanks saw the Seagulls gradually settling into low deep block as the excellent runs by Luke Shaw and Aaron-Wan Bissaka didn't give them any chance to breathe.

The breakthrough came in 16th minute as a result of individual brilliance from Mason Greenwood. The devastating move started with a pass from Wan-Bissaka on the right flank, from there Greenwood went dribbling through the box, performing a clean step-over before burying the ball into bottom right hand corner by shooting through legs of Dunk. The maturity, dribbling, composure and finish were out of this world, and I'm pretty sure that xG on goal was low due to defender in front at near post. Finisher in the truest sense.

If the first goal hadn't broken down Brighton's hopes, shortly came the second one from Bruno Fernandes. The move again started from flank, just the left one this time. Rashford played a clean through ball for Shaw, who made a cutback that was loosely cleared by Brighton defense unit only to find Pogba holding the ball again. From there on, Frenchman simply squared the ball for Portugese who made no mistake and slot it into the bottom right hand corner.

Analysing the first half, the few points that made a lot of difference -
  1. Pogba and Bruno passed the ball to each other more than other players on the pitch throughout the first half (Stat from Opta). Development of a dynamic duo?
  2. Territory matters more than possession (territory = ball control and creativity in attacking third) but United had both!
  3. Rashford might have looked stagnant to most viewers but advanced statistics show how he actually added the most value to Fernandes' goal by playing that through ball to Luke Shaw.
  4. All the Aaron Wan Bissaka's four assists came in last 13 games. With Bruno and Pogba running the engine, Wan-Bissaka's offensive output has increased multi-folds. This indicates chemistry development and pattern play in the squad.
After a tiring half, Brighton team came out of the tunnel with a belief that they are going to overturn the circumstances. As a result of this United faced pressure from them for first 5 minutes of the second half, after which, everything changed. At the end of 49th minute, a long ball clearance from Manchester United saw the ball falling towards Matic. This is where Greenwood showed a great awareness and made a run forward along with Fernandes, Rashford, and Martial. As soon as the ball fell in front of Matic, he took a touch and then pulled off a beautiful long ball towards the left flank that started the classic Manchester United counter attack. The pass landed in legs of none other than the young prodigy Greenwood who wasted no chance, and made a sprint forward before spotting Fernandes at the edge of the box and putting in a delicious cross for him. The cross fell just right for the Portugese international and he wasn't going to miss a volley, was he? Before anyone knew it, ball was already at the back of net and the celebrations had begun.

If two first half goals, and a brilliant second half goal hadn't broken Brighton's chances enough, their miseries only got worse when our Spanish Savior returned to his best form and denied Brighton their only true chances to score. Seeing the right opportunity, Solskjaer made all the substitutions timely so that his crucial players can get the rest they need ahead of the Bournemouth clash on Saturday. From there on, game did see a few chances here and there, but nothing special or worthy of analysis.

Analysis from Second half -
  1. Matic is a pivot to this Manchester United team. With him screening the defence, we had most clean sheets, most recoveries, highest progressions, and a great number of line breaking passes. He needs to start consistently as his involvement also allows Pogba and Bruno to unleash themselves more.
  2. Rashford and Shaw have drastically improved their off the ball movements in recent games. The boss himself was known for same, and the training is really yielding the results now.
  3. While Rashford has added more value through transitions, his on the ball game has gone down. A wake up call needed.
  4. Greenwood's physicality and passing, two known weak factors in his game don't look like a weakness anymore. He is evolving into the perfect winger United could ask for.
Overall, it was a dominating win for Manchester United and even stats tell the same story -

Image from FotMob

Now that United have got a massive victory, they are surely on course to Top Four and with Wolves and Chelsea looking strong as well, it seems like things are not going to settle anytime before Matchday 38. With Bournemouth up next (we lost 1-0 to them at Dean Court as a courtesy of Josh King strike), things are only going to be more exciting from this point. 

Comments

  1. Enjoyed reading the article, throughly explained, keep up the good work

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