Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is satisfied with Manchester United’s attacking efforts despite another frustrating outing in front of goal at Old Trafford.
United and Manchester City shared a dour 0-0 draw in Saturday’s derby, where neither side did much to quicken the pulse.
Nevertheless, Solskjaer praised his players’ character after they put last week’s sapping Champions League exit at RB Leipzig behind them.
United have now gone five consecutive home games without scoring from open play in the Premier League, but their manager feels it is helpful to look at a bigger picture of more free-scoring performances on the road and in European fixtures.
“If you compare our goal tally from last season to now, we’re way ahead in terms of the amount of games that we’ve played,” he said.
“We’re scoring goals. If it’s home or away, it doesn’t really matter.
“I think big teams are setting their stall out to defend against us. That’s of course a challenge for us but I think we’ve proven in many games that we do create chances.
“Whoever scores five against Leipzig, or seven against Leipzig in two games… we’ve scored against PSG.
“I think we’ve created a lot of chances and scored a lot of goals.
“It’s also varied the way we’ve scored. [Against City] we looked dangerous on set plays.”
3 – Manchester United have failed to score in three home league games this season, one more than in the whole of the 2019-20 campaign at Old Trafford. Nightmare. pic.twitter.com/RfJbgJa5a3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 12, 2020
United have played 19 games in all competitions this season – 11 in the Premier League, six in the Champions League and two in the EFL Cup – and the numbers back up Solskjaer’s assertion that they are an improving attacking outfit.
After the same number of matches in 2019-20, the Red Devils had 27 goals compared to 40 this time around.
This is largely down to them developing a more clinical edge. Last season at this stage, they had registered 268 attempts on goal, with 92 on target and 15 out of 52 converted, per Opta’s big chances metric.
From 265 shots in 2020-21, they’ve hit the target 109 times and scored 27 of their 45 big chances. United’s big chance conversion rate has shot up from 28.8 per cent to 60 per cent, while their overall shot conversion is 15.1 per cent, up from 10.1.
It means Solskjaer’s men are outperforming their expected goals (xG) total of 31.1.
Over the opening 19 games last season, their xG was higher at 34.3 – indicating a better quality of chances created overall. However, wasteful finishing gave them an xG difference of -7.3.
A trip to bottom club Sheffield United is next on the agenda in the Premier League this Thursday, before Leeds United visit Old Trafford at the weekend.