Analysis: Who's doing the shooting for Man United?

Welcome all, it's been a while since I fanposted over here.

Today I want to take a look at Man United's shots and goal distribution. Distribution essential means which positions on the field are driving the play, recording the shots on target and, ultimately, scoring the goals.

I performed a not dissimilar analysis for Man City which can be found in this link.

Man United have taken 148 shots on target this season through 24 Premier League games, that works out as 6.16 per game. That is a fine, high number, but it is down on 2011/12's 6.39 per game.

Man United, despite their seemingly excellent goal scoring record are on course to score just one more goal than they did last season. RvP has not added to the goal totals that Man United score, the goals have just been redistributed, and some of that redistribution has been swallowed up by the excellence of the Premier League's best player.

Let's begin

2012/13 (and 2011/12) Shots on Target

Shots on T % share Shots on T % share

Defenders 6 2.4 16 6.5
Fullbacks 23 15.5 8 3.2
Midfielders 16 10.8 31 12.7
Attacking Forwards 17 11.4 53 21.8
Strikers 86 58.1 135 55.5

We see some interesting things above. Interstingly, United's fullbacks are shooting much more this season; a change in tactics or the corner/Evra effect? Man United's attacking forwards numbers are down this term, are injuries a big factor in this with each of Young, Valencia, Nani and Kagawa missing game time? The share of shots from strikers is fairly stable, nor is their a notable upswing in strikers taking more shots. It seems RvP has, basically, replaced some of Rooney's shots total and most of Welbecks.

2012/13 and 2011/12 Goals and % Share


Goals % share Goals % share

Defenders 4 7.1 3 3.4
Fullbacks 7 12.5 0 0
Midfielders 6 10.7 11 12.6
Attacking Forwards 3 2.1 20 22.9
Strikers 36 64.3 53 60.9

Naturally, Man United's goals from fullbacks has increased markedly, and this fits with the increased shots totals year on year. Attacking forwards have seen their share of goals drop off 90.8% (attacking forwards share of shots on target dropped off by 79.3%) and this would normally be a problem but that slack has been picked up by the aforementioned fullbacks. The defenders have chipped in and the share of goals by strikers is also up (5.28%) and this may be the first sign of the van Persie effect.

Scoring % (goals/shots on target)

2012/13 2011/12
Defenders 66.60% 18.70%
Fullbacks 30.43% 0.00%
Midfielders 37.50% 35.84%
Attacking Forwards 17.64% 37.73%
Strikers 41.86% 39.25%

We are now seeing similar trends right across the board. Defenders and fullbacks are much improved year on year, attacking forwards are in some funk and the strikers, with the addition of RvP, have improved slightly.

You guys are the fans and can tell better than I if there are glaring tactical reasons for the increase in shots and goals from defenders, and conversely, the drop off from attacking forwards?

van persie is having quite the season, and he may truly be the difference between the two Manchester clubs. What I find fascinating is that RvP in 2012/13 is getting far fewer shots on target per game than Wayne Rooney was last year.

Rooney, in comparison to RvP, was the striker who got his shots on target at a higher rate but, importantly, he had a lower scoring%. Is RvP simply a better shooter, or is he luckier? Maybe conversion %'s have a lot to do with the quality of the chance and the placement of the shot, but luck is certainly a part of it.

Shots on Target per game

Numbers normalized for a 24 game season in 2012/13 and a 38 game season in 2011/12. Injury or suspension is not factored in.

2011/12 2012/13

Evans 0.13 0.16
Vidic 0.05 0.04
Ferdinand 0.02 0
Smalling 0.02 0.04
Jones 0.18 0

Evra 0.1 0.33
Rafael 0.1 0.16
Buttner n/a 0.16

Carrick 0.07 0.12
Cleverly 0.07 0.16
Scholes 0.18 0.12
Giggs 0.26 0
Anderson 0.15 0.16
Fletcher 0.02 0.04
Powell n/a 0.04
Gibson 0.02 n/a

Kagawa n/a 0.2
Nani 0.5 0.12
Young 0.55 0.33
Valencia 0.21 0.04
Park 0.13 n/a

Rooney 1.84 1.08
Welbeck 0.89 0.25
Hernandez 0.57 0.66
van Persi n/a 1.58
Berbatov 0.23 n/a

Total 6.39 6.16

Some of these positions may be slightly out. An argument can be made for Phil jones to be placed as a full back or a midfielder. Similarly, is Welbeck a striker, or an attacking forward?

Rooney's 2011/12 shots on target per game number is magical. Welbeck has regressed in terms of shots, have the other parts of his game picked up instead? The attacking forwards have regressed, Evra is on fire!

Thanks for reading

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This FanPost represents the view of the member who posts it and does not necessarily reflect the views of <em>The Busby Babe</em> or <em>SB Nation. </em>

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