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Manchester United vs Aston Villa – a look at the defensive numbers

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United faced off against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa in Perth, in the team’s fourth game of the pre-season tour. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, with a last-minute header from Callum Chambers earning Villa a much-deserved draw.

New United boss Erik ten Hag started a strong team, similar to the first half against Crystal Palace, with the only changes being Donny Van de Beek in place of Scotland international Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw ahead of new signing Tyrell Malacia.

The Red Devils lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Van De Beek playing in a central midfield position.

The fullbacks were in fine form again for United in Perth, with Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot being the standout in his 68 minutes on the pitch. Dalot, who now appears to be United’s starting right-back, not only won 100% of the tackles he attempted but also won possession an impressive three times to boot.

Dalot had 68 touches of the ball and completed 53 passes, including 11 in the final third. In his newfound role as Ten Hag’s inverted right-back, the Portuguese also successfully blocked 4 passes.

Dalot has been another one who has shown positive signs on tour and one United fans will be hoping carries his form into the new season.

Dalot’s full-back partner on the left flank, Shaw, who was evidently struggling against Villa winger Leon Bailey, registered an assist for Sancho’s goal and was replaced by Malacia, who brought more control to that side. The 27-year-old also created 2 big chances in the first half and made 15 final third passes.

United captain Harry Maguire was another standout performer against the Villans, highlighted by an imperious block to stop the rampant Bailey who was causing trouble for the United defence. United’s skipper won an impressive 100% of tackles he attempted, 100% shot accuracy, and made 60 passes, 17 of which were forward passed.

Maguire completed 5 out of the 6 final third passes he attempted and won possession 4 times, in an outing that will surely impress the new boss who earlier in the week indicated that the player would only silence doubters with improved performances.

United ended the game with 58% possession and took 6 shots of which 3 were on target, a similar number to Gerrard’s side. The team completed a total of 536 passes, compared to their opposition’s 385.

While there are many positive takeaways from United’s pre-season tour and the game against Villa, it is also very clear, as evidenced by the second half in which United looked to be clinging on at times, that there is still a lot of work to be done on the training ground.

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