In Saturday’s loss against Aston Villa, it was the visitors’ set piece coach who was coming away from the clash being applauded for his role in their shock victory.
Kortney Hause beat Edinson Cavani to a Douglas Luiz corner and headed past David de Gea to silence Old Trafford.
Eric Ramsay was a hired as a set piece specialist and the former Chelsea coach has had a full pre-season to work with the players.
This appointment made sense as defending set pieces was a major weak point for United last season, and along with the signing of Raphael Varane, Ramsay could prove valuable over the course of the season.
But when we delved deeper at an area of the game which is heavily impacted by set pieces, United are alarmingly well down the charts this season.
United not winning their duels
Despite possessing the likes of Varane, Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo, only pointless Norwich City average winning less aerial duels per game than Manchester United according to WhoScored.
Daniel Farke’s side win an average 12 aerial duels per game, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team can only slightly better that with 12.2 duels per game.
For context, Sean Dyche’s Burnley top the charts with a whopping 25.2 duels per game won. But that great number doesn’t come as a surprise given the physical and direct style of play the Clarets have been accustomed to play under Dyche.
But Liverpool boosted by the return of Virgil van Dijk sit third in the charts with 18.5 duels won per game.
For all of the technicians Manchester City possess, even they currently average wining 13.3 aerial duels per game.
When United come up against the likes of Burnley and Ivan Toney’s Brentford (18.7 aerial duels won per game), we will have to stand up to the physical battle.
It was a surprise to see us ranked so low in this category considering United have generally defended well from set pieces, but hopefully with the help of Ramsay it’s something we can turn around quickly.
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