Mike L. Goodman for Grantland:
There’s nothing confusing about how Manchester United play. They keep the ball to keep their opponent from scoring, and then after an hour, if need be, they start to open the game up.
What’s a mystery is how that philosophy has earned this side so many points. They’ve taken only the 10th-most shots in the league, managed only the sixth-most shots on target, and yet have the fourth-most goals. They’ve conceded the fifth-fewest shots and only the ninth-fewest shots on target, and yet they’ve let in the third-fewest goals. They’ve conceded almost nine fewer goals than projected by expected goals, the second-highest discrepancy in the league, and scored 7.55 higher than expected, which is also second. Chalk it up to Louis van Gaal’s magic, David de Gea in goal, or Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in attack, but whatever the explanation, this is not the kind of thing that teams, historically, can sustain. With so little cushion between United and the below-fourth abyss, doing what they’ve done won’t be enough to hold off the likes of Southampton and Arsenal.
Another fantastic piece by Goodman. The man is a genius.