On one side of Manchester, Pep Guardiola is creating history by captivating supporters with attacking, never-seen-before football. On the other, the once powerful Jose Mourinho is looking like the shadow of himself on the touchline of the ever-increasing pressure cooker of Old Trafford.
An area the Portuguese coach is keen to amend is the club’s problematic defence. Whilst there will be some stellar names touted to move to Old Trafford in January. There will also be some surprise names popping up.
Here, we compare Dunk’s Premier League performances to Manchester trio Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof. Phil Jones and Marcus Rojo are excluded due to their lack of playing time.
The above illustration provides us with a general glance of how the defensive quartet have performed for their respective clubs this season. From a playing standpoint, only Bailly has spent a significant amount of time on the sidelines due to injury and poor form. In terms of finding the back of the net, Dunk is on a little role as he has scored in back-to-back games for Chris Hughton’s side. Unfortunately for him, Brighton have ended up on the losing side on both occasions.
Before we divulge into the core statistics of this piece, it needs to be remembered that from a team’s perspective, Mourinho’s men are worse off defensively than Brighton this season. Eighth-placed United have conceded 21 goals from their 12 league encounters. By contrast, 12th-placed Brighton have shipped three fewer goals.
As we tuck into the main statistical stats, you can see in the above image that on first servings Lindelof leads the way in average tackles per game. The Sweden international has made an average of 1.6 tackles per match, better than his United teammates who both sit on 1 tackle per game. As for Dunk, he fares the worst out of the four, but he’s not far off Smalling and Bailly.
In the next three categories: average interceptions, clearances and blocks per game. Brighton’s academy product sits head and shoulders above United’s struggling trio. Over the course of the campaign, Mourinho has chopped and changed his backline on a number of occasions and you can see why. From playing a flat back four to reverting to a back three with a specialist midfielder slotting in alongside two specialist centre-backs – the usually sound defensive coach is finding it difficult to find the correct formula.
Pass the Dessert
From a passing perspective, it’s a bit of a mixed bag from all four men. Brighton, like United, are a more organised and defensive side. Therefore, you would not expect them to dominate possession or in this case the passing stats. Whilst Mourinho’s side also fall into those categories, as the bigger side, you still expect them to see far more of the ball than the south coast club.
Out of United’s defenders, it is Lindelof who comes out on top when analysing average passes made per game. The 2017 summer signing has made an average of 46.2 passes per game with a percentage rate of 87. By contrast, Dunk has made an average of 30.4 passes per game with a slightly lower percentage rate of 76.
The current troubles at Old Trafford don’t seem to be halting, nor is there any sign that the former Premier League champions are going to get back to their once-dominant ways. If United do go down the rout of spending again to get out of trouble then there is no doubt the demanding supporters will want big-name players walking through the door. Whilst Dunk does not fit that bill, he is better than what United currently have at the club. The Brighton man is not the answer to Mourinho’s troubles, but he certainly can be a barrier to stop him and United from falling further down.
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