Under the radar: Forget Pogba, Luke Shaw is the unsung creator for Manchester United | OneFootball

Under the radar: Forget Pogba, Luke Shaw is the unsung creator for Manchester United

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EPL Analysis

Manchester United have recently faced a bit of slump in their form as they dropped points in back to back matches in the Premier League. Their defence has seemed weak at times when their other players are pushing forward and the opposition attacks on the break. There has been one player who has been influential in the performances that the Red Devils have given and that is their left-back, Luke Shaw. While Luke Shaw has thrived under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the previous seasons, he has delivered just one league assist across his opening six Premier League appearances, causing some to question his creative efficiency so far.

The above visual shows us the passing and progression stats for Luke Shaw and the percentile of players that he is better than at that particular stat. Shaw has a high expected assist per 90 of 0.31 and is better than 97% of the players in the league. He has attempted 3.80 progressive runs per 90 minutes and also has a high value of shot assists per 90.

Shaw has a high expected assists value in the whole league but only has one assist so far. Beyond the fact that we are so early into the season meaning that Shaw has attempted very few crosses, it’s important to consider that crossing is often about swinging the ball into dangerous locations for forwards to attack, rather than aiming the ball directly at a teammate. This is because players attacking the ball are rarely standing stationary, but instead moving about, trying to lose their marker and creating space in the penalty area. Therefore a cross being successful is often just as much down to the actions of the player receiving the ball as it is for the player attempting the cross. This is especially true in the case of Shaw given that he’s actually been a little unlucky to have not registered more assists so far for United.

Shaw has a very high expected threat from the passes he has attempted in the final third. Shaw is also put on corner taking duty by his manager which is why the passes he has made to his centre backs have a high xT. Shaw has been arguably lacking another one or two more assists to his tally so far as a result of less efficient finishing from United teammates.

While Luke Shaw is always on the move to support his teammates while attacking the opposition goal, he has also been heavily involved in performing defensive actions in his own half. Shaw has attempted a high number of duels on the left flank and most of these duels have been either ground duels or 50-50 duels. Shaw has not attempted many aerial duels in his own half. Shaw has also attempted quite a few defensive duels in the opposition half and has tried to start an instant attack from there.

In any event, though, the above highlights that the England international remains a key creator for his side and we should probably, therefore, expect to see an increase in his goal contributions as the season progresses, providing he keeps performing at the level he currently is.

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