Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Analysis: Importance of width to United cannot be overstated...

Tomorrow night United take on Marseille in the Champions League. It is the first leg of the Group of 16 and ahead of the game, the news isn't too good on the injury front: United will be without Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Anderson (no great loss), Jonny Evans and Michael Owen.

Ji-Sung Park is also missing through injury as is Atonio Valencia and it means Ferguson may well have to call upon either Obertan of Bebe - but hopefully it will not come to that as both were dreadful against Crawley Town last weekend in the FA Cup.

Of the absentees, Giggs and Ferdinand will be missed because both of them have performed consistently well this season, especially where the United defender is concerned.

As a result of the injuries it means United are light on dedicated left sided wide men. The importance of width and more pertinently the danger areas from where United create so many of their goal scoring opportunities from cannot be understated.

Anyone who has studied United over a number of games when they've played well will tell you that the league leaders create most of their goal scoring opportunities from deep crossing positions which are in and around the opponents penalty area.

For the benefit of anyone who doesn't follow the action as avidly as some of us, we have produced a graphic which outlines the danger areas. The red areas of the graphic are the most productive source of goals - when the ball is played into the penalty area from these deep positions, two things usually happen; central defenders have to turn side on to face the ball and secondly United's attacking players can find space on the blind side of the defenders.

The orange areas of the graphic can sometimes lead to goals when the ball is played into the box from these deeper positions - however, more often than not, it leads to a defender heading the ball to safety. So the orange area and further back is the WRONG area.

Next time you're watching United and especially when they are playing really well and scoring goals, take note of the build-up and especially the areas from where the final ball is played into the box.

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