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2020/21 Premier League Previews | Manchester United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the return to their perch

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Manchester United start the 2020/21 Premier League season against Crystal Palace

Sportscafe

2020/21 Premier League Previews | Manchester United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the return to their perch

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Siddhant Lazar

09/19/2020

The 2020/21 Premier League season is back and for Manchester United, this season could make or break for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Despite hopes of a new generation, the Red Devils have had an absent transfer window and they're on the verge of either teetering off the edge or leaping across to glory.

How well did Manchester United do in the 2019/20 Premier League season?

For a team that spent most of the first half of the season in upheaval and chaos, Manchester United ended the 2019/20 season pretty well. That was partly down to a few smart moves made in January and partly down to the fact that lockdown helped them get back most of their injured players. In the end, the Red Devils finished third with 18 Wins, 12 Draws and 8 Losses to their name. Not their greatest season but certainly not their worst although they were far off from the title race.

And their numbers agree with that. Offensively they finished as the league’s fifth-highest goals scorer (66), had the fifth-highest xG per 90 (1.58), the fifth-best assists per 90 minutes (1.13), the fourth-highest key passes completed (401), the fifth most touches overall (25675), and the sixth-best non-penalty xG or npxG (49.3) with the most penalties awarded at 14. Defensively, is where things change although United did not struggle at the back, they were at par.

The Red Devils had the third-best defensive record this year (36). They combined that with the third-best PSxG (Post-Shot Expected Goals) (37.5), had the second-fewest errors leading to a goal (7), the seventh-best successful pressure percentage (28.2%), committed the sixth most fouls (423), had the fifth-best clean sheet percentage (34.2%) and they did that all the while averaging the fourth-best Points Per Match (1.74).

Stats taken from FBref © Sportscafe

Improvements they’ve made so far:

So far nothing. United haven’t made any improvements to their team at the moment although they have been linked with nearly every player on the planet including Lionel Messi. But their top targets have been David Brooks, Jadon Sancho, Douglas Costa and another midfielder with Ole Gunnar Solskjsaer looking to improve his side. Their problem in the 2019/20 season, however, was their goalkeeper in the form of David de Gea with the Spaniard making a few high profile errors.

He’s shown a clear regression over the last few years but with Dean Henderson back from loan, the young Englishman does have a bright future ahead of him. A further problem is their squad depth which is something Solskjaer and co really need to take a look at and nothing proves it as much as the Europa League semi-finals. The fact that the United boss waited until the dying seconds of the game to make his changes, shows the faith he has in his substitutes.

Odion Ighalo has proven to be a great stop-gap solution but the likes of Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, and a few others need to be moved on and replaced with better options. The arrival of Donny van de Beek adds midfield depth but their pursuit of Sancho has dominated the window and come to nothing. It’s a tough window to get right especially given the current situation thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic but United are moving in the right direction which has given many fans hope for the future.

How well could Manchester United do in the 2020/21 Premier League season?

Barring a sensational 300 something million spend on transforming the team, this is their ceiling and they know it. A third-place finish is the best this team can do without a few new additions because while Manchester United may have done the double over Manchester City and Chelsea, they’ll need more to challenge for first or second place. That's something that they look rather unlikely changing although as the Blues proved, miracles do happen and the Old Trafford side will need one to challenge for anything higher than the third.

Their floor is Europa League football or as low as sixth if things elsewhere do go against them. But the worst-case scenario could see United finish outside the top six, should they suffer serious injuries to key players and should Wolves, Sheffield United and Leicester City find their groove. Although, it's unlikely that they finish outside the top half of the table barring potentially the worst-case scenario aka Chelsea or Jose Mourinho's Manchester United. An implosion of a sensational manner.

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