Skip to main content

FPL tips: Data says don’t be discouraged by Manchester United defeat

Manchester United v Aston Villa – Premier League – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Manchester United’s defeat against Aston Villa might have put a dent in their players’ FPL popularity, but the underlying data suggests their performance was worthy of a win.

Threat is a metric introduced by the FPL to measure the quality of the chances a player enjoys in front of goal, with a score of around 100 usually accounting for a goal’s worth of chances.

By looking at how much Threat a team scored and allowed during a game, one can better understand whether their result aligned with the strength of their performance.

And Manchester United’s Threat totals against Aston Villa tell a completely different story to the 1-0 scoreline.

A graphic showing the amount of Threat scored and conceded by Premier League teams in gameweek six of the season

Threat of Dreams

Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic (left) leads out the team before the Carabao Cup third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday September 22, 2021

(Martin Rickett/PA)

United’s third defeat in four games cast a shadow over the club, but they outscored Villa by 301 Threat scored to 104 Threat conceded, registering their highest Threat total of the season so far.

That’s a difference of around 200 Threat, more than enough to justify a comfortable victory for the home side.

Mason Greenwood was the star performer in this regard, scoring 109 Threat for a 36.2 per cent share of his team’s total, while Cristiano Ronaldo has 20 per cent of United’s total Threat this season.

A combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping may well have been what prevented United from scoring a handful of goals, but should they continue to perform at the level they did against Villa, they would be unlucky not to score.

Selling Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes at the first opportunity then could be considered rash, although with games against Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City fast approaching, ironing out those finishing flaws will be a priority for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ministry of Defence

Manchester City’s Ruben Dias celebrates after the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture date: Saturday September 25, 2021

(Adam Davy/PA)

In recent years Manchester City have made their name as a free-scoring goal machine, but this season it is their defence which is catching the eye.

After six games Pep Guardiola’s side have conceded just once, while they have the best record in the division according to Threat conceded, averaging just 76.7 Threat conceded per game.

To put that in context, neighbours United have the next best record at 109.5 Threat conceded per game – in their 1-0 win at Chelsea, City conceded just 72 Threat, the fourth occasion on which they have conceded less than 100.

The Citizens face Liverpool next in a battle of attack versus defence, before games against Burnley, Brighton and Crystal Palace.

For FPL bosses looking to cash in, defenders Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo both come in at £6.1m, with five clean sheets each and a number of assists between them.

Reds’ Threat throwback

Brentford goalkeeper David Raya Martin (second left), Mathias Jorgensen (second right) and Pontus Jansson (right) celebrate at the final whistle during the Premier League match at Brentford Community Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday September 25, 2021

(Adam Davy/PA)

Liverpool’s 3-3 draw against Brentford may have had some fans nostalgic for their 2013-14 title charge, in which they regularly scored and conceded heavily.

The current side would have been favourites to dispatch Brentford ahead of Saturday’s game, but the Threat totals show a score draw was an overwhelmingly fair result.

Liverpool scored a total of 203 Threat while the Bees notched 196, exposing a Reds defence which has conceded 147 Threat per game on average.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have scored more than 200 Threat in each game so far this season, a feat which no other team have managed, but have failed to concede less than 100 Threat in a single game.

Attacking players such as Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota then should remain as popular as ever, but keep an eye on Liverpool’s defensive data – if clean sheets start to disappear, Virgil Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold could prove too expensive to carry.