EPL

Odion Ighalo: The Opta stats behind striker's impressive start at Man Utd

By Sports Desk June 01, 2020

Manchester United have agreed a loan extension with Shanghai Shenhua that ensures they will have the services of forward Odion Ighalo until January 2021.

Former Watford striker Ighalo was a surprise addition at Old Trafford at the end of the mid-season transfer window.

Negotiations to extend his stay were required just to allow him to finish this campaign, with his original spell at United due to finish at the end of May.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have now opted to retain the Nigeria international for the first half of next season too, which is testament to his impressive start.

Stats Perform News have used Opta data to look at how Ighalo has done in the very early stages of his United career.
 

IGHALO MAKES MOST OF LIMITED TIME

Ighalo has had limited time to make an impact, as he did not make his debut until February 17, with the coronavirus pandemic halting the season under a month later.

The 30-year-old made a total of 8 appearances for United across all competitions, 3 of which were starts, accumulating 319 minutes on the pitch.

He has scored 4 goals, right in line with his expected goals total of 4.03, and fired in 17 shots on goal, 11 of which were on target.

Ighalo had a shot conversion rate of 23.5 per cent and he also created 8 chances for his team-mates, which includes his 1 assist.

STATS FAVOURABLE COMPARED TO BIG SIX RIVALS

When compared to the main strikers at the other members of the Premier League's big six – Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – Ighalo's stats are favourable.

No player has scored more than his 4 goals across all competitions since February 17, and the only forward who matches him in that tally is in fact team-mate Anthony Martial. 

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored 3, comes the closest.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (19) is the only player to fire in more shots, while Ighalo is the top performer when it comes to attempts on target, with Martial second as he sits three behind.

Martial and Mason Greenwood both have better shot conversion rates of 28.57 per cent, with Aubameyang (42.86 per cent) coming out on top in that category.

But Ighalo's mark is still better than that of Liverpool’s front three - Salah (10.53 per cent), Sadio Mane (13.33 per cent) and Roberto Firmino (7.4 per cent) - as well as City duo Gabriel Jesus (15.38 per cent) and Sergio Aguero (13.33 per cent).

Jesus (10) and Salah (9) created marginally more chances than Ighalo, but no other top striker registered more than half of his tally of 8, with Aguero, Mane, Firmino and Greenwood all on 4 as others fared worse.

He and Mane were the only forwards able to register 1 assist over that time too, with his creative play proving an added bonus for United over his early appearances.

Related items

  • David Silva changed the dynamic of Manchester City, says Begiristain David Silva changed the dynamic of Manchester City, says Begiristain

    David Silva's legacy at Manchester City will be to have changed the club, according to director of football Txiki Begiristain.

    Veteran playmaker Silva is set to leave City at the end of this season, following a decorated 10-year stint that has yielded four Premier League titles, five EFL Cups and two FA Cups – the first of which in 2011 ended a 35-year trophy drought.

    He offered a reminder of his enduring qualities with a masterful display in Wednesday's 5-0 routing of Newcastle United.

    Silva supplied his 120th and 121st assists in City colours by setting up Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, while he also dispatched a 65th-minute free-kick – the 76th goal of his time in England.

    Begiristain feels Silva holds a special place in City history, along with club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero and the recently departed Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany.

    "He's been unbelievable in football in the world - especially here," he told the club's official website. "He's spent 10 wonderful years, winning trophies and changing the dynamic of the club.

    "He's been one of the leaders – with Vincent, with Yaya and Kun [Aguero]. No one will forget what they've done for this football club.

    "Not only the way David plays football but helping us be a successful club.

    "David is always going to be remembered because of that."

    Brazil forward Jesus opened the scoring with his 11th Premier League goal of the season – ending a nine-match drought that stretched back to February's 2-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid.

    Echoing the sentiments of Pep Guardiola, Begiristain praised Jesus' selfless work for the team during a period of personal toil.

    "His work rate, he's unbelievable," he said. "He helps a lot by creating space for the midfielders.

    "He's the number nine and he likes to score and [against Newcastle] he could. We are always happy with the work rate."

  • Lack of Premier League experience costing Aston Villa – Petrov Lack of Premier League experience costing Aston Villa – Petrov

    Stiliyan Petrov is unsurprised by Aston Villa's struggles in the Premier League this season, believing questionable recruitment is a main factor.

    Villa sit 18th in the table ahead of Manchester United's visit on Thursday, with Dean Smith's side four points off safety.

    However, ex-Villa captain Petrov is in no way surprised by the club's perilous position, and the former midfielder cited the recruitment of inexperienced players as a major issue for Villa.

    "I'm not surprised. I remember at the start of the season saying it was a big task for them," Petrov told Stats Perform News.

    "Recruitment and prep, they were way behind everybody else. It was expected. It doesn't look promising.

    "[These are] challenging times for the club and for fans, like me. I hope the boys can pick it up enough to stay up, but with Watford winning [on Tuesday] our task is more difficult.

    "Villa signed a lot of promising players, but inexperienced players. It took me two years to adapt to the league from Celtic, so you can see where the trouble is.

    "The problem is scoring goals. You can let them in but if you don't create opportunities then it's very difficult.

    "I don't know what plan they have, but I hope we can stay up. Getting back up will be difficult."

    Petrov also acknowledged it will be a challenge for Villa to keep hold of their key performers should they fail to beat the drop, using England international Tyrone Mings as an example.

    "He's been a very good addition to the club," Petrov said of the defender, who joined from Bournemouth in 2019 following a successful loan spell at Villa Park.

    "He's shown he's improving. He wants to be a leader; he likes to be a leader.

    "It will be difficult to keep hold of him if we go down, he is an asset and some people will look to buy. I know we've lost a lot of games, but his individual performances and development have been well ahead of everyone else."

  • It's beautiful, they make me enjoy football – Pogba thrilled by Fernandes and Man Utd forwards It's beautiful, they make me enjoy football – Pogba thrilled by Fernandes and Man Utd forwards

    Paul Pogba is relishing playing alongside Bruno Fernandes and Manchester United's in-form attackers, with their "beautiful" link-up play a joy to behold for the Frenchman.

    United have extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches across all competitions since returning from the coronavirus-enforced break last month and their forwards have played a significant role in that.

    Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have scored eight goals between them already, while Fernandes has added another four and also grabbed a pair of assists.

    Pogba, too, has impressed since the resumption, coming back into the side after missing the majority of the first part of the campaign through injury, and now there is talk of a possible contract extension for the Real Madrid-linked midfielder.

    While his long-term future remains a little uncertain for the time being, there is no doubt Pogba is enjoying life at United, with his slightly deeper role giving him the opportunity to look on and savour the attacking talents at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's disposal.

    "From behind I just enjoy it. I'm enjoying just watching Bruno, Rashford, Martial and Mason, who all played the last game, and seeing them score goals," he told United's official website ahead of Thursday's trip to Aston Villa.

    "You just keep applauding, it's beautiful. They make me enjoy football every time!

    "As well though, there is the defensive work that people don't talk about – they do it. The pressing - they do it. That's what you maybe don't see that much.

    "Football fans who know football see that and that's the difference that we have and it's great to see them at their best.

    "I think it's about the mentality – the attacking and defending that they do every time – that helps us, it helps the midfielders and the defenders and obviously the talent speaks for itself - the goals and the action and the football, everything."

    Pogba believes Fernandes and United's frontline all have the desire to keep pushing themselves for more – a trait which makes them even more dangerous.

    "For example, Martial scored three goals, his first hat-trick, then he goes again, you have to carry on. He wants to take another ball home, you know," Pogba continued.

    "You have to have this mentality, score a goal and do it again and again… Bruno, Rashy [Rashford], Mason. If you've got two goals, great, but go for three, why not? You have to keep this mentality, keep a clean sheet too. We want to keep working on this and we have the mentality to do it.

    "That's also the mentality of this club, it's always been like that. We're never satisfied with one trophy or one game we win or two games or 10 games, you want more, you always want more. That's what makes Manchester United the biggest club, for me, in England."

    Victory for United on Thursday will take them to within a point of fourth-placed Leicester City, who Solskjaer's men will face on the final day of the Premier League season.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.