Statman Dave: Maguire has been a revelation

Sunday 17 May 2020 07:00

United’s new skipper has had a fantastic first campaign in red, bringing an assuredness at the back as well as offering plenty of quality on the ball. The England international’s impact on the side has been so immense, we decided to take a closer look at the pretty impressive numbers he has put up in the Premier League this season.

First, let’s focus on his defensive qualities – the essence of his game. United have conceded just 30 goals in the Premier League so far this season, making us one of just four sides to have conceded four or fewer. That’s no fluke, either, with our expected goals-against metric standing at 30.56 – the third best in the competition. 
It is undeniable that this is partly attributable to Harry Maguire. On a very basic level, the 27-year-old has played every available minute in the Premier League for the club so far this season – the only outfield player to do so – and so has to be considered an important contributor to our impressive defensive record. 
More than that, though, his defensive numbers as an individual are extremely good. Maguire leads the team in three key defensive areas so far in the 2019/20 league campaign – clearances (201), interceptions (56) and blocked shots (18) – which paints an accurate picture of somebody who is able to read the game well and intervene at the right time, as well as put his body on the line when the situation requires doing so.
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He also has the best pressure success rate in the squad (38.5 per cent), meaning that when he engages and commits to winning the ball he does so more often than most. To give a bit of wider context on that last metric, Virgil van Dijk’s pressure success rate this season is 35.9 per cent and Toby Alderweireld is 32.7 per cent.  
We have to talk about Harry Maguire’s aerial prowess too. The Sheffield-born colossus has won an astounding 150 aerial duels in the Premier League so far this season, the second most of any central defender. Maguire’s ability to consistently win duels in the air has been a key component of United’s impressive defensive numbers, making it much more difficult for sides to get in-behind via long passes and making crossing accuracy very difficult. 
It’s not a mere question of volume, either, with his 73.2 per cent success rate in the air among the very best rates in the league. Interestingly, Maguire has won more aerial duels this season than he ever did during his time at Leicester City. Rather frighteningly for opposition forwards, this suggests that the skipper is still improving – even in the areas of his game that he is known to excel in.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Harry Maguire’s debut Premier League campaign at Old Trafford, though, is how he has managed to marry his astounding defensive capabilities with a real quality while in possession. 
He has clearly been identified and deployed as a ball-playing centre-back by the coaching staff, as evidenced by the fact that he leads the squad in total passes (1737) and long passes (630), boasting impressive success rates of 87 per cent and 81 per cent respectively. He even ranks second in the squad behind Fred (140) for passes played into the final third (124)! Again, this ranks him as among the finest central defenders in the league, ahead of players like Toby Alderweireld (120) and David Luiz (83). 
Harry Maguire has created 14 chances from central defence in the Premier League so far this season – no player has created more. Comfortably swapping between a back three and four, the no.5’s contribution to build-up can’t be overstated – but he’s also found creating opportunities surprisingly frequently.
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There’s a real variance to the way that Maguire has created these chances, too. Often, he’ll assist a shot by using his physicality to win the ball in the air from a set-piece and knocking it into the path of a forward. He’s equally able to pick a pass having charged forward with the ball at his feet, though. 
Maguire has been a revelation this season, both to the side’s defence and attack. His quality on the ball and ability to start and finish attacks has given United something of a secret weapon whereas his defensive prowess has ensured that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s transitional defence is still one of the finest around. What an impact the new skipper has had!
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