After firing United to victory in last Saturday’s 2-1 win at Sunderland, Adnan Januzaj has barely been out of the headlines. Handed his first league start by David Moyes, the youngster’s impact against the Black Cats has sparked the latest Fantasy bandwagon as managers scramble for his signature. So far, the 18-year-old has acquired over 105,000 new owners in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game – his price has already risen to 4.7 but, given, the level of interest, it looks a near-certainty he’ll be 4.9 by the time Gameweek 8 gets underway:
With just seven league fixtures done and dusted, it’s obvious that Moyes has been struggling to find a balance to United’s left flank – Januzaj was the fifth player to be handed a start there already. In our latest Technical Area article, we take a look at his display last weekend and compare it to the other four players to start on United’s left thus far.
United Average Positions versus Sunderland
As shown by the map (left), Januzaj (44) isn’t the type of wideman who merely hugs the touchline. While Nani (17) afforded United far more width on the opposite flank, the youngster drifted into central areas and was more or less on a par with Wayne Rooney (10) in terms of his advanced average position when on the ball. By moving inside, Januzaj also allowed Patrice Evra (3) greater license to forage forward from the left-back berth, as the Frenchman looked to support the visitors’ attacking plays on many occasions.
United’s Starters on the Left, Gameweek 1-7
|Mins||Tchs||Tchs Final 3rd||Pass Rcvd Final 3rd||Succ Pass Final 3rd||Dribb||Suc Dribb||Cross||Suc Cross||Key Pass||Tchs Box||Shots||Shots Box|
*Appeared as substitute
The table above list the players per Gameweek who have started on the left for United so far, with Januzaj’s stats for Gameweek 6 also included after he climbed off the bench to replace Shinji Kagawa at the break against West Brom. Comparing him to each of the other starters, it’s immediately noticeable that the youngster is looking to get on the ball as much as possible – a total of 60 touches against Sunderland was superior to any of his rivals, with Ashley Young’s 51 against Palace in Gameweek 4 the nearest.
Granted, Januzaj’s 77 minutes on Saturday is the second highest tally here but his impact is obvious. His 34 touches in the final third is more than double Ryan Giggs managed in the season opener at Swansea where United won 4-1 – Young’s 31 against Palace is again the closest any of our featured players can manage. In terms of passes received in the final third, the 18-year-old once again leads the way – he registered 18 against the Black Cats, with Danny Welbeck’s 17 back in Gameweek 2 at home to Chelsea the closest match.
It’s when we look at successful passes in the final third that the youngster’s contribution starts to stand out – particularly against the much-maligned Young. Januzaj made 16 over his 77 minutes at the Stadium of Light – Young has managed a total of 18 (4, 10, 4) in his three starts, while Giggs’ tally of 6 at the Liberty hardly impressed either.
Analysing each player’s delivery from the flank, Young once again fares poorly. Over his three first XI appearances between Gameweek 3-5, the former Villa man produced 19 crosses, with only 1 finding its target – indeed, his stats, in comparison to the other, indicate his different approach to the role on the left.
Januzaj’s ability to beat his opponent stands out considerably here and shows just what he brings to United. Incredibly, he managed more successful dribbles against Sunderland than Moyes’ other starters combined (5 to 4) over the previous six Gameweeks -indeed, in the past game-and-a-half alone, he has attempted 11 dribbles, with 9 successful – Young has produced 11 over his three starts, with just 2 successful.
The only aspect of Januzaj’s game that has failed to impress is his ability to tee up chances for others, with not a single key pass produced since replacing Kagawa against the Baggies. This, however, merely underlines his direct style of play – his ability to beat his opponent is allied with an attacking instinct that saw him produce 4 touches inside the box at the Stadium of Light; putting that into perspective, United previous six starters on the left managed a combined 9 touches in the box (1, 2, 2, 3, 0, 1) by comparison. Against West Brom, Januzaj managed 4 to Kagawa’s 1, in addition to registering 4 successful dribbles to the Japan international’s single successful take-on.
Januzaj’s eye for goal is also obvious here. His total of 6 shots against the Black Cats was double the number of Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney combined and, unsurprisingly, analysing his numbers against his rivals on the left bodes well – United’s previous six starters managed a total of 7 attempts between them, with 3 inside the area equalling Januzaj’s haul last Saturday.
Indeed, over 155 minutes game time thus far, his 9 attempts on goal equate to an average of 17.2 minutes per shot – second for midfielders with more than two appearances this term. Crucially, though, it’s not just long range efforts he’s firing – 5 of those have arrived inside the area. Compared to other midfielders, this is the same number as City’s Yaya Toure over 666 minutes and more than Everton’s Ross Barkley (657 minutes, 4 shots in the box) and Arsenal’s summer signing Mesut Ozil (343 minutes, 3 shots in the box) for example.
The Impact on Evra
As the average position map (left) shows, the Frenchman enjoyed one of his most advanced positions of the season so far in Gameweek 7. With Januzaj shifting inside, Evra was afforded far more freedom to attack – although his overall touches were markedly down (65 from 74), Evra had more touches in the final third, up from an average of 22.6 to 28, while he was found by his team-mates more often in the attacking third, with 19 passes received to a previous 13.8 across the first six Gameweeks.
|Tchs||Tchs Final 3rd||Pass Rcvd Final 3rd||Succ Pass Final 3rd||Crosses||Succ Crosses||Chances Crtd|
Although his distribution was still the same – 9 successful passes in the final third to 9.4 beforehand – Evra was able to supply the width from deep as a result of Januzaj’s forays inside and delivered 10 crosses (3 successful) against the Black Cats, compared to his previous average of 4.2 and 1.2 respectively. Indeed, with a total of 3 key passes – almost double his Gameweek 1-6 average of 1.6 – Evra also picked up his first assist of the season; an indication that he could also benefit from the youngster’s installation to the United XI as he looks to replicate the form that harvested 4 goals and 6 assists in the season gone by.