Football Features

Man Utd stats: Beleaguered Antony must add end product to extend Old Trafford stay

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 18:25, 2 May 2024

Erik ten Hag’s faith in Antony was rewarded during Manchester United‘s clash with Burnley.

The Brazilian looked in line to be substituted after a quiet opening hour at Old Trafford — but the decision to keep him on the pitch paid off handsomely, when he netted Manchester United’s only goal in a 1-1 draw.

Remarkably, that was Antony’s first Premier League goal of the season, in what has been another difficult campaign for the Red Devils winger.

With plenty of speculation surrounding his future, we consider what lies in store for United’s No.21.

Remaining confident

Big things were expected of Antony when Manchester United parted with £86million to sign him from Ajax in the summer of 2022.

But he has failed to live up to that star billing since arriving in M16, registering just five league goals and three assists across his two campaigns with the club.

The 24-year-old remains bullish about silencing his critics, however, saying recently: “The critics are going to exist, and it’s something that makes me want to work harder, and prove to myself first.

“I’m going to keep working, giving everything for the group because it’s most important to have a good mentality and to be focused.”

Ten Hag will hope that the confidence boost from scoring against Burnley can see Antony hit form in the season’s final three matches.

Goals imminent?

Antony’s return of five league goals since arriving in England is undoubtedly disappointing — but an element of misfortune may be behind that underwhelming record.

He has accumulated an xG of 9.87 over that period, which suggests he should have come close to doubling his tally.

And inaccurate shooting doesn’t appear to be the reason behind that shortfall.

The Sao Paulo native has registered 11.39 Expected Goals on Target since the beginning of 2022/23, suggesting that his finishing is actually adding value to the chances he has been presented with.

A degree of variance could therefore see Antony’s numbers improve in the near future.

Reasons for positivity

If we focus exclusively on the current season, there are some positive signs from Antony’s underlying numbers.

For starters, he is not afraid to try and beat opponents in wide areas, with 4.13 attempted take-ons per 90 putting him just outside the division’s top 20 performers.

He is also creating a high volume of significant opportunities, with 0.51 big chances per 90 ranking 16th among Premier League players.

Regardless, one league goal and one assist from an expected contribution of 5.25 is a notably low end product — and Antony will continue to receive criticism until he starts consistently producing the goods.

As Manchester United prepare to rebuild their squad in the off-season, their big-money forward may well be at risk of a summer departure.