Rasmus Hojlund's Spotlight and the Quest for Renewed Creativity
|Rasmus Hojlund of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Carrington Training Ground on January 11, 2024 in Manchester, England.(Image-Getty)
In examining crucial tactical aspects and influential players for Matchweek 21, Adrian Clarke delves into the challenges facing Manchester United, with a specific focus on Rasmus Hojlund.
The urgency to enhance chance creation and conversion becomes evident as Manchester United aims to rejuvenate their season. Within the final third, Erik ten Hag's side has been a significant disappointment, tallying only 22 goals in 20 matches, making them the joint-third lowest scorers in the division alongside Luton Town.
Facing the formidable Tottenham Hotspur, who have scored in their last 32 Premier League matches, Manchester United must rediscover their killer instinct. Despite creating 36 "big chances," United lags behind as 13 other clubs have been more prolific in this aspect, showcasing issues of sluggishness, poor decision-making, tactical concerns, and execution shortcomings.
Notably, only three players—Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and Antony—have created more than one "big chance," emphasizing United's lack of creativity. Comparatively, 12 players from Manchester City have provided multiple big chances, underscoring the creative deficit at Old Trafford.
Compounding the problem is United's inefficiency in converting clear-cut opportunities, exemplified by their finishing statistics, falling below the expected standards. In contrast, Newcastle United, positioned just below United, have capitalized on 34 big chances.
The spotlight shifts to Rasmus Hojlund, the 20-year-old Danish forward who has struggled to find the back of the net, scoring only once since joining the club. Despite possessing explosive pace suitable for United's counter-attacking strengths, the chemistry between Hojlund and the team's chief creators has been lacking.
In contrast to fellow fast forwards like Dominic Solanke and Darwin Nunez, who have amassed significantly more shots, Hojlund's limited attempts (19 shots in over 1,000 Premier League minutes) raise concerns about service quality. The pressure on Hojlund to convert chances is evident in his low conversion rate of 6.25%.
A closer examination reveals a nuanced perspective, with Hojlund experiencing some bad luck despite missing "big chances." His impressive 55.60% conversion rate in the UEFA Champions League, where he scored five goals in six outings, offers optimism for his future contributions.
As United prepares to face Spurs, Hojlund aims to exploit the visitors' high line, presenting an opportunity for redemption. The match becomes a pivotal moment for both United and their summer signing, offering a chance to prove their mettle.