Old Trafford will host continental football for the first time this season when Real Sociedad visit Manchester on Thursday evening. United have found form domestically and they will be determined to maintain their rhythm with a fifth-straight victory, however, Imanol Alguacil’s Sociedad are no pushovers and they should provide a stiff test for Erik ten Hag’s improving Red Devils.
If you’re thinking about a bet builder for tonight’s game then this one is for you. The Stats Pack has all the numbers behind the goals, cards, corners, and shots that you see every week. Hopefully this will help you make those tough decisions, and get you a win tonight.
Erik ten Hag has resisted the urge to rotate during United’s recent winning streak, though a number of changes are anticipated to his team on Thursday.
Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Casemiro, Fred and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the big names hoping to be promoted from the bench while new signing Martin Dubravka could start for the first time between the sticks.
Real Sociedad will be without their skipper and talisman, Mikel Oyarzabal, on Thursday, though summer acquisition, Umar Sadiq, should start in his place up top following his goal from the bench against Atletico Madrid at the weekend.
Real Sociedad usually set up with a back four and a narrow quartet in midfield. Former Man City star David Silva tends to play at the apex of that central foursome as a traditional number ten.
While United’s results have been steadily improving, their underlying numbers haven’t quite caught up yet, though they are somewhat skewed by their first two defeats of the season against Brighton (1-2) and Brentford (0-4).
United’s xG against figure p/90 (1.76) is alarmingly high, though that has dropped to a much better 1.23 since Raphael Varane was paired with Lisandro Martinez in defence. That partnership could be broken up on Thursday, however.
Real Sociedad’s goal-difference in La Liga is currently -1 and their stats in Spain have a similarly “break-even” look about them. Their xG for (1.47) and against (1.46) per 90 are remarkably uniform, while their shots on target for (5.25 p/90) and shots on target against (5.25 p/90) figures are twinned.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
€100m-man Antony made quite the impression against Arsenal on Sunday when he broke the deadlock and posted some impressive numbers, and the Brazilian winger will be out to match his 3.16 shots and 4.74 shots on target p/90 figures against Real Sociedad.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been unloading with both barrels at every sniff (5.09 shots p/90), though shots on target numbers (0.85 p/90) hint that his sights aren’t fully zeroed.
Real Sociedad are still restructuring their attack following the departure of Alexander Isak to Newcastle, though Umar Sadiq (2.00 SOT p/90) already looks like a like-for-like replacement.
18-year-old French forward Momo Cho was snatched from Angers in the summer and though he has yet to break his duck, his shooting stats suggest a first goal will arrive sooner rather than later.
Player Goals and Assists
United are still grinding through the gears in the final third for the most part and they remain reliant on counter-attacks to penetrate. Marcus Rashford (5 goal contributions) thrives in fast-break scenarios, though is unlikely to start on Thursday.
Jadon Sancho’s early-season prowess has been promising, though United would still like more from him and the unusually goal-shy Bruno Fernandes soon. Pass-master Christian Eriksen has been king of the pre-assist this season, though he did create a goal directly for Rashford against Arsenal.
Umar Sadiq is already Real’s joint-top scorer this season despite seeing just 45 minutes of play in La Liga, though a single goal-target was never likely to be tough to match.
Sadiq notched an equalizer against Atletico Madrid at the weekend, while Brais Méndez opened his account for the campaign with the winner at Elche a week earlier.
Man United Cards
Manchester United have collected more cards (20) and committed more fouls per game (12.5) than any other Premier League team this season and the Red Devils have been turning aggression into results.
With four bookings in six appearances, Scott McTominay is a walking yellow card, while Diogo Dalot (3) is notoriously cynical when his man manufactures space behind him.
Harry Maguire, who still lacks confidence, has looked awkward when handed a starting berth and the England international has been cautioned in every appearance so far. He could struggle to deal with Umar Sadiq’s pace and awkward but effective dribbling style on Thursday.
Mikel Merino has been fouled 2.16 times per 90 in La Liga this season and the midfielder will likely have his technical talents trimmed by United’s incumbents on Thursday. Keep an eye on Brazilian duo Casemiro and Fred when the battle for possession intensifies. David Silva could also be in for some tasty treatment on his return to Manchester.
Umar Sadiq (fouled 2.00 times p/90) featured for just 45 minutes at the weekend, however, Atletico found it tough to get to grips with his unusual gait and physical prowess.
Match-Ups to watch
Casemiro vs Mikel Merino
Fred vs David Silva
Harry Maguire vs Umar Sadiq
Real Sociedad Cards
Igor Zubeldia has been Real Sociedad’s hardest hitter this season and the old-school centre-half has picked up two bookings for his 3.24 fouls p/90.
In midfield, Mikel Merino (2.95) and Brais Méndez (3.75) like to throw their weight around, while right-back Aritz Elustondo (2.78 fouls p/90) could panic if a pace-merchant like Anthony Elanga pushes the ball past him.
Bruno Fernandes doesn’t endear himself to opponents with his constant complaining, though he does receive his fair share of knocks (fouled 1.67 times per game).
Swedish winger Anthony Elanga remains frustratingly raw, but his searing pace does put defenders on edge and instead of trying to match his runs, they often prefer to bring him down (1.67). On the opposite flank, Antony’s close control (3.33 dribbles p/90) can put a target on his back.
Match-Ups to watch
Igor Zubeldia vs Antony
Aritz Elustondo vs Anthony Elanga
Mikel Merino vs Bruno Fernandes
That’s it for this Stats Pack. Hopefully it’s provided you with everything you need for tonight’s highly anticipated Europa League clash at Old Trafford. Remember that if you are looking to gamble tonight then please do so responsibly. Stay sensible and keep it fun.
Best of luck if you’re putting together a bet builder and I look forward to seeing those winning slips.