Manchester United produced a performance that was instantly recognised as “the best yet” under Erik ten Hag in last night’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
The Dutch coach got off to a slow start at Old Trafford, leading United to back-to-back defeats against Brighton and Brentford in his first two matches in charge. But there’s been swift progress since then, with statement-making victories over top-four rivals Liverpool, Arsenal and now Tottenham.
United came racing out of the traps, producing a dominant first-half performance against the visitors. They peppered Hugo Lloris’ goal with shots in the opening 45 minutes but went into the break level, having not been clinical enough.
But they started the second half in a similar manner and eventually made their superiority count. Fred opened the scoring in the 47th minute with a deflected strike, and midway through the second half Bruno Fernandes doubled the hosts’ lead by putting a superb finish to an incisive counter-attack.
From there, United saw out their well-deserved two-goal advantage professionally and comfortably. Spurs barely laid a glove on Ten Hag’s side, who played with energy, intensity and dedication throughout.
Unused substitute Cristiano Ronaldo stole some of the headlines by flouncing down the touchline before the final whistle, but it failed to dampen a buoyant mood at Old Trafford.
“Against a solid and magnificent Tottenham, we have played and performed very well,” United boss Ten Hag said after the match (via Manchester United’s official site).
“Today was a brilliant performance. We scored two goals and I think we should have scored three or four goals. I’m pleased with the team – it was the best team performance so far this season.
“You can see today that we are developing. We are getting better every time on the pitch. It was enjoyable to see this.”
His opposite number agreed about United’s quality on the night.
“I think the game, United deserved to win. They played a really good game and in this sort of game our level has to be high but we need to improve a lot to try to be better than today,” Spurs manager Antonio Conte told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“United played better than us and created better chances than us. In the pitch we put will and desire but we have to know at this level we have to try to improve and be better because the level was high today and United showed today they were much better than us.
“United are a really good team and I know very well this club and what they did in the transfer market and what they can spend.”
Here are 10 of the most impressive stats after a very solid performance by Ten Hag’s Red Devils.
– Bruno Fernandes notched nine key passes – the final pass before a team-mate shoots at goal – against Spurs. That’s a record for one player in a Premier League game this season and as many as Antonio Conte’s men managed collectively.
– Fred registered six shots and five in the first half alone. The Brazilian midfielder managed six shots in total in his eight Premier League appearances this season before last night.
Yes that's 19 shots from United, and yes that's the most they've ever had in the first-half of a PL game in recorded history without scoring a goal pic.twitter.com/EkVuKP6gIW
— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) October 19, 2022
– Man of the match Bruno Fernandes covered 12.37km – the furthest distance of any United player on the pitch.
– United’s 14 shots from outside the box in the first half is the most of any first half since Opta began keeping records in 2003-04. Their 19 (first half) and 28 (total) shot tallies were the most by any side in any Premier League game this season.
– The score reflected United’s superiority. They registered over three times as many shots (28-9) and five times as many shots on target (10-2), which was reflected in 1.5xG to Tottenham’s 0.5xG.
– Lisandro Martinez had a 100% successful tackle rate, registering four tackles, the joint-most in the game alongside Casemiro and Luke Shaw. The Argentinian centre-back also wasn’t dribbled past once, made four clearances and one interception. He completed 44 of the 49 passes he attempted (90%).
– Ten Hag has now led the Red Devils to six wins from their last eight Premier League outings. Only Arsenal have picked up more points since United’s shock 4-0 defeat to Brentford in early August. Turnaround.
– United have won their last four matches against Tottenham. That’s their best winning streak against Spurs since Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp were in charge (seven games, 2009-2010).
– Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have seven wins and five clean sheets from the eight games they’ve started together.
– Having beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and now Tottenham, Ten Hag’s men have taken now taken nine points from four matches against fellow ‘big six’ opposition. They only managed 11 points from 10 matches against the rest of the big six in the entirety of last season.