Manchester United saw the benefit of fixing their biggest problem vs Leeds and Everton


Every team likes to get off to a good start in a match. It’s pretty obvious that no manager will draw up a matchday plan with the idea of letting the opposition take the early advantage before then trying to bounce back to secure all three points.

But how important is the first goal in football and how much does it really impact the result?

Well interestingly, it usually proves to be a decisive factor. In fact, numerous football studies conclude that scoring the game’s opening goal will lead to victory roughly 70 per cent of the time. This can be impacted by different factors though, such as team quality.

For example, so far this season, Liverpool have fallen behind on five occasions and lost only once (W3, D1, L1). Burnley, on the other hand, have also conceded first on five occasions but their record reads W0, D0, L5.

Still though, no matter how good your team is, the game becomes much easier to win or lose, depending on whether you score first or the opposition does.

With that in mind, below is a rundown of each Premier League team’s record in terms of opening goals scored or conceded.

Opening goals scored and conceded in the Premier League this season

Strikingly, Manchester United have managed to score the opening goal in a Premier League match on just three occasions all season. This is the same number of times as 19th placed West Bromich Albion.

Obviously, their ability to bounce back from initial setbacks after going a goal behind is a huge positive and no team in the league has picked up more points after conceding first than United’s total of 18 so far. This illustrates the character Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has instilled throughout this current United squad.

However, we can see from that above visualisation that there are a lot of similarities between the rankings above, and the current positions of each side in the Premier League table – with United the obvious outlier.

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They’ll therefore want to get on the positive side of this scoring first metric as the above indicates that it’s likely unsustainable for United to keep getting positive results from losing positions, should the trend continue.

Thankfully we saw improvements in this regard at Old Trafford in United’s 6-2 demolition of rivals Leeds United last weekend. The Reds found themselves 2-0 up following a quickfire Scott McTominay brace after three minutes, consequently taking a strong grip of the match before the visitors had been able to find the feet.

Although the result wasn’t yet sealed at that stage, striking first put United in a commanding position and made the task of getting a result much tougher for Leeds. United also scored first at Everton in the Carabao Cup and won – although Cavani’s opener at Goodison Park was much closer to the final whistle than McTominay’s at the weekend!

Solskjaer will be hoping for more of the same in the coming weeks and months.


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