Manchester United, West Brom and surprise packet Huddersfield Town are the three teams leading the way in the Premier League, and they are also the only clubs yet to concede a goal. Do they all play in a similar style, or perhaps they go about their clean sheets individually. Either way, it is worth talking about.
The Red Devils recruited strongly in the off-season, Romelu Lukaku has already scored three times and Nemanja Matic has been a revelation. Jose Mourinho looks as though he has rejuvenated the squad overall, and he is getting more value out of each and every player as a result. Look at Henrikh Mkhitaryan for instance, he leads the way for league assists with four and is a far cry from the player he was last season. However, perhaps the biggest development has come in the back-line.
Consistency is key. In 2016-17, Manchester United treated their defence like a fashion show, they were constantly changing its look and playing style. Although they conceded less than Chelsea, the Red Devils struggled moving the ball out from the back and starting their attacks from deep. Arguably one of the reasons they had the most draws last season (15). This term sees Daley Blind, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia defending the stocks, and the early signs are very promising. Who can argue with eight goals scored and zero conceded?
- Duels won: 117
- Aerial duels: 34
- Tackles: 30
- Fouls: 30
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 22, 2017
Consistency of personnel is also true when we look at West Brom’s back-line. Chris Brunt, Ahmed Hegazi, Craig Dawson and Nyom have played against Bournemouth and Burnley. The quartet have been resilient and ruthless, however, the recruitment of Hegazi has played a huge role in their success. The Egyptian has added another level of polish to the Baggies’ play since joining from Al Ahly on loan.
In two games he has already scored and had three shots at goal. Those are some impressive figures for a defender, especially when you consider some strikers of the Premier League are yet to reach those heights, Daniel Sturridge for example. Defensively though, is where Ahmed Hegazi has really made a difference. He always aims for a forward pass before playing it sideways, and his towering frame wins him the majority of aerial battles (65%). While on the deck he makes himself useful with smart positioning above all else.
- Duels won: 78
- Aerial duels: 32
- Tackles: 28
- Fouls: 26
1-0 vs. Bournemouth
1-0 vs. Burnley
West Brom have won their opening two games of a Premier League season for the first time. 💪 pic.twitter.com/hBBpBVRdBJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 19, 2017
Huddersfield Town have been the surprise package thus far, with wins over Crystal Palace and Newcastle United, however, what is more surprising is the fact they are yet to concede a goal, because back in the Championship they copped 58, which was the highest among the top six sides. What has changed? Well that is hard to say because the Premier League is a different level of calibre entirely, however, like Manchester United and West Brom they have remained consistent with their lineup.
Chris Lowe has good pedigree, with routes leading back to his time spent with Borussia Dortmund. Christopher Schindler moved to Huddersfield in 2016 from 1860 Munich, and he is also German. Tommy Smith is an English lad who came through the ranks at the Terriers after moving from Manchester City, yet another strong starting point. Finally Zanka, who made the switch from Copenhagen this season. Clearly, David Wagner has a keen eye for his defenders and they all come from solid foundation clubs. Perhaps that is why they have adjusted to the quality of the Premier League so smoothly.
- Duels won: 118
- Aerial duels: 40
- Tackles: 52
- Fouls: 20
Huddersfield Town in @PremierLeague:
📅 Games: 2
✅ Wins: 2
⚽️ Goals Scored: 4
❌ Goals Conceded: 0
📈 Position in PL: 2nd
What a start! 😎👏 pic.twitter.com/guIOLb9pEm
— SPORF (@Sporf) August 20, 2017