Zlatan Ibrahimovic's misses are adding up for Manchester United
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 30/10/16 1:22pm
Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a flying start at Manchester United but the misses are piling up now.
Their frustrating start to the season took another turn turn for the worse as they were held to a goalless draw by Burnley at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Ibrahimovic has now gone more than nine hours without a Premier League goal, his worst sequence without a league goal in a decade.
In fact, his only goal in his last nine games in all competitions came against Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League.
Premier League droughts 2016/17
|Player||Club||Shots since scoring|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Man Utd||42|
Ibrahimovic is getting chances - he has had more shots (57) than any other Premier League player this season - but he's failed to score with his last 42 attempts.
Only three other players have had 30 shots and none of them have scored fewer than Ibrahimovic. In comparison, Premier League top scorer Diego Costa has seven goals from only 27 shots.
Opta definition of a big chance: A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.
The 35-year-old cannot even point to the quality of his opportunities. According to Opta, he has missed eight of his nine big chances this season.
Opta defines a big chance as one that a player might reasonably be expected to score, but of the 17 players to have had four or more of them Ibrahimovic has the worst conversion rate.
Premier League big chances missed - 2016/17
|Player||Big chances missed||Big chance conversion|
Should Manchester United supporters be encouraged that their centre forward is getting such opportunities or alarmed that he's missing them?
Here, we highlight some of Ibrahimovic's best chances that have been squandered…
United were dominated in the early stages of the Manchester derby but managed to get back into it thanks to Ibrahimovic's expertly struck effort as he capitalised on Claudio Bravo's mistake. But there were opportunities to equalise in the moments that followed.
Ibrahimovic headed straight at Bravo from close range on the stroke of half-time and when the goalkeeper failed to deal with a situation in stoppage time, Ibrahimovic only had to beat the man on the line but scuffed his shot badly. City survived the wobble to claim the three points.
Perhaps United's most surprising defeat under Mourinho came at Vicarage Road where they went down 3-1 to Watford, losing for the third consecutive game in a row. But Ibrahimovic had the chance to give his side some momentum with the score goalless in the first half.
Rashford's low cross from the right found its way to the striker, but instead of turning the ball into the net with his left foot he could only find the side-netting. Watford took the lead 13 minutes later so this was another wasted chance that proved costly.
United looked set for a straightforward afternoon at home to a Stoke side that had taken just two points from their first six games of the season, especially when Ibrahimovic found himself one-on-one with Lee Grant inside three minutes.
However, Ibrahimovic aimed for the near post with the space at the far corner gaping and Grant saved well before pouncing on the rebound. Anthony Martial eventually gave United the lead but Joe Allen's late equaliser meant it was two points dropped.
Mourinho was accused of being overly defensive away to Liverpool and was aggrieved enough about that characterisation to contest the possession statistics in his post-match press conference. He could also point to the fact that Ibrahimovic had the best chance.
The striker wildly misdirected his header from close range early in the second half after good work by Paul Pogba on the right and United never got so close to scoring again. "Ibrahimovic's header was a big moment," Gary Neville told Sky Sports.
Conceding a goal inside the first minute of what turned out to be a 4-0 defeat suggests United had little hope of getting a result, but Ibrahimovic did get the chance to come up with an equaliser inside the first 10 minutes of the game.
Having pulled onto the far post and easily out-jumped marker Cesar Azpilicueta, Ibrahimovic could only head over the bar. Gary Cahill put Chelsea two up soon after and any lingering belief among United's players ebbed away after the break.
United were utterly dominant against Burnley, taking 37 shots in total, but failed to find the goal thanks to a mixture of wasteful finishing and brilliant goalkeeping by Tom Heaton.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic accounted for 12 of their efforts on goal, two of which were defined as clear-cut chances. The worst of them came in the 89th minute when he miscued Paul Pogba's cross from a few yards out.