Pitchside Europe

Three Kings: The wise men who could fire Manchester United into contention

As unlikely as it sounds, come New Year’s Day Manchester United could be back on top of the Premier League.

David Moyes’ side are nine points off the top of the table so three wins over the festive period could see them reach the number one spot, however a lot of other results would need to go their way.

Being more realistic the Red Devils could find themselves in a Champions League spot, or in much better contention for one come January 1.

They face Hull City away on Boxing Day followed by Norwich City away on the 29th and Tottenham Hotspur at home on New Year’s Day.

With Liverpool playing both Manchester City and Chelsea in the upcoming games and Arsenal travelling to St James’ Park to face high flying Newcastle United, Manchester United will have a real opportunity to gain some ground on those above them.

However if they are to pick up a maximum of nine points from the next three games the following three players will need to be at their best.

1. Phil Jones

Many fans would consider Phil Jones being one of United’s best players this season as unlikely as United being top of the Premier League come the New Year however with a Squawka Performance Score of 334 Jones has been the club’s second best performer with only Wayne Rooney doing better.

Jones has been used in both midfield and defence this season and injuries to the squad have led to the England international filling in where needed means he has yet to find a position to call his own however he has played well in all 13 outings in the Premier League whether in the back four or in the middle of the park.

His data reads well for a player utilized as either a centre back or a defensive midfielder. Out of 42 tackles he has won 27 which equates to 64% while he also wins just under half of headers challenged for while he has also made 32 interceptions.

His pass accuracy is excellent at 87% and he has also won 58% of the 12 take ons he has attempted.

Phil Jones stats:

2. Wayne Rooney

With Robin Van Persie out injured for around another month the burden of scoring goals falls upon the shoulders of England’s star striker.

This is no bad thing as he has been in great form this season, key to United’s attack and both scoring and setting up plenty of goals. At the start of the season many questioned whether he would even play under Moyes and suggested he could leave the club however the situation has turned out to be just the opposite.

His Squawka Performance Score of 434 means he is the fourth best forward in the Premier League behind only the amazingly prolific Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero and Chelsea forward Eden Hazard.

With eight league goals scored he is in the current top ten goal scorers in the division and is the top scorer, by some way, of all the United players available over the Christmas period.

His goals have come from 40 shots meaning that 20% of his efforts result in a goal while 58% of shots end up on target, further evidencing his efficiency in front of goal.

Rooney has also set up as many goals as he has scored. With an 80% pass completion he has made 35 key passes, on average over two per game, and has laid on eight assists. Rooney is key to everything the team do in attack, especially in the absence of Van Persie.

Wayne Rooney goalmap:

3. Adnan Januzaj

One of the most exciting young players in the Premier League Januzaj has been one of the few bright lights in what has been a dark season, so far, at Old Trafford.

In 11 appearances he has scored three goals from the wing, which is a decent return. 60% of his shots hit the target while 20% end up in the net.

Most impressive is his ability and willingness to try and beat a man. He has won 55% of the 40 take ons he has attempted this season and can also draw a foul, winning 37 free kicks.

Adnan Januzaj ratios:

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