Manchester United are a long-ball team... despite spending £150m in the summer

ANALYSIS: Only Burnley have attempted more long passes this season

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The Independent Football

Manchester United are a long ball team - the statistics prove it.

Louis van Gaal might have overseen a £150million shopping spree in the summer, but the club are at the top of the charts when it comes to long balls in the Premier League.

In fact, only newly-promoted Burnley - who spent around £8m in the summer - have attempted more long balls in the top flight this season.

Van Gaal's team, which boasts the silky creative skills of Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao have attempted a whopping 1,701 long balls in the Premier League this season, an average of 77 per game.

Burnley top the charts with 1,861, or 80 per game, while Southampton (71) and West Ham (70) are the only other teams in the top 10 who attempt anywhere close to United's tally.

Unsurprisingly Arsenal attempt the least with 46 per game, in front of Manchester City (51), Liverpool (58) and Chelsea (59).

Thankfully for Van Gaal, United's expensive stars are also the most accurate with their long passes, completing an average of 43.2 per game, more than 50 per cent, and ahead of Southampton's 35.1. United have a total of 820 successful long passes, way ahead of the Saints' 66.

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Louis van Gaal's team are behind only Burnley in the amount of long balls played

All is not lost for Van Gaal's men, however, with the long balls just a part of United's attacking arsenal. The Dutchman's side is second only to rivals City in terms of possession, averaging 58.1 per cent possession in matches so far this season, and they are fourth in the average number of successful short passes per game.

City dominate the ball in their matches with an average of 59.3 per cent per game to top the division. They can also claim to be the Premier League's tiki-taka kings with more than 480 successful short passes per game on average, 9,167 in total.

Arsenal and Chelsea each average more than 430 successful short passes per game, with United fourth in that table with 424.1, with a total of 8,057 in 19 matches.

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United spent a whopping £150m in the summer as they chase Champions League football

Crystal Palace are the real enemies of eye-pleasing football in the Premier League; the Eagles average just 37.4 per cent possession in matches and make only 184.2 successful short passes per game, a total of 3,500. Burnley are second worst but average more than 40 more than Palace per game.  

United are also getting good play from their wide men, averaging 4.6 accurate crosses per game, joint-fourth with Arsenal and Leicester City.

The team don't shoot enough, perhaps, though they are good at taking their chances. United have scored 33 goals this season, below Chelsea and Manchester City (both 41) but average just under 13 shots per game - City take almost 17, with 10.7 of those coming inside the penalty area.

Despite all this, Louis van Gaal probably won't mind how results come, whether through pretty football or long ball. His job was to get United back into the Champions League and with seven wins and two draws from his last nine, the club look set to achieve that.

Statistics via WhoScored and ESPN

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