Clint Dempsey is having perhaps his best campaign since heading to Fulham in 2007. By one means, he’s having the best season ever by an American in England. In 2010-2011, Dempsey has tallied more goals in a season (10) than any other American in the history of the Premier League.
But this afternoon he had little influence on the outcome of Fulham’s match with Manchester United. League leaders United found two early goals (12th and 32nd) and then all-too-easily strolled through the second half. Fulham rarely troubled backup goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
Dempsey lined up in his customary left midfield spot, deployed as an inverted winger in Fulham’s 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1. United, without the services of Wayne Rooney, countered with a 4-3-3. Fulham didn’t have any defensive answers for United’s rampaging wingers, Antonio Valencia and Nani. The latter set up both Manchester goals. The former was the beneficiary of Nani’s work on the second.
Intriguingly, the overall stats belie United’s domination. Fulham attempted and completed more passes (445/538 to 404/512).
However, before the first goal United had a 16-passes attempted advantage. The home side easily controlled the opening 10 minutes, and after their second goal, their 4-3-3 became a 4-5-1 as they sat back and invited Fulham forward.
Their counter-attacking approach explains Dempsey’s misleading passing stats.
by Guardian Chalkboards
The American, obviously, only misfired on two attempts, a very respectable number. But few of his passes found teammates in threatening positions. United, content to defend deep in their own half, gave Fulham’s attackers plenty of time on the ball.
Dempsey should be commended for connecting with teammates with such regularity. But, as with Stuart Holden a few months ago against Stoke, Dempsey’s squad needed just a touch more quality.
Gringos, did you think Dempsey and Co. had a chance against a Rooney-less United? Were you surprised by how easily United won?