Manchester United 89 - Chelsea 33 - What does this tell us?

Michael Carrick 2012

Manchester United have made almost three times as many interceptions as Chelsea this season. But what does it mean?

With all action midfielder Ramires in Chelsea's line-up, you would not necessarily pick Manchester United frequently criticised team as being 'more alert' than Jose Mourinho's side.

However one of the more intriguing statistics this short season so far has thrown up is the fact that the Red Devils have made almost three times as many interceptions as Chelsea.

United have made 89 as a team - the most in the Premier League - while Chelsea have made 33 - the lowest in the top flight.

What does this matter you ask? Well with Chelsea in fourth place in the table on 10 points and United in eighth with seven it may be one fans of the Stamford Bridge side shrug off.

But with the club displaying mixed early form, with losses to Everton and FC Basel, it clearly indicates an area for improvement.

Making interceptions is a sign of an alert side, full of players with an intuitive reading of the game and quick reactions to win back possession for their side.

Chelsea cannot argue the big differential between themselves and United is because they have far more possession in the first place, with the difference only slight at less than two per cent: Chelsea 57.3 per cent (ranked fourth) and United 55.5 per cent (ranked eighth).

In total United average 17.8 interceptions per game, compared to Chelsea on 6.6 per game.

Intriguingly David Moyes' United side are the only team competing for Champions League places which rank in the top eight clubs for interceptions, followed in second and third by Hull and Swansea.

Tottenham (64) are ninth, Arsenal joint 10th (63), each making almost double the amount that Chelsea have.

Manchester City who are ranked 14th have made 57, while the team in 19th - Stoke City have still made 10 more than Mourinho's men.

A central difference maker for United is Michael Carrick. The midfielder has made 26 interceptions alone, just seven less than the entire Chelsea team this season, quite remarkable. Defender Rio Ferdinand has alone made 11, a third of Chelsea's total.

Chelsea's players by comparison post far leaner totals, there is no one standout leader in the category, with Branislav Ivanovic the top man with five. Ramires, referenced at the top of this article has contributed just four.

Interceptions are just a tiny part of a statistical mountain when it comes to football, and Chelsea's two goals conceded compared to United's six is far more telling. 

But if perfectionist Jose Mourinho wants to get more out of his players and squad as a whole, it is an ideal place to start.

What do you make of the statistics?

image: © marcel sigg

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch