Van Persie v Huth - What the stats tell us about this duel

Van Persie Training

Robin van Persie against Robert Huth will be one of the key battles as Manchester United host Stoke City this weekend.

Van Persie should return to the starting line-up after missing the Champions League win against Real Sociedad earlier this week due to injury.

Huth is likely to be the primary defender for the visitors to Old Trafford, as former United player Ryan Shawcross is rated a doubt for the match owing to illness, with it touch and go over whether he’ll be fit enough to play.

Here is what the stats can tell us about this potential battle.

Aerial Duels

Van Persie cannot try and go up against Huth in an aerial battle because he just won’t win.

LIVE Premier League match alerts to your phone - goals, red cards, half and full time scores

The German defender is winning four aerial duels per game on average this season, which eclipses the 1.1 being won by van Persie.

Fortunately for the United striker, the Premier League champions aren’t a team that like to play ‘hoof ball’ too often.

Passing Success

Huth’s passing success rate is higher than van Persie’s but that’s not really surprising considering he’s a defender, able to stroke the ball along the back four and pass back to the goalkeeper.

Van Persie’s passing success rate is 80.1% which suggests he’s a much more skilful forward than many may gave him credit for, in terms of how he interacts with the rest of the United attack.

Van Persie can play on the shoulder of a defence or he can drop off slightly and his passing success shows he links up with the midfield well.

Shots and Blocks

The ability to get in the way of shots and block well as a defender is very important.

However, that’s one area where Huth has struggled this season, boasting an average of just 0.6 blocked shots per game.

See also: VIDEO: United's midfield solution? On loan star scores from distance in Europa League

Van Persie is averaging 3.9 shots on goal per game at the moment, which would suggest that he’ll find space and get plenty of efforts away on goal in this game.

If he drifts onto Huth’s side of the defence, then he may have a lot of time and space to be very precise when he does decide to pepper shots on goal.

Offsides

Van Persie is being caught offside 0.9 times per game at the moment, which suggests his timing and his movement are very good at the moment.

If he does try and play on the shoulder of the Stoke defence, there’s every chance he’ll be successful and he still has the pace to beat a player like Huth in the final third.

However, Huth is making a lot of tackles (2.3 per game on average) and a lot of clearances (4.6 per game on average) which suggests he’s more comfortable playing deeper.

See also: Jones and Evans - Manchester United's future defensive duo?

Considering United are likely to dominate possession in this game, it wouldn’t be surprise if Stoke don’t play a high defensive line at any point during the 90 minutes.

Take Ons

Van Persie is going for one dribble per game in the Premier League this season and Huth’s ability to intercept suggests it may be a bad idea for the Dutchman to run at him.

Huth is making 1.8 interceptions per game, which means he’s well suited to step in and nick the ball, without having to put a tackle in, should van Persie make even the slightest slip up when running at the German.

It will be a fascinating battle to watch, who do you think will win it?

image: © wonker

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch