Stats: Why Louis van Gaal was wrong to leave out Radamel Falcao against Southampton

Louis van Gaal's decision to omit Radamel Falcao from the starting line-up in the 1-0 defeat to Southampton has attracted some attention after Manchester United failed to record a shot on target.

A lot has been made of Louis van Gaal's decision to omit Radamel Falcao from the Manchester United squad against Southampton as his side lost 1-0 to the Saints at Old Trafford.

Whilst Ronald Koeman's side was rightly hailed for their defensive efforts and taking a huge step to what seemed at the start of the season as the unlikely ambition of Champions League qualification, there was an inquest at United given that this was the first home Premier League game in just under six years where they failed to register a shot in target.

Given the wealth of attacking talent on display you would expect them to have at least tested Fraser Forster on one occasion. Van Gaal told reporters after the game, including those at the BBC: "As a coach, you have to take decisions and you have to look at the composition of your team and your selection and you have to look at your game plan.

"You have to look at the needs of your selection at the time."

  GoalsTotal Scoring Att MINSOn Target Shooting AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Wayne Rooney 8 37.18 33% 17 1,487
Robin van Persie 8 32.45 49% 20 1,655
Falcao 3 28.76 52% 12 604
James Wilson 0 68 25% 9 272

A lot of Falcao's 12 appearances this season have been from the substitutes bench, and given the reported wages the Colombian receives at Old Trafford, combined with the reputation he has for his goalscoring across European football, you'd be right to expect more than three goals he has so far scored for the Red Devils.

He seems to be the more clinical of the forwards at United's disposal when it comes to hitting the target with his accuracy up at 52% while he is the only player where it takes, on average, under half an hour to have an attempt on goal when he is on the field.

Looking at this record, Robin Van Persie's place in the side is justified as he is only very slightly behind the Colombian in both of these areas, combined with his impressive record against the Saints [six goals in five games before yesterday's encounter], and he is the joint top scorer with Rooney. 

Angel Di Maria played an advanced role in yesterday's game with Wayne Rooney more withdrawn until the Argentine was substituted. He, along with Juan Mata who had two golden chances to level the game up for the home side, had the most attempts on goal for the United side [three], so it was hard for Van Persie to get into the game [who had the one attempt on goal].

But not having Falcao as an option seems a strange one. He brings movement and a touch of class in the final third of the field and a lack of a run of games probably hasn't helped the 28-year-old so far this season.

It's all well and good saying it all in hindsight, but it does seem a little odd that a striker of his ilk who was just starting to find his feet, and it was confirmed he was fit enough to play, wasn't even part of the matchday squad.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch