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Dundee United analysis: Is it a bad thing to be drawing so many matches in the Premiership?

Lawrence Shankland fires just past the post.
Lawrence Shankland fires just past the post.

It is maybe not one of the greatest questions facing humanity but it is still one worth posing.

Is it a bad thing to be drawing so many matches in the Premiership?

That was what was on your mind as Dundee United’s players and management tried to digest another all-square game, this time a 0-0 against Hamilton Accies at the Fountain of Youth Stadium.

On a grey, grim, freezing cold day in darkest Lanarkshire, the Tangerines tried to brighten up the afternoon with some nice football at times.

They controlled the match for long spells and were certainly the side that was easier on the eye.

In the end, though, they couldn’t manage a single goal against Accies and were left to dwell upon their 10th draw of the league campaign and third in succession.

United enjoyed the greater possession on Saturday (Source – Opta).

It wasn’t exactly a thriller of a game – no Lawrence Shankland 53-yard wonder strike to write about this time.

Just another boring, old point that left the United camp frustrated and convinced that it should have been more.

However, can any Premiership result short of a defeat be disappointing for a side that claims to be looking for a European spot but that you imagine, secretly, will be delighted to finish safely in the division this season?

Draw dilemma

That is the draw dilemma.

The Accies result was their fifth 0-0 of the Premiership so let’s take a look at the goalless games first.

United have secured two stalemates against Aberdeen, one at home on October 17 and away on January 2. No doubts – two good points there. Tick.

The others have come against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park (October 24) and St Mirren in Paisley (November 6). More winnable than the Dons clashes but still decent outcomes. Tick.

On to the 1-1s and you find the opening match of the season at Tannadice against the Perth Saints, who had been reduced to 10 men. Fair enough, probably should have won that. Place a cross by that one.

Hamilton manager Brian Rice (left) with United boss Micky Mellon. Pic: SNS.

They then drew at Hamilton on September 26 in a clash that was quite similar to Saturday’s match, with United having the upper hand then their opponents coming back at them. A point seemed acceptable at the time so another tick.

Now the trip to Easter Road on December 19 was a brilliant result, the 1-1 against Hibs secured by a last-gasp strike from Luke Bolton and highlighted by some fabulous goalkeeping from Benjamin Siegrist. Big tick there.

United fans will have expected to have beaten Motherwell at home on December 26 but when you are losing until the 90th minute should you not be reasonably happy to take something from the game? Hmmm, not sure so that box can be left blank.

Last but not least we have the 2-2 draw against St Johnstone last Tuesday, highlighted of course by Shankland’s stunning strike. The result seemed fair to both teams on the night so it was difficult to feel too frustrated about that one. A tentative tick.

Where does the latest draw fit in?

Crux of matter

The crux of the matter is: Did they do enough to deserve to win the game?

While their passing was good and plentiful, the Tangerines fell down on delivery into the box and Nicky Clark was the main culprit.

United players’ distribution details. Midfielder Dillon Power leads the way. Nicky Clark’s crossing doesn’t fare so well. (Source – Opta).

They couldn’t claim a barrowload of chances, either, with a header from Ian Harkes that was brilliantly saved and a Shankland shot that flew past the post their best efforts.

You were still left feeling that two points were lost rather than one gained, though.

All that adds up to a “maybe” so another box left empty.

There we have it. Seven positive points, two undecided and only one obvious negative – back on opening day on August 1.

It is at this stage of the reflection that you remind yourself that the Tangerines are the newly-promoted side this season and have had as tough a time with the financial consequences of coronavirus as any club in the top flight.

Maybe those draws should be viewed through that prism rather than the team’s past successes.

United are ‘building’

Reflecting upon the Hamilton stalemate, United manager Micky Mellon said: “Over the course of 90 minutes – performance-wise – we are satisfied, apart from not putting an end to some of the moves that we created.

“We have to get better at getting on the end of those chances or being more clinical when they come, we know that.

“Defensively, we were excellent and we are building in the right direction.”

United now get a breather, with no game this weekend as the Betfred Cup semi-finals take place.

Their next match is at Tannadice against St Mirren a week on Wednesday and that is followed by another home game, against Hibs on January 30.

This graphic shows how often United’s players found a team-mate with a pass against Accies. As above, Dillon Powers tops the list with 10 apiece to Ian Harkes and Nicky Clark (Source – Opta).

When the season moves into February, that is usually the time when you suddenly realise how far on we are.

United will have played 26 league games by then and have just seven left before the split.

How time flies when you are enjoying yourself….well, maybe Saturday aside.