Manchester United finally got back into the top four after a 1-0 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford.
Even though their time in the top four probably won’t last too long, with Tottenham and Arsenal both having many games in hand, the main positive to take was a superb defensive display that laid the foundations for Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp heroics.
United completely shut shop against another top-four contender and didn’t allow West Ham a sniff of goal. The east Londoners were restricted to a solitary shot on target as the Reds made it four clean sheets in their 10 games under Ralf Rangnick.
A lot of this was linked to the return of Harry Maguire. The captain was benched for the Brentford and Aston Villa games, where United frequently left David De Gea exposed. Against West Ham, England centre-back Maguire produced the perfect response.
According to Opta, Maguire completed 66 passes, won five out of eight aerial duels, made four clearances and recovered possession five times.
It looked like Harry back to his vintage best of last season, when he was the rock at the back for United.
The 28-year-old has come under fire intensely from many fans this time around, often serving as a scapegoat for United’s multiple problems. Even in games where the attack badly misfired, Maguire took the brunt of the vitriol.
With questions being asked regarding his captaincy and form, some even hoped Phil Jones would start ahead of him. Maguire, when in form, is a top Premier League defender, and his consistency since joining United has typically seen him ranked among the best in the division.
The clean sheet also showed the sheer potential of a partnership between the ex-Leicester man and Raphael Varane. As mentioned before the game regarding the inclusion of Maguire, the defensive duo haven’t had much time to gel due to respective injuries.
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Touted as potentially becoming one of the best centre-back partnerships in the Premier League, if not the world, when Varane signed in the summer, it is time to see this duo become what many United fans hoped for.
As Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
If Maguire can get back to his regular self and put up the numbers as he used to, especially alongside Varane., the future could be bright for Ralf Rangnick and the future permanent manager..
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