Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United side have one of the meanest defences in European football this season.
The Red Devils are joint-second for number of clean sheets kept across all competitions, level with FC Barcelona on fifteen.
Only Newcastle United, with sixteen clean sheets, rank higher amongst European club in the top five divisions.
It goes to show how effecting Ten Hag and his assistant Mitchell van der Gaag have been in turning the club’s fortunes around.
Defensive frailties and lapses in concentration plagued the team last term, with an alarming 57 goals conceded during the Premier League campaign alone.
Ten Hag has set about organising a cohesive pressing team, with United now far more adept at winning the ball high up the pitch.
Van der Gaag, a known defensive specialist, has also been key to the setup, and his impact as a trusted lieutenant is plain to see.
The summer signing of Lisandro Martinez has also gone a long way to improving United’s back line, with the Argentine earning plaudits for his excellent defensive instincts, despite having been written off by some rather silly people, such as Jamie Redknapp, earlier in the season.
Also key has been another new recruit: Casemiro. The Brazilian’s domineering displays in midfield have been integral to screening the defence, despite usually being joined in the middle of the park by far more attacking players.
All in all, it is a turnaround worthy of immense admiration.
Manchester United have come a long way in a very short space of time, with the team now defending as a unit and harbouring the quality to shut down opposition attacks.
Pending results, two of Europe’s best defences could be set for terse affair in the Carabao Cup Final.
The last time Manchester United took on Newcastle the game finished – somewhat unsurprisingly – scoreless. Penalty-taking practice is advised.
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