August 20, 2017
In what has been undoubtedly an exhilarating start to the Premier League campaign, it is Manchester United who sits on top of the table, after two back to back ruthless 4-0 wins against both West Ham United and Swansea City. Despite it being very early doors, United fans are inevitably encouraged by the attacking displays they are witnessing, most particularly through the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
In fact, United only managed to score four goals in a league match once last season, quite a drastic contrast compared to this season, where it has already been achieved twice out of just two games. As mentioned, whilst the likes of Lukaku and Pogba have been grabbing all the headlines across social media, the efforts of the defence must also not go unnoticed.
After securing two clean sheets in a row, the current back four look a rather compact and solid unit, particularly now with Nemanja Matic sitting in front of them. However, most specifically in the modern game, defenders are predominantly a group who are not prone to receiving all the headlines or attention, but that isn’t to say that their work isn’t equally as important to the attackers.
The impressive defensive start to the season will provide as an encouraging sight to Jose Mourinho, who will be happy to see them carry on last season’s form into the new campaign. Despite finishing sixth last year, United did, of course, possess the second best defensive record in the league and the defenders are still feeling as confident as ever. Speaking after Saturday’s game, Daley Blind spoke to MUTV about the importance of keeping consecutive clean sheets, in which he stated;
“We kept another clean sheet, so it feels very good. As defenders, as a group, you always want a clean sheet and two times in a row is a good start. But the defending starts with the attackers and we do that as a team very compact. We have started very well.”
Blind’s quotes of keeping the team in a compact shape will be in reference to trying to maintain the balance between defence and attack, a pivotal factor for any Premier League team’s tactics, no matter what their objectives are. The back to back 4-0 victories does, of course, offer encouragement in this sense, as the performances do provide a solid platform to build on. However, as always, Blind is certainly not getting carried away by United’s strong start and understands the importance of keeping a level head during this impressive run. Speaking in the same interview, Blind continued to state;
“We are very excited as a team and also with the fans, but it’s up to us now to keep that spirit going and know that it’s not coming from nothing, you have to work hard every day to keep getting these results.”
As mentioned, United’s performances have been encouraging for United’s fans to watch, as the majority of the fan-base is expecting Mourinho to bring the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford this season. It is evident that the defensive actions of the team will be just as important as the attacking ones if United are to claim their 21st Premier League trophy. However, it is clear that the team is staying focused on the games ahead and look focused on a pivotal league campaign for both themselves and of course, Jose Mourinho himself.