Manchester United secured their first win of 2020 on Saturday with a 4-0 thumping of Norwich.

Harry Maguire returned to action after missing the midweek Manchester derby and kept a clean sheet alongside Victor Lindelof at centre half.

That makes it three shutouts in four matches where the pair have played alongside each other, which is a much-needed improvement for United.

(Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Dismal run has ended

Failing to keep a clean sheet in the 1-1 draw against Everton on December 15 meant United were on their worst run without a top flight shutout since the 1970s.

We wrote a piece in the wake of that match, pointing out the scale of the issue.

Solskjaer’s side usually struggle for goals and needing to score twice to win every week was severely impacting the side.

United conceded in league meeting with Watford and Newcastle before finally keeping a clean sheet against Burnley on 28 December.

 

The Arsenal game in between was an aberration – and perhaps suggested the Maguire-Lindelof axis still has plenty of work to do against the top sides – but keeping so-called lesser sides out is a handy knack to have.

(Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

What has sparked the improvement?

Lindelof has struggled badly at times this season and it’s not quite clear why.

He was one of United’s best players last season and the introduction of a reliable partner should have brought him on further.

Perhaps the pairing needed some time to settle – Maguire’s lack of a pre-season can’t have helped him or Lindelof to build a relationship.

Nemanja Matic has also come back into the side in the absence of Scott McTominay and perhaps the experienced anchorman – for all his faults in possession and in terms of speed – has given the duo some stronger protection.

Have something to tell us about this article?