Timothy Fosu-Mensah re-announced himself as a Manchester United player in an impressively low key way on Thursday night.
The Dutchman was surprisingly selected to make his first United start since 2017 as cover for injured left-backs Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams.
With so much on the line for United, Fosu-Mensah came into the match under pressure, although if it had gone wrong, blame should have been apportioned to his manager; not a player making his first competitive start in almost 18 months.
So it was a relief in one way that Fosu-Mensah managed to play a part in keeping a clean sheet. Although only just.
The fine line of a VAR call
The game turned on Andre Ayew’s disallowed equaliser in the second half. Sliding in at the far post, Ayew lost Fosu-Mensah to score unmarked.
Fortunately for United, the goal was disallowed on a very, very marginal offside call.
It was a let-off, and Fosu-Mensah’s positioning avoided scrutiny. It was fortunate, as apart from that, the Dutchman defended very well.
Statistics back up a strong display
Fosu-Mensah led Manchester United in terms of interceptions. He was sharp, making four in total.
The highest any United player made was two, while only Palace’s Joel Ward (5) made more in the match.
He also made one successful tackle, the same as Harry Maguire, and one clearance.
In possession he tried to keep it simple, completing 87 per cent of his passes, but there was also a little ambition mixed in too.
Fosu-Mensah created two goalscoring chances with balls into the box. This was the same as Bruno Fernandes managed, and a figure only bettered on the night by Anthony Martial (3).
He had 65 touches in total, which was the least of any of his fellow defenders, who all had 80 plus.
What’s next for Fosu-Mensah?
The Dutchman’s involvement and performance was a pleasant surprise. He gives United an extra option.
While only a back-up, Fosu-Mensah has shown he can be relied on not to let United down. It was not a particularly special performance, but it is one he will look back on fondly.
Both Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams were left out of the squad after failing late fitness tests, and the priority is for one of them to recover on Sunday.
If they are not 100 per cent, Fosu-Mensah has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer something to think about.
The FA Cup semi-final would be a big game for him to play in, but he has played in one before, back in 2016 against Everton. Suddenly it would not be so crazy if he was selected. He did himself no harm at all last night.
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