A year ago Manchester United conceded in the 13th minute against Everton. The team promptly collapsed and went onto lose 4-0. It was an embarrassment and one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was desperate to never repeat.
In our first visit to Goodison Park since that mauling, it took just three minutes to concede, after a freak goal thanks to a David de Gea mistake.
We saw what happened a year ago. This time United did not break, and barely bended at all amid pressure from Everton.
The team bounced back and drew 1-1, and were left cursing a missed opportunity in stoppage time, while Everton too felt they should have had an offside winner permitted to stand.
Key to United’s defensive improvement was £80 million man Harry Maguire.
This was the type of performance Manchester United signed Harry Maguire for.
Everton had some aerial success against United at Old Trafford and tried to put goalkeeper David de Gea under pressure with balls into the box.
Maguire protected his goalkeeper and was equal to everything the Toffees threw at him.
The centre-back ended the game with 15 clearances. For context to that, it was more than double his defensive teammates combined.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka managed three, Victor Lindelöf two, and Luke Shaw one. Maguire was a titan at the back and this kind of performance has been so typical of him over the past month.
Only the error from De Gea denied Maguire another hard earned clean sheet, and missed opportunities at the other end prevented his efforts contributing to another three points.
Maguire certainly appears to be growing into his role as a captain and is setting a strong example with his performances.
More spotlight will come to Victor Lindelöf in coming weeks as United look for the perfect partner for Maguire, with Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe now fit again and looking for game time.
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