When Southampton went down to ten men within two minutes on Tuesday night, Manchester United’s full backs took centre stage.
Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were the players in the most space and they did not hesitate to bomb forward as United ruthlessly took apart their visitors.
Wan-Bissaka opened the scoring from a Shaw cross and the former Saints man got another assist – for Edinson Cavani’s goal – before being replaced at half time.
That Shaw was rested is an indication of his growing importance to this United side.
Wan-Bissaka has had his critics in terms of his attacking play but he was incisive and produced constant quality in midweek.
That improvement did not go unnoticed by United captain Harry Maguire, who told the club’s official website how impressed he’s been with the English full-back pair lately.
Luke and Aaron have been excellent of late,” he said. “They’ve really picked up their attacking game and started to fly forward and create chances which is really important for the team.
First and foremost, they’re defenders for us and they’ve been brilliant on that side of things. They don’t get beaten one-v-one which is really important, they’re stopping crosses and they’ve been defending the back post really well.
“I have big demands on my full-backs, I am expecting them to fly forward but I also expect them to fly back as well.
Luke has been great and Aaron was great at Arsenal last weekend and it’s really important that they keep up this form to help the team.“
Shaw is producing his best run of form in a United shirt. He looks physically much stronger and covering the ground incredibly well.
If James Rodriguez plays on the right of Everton’s midfield on Saturday night, it’ll be another intriguing test. The Colombian likes to drift inside though, which could leave Shaw with space to bomb into.
Wan-Bissaka will likely be up against Richarlison and always seems to relish battles against the best wingers in the league.
The challenge for him is to repeat the attacking quality he showed on Tuesday on a regular basis, but Maguire is right to praise his defensive colleagues for their recent performances.
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