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Manchester United miss Edinson Cavani’s relentless energy

Manchester United v Leeds United - Premier League
Manchester United v Leeds United - Premier League
Liam Canning
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Modified 07 Jan 2021, 18:15 IST
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After Manchester United limped out to yet another semi-final to the hands of Manchester City, questions were raised over team selection and the performance on the night.

It is clear as day to see that some players, such as Bruno Fernandes, have been on their last legs for a while – especially over the Christmas period – and are in dire need of a rest.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to play his near full-strength side, which included Fernandes, but the Portuguese’s legs failed him last night. It was not for a want of trying, but more for having nothing left in the tank – which is why he simply has to be rested for the FA Cup match against Watford at the weekend.

Manchester United have a severe overreliance on Fernandes’ brilliance on a weekly basis, but it is about time that they learn how to consistently win without him.

Another player that they are learning to play without is Edinson Cavani, who has been banned for three games for what the English Football Association described as an ‘aggravated breach’ of their strict social media rules.

Edinson Cavani has hit the ground running for Manchester United

Edinson Cavani offers more up front than Anthony Martial for Manchester United
Edinson Cavani offers more up front than Anthony Martial for Manchester United

Cavani, who was signed as a free transfer in October after his long stint at Paris Saint-Germain, has hit the ground running with his performances. The Uruguay international has showcased his relentess pressing from the front and mentality to strive for the best, which has had an infectious impact on the squad.

Anthony Martial, who has mainly featured through the middle for Manchester United, struggles to find the gaps Cavani exploits in between the two central defenders in and around the box.

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The France international, who found form during the final matches of last season, has two Premier League goals to his name in 829 minutes, compared to Cavani’s three league goals in 295 minutes.

Cavani comes alive in the box and can fool the defender in a split second. Between being in eyeline and turning away to the back post, the Uruguayan has had an immensely successful career of scoring hugely important goals at the right time.

With his ban causing him to miss the FA Cup fixture against Watford, he will be returning in a crucial week where Manchester United can claim top spot of the Premier League if they avoid defeat at Turf Moor.

In an even more important match than that next Tuesday night, Solskjaer’s side travel to Anfield a week on Sunday, where they will be tasked with getting a result against their title challengers.

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It will be their most testing fixture yet of the season and will give a true indication as to whether the Red Devils have the minerals and ability to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool until the end of the season.

Manchester United are in a rich vein of form, but they must remain consistent, and play smartly when against their rivals. A draw would be a superb result away from home, so it is important that Solskjaer can manage expectations and get the game plan executed on the pitch.

Published 07 Jan 2021, 18:15 IST
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