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A fit Eric Bailly is clearly Manchester United’s best defender

Eric Bailly was in top form for Manchester United in the Carabao Cup game against Brighton
Eric Bailly was in top form for Manchester United in the Carabao Cup game against Brighton
ANALYST
Modified 01 Oct 2020, 17:02 IST
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Manchester United fans have been frustrated by the team’s defensive options this season, and it doesn't look like the department will be strengthened before the summer transfer window closes.

However, Eric Bailly’s return to full fitness already feels like a new signing for the Red Devils. The Ivory Coast international played full throttle as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old was immense in defence for Manchester United, bringing the type of calm and assuredness that the club’s backline has lacked in recent months.

Manchester United have kept clean sheets in the two games that Eric Bailly has started
Manchester United have kept clean sheets in the two games that Eric Bailly has started

Against a stubborn Brighton and Hove Albion side on Wednesday, the defender won 100% of his tackles, had a 91% pass accuracy, made two blocks and was also responsible for two key interceptions.

It is no coincidence that whenever Bailly starts, Manchester United concede less. He has started just two games this season, all in the Carabao Cup, and the club has kept clean sheets in both of those encounters.

It doesn’t matter who he’s paired with; Bailly simply makes his defensive partners better, whether it’s Victor Lindelof or Harry Maguire. He has so much to his game and is the only athletic defender among the club’s current options.

Maguire may be the world’s most expensive defender, but he has been very sluggish in recent months. Not only is the Englishman too slow, but also often reactive instead of being proactive at the back.

Manchester United have qualified for the Carabao Cup quarter-finals
Manchester United have qualified for the Carabao Cup quarter-finals

Meanwhile, Lindelof’s weakness in aerial situations and his lack of concentration in matches are well documented. Bailly may also have his flaws, but he’s currently United’s most dependable defensive option.

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The former Villarreal rearguard looks fit and raring to go. Bailly could be the answer to United's woes at the back, having finally won his fight against niggling injuries.

He clearly deserves to start in United's Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend.

Published 01 Oct 2020, 17:02 IST
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