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Premier League 2019-20: How Victor Lindelof has cost Manchester United this season

Ronnie Evans
ANALYST
Feature
10 Nov 2019, 14:05 IST

Victor Lindelof
Victor Lindelof

It is no secret that Manchester United are undergoing their worst spell in the Premier League era. The team has managed more losses than wins in 11 league games, which is totally unheard of.

One of the standout players for the club last season was centre-back Victor Lindelof. His performances even earned him a new contract, and he forced his way to become the starting centre back.

However, Lindelof's defensive vulnerabilities have been exposed several times this season. One of the prime examples of that is when Southampton's Jannik Vestergaard beat him in the air to smoother the ball into the net for the Saints' equalizer in a 1-1 draw on 31 August.

Lindelof was also easily bullied by Liverpool's Sadio Mane in a tussle as they drew 1-1, although the Senegalese's goal was disallowed after a VAR review.

These incidents and more raise questions as to whether or not he should partner Harry Maguire in the starting XI. Lindelof has good ball control and is comfortable on the ball, but lacks the physical stature and build required of a modern central defender.

These shortcomings along with a few other mistakes have seen him at fault several times this season.

Lack of decisive action vs Bournemouth

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

Having won three away games on the bounce, United had finally seemed to get their engine running this season. However, their world came down crashing once more when they visited Bournemouth on 2 November.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford had chances to give United the lead but failed to convert. The home side slowly grew in confidence and scored the decisive goal at the stroke of half-time.

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Adam Smith whipped in a cross which Joshua King had the time to control on his chest and loop over his body before firing past a hapless David de Gea in goal. Amid all that, Lindelof could be seen backing away from the action instead of helping teammate Aaron Wan-Bissaka deal with the threat, who was clearly exposed and out of position.

#1 Blunder vs Crystal Palace

Schlupp gave Lindelof a tough time.
Schlupp gave Lindelof a tough time.

Lindelof's shortcomings as a centre-back were exposed once again when Palace visited Old Trafford on 24 August. This was the third match of the season for United in the Premier League.

United finished with 72% ball possession but that did little to alter the result in their favour. In the 32nd minute, Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita hit a long ball forward deep into United territory.

As a centre-back, it is imperative to win aerial duels - especially if there is a gap in your goal area. But Lindelof could do nothing of the sort.

He was out-jumped by the 5 ft 10 Jeffrey Schlupp, who steered the header to Jordan Ayew for a clear path to goal. The Ghanaian international duly slotted in the opening goal, and Palace went on to win 2-1 to stun the home crowd.

It is clear that Lindelof's inadequacies are hurting United big time. It remains to be seen how they deal with the problem going forward.


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