Man United’s 3-0 win over Luton Town featured an exceptional defensive display.
The Carabao Cup tie on Tuesday saw an early penalty from Juan Mata and a late flurry of goals from substitutes Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood seal the game in favour of the travelling side.
In terms of defensive performances, it was Dean Henderson’s debut as a goalkeeper that was hailed and the one picturesque save he made also furthered the hype around him.
However, the integral role played by another player at the back was also crucial to the fixture.
Eric Bailly did an incredible job partnering Harry Maguire at the back and fans stormed to Twitter to make their appreciation known.
The Ivory Coast international had positive numbers throughout the game and many even hailed him to be the player of the match for his contributions. The goal-line save he made was perhaps just as impactful as the one that won Henderson much acclaim.
Eric Bailly tonight:
90 minutes completed
51 passes completed (82% retention)
7/10 duels won
— 5/6 ground
— 2/4 aerial
— 1 off the line
3 shots blocked
2 tackles won
The most important stat is the first one. pic.twitter.com/RbuG9wSJGv
— UtdArena (@utdarena) September 22, 2020
Also, Eric Bailly is our best defender. Must keep his spot. Pray he don’t break.
— Adam McKola (@AdamMcKola) September 22, 2020
We’ve got to freeze Eric Bailly after each game because this guy is our best defender by far.
— Jordan Clarke (@FourFourJordan) September 22, 2020
I know it’s only Luton but I can’t stress enough that Eric Bailly needs to start for us in every league/UCL game
— 🌊™️ (@RealistGlizzy) September 22, 2020
Give me one full season of a fit and healthy Eric Bailly.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) September 22, 2020
In fact, this performance now begs a vital personnel question for Ole Gunnar Solskjær and company. United’s opening Premier League loss against Crystal Palace hinged just as heavily on their defensive errors as on their attacking shortcomings.
Victor Lindelof was projected as the scapegoat in that fixture and the errors he made certainly warranted criticism. As such, Bailly may have now made a case to be given the start ahead of the Swede.
The 26-year-old’s injury-prone nature has marred his stay at Old Trafford despite arguably possessing a largely positive skillset for a defender.
There have been a lot of pushback from the fans for the club to sign an experienced defender to challenge Lindelof’s spot but if Bailly can maintain fitness and ape such games, there is no reason why he can’t pick up that mantle.
Regardless, it seems likely that the transfer window may not be the solution for centre-back woes just yet.