Eric Bailly made a strong statement with his performance against Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.
The Ivory Coast international has struggled to remain fit throughout his career at Manchester United. At only 26 year of age, he certainly carries a lot of brimming impact that keeps getting sidelined due to injuries.
However, his performance during the side’s Carabao Cup win over Brighton was something to talk about.
United won the fixture 3-0 with goals from Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, and Paul Pogba on the scoresheet.
However, Dean Henderson’s cleansheet has a lot of thanking to do to the display and efforts of Bailly in front of him.
In terms of raw numbers, Bailly’s impact was unparalleled, clearly the better defender than Victor Lindelof by a huge margin.
Eric Bailly’s game by numbers vs. Brighton:
100% tackles won
91% pass accuracy
0 goals conceded
Another impressive showing. 🇨🇮 pic.twitter.com/3BK2zcIV3s
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 30, 2020
Further still, a game like this gives even more fodder for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team selection dilemma. Lindelof has been prone to errors and it is clear that Harry Maguire needs more quality alongside him at the back.
As such, resting the captain and fielding the two centre-back hopefuls could have been an effective audition for the future roles by the Norwegian.
If that was the case, Bailly certainly excelled all round. In addition to making timely tackles, he also displayed a level of pace that has been missing from United’s defence from a while now.
Further still, his impact continued upfront too with the defender nearly getting the better end of Juan Mata’s free-kick. He was in a near tackle situation with Scott McTominay and his head could have found the goal just as easily as the academy graduate’s did in the end.
If Solskjær is adamant on nurturing positive competition for starting places across his squad, then providing Bailly with the chance of a more important and regular role would certainly be a good place to start.