Harry Maguire produced yet another impressive performance at the back to help Manchester United maintain their impressive run of form at home with a 2-0 win over Everton.
Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial got on the scoresheet with well-worked team goals in either half and David de Gea ended the game with a clean sheet – his 13th of the league season, and still, it may not be far-fetched to say that the scoreline flattered the visitors.
With Raphael Varane rested, Maguire returned to the starting XI for the early kick-off on Saturday. The United skipper alongside his partner Lisandro Martinez was key in ensuring Everton manage just one shot on target throughout the afternoon.
But even more impressive was the way United retained possession and seldom let Sean Dyche’s men have the feel of the ball. “Our counter-press and rest defence was really good, and we didn’t let them out their half,” Maguire told BT Sport after the final whistle.
Giving away possession from goal-kicks has been a recurrent theme for United, largely due to De Gea and Varane’s well-documented struggles with the ball at their feet. This has prevented United from dominating the territory.
Harry Maguire in the Premier League after the two opening games:
4 starts, 4 wins, 4 clean sheets.
— United Info (@allutdinfo) April 8, 2023
Ten Hag on Maguire: 'This is a different Harry Maguire to what I've seen in the first weeks and months. He's taking so much initiative, dominating his opponent, stepping in, bringing passes, so a really great performance from Harry.' #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) April 8, 2023
Harry Maguire’s last 10 starts for club and country:
10 straight wins pic.twitter.com/Hc0gqFeA4i
— Arka (@arkamufc00) April 8, 2023
With Maguire on the pitch, De Gea usually has two good passing options in the defensive third to start United’s play, helping Ten Hag’s side to dictate the game and push opposition closer to their penalty area.
This not only increases United’s chances of creating and scoring more but also limits the number of attacks the backline and the keeper have to ultimately defend. As such it’s no surprise that the Red Devils have conceded zero league goals in Maguire’s last four starts after the opening two games.