Last night, Manchester United meticulously broke down Hull City in a no-thrills affair that saw them secure a solid 2-0 advantage for the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final.
Indeed, it wasn’t a stellar performance from the Red Devils, especially considering injuries had severely weakened the Tigers to the extent that Marco Silva couldn’t even field a full bench, but in typical Jose Mourinho style, the home side got the job done.
And one of the main factors in their win was Matteo Darmian’s contribution from left-back.
The Italian hasn’t exactly enjoyed the best of times since moving to Old Trafford in summer 2015 – falling out of favour at the end of last season and starting the current campaign in the same way – but has found himself featuring regularly in recent weeks and produced arguably his strongest performance of the season to date last night.
As our infographic shows, Darmian was absolutely relentless with his crossing at Old Trafford, with Hull’s defensive approach allowing him to come inside on his right foot and whip balls into the box. That strategy lead to both of United’s goals – directly assisting Marouane Fellaini for the second and providing the delivery that Henrikh Mkhitaryan flicked onto Juan Mata for the first.
Defensively too, the 27-year-old was solid, completing three interceptions and winning four aerial duels. As we’ve already alluded to, Darmian’s place in the starting XI has been far from secure this season – but has he now made a case to be United’s first-choice left-back for the rest of the campaign?