Pre-match, people looked at United’s backline and thought the Gunners would try and exploit their inexperienced defenders with the likes of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez. How wrong were they?
Chris Smalling, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett put on a solid display, and even when Arsene Wenger’s men did see sight of goal, they had an in-form David De Gea to contend with.
Now in the top four, the Red Devils will look to kickstart their season and go on a good run, starting with this week’s home game at Hull City. The one flaw that has hit the Old Trafford outfit has been injuries, especially to the defence.
The likes of Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Rafael have endured a session in the treatment room for a considerable amount of time. One player, more than most, that United will miss is Netherlands international Daley Blind.
Since arriving from Dutch giants Ajax, Blind has played an influential role in the heart of the midfield; his calmness and composure on the ball is something that is not only welcomed for the 20 times Premier League champions, but also at any club in the Premier League.
While also coming up with the odd goal here and there, which we saw in the away game against West Brom, Blind has unfortunately been ruled out until the New Year after damaging his knee ligaments while on international duty in a game against Latvia. With Michael Carrick on hand to replace Blind, how much will Blind be missed in the United line-up?
Earlier this month, former right back turned pundit Gary Neville said that Blind plays his football ‘too safe’ and ‘needs to take more risks’. But Van Gaal knew exactly what he was getting with Blind when he signed him.
After coaching him in the Dutch national team, Blind is primarily there to break up play and calm things down. Now 12 games into the season, United’s win at Arsenal was the first time this season they won without Blind in the starting XI.
With Carrick now 33-years-old, and the pressures of England’s top flight starting to get too much for him, not only is Blind better than Carrick, but will also be vital for United in the future. With a fantastic passing accuracy of 90.2 per cent and has averaged 66.3 passes per game, Blind passing abilities will be sorely missed.
In a transitional period for Manchester United, van Gaal is quietly transforming United into the force they once were. If Blind had stayed fit, it’s quite likely that the Red Devils would have been closer to Chelsea come Christmas than they are now.