This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Shortly after Aaron Wan-Bissaka arrived at Manchester United earlier in the summer, his interview with the club’s official website gave an intriguing insight into his mind-set when he takes to the pitch. This is a man who prides himself on being an elite defender, snuffing out opposition wingers, and being an impenetrable obstacle.
“I love tackles, man. I want to come out with the most tackles from each game; that’s my aim. I’m not really happy when I come out of a game without many tackles. At the same time, when I look back at it, it doesn’t mean anything negative, necessarily – it might mean that the winger’s not confident to keep on coming at me, for me to have the chance to tackle him.”
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And true to his word, the 21-year-old has been a brick wall in terms of his defending in the Premier League this season. He has already completed 47 tackles – just six less than Wilfred Ndidi in first place, despite missing two games in the top-flight. But that desire to impose his will on his opponent back-fired spectacularly for the Red Devils when they took on Bournemouth at the weekend.
In the game’s defining moment on Saturday, a clipped ball into the box was chested down by former United man Josh King. The Norway international had his back to goal at this point, and there didn’t appear to be any immediate danger per se. But Wan-Bissaka’s determination to win every ball – a trait that is admirable in most instances – actually caused him to make a mistake.
The England U21 international looked to come on the blindside of the Cherries forward and pinch the ball off him. Instead, it made up King’s mind and forced him to make a decision to turn away from him, rather than simply lay the ball off to the edge of the area. The 27-year-old promptly swivelled, fired home, and handed Bournemouth all three points.
The indoor football skills in the video below have to be seen to be believed…
The rest of Wan-Bissaka’s game was similarly rash and disappointing, losing possession 19 times and completing just two of his eight attempted long balls. So whilst he has been so impressive so far this campaign, his performance on Saturday showed he still has a lot to learn.