Reds' right-back battle is a boost for Ten Hag

Wednesday 04 January 2023 11:00

Erik ten Hag has spoken about his desire to have competition for each of the 11 places in the Manchester United team and that is something he certainly has in the right-back position at the moment.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka deserves great credit for the way he has not only returned to fitness but also the way he has performed on the pitch. He has looked extremely sharp and determined since the Reds trained in Spain while the World Cup was ongoing.

The defender has started each of the four games since the resumption of domestic football and has produced some impressive displays, with key moments including a gravity defying assist for Christian Eriksen in the Carabao Cup victory over Burnley, our first match back after the break.

Always quiet and unassuming, Wan-Bissaka has gone about his duties with real efficiency and minimum fuss, but his contribution to four successive clean sheets in all competitions must not be overlooked. 

Listen as United legend Arthur Albiston and MUTV commentator Niall McCaughan discuss Aaron Wan-Bissaka's form.

"I like these problems," Ten Hag told MUTV's Stewart Gardner, when quizzed on the matter of Wan-Bissaka's form and the selection headache.

"He is doing really well, Aaron, in the last few games. Defending really consistently.

"He is also reliable in offence. He has a part in it, he contributes well. It's a nice fight in the squad but also, we have a lot of games to cover, so we need them all."

Of course, fit-again Diogo Dalot is the man sparking that fight. The 23-year-old has been on the way to fulfilling his enormous potential for some time and became a regular last season, before Ten Hag took charge. The Portugal international has continued to flourish under the Dutchman and is delivering on a consistent basis.

His displays in Qatar, once given an opportunity to start for his country in the tournament by coach Fernando Santos, underlined his quality but, unfortunately, he picked up an injury in the exit defeat to Morocco and this has enabled Wan-Bissaka to seize the opportunity at United.

That is the nature of football at any level but it was reassuring to see Dalot make his first outing since the World Cup, when he appeared as a substitute against Bournemouth. He illustrated that he has lost none of his zip and verve since his knock in Qatar and even went close to scoring, after coming off the bench to replace Wan-Bissaka in the second half.

Watch Diogo Dalot force a good save out of Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers.

Dalot scored his first goal of the season, with a header against Sheriff Tiraspol in October, and has shown his attacking ability since arriving at the club from Porto in 2018.

Wan-Bissaka's defensive nous has always been a huge plus in big games and both players clearly have their strengths, while also improving their all-round game under Ten Hag's tutelage, in order to fit his system and requirements.

The availability of both regular right-backs means there is a decision for the boss to make as he also manages his squad in order to cope with the taxing schedule this month.

Who do you think will start at right-back against Everton?poll

Who do you think will start at right-back against Everton?

Everton, beaten 4-1 at home by Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League last night, are next up at Old Trafford in Friday's Emirates FA Cup third-round tie.

The other domestic cup competition then comes into focus for next Tuesday's visit of League One side Charlton Athletic in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.

Then we return to Premier League action with the Manchester derby on Saturday 14 January.

It is likely both Wan-Bissaka and Dalot will get minutes on the pitch over the course of these three home fixtures. The battle for the right-back berth is on.


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