United Briefing: Shaw is the best left-back in the league

Thursday 04 February 2021 08:00

Manchester United legend Denis Irwin believes Luke Shaw is the best left-back in the Premier League, on current form.

The 25-year-old has blossomed under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and contributed two assists in the first half of the amazing 9-0 victory over his former club Southampton, before being substituted at half-time to give him a rest ahead of Saturday's home clash with Everton.

As the clamour grows for Shaw to be recalled to the England side, we asked Irwin for his thoughts on the matter - as there is nobody who knows more about the position than a man who won seven Premier League titles with the Reds.

90 in 20: United 9 Saints 0 Video

90 in 20: United 9 Saints 0

Watch the extended highlights of United's unforgettable 9-0 win over Southampton in February 2021...

So, is Luke the best left-back in the division?

"Absolutely," replied Irwin, who was speaking ahead of Wednesday's game. "Alex Telles coming in has probably pushed him and he's been really top class in the last couple of months. 

“His overlapping is there to see, his defending is there to see. It's good that he's got competition. He had Brandon Williams last year, and raised his game, and he's got Alex Telles this year and that has helped him to raise his game. Certainly, at the moment, as things stand, he is the best left-back in the league.

“There's Ben Chilwell down at Chelsea. Obviously, they're going through a tough time but he's a really decent player. There are one or two others - Ryan Bertrand at Southampton has been doing well and I'm missing one or two more, maybe Andy Robertson. But I agree with you. Luke is playing really, really well and certainly the best he's played for Manchester United.”

"I mean he had a really bad injury and picked up injuries on the back of that, over the following couple of seasons, so it was hard for him to find that bit of rhythm," added Denis. "I think he needs a rest every now and again. With Brandon last year and Alex this year being able to come in and, first of all, compete with him, then Ole has the luxury, I suppose, of having a couple of really good full-backs available.

“That's great news with the amount of games we've got coming up over the next four months or so. You need a big squad as much as anything, so let's hope Luke stays fit because he's a vital part of our team. He offers pace, we know that, and we know he's a good footballer and our best left-back when everything is going in well.

"He's in the position, he's got hold of the full-back position, you can't say the no.3 shirt any more, and he's got to remain there. He knows he has got to play well as Alex Telles will be after that position.”

It is easy to forget, as this is his seventh season at Old Trafford, that Luke is still only 25 so, perhaps, it is no great surprise he's starting to mature now into the full-back we all hoped he would become when he signed in 2014.

"I mean he was very young when breaking through at Southampton," reminded Irwin. "They've got a great Academy and a great tradition of bringing players through and Luke is one of them.

“He came to us at a very, very young age for a big price-tag quite a few years ago now but he's still young and still learning the game. You always make mistakes, it's part and parcel of being a defender. It's how you learn from them. You'll still be doing them at 34 and 35 but the thing is to keep them down to making a low number of mistakes throughout the season.

“It's going well for him, he's joining in the play, and his set-pieces are a plus as well. We know Alex certainly brings that to the full. With Edinson Cavani in there, he can stick a few more crosses in because he is the ultimate centre-forward so I think that helps as well.”

Match Quiz: Southampton (H) quiz

We weren’t short of talking points to include in the latest set of questions 9️⃣

WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY?

As we've become used to in this most jam-packed of Premier League campaigns, attention will quickly turn to the next fixture - Everton at home on Saturday.

We'll have our usual match preview and early team news updates, as well as news on how you can get your copy of United Review ahead of the match, which takes place on the 63rd anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster.

United Daily: Oh, what a night! Video

United Daily: Oh, what a night!

Rashford, Solskjaer and James react to the Saints win, plus we analyse Shaw’s performance and chat to Kirsty Hanson…

WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?

After the incredible 9-0 victory over Southampton, we listed our 10 biggest-ever wins, as well as the best stats from Tuesday night.

Have you seen this comparison video, featuring our 18 goals against the Saints and Ipswich (from the 9-0 win in 1995) in chronological order? It's a great watch!

Finally, aside from that fixture, the Europa League squad for the knockout stages was named.

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