Football News

Does Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s tackling output mask an uncomfortable truth for Man Utd?

By James Richards

Published: 11:00, 1 September 2019 | Updated: 14:56, 2 September 2019

Manchester United’s summer recruit Aaron Wan-Bissaka put in another defensively impressive performance in the 1-1 draw with Southampton, but should he have had to?

The full-back made 10 tackles on the south coast, although his efforts were not enough to give United all three points despite them leading at half-time.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka doing what he does best at Man Utd? Five key things to know…

  • Wan-Bissaka has started in all four of Man United’s opening Premier League games.
  • He has made more tackles than any player in the competition so far (26).
  • Wan-Bissaka made 10 challenges against Southampton, the first player to make 10+ in a Premier League game this season
  • It is, in fact, the most he has ever made in a Premier League game.
  • But some might question why United have so far required him to make more tackles than he did at Crystal Palace.

United have made a disappointing start to the season following the opening day thrashing of Chelsea, having failed to win any of their subsequent three matches.

The performances of new signing Wan-Bissaka have been a bright spot amid the gloom. The defender has been impressive when out of possession, as highlighted by his performance against Southampton, but question marks persist as to whether he is good enough with the ball at his feet.

Against the Saints, Wan-Bissaka made 10 tackles, the most in a single game in the Premier League this season. He also made nine tackles in the second match of the campaign against Wolves. But these numbers should not only highlight the full-back’s ability to win the ball back. They should also place United’s performances under greater scrutiny.

Wan-Bissaka appears to be busier defensively with United than he was at Palace last season. His 10 challenges in the game against Southampton is the highest total he has recorded within a single game in his Premier League career.

Yet there is a notion that elite teams who dominate possession should not have to make so many tackles. Eventual champions Manchester City, whose manager once infamously professed he “doesn’t coach tackles”, made the fewest in the 2018/19 season.

Against Southampton, Wan-Bissaka also struggled to keep possession, ultimately losing the ball more times than any Premier League player in gameweek four (30) and recording a passing accuracy of 66.7%, the same rate as goalkeeper David De Gea. Last season overall, he averaged 73%.

An improvement on this side of Wan-Bissaka’s game would be encouraging for United, who paid around £50m for their new right-back, but worth noting is that the Palace youth product had a pass completion rate of 85.5% going into the Southampton draw.

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Daniel James stars again

Another of United’s summer signings also represents a glimmer of hope for the Red Devils.

He opened the scoring at St. Mary’s and showed immense energy and determination throughout. James has now bagged three goals in his opening four games for United – as many as in last 22 second-tier appearances for the Swans.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was quick to praise the Welshman after another positive display.

“We need some scrappy goals as well. We should have won today – we had the game where we wanted it [but] we were careless in our finishing and our last pass,” the United boss told BBC Sport.

“We built pressure, we got round them, created good openings but the clinical edge wasn’t there. We should have won, again.

“Daniel James is fantastic – he has a great attitude, he wants to learn, he is hungry. He is at the start of his career but with his habits, he will have a good one. We want to help him become the finished article.”

United next play Leicester City at home in the Premier League after the international break.