Friday 18 December 2015

United aim to remain impregnable at fortress OT

United are turning Old Trafford into a fortress again this term with the club's best defensive home record in domestic football at this stage of the season since 1995/96.

The art of defending starts from the front, as LVG has often pointed out, and United's excellent work in this area is ensuring domestic rivals are having little joy in breaching the Reds' rearguard ranks at OT.

In 10 domestic encounters so far, only one opposition player- Liverpool's Christian Benteke- has found the net and, while his strike may have been spectacularly unstoppable, it proved a mere footnote in a game won 3-1 by the hosts as Anthony Martial burst onto the scene with a debut screamer.

Considering the Capital One Cup tie vs Middlesbrough went to extra time, the Belgian's belter is the only blemish in some 840 minutes of football on our home turf.
David de Gea and Sergio Romero have both played their part but the whole team unit deserve credit for their excellent defensive efforts.

A glance through the record books show that this is the club's best league start defensively to a home campaign since 1994/95 when United's defence was not breached until 17 December, Stan Collymore with a long range strike past Gary Walsh in a 2-1 reverse to Forest.

Sir Alex's side had kept 10 consecutive home clean sheets up until then, with nine of those coming before December although Barcelona and IFK Gothenburg both breached the United net in Europe.

Peter Schmeichel had an incredible 16 league shut outs in 1994/95 before Simon Charlton scored in the final outing of the season.
United bounced back to win that game against Southampton 2-1 but still ended up empty handed as league runners up and losing FA Cup finalists.

When looking at United's defensive record overall, you have to back to the team under Ron Atkinson to discover a time when this season's tally of three goals conceded before December has been bettered.

Atkinson's men had gone seven and a half home without conceding until Craig Johnston notched for Liverpool and Paul West equalised with only the second strike past Gary Bailey in November.

It wasn't until the 21st December that the defence was breached again with a Charlie Nicholas winner for Arsenal, the third goal conceded in the league on home soil.

Shutting out the opposition is nothing new for United but that does not make this season's defensive record any less impressive ahead of 2015's final two Old Trafford tests against Norwich and Chelsea. 

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