Michael Carrick put in a solid midfield display for Manchester United in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City on Sunday.
The 34-year-old took control of the midfield battle against N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater, ensuring his side dominated proceedings against powerful opposition.
A quick glance at his stats sheds light on the nature of Carrick’s performance: 96% passing, 2 chances created, 100% aerial duels.
Van Gaal’s recent change in formation, which sees Carrick play as the sole defensive midfielder with two midfielders further forward, has had a positive effect on his performances and Leicester was the biggest test. I expected Carrick to be overrun by them but it was far from that.
Playing with midfielders further forward, alongside energetic wingers and proactive fullbacks, means the transition from midfield to attack becomes far more seamless. Such a tweak has brought a bit more energy to both Carrick as a player and the general mood surrounding the club.
It is no coincidence that, following this change in style, United are unbeaten and Carrick, dubbed by many as a spent force at Old Trafford, looks a bit sharper.
I’m not sure whether Carrick will be here next season but after being sidelined and left out for quite large parts of this year, it’s good to see Carrick improving somewhat and coming back into the team. That being said, there were some gaffes against Leicester so he’s still not at his peak but it’s certainly better than what it was.