Chris Smalling treated Manchester United supporters to an imposing performance during their side’s 3-0 win over Leicester City in the Premier League.
The Englishman was widely criticised by supporters for recent performances against Hull City but silenced his critics with a performance laced with power, timing and intelligence at the King Power Stadium.
His stats from the game shed light on what was a commanding performance against the champions.
Smalling's defensive game by numbers vs. Leicester City:
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 5, 2017
If performances against Hull were indicators of a newer, less assured Smalling, now reduced to the role of a squad player with Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly all displaying their worth under Jose Mourinho, his performance against Leicester City was a reminder of the Smalling from last season: resolute, always barking orders, handling the ball with care and intent, clearly the vocal point of Man United’s back four.
Smalling took to the pitch fully aware of the fact that, unlike last season, an average performance would precipitate several weeks on the sidelines. Louis van Gaal had to rely on the 27-year-old last season; Mourinho, on the other hand, could justifiably label the Englishman as a fourth choice option at Old Trafford. He knew that today was an opportunity to assert himself, to stake a claim for a regular place in the starting XI, and he took his chance with aplomb.