Manchester United emerged as victors from their clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the bold move to change formations in order to try and solve some of the issues that have been plaguing the team this season.
Changing from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2 allowed the midfield to be more compact, meaning Spurs were unable to cut through the United midfield as Liverpool did in their 5-0 win at Old Trafford the previous weekend.
The extra defender also allowed United to crowd out Spurs attackers Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, though it must be added that United’s opposition were terrible on the day, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men failing to record a single shot on target.
While United looked far more solid defensively, their attack also looked a lot more threatening than they did against Liverpool, with Solskjaer’ s tactical tweak again playing a huge part in this improvement as the 3-5-2 formation allowed him to facilitate two strikers in his starting XI.
Cristiano Ronaldo registered a goal and an assist in the game but it was his striker partner Edinson Cavani who truly impressed the United fanbase.
Everything about Cavani ‘s game was perfected and polished and he was the catalyst for the majority of United’s forward play.
I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating by suggesting the Uruguayan has made himself undroppable.
Solskjaer lauded the veteran forward’s efforts in training and against Spurs when he spoke to the media after the game, saying: “Tuesday morning’s training session by Edinson Cavani is the best I’ve seen by an individual since I came here.
“He led the line as a good example for everyone, how to go about changing the mood, changing the performance. The two [Cavani and Ronaldo] were told early on they would play up front as a two and they have been like two peas in a pod. It worked today, two excellent goals.
“They’re fit lads and the experience showed through today. Both of them have led the line well this week, all week from training on Tuesday morning to tonight.
“The performance was really good from the start, it was really good from Tuesday morning when we worked on something we thought would work and it did.”
Cavani’s work rate has never been in question and it was clear how much this contributed to United pressing the Spurs backline on Saturday.
The opposition were never given a moment’s peace as he constantly hounded them, forcing them to play sloppy long balls which more often than not handed possession back to United.
This acted as the perfect foil for Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford when he entered the fray as Cavani allowed the pair to focus on their positioning.
Cavani’s relentless pressing meant Ronaldo and Rashford were able to conserve their energy and the pair subsequently looked lethal whenever United were afforded the opportunity to hit Spurs on the counter.
He also showed some fantastic link-up play, with his clever movement and neat passing opening up space for the likes of Fred, Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he was a constant goal threat. His movement in the box is some of the best in world football and when his big chance arrived he never looked like missing, dinking the ball over Hugo Lloris to make it 2-0 to United.
Cavani gives absolutely everything on the pitch and he’s exactly the kind of player United fans want to see representing our club. Solskjaer would be making a huge mistake if he chooses to drop him in the coming weeks and it could severely hamper his bid to get United back on track.
If you asked United fans who the player they can’t afford to drop is, they’d probably say Fernandes – but in this new system Cavani may just be the most important player in the squad.