Manchester United have so far won every encounter they’ve faced this summer, most recently in a 2-0 victory over Arsenal in New York on Saturday evening.
The friendly fixture saw the two clubs not just face off in a 90-minute friendly, but also a subsequent penalty shootout that saw Manchester United emerge victorious in a 5-3 win as Arsenal‘s Fábio Vieira skied the ball above Tom Heaton and into the stands.
The logic behind the shootout was sound, with both Erik ten Hag and Mikel Arteta wanting to somewhat recreate the intense pressure of a penalty shootout in front of a large crowd ahead of what is set to be a long and demanding 2023/24 season.
United’s five takers mostly consisted of the expected players in Casemiro, Marcus Rashford, and Christian Eriksen, who scored the winning penalty. The other two penalties were taken by Diogo Dalot and Victor Lindelöf, with the latter’s selection being a very interesting one.
In April this year, Lindelöf was chosen as one of seven players who the club have deemed as up for sale this window – but it seems as if his performances in recent months have completely changed Ten Hag’s mind.
Although it may be fair to assume that Lindelöf may not have been selected if players who played in the first half of the fixture had been available such as Bruno Fernandes or Mason Mount, the fact he was selected to take penalty number three is significant – Ten Hag now clearly sees the Swedish captain as a valuable member of his squad.
Lindelöf put in some fantastic performances towards the back end of last season, with important games against Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final and Manchester City in the final particular highlights. With Ten Hag looking to have a strong central defensive group next season, his improvement has helped him climb the pecking order.
After Maguire was stripped of the captaincy, it was clear that he currently sits fairly low in the order, with Lisandro Martinez, Raphaël Varane, and now Victor Lindelöf all ahead of him – where one man has fallen, Lindelöf has taken his chance to rise up from the exit door and fight for his place next season.
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