A 2-0 home defeat by Burnley midway through January left Manchester United with a record of 31 goals conceded in 36 matches this season. Theirs wasn’t a particularly poor record, but there had been some awful performances and results scattered throughout an inconsistent campaign, including defeats at Watford, West Ham and Bournemouth, and a draw at Old Trafford with Aston Villa, as well as the aforementioned loss to Sean Dyche’s side.
Yet there has since been a remarkable improvement. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has overseen eight victories, nine clean sheets and the concession of only two goals in United’s past 11 games. One of those came from a freak mistake by David de Gea at Everton and the other, at Club Brugge, might even have been disallowed. A team that had been fragile in defence under an often-criticised manager has since developed the most in-form defence in the Premier League. Combined with Bruno Fernandes’ influence in the final third since his arrival in January, United enter the final months of 2019/20 confident that they can sneak into the top four and also compete for trophies.