Stats: Phil Jones shows Van Gaal his value at centre back

The Manchester United defender has had an up and down career so far at Old Trafford, but did well back in his favoured defensive position against Swansea.

It is well known that new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is in the market for at least one central defensive player, and so he should be after losing both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic over the summer. But in Phil Jones, he has someone that he should be able to rely on at the back.

Playing as part of a weakened back three alongside fellow England international Chris Smalling and debutant Tyler Blackett, Jones stood out as the strongest defender by putting in several superb tackles on Swansea players. 

It would be easy to blame Jones for his role in Swansea's first goal, but on closer inspection the ball came to Korean midfielder Ki Sung-yueng so easily because of two reasons: There was no midfielder tracking his run, meaning he had plenty of time and space to shoot, and Wilfried Bony produced a somewhat debatable block on Jones as the Englishman came out to put in a challenge. The Ivorian was some way away from the ball when he took a step to the side to check the United defender's run. 

Below we look at some defensive stats from the game against the Welsh outfit:

  TeamPosWon TackleLast Man TackleTackling Accuracy %Duel WonInterceptionPoss Won Def 3rdAppsMins
Phil Jones Man Utd DF 4 1 100.00 10 4 3 1 90
Chris Smalling Man Utd DF 2 0 100.00 11 1 1 1 90
Tyler Blackett Man Utd DF 0 0 0.00 3 2 5 1 90

Of the three centre backs it is easy to see Jones' impressive defensive performance, he made more tackles than anyone else, including one last man tackle, and managed to win every challenge he attempted. He also made more interruptions then any other defender, and was just behind Chris Smalling in winning duels for possession.

No other defender displayed the same drive and desperation at the back as the ex Blackburn star. Though Smalling and youngster Tyler Blackett's performances were certainly not woeful, arguably only Jones would make a reinforced back line.

With United still in the market for reinforcements at centre back, as well as additions in central midfield, it is likely Jones will now get a prolonged period of featuring in his favoured position. There was a lack of leadership in the defence on Saturday which is something either a more senior centre back would bring or one of the players already at the club would have to supply, while all the players are certain to be coming to terms with the system. 

If Van Gaal brings in some quality in place of Vidic and Ferdinand, and he's running out of time to do so, then there is every chance Jones could finally begin to fulfil his potential at the club.

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