The Carrick factor - has he been the missing link for United?

Carrick

The Manchester United and England midfielder put in a superb performance during the 3-0 win over Hull.

Michael Carrick is in his ninth season at Manchester United, and proved against Hull City that he is just as important as he ever was.

The 33-year-old has had his fair share of injuries in the last couple of seasons, and had to wait until the game against Manchester City earlier this month before featuring under new boss Louis van Gaal.

And it was little surprise that as Carrick has built up his fitness and form, United produced their best result of the season against Arsenal and their best performance against Hull.

Van Gaal, as well as goalscorers Chris Smalling and Robin van Persie, all lauded the win against the Tigers, and taking a look at the statistics from Saturday's games below help indicate just who was the driving force of that performance:

  TeamAccurate PassPassing AccuracyTouchesFwd PassSuccessful Final Third PassesMins Played
Michael Carrick Man Utd 108 92.31% 125 36 23 90
Cesc Fàbregas Chelsea 98 87.5% 131 42 47 90
Nemanja Matic Chelsea 95 95% 126 27 36 90
Marcos Rojo Man Utd 87 97.75% 99 21 3 90
Chris Smalling Man Utd 81 91.01% 102 22 11 90

No other player completed as many passes as Carrick, with the former Tottenham midfielder accurate 108 times with an impressive percentage of 92%. The Newcastle-born star was also above everyone else on the pitch when it came to getting on the ball, and playing forward and final third passes - all stats that were again competitive with the the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, two midfielders often held up as the best in the league.

Carrick's role for United alongside an improved Marouane Fellaini looks vastly improved on the duo's partnership last season, and the Englishman's composure and passing ability is something no other player at Old Trafford possesses.

Given Carrick's emphasis on positional sense rather than lung bursting pitch coverage or blistering pace, he should be able to orchestrate proceedings for a few seasons yet, should Van Gaal so wish.

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