United defender Chris Smalling on what van Gaal likes in a centre-back pairing

Chris Smalling

Chris Smalling has been talking about his manager at Manchester United and his own recent performance against Arsenal.

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has been talking to the club’s official website about his fine performance against Arsenal recently and the best combination when it comes to central defensive partnerships.

Smalling was criticised following his sending off against Manchester City last month, but the England international returned against the Gunners and put in a great performance, continuing a winning streak that has since stretched to four matches.

Smalling also started United’s matches against Hull City and Stoke City, opening the scoring against the Tigers. But it was his performance against Arsenal that arguably changed his season.

Speaking about the Gunners’ onslaught and their vast array of attacking talent, the United defender said, “I love that as a centre-back. I have always been a defender growing up and it’s just a case, first and foremost, to not let the attacker get a sniff.”

Smalling certainly did that against Arsenal, and while United’s defence has chopped and changed this season due to injuries and suspensions, Louis van Gaal’s side has looked considerably more solid in recent games.

Speaking about what his manager likes in a defensive partnership, Smalling said, “I think he likes to have a good balance with the left and right-footers on either side of the centre-half partnership.

“Having one right and one left, I can see that.”

It will be interesting to see what happens regarding United’s defence in the future, with reports, pundits and fans alike all suggesting a more experienced centre-back must arrive sooner rather than later.

But for now Smalling and his teammates are impressing in that area, and they will be hoping to make it a fifth win in a row when they face Southampton on Monday.

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