Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the first Manchester United since 2012 to win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Pogba and Herrera deservedly took all the credit for their goals with their midfield partnership being phenomenal. Although the defensive partnership of Smalling and Lindelof were very crucial for the clean sheet obtained at the Stamford Bridge.
— utdreport (@utdreport) February 18, 2019
Pogba is breathing new life under the Ole and Herrera reintegration into the midfield is nothing sort of spectacular. The performances of these two players have been beneficial to the forwards in a massive way. But, it was the defensive performance of Lindelof and Smalling which also caught everyone’s eyes. Keeping the best player in the league Eden Hazard silent while he is in mood is no mean feat.
Mourinho, while in charge always kept complaining about his lack of central defensive options. Victor Lindelof, in the early season, was absent, Bailly had put in some shady performances while Jones and Smalling were never fully fit.
Come January 2019, Lindelof has established himself as the first choice defender and Smalling with his performance against Chelsea has put a strong case for himself. Both Lindelof and Smalling along with Luke Shaw and Ashley Young on the flanks having solidified their positions, the only area left to solidify is of the central defence.
Lindelof and Smalling are our best centre-back pairing there's no doubt of that no matter how much that upsets fans. My hope is Bailly can quickly develop in the same way Lindelof did so they can be the new partnership. #MUFC pic.twitter.com/UATVXv8bew
— Marwan Harraz (@MarwanHarraz1) February 19, 2019
With Liverpool up next, the defensive partnership of Lindelof and Smalling needs to show up to stop high pressing football of Liverpool. It was this exact fixture after which Mourinho lost his job after an embarrassing performance from the team.
But things have changed drastically with United being the most in-form team in the league. Scoring goals under Ole has not been a problem but to be at the top United’s defence need to be on form. The Red Devils may still look to buy a central defender in the next transfer window, with Koulibaly being a transfer target.
With still a lot to play for this season, it seems that Ole may have founded the pair he wants to play with. Lindelof, has kept 5 clean sheets this season and has made more than double the amount of clearances in just nine more games than Phil Jones.
Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelöf were sensational tonight. Absolute rocks in defence. Super performance.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) February 18, 2019
Injury has prevented Lindelof and Smalling playing alongside each other, but with both of them now fully fit a long run of games is beneficial to all. If these two perform, Ed Woodward may not need to spill the cash in summer and focus on some other area of the pitch.