How Diogo Dalot and Antony's growing partnership is becoming integral to Erik ten Hag's football
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Manchester United have found themselves on an upwards trajectory under head coach, Erik ten Hag, with the club securing monumental wins over league leaders Arsenal, UCL finalists Liverpool and top four rivals Spurs and it could be down to the new partnership dominating the right-side of United’s play.
When Manchester United brought Brazilian winger Antony to Old Trafford for a reported £85.5m fee from Ajax, there were demands from the fan base that such expenditure needed to be justified by results and performances on the pitch.
These demands have been more than satisfied so far, with the 22-year-old scoring three goals in five Premier League appearances to date.
This return has been widely celebrated by United fans but there is a more unsung hero involved in Antony’s impact on the team: Diogo Dalot.
Dalot has been instrumental in much of United’s success so far this season, with his own performances often correlating to his team’s overall performance.
The partnership between Dalot and Antony has been developing ever since the winger arrived in Manchester, but it was against Spurs on Wednesday evening where it truly flourished.
The attacking threat provided by the direct dynamic of both players has given Manchester United a new avenue of attack down their right side, where they had, in more recent years, tended to rely on Bruno Fernandes as their central playmaker.
Dalot’s own goal and assist contributions don’t flatter his performances in the same way as Antony’s, with the fullback providing one assist in ten Premier League games.
However, the 23-year-old provides Antony with the defensive assurance required for the Brazilian to bomb forward without the need for a second thought.
Because of this, Antony is able to take on his man and cut inside to deliver either a cross of one of his trademark curling efforts off his left foot.
This dynamic between the pair requires a high level of understanding between the players in order to ensure that they are not both over-extended in attack and instead, hit the perfect balance of solidity in the face of a counter-attack, but also a full-blooded attacking presence.
The pair establishing this partnership will be crucial for United’s hopes of silverware and Champions League qualification this season.
Antony will be required to continue providing in attack and this will hinge on whether Dalot can continue his impressive form both in attack and defence.
Against Spurs, the fullback would often overlap the Brazilian, giving Antony the room to cut inside as Dalot took the extra defender with him.
This movement combined with quick pieces of interplay between the two which in turn, crested space in the middle for the likes of Bruno Fernandes, with the result of this being the midfielder having arguably his best performance for the club in nearly a year.
A real test of the relationship between Dalot and Antony will be United’s heavyweight clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
This game will be huge in determining the standings at the top end of the table, with both clubs having aspirations for the top four.
The match kicks off at 17:30 BST and can be watched on SkySports by UK customers.