Raphael Varane is expected to return on Saturday for a Manchester United team who have conceded twice regularly in his absence.
Aving missed the 4-1 derby defeat to Manchester City after testing positive for coronavirus, the France international returned to training this week and is set to feature against Tottenham.
Here, PA news agency examines United’s defensive record and Varane’s influence.
The case against the excuse
United’s backline has come under close scrutiny throughout this season, with 38 goals conceded in the league and 10 games remaining.
There have been 21 times they have gone a full Premier League season without reaching that milestone, including the 10 years between 2002-03 and 2011-12 – while even in 42 games in the league’s first season. renamed, they conceded 31, 38 and 28.
On average they concede 1.36 goals per game in the league, of course they only conceded over 50 goals for the second time in a Premier League season – 51.6, so this number has risen to 52 and only 54 index of the 2018-19 season is 54.
Varane has missed heavy defeats against Man City, Watford, Liverpool and Leicester.
In 1,877 minutes Varane played, including injury time, in all competitions, United only conceded 17 goals, equivalent to 0.82 goals / 90 minutes. That compares with 1.60 per 90 in his absence, with 33 in 1,855 minutes.
The former Real Madrid centre-back has only appeared in 5 of 9 games keeping a clean sheet but of the 27 times they have not conceded a goal or a goal, he has featured in 18 of them.
The strength of resistance is one of the mitigating factors. Varane played just one of six meetings with United team-mates in the ‘big six’ round of the Premier League – against Spurs in October – and also missed games against West Ham, Atalanta and Villarreal.
Varane’s influence, however, is clear and captain Harry Maguire has been particularly criticized this season while Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones have failed to fortify a troubled defence – the pair the latter without a clean sheet in nine combined appearances.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/raphael-varanes-importance-to-man-utd-as-defender-prepares-to-return-to-side-41436742.html Importance of Raphael Varane to Man Utd as defender prepares to return to action