Ander Herrera produced a truly scintillating midfield display during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.
The Spaniard provided a sumptuous pass for Marcus Rashford to put the home side ahead after just seven minutes, before adding Man United’s second with a deflected strike not long after half time.
Herrera’s biggest feat, however, was the way in which he successfully man-marked the potentially lethal Eden Hazard out of the game from start to finish.
His numbers from the game shed light on what was an earth-shattering performance.
Ander Herrera's game by numbers vs. Chelsea:
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 16, 2017
If you love to see passion, pure dedication, grit and uninterrupted drive in a United player, look no further than Herrera. The 27-year-old made the game his own, dictating the side’s tempo with his own bombastic, unyielding approach.
It was, in many ways, an illustration of just how much Herrera has developed since arriving at Old Trafford. His superbly weighted assist – similar to the one that created Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal against Tottenham Hotspur – for Rashford and second half strike was a reminder of the creative talent that Louis van Gaal brought to the club in 2014.
His job on Hazard, however, was a glowing example of the warrior-like grit he has developed during his time in Manchester. The Belgian’s numbers from the game are as follows: 0 shots, 0 dribbles completed, 1 chance created, 79% pass accuracy – emphatic proof that, once you stop Hazard, you stop Chelsea’s rhythm going forward.
Keeping tabs on one of Europe’s most agile, creative forwards for 90 minutes is something that not many can do, but Herrera made it look easy, ruthlessly breathing down Hazard’s neck at every turn, refusing to give him a moment’s peace.
You sense he would have followed Hazard to the toilet if he had to. And you could see, etched all over the Belgian’s face, that he was lost, confused and indeed pocketed by the brilliance of Herrera.