A couple of shabby mistakes at the back condemned Manchester United to their first Premier League defeat of the season against Huddersfield last weekend.
Victor Lindelof was the main culprit, of course, lacking resilience for Huddersfield’s first and a brain in general for their second, but he was hardly helped by the erratic Chris Smalling alongside him.
Thankfully, however, Jose Mourinho has received a massive boost by the return of both Phil Jones and Eric Bailly ahead of Saturday’s crucial clash with Tottenham Hotspur.
And with that in mind, here is a potential XI with the aforementioned duo starting together for the first time since the 1-0 win over Southampton last month.
United’s ‘negative’ approach under Mourinho has been magnified ever since the international break and, ahead of a clash with a top four side, perhaps placing emphasis on the back four is questionable amid demands for greater levels of attacking impetus.
But we cannot underestimate the importance of having a solid, reliable spine against a Mauricio Pochettino side scoring for fun in the Premier League.
The best performances of this season have come with Jones and Bailly at the back, slowly nudging opponents out of the game and, in turn, laying the platform for United’s attacking quartet, combined with the threat of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia out wide, to put Spurs to the sword on Saturday.