Last season was the best of Jonny Evans’ Manchester United career. His sparkling late season form was rewarded with continuous team selection by Sir Alex Ferguson, and, with the old guard of Vidic and Ferdinand beginning to show signs of aging, the Northern Ireland international looked to be an integral part of United’s backline going forward.
However an injury at the end of last season’s campaign, combined with another in the final game of pre-season this term, saw Evans’ time on the pitch limited at the start of David Moyes’ Manchester United reign.
As the season has progressed though, Jonny Evans has rebounded and become a key part of the team and their recent resurgence following a tough start in the league. After recovering from injuries and forcing his way back into the fold, he has not only continued his form from last season, but also built on it.
Coming into a massive tie against Arsenal, a clash that Manchester United could not afford to lose, it was crucial that Evans, as well as the rest of the team, maintained their form and composure against the quick and fluid passing the Gunners have displayed so far this season.
A well-earned win saw Manchester United do exactly this, as Jonny Evans put in one of his best displays this season. His performance against the league leaders highlighted exactly how well he has done this season, and how much he has developed since the start of the 12/13 season. Looking at this game, there are several encouraging signs that can be taken away from Jonny Evans impressive display.
1. In the first half, the center-back was tasked with isolating Olivier Giroud and breaking up the link up play that Arsenal were looking to create. Evans did this well, as the Frenchman was unable to make any meaningful contribution to the game due to his limited time and space when on the ball.
2. Even when dropping deeper to connect with the midfield, Giroud was still frustrated by the Manchester United man, as his attempts to receive the ball with his back to goal were stopped immediately by Evans. These battles happened on multiple occasions throughout the first half, and were almost always won by Evans. This allowed Manchester United to quickly recover the ball after losing possession and launch another inquest on the Arsenal goal.
3. Even though his passing after regaining the ball could have been slightly more accurate, the 26-year-old put in a fine first half performance, and looked calm and composed during the first 45 minutes.
4. The second half was much of the same. Arsenal came out determined to gain a foothold in the game, which they did in the most part thanks to better chance creation, but it was to no avail as the Red Devil’s stood strong. Jonny Evans put in numerous important blocks and defensive headers, and along with Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones, kept Arsenal at bay until the final whistle.
Although not perfect, the polished performance of Jonny Evans on Sunday was exactly what you would expect for a top quality defender, and was the perfect embodiment of his impressive form as of late. His all-around effectiveness has been critical in Manchester United’s revitalization, and will surely play a large part in United’s title charge. Going forward, we can only expect Jonny Evans to continue to be a key part of David Moyes’ plans.