Manchester United are truly on the charge after the Premier League leaders put Liverpool to the sword in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday – and left-back Luke Shaw is making himself undroppable for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of late.
The Red Devils conceded two goals to Mohamed Salah at Old Trafford and for the first, Shaw was admittedly partly culpable.
He and Victor Lindelof allowed the Egyptian to get between them into the box and the Liverpool attacker lifted a brilliant chip over Dean Henderson early on to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
But how Shaw responded to that was testament to the remarkable strides he has made under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The England left-back gave Trent Alexander-Arnold constant problems with his overlapping runs down the left-hand side, dovetailing with Marcus Rashford brilliantly.
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Not just offensively but defensively too, Shaw largely coped well with Salah, just as he did at Anfield in the 0-0 draw between the two teams a week earlier.
Though Salah provided a greater test in this game than he did on Merseyside, and was much improved in the second half in particular, Shaw was rarely fazed.
No player on the pitch completed more tackles than the former Southampton full-back’s four while he also managed three key passes, bettered only by Roberto Firmino with four.
He completed 52 passes, one less than Harry Maguire as the most on the United team, and at an accuracy just shy of 85 per cent.
Only Mason Greenwood and Victor Lindelof were more efficient with possession and Greenwood only completed 20 passes in his 65 minutes on the field.
Shaw is responding superbly to Alex Telles’ arrival from Porto in the summer transfer window, as he himself has admitted, and has stepped up his game massively.
“We have a great relationship and he pushes me each day in training,” Shaw said of Telles. “We get on really well. It’s nice to have that type of competition, but we push each other to get the best from ourselves.”
Solskjaer meanwhile said of Shaw last week after the Anfield clash against Liverpool: “Luke has immense quality. He has got very good technique.
“You see the few times against Liverpool he takes the ball and drives forward. It is something that I’ve pushed him more to do because we know he can do it.
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“It is generally down to the boy himself, he is mentally very good at the moment. He has become a dad, he is physically very good, his fitness is so much better, he keeps beating his high intensity stats, his total distance stats.
“I think he’s been consistently up there with what a full-back has been doing. And when you have the talent of Luke, when that fitness and mental bit is sorted, you are always going to get good performances.”
And that follows comments around a year ago in which the United manager said: “Potentially we have the best left-back in England. Luke has the potential to be the best one, and that is the great challenge for him now.”
Shaw is certainly the league’s in-form left-back right now and at this trajectory is a certainty to be in the England squad for the Euros as he continues impressing at both ends of the pitch.
While Brazil international Telles has proven a popular and successful addition, Solskjaer simply cannot leave Shaw out of his line-up for the foreseeable future – at least for the games that matter most.
The current performances of Shaw are those that United expected when they paid £30million to Southampton back in 2015 and the player and his manager both deserve credit for that.
He has had rocky times with the Red Devils, most notably under Jose Mourinho, but the 25-year-old is arguably in the best moment of his career.
And even Telles knows it, admitting to United’s website: “I’m very prepared to play. I’m also very happy with the performances of Luke and his hard work.
“I came here to play. And both me and Luke really develop together, both in training and games. I’ve played and have put in some good performances as well.
“United benefit from this as well, United the club, because we win by having good players available. And if needed I’m here, ready, focused and prepared to play.
“And once again I repeat that I’m really happy for Luke Shaw, his great performances and contributions.”
As United go in search of a first league title since Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, Shaw is showing he can play a significant role.