This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Having seen Luke Shaw be a part of the side that trounced Chelsea 4-0 in Manchester United’s opening Premier League game of the season, Brandon Williams may have been forgiven for feeling his time in the first-team squad would have been limited.
But Shaw’s injury – surprise, surprise – has given the Red Devils academy prospect the chance to shine in recent weeks, and boy has he taken it. The 19-year-old played the full 90 minutes against both AZ Alkmaar and Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League, picking up an assist, and completed the full game in the Carabao Cup victory over Chelsea.
And on Sunday afternoon, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave Williams his first start in the Premier League, and in a commanding team performance, the teenager did not disappoint at all.
Lining up at left-back instead of the suspended Ashley Young, the starlet showed United exactly what they stand to benefit from over the coming years. The 19-year-old blended his attacking and defensive duties superbly, and his extra pace and quality on the ball compared to some of the Red Devils’ other options really marks him out.
Coming up against Brighton winger Steven Alzate, Williams didn’t give his opponent anything over the course of the match. He won five duels and made four tackles – with the latter stat putting him only behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka who had six from the opposite flank. But quite crucially for the Red Devils, the youngster showed he can contribute significantly going forward.
His 55 touches of the ball was two more than Marcus Rashford, and seven more than Daniel James, and showed just how confident the side were in getting him involved in the game. Williams provided one key pass and completed one dribble too as he sought to take the game to the Seagulls, and was denied opening his goal-scoring account for the senior side by a stop from Mathew Ryan in the Brighton goal.
It was therefore unsurprising to hear Solskjaer insist the “excellent” teenager is “making it hard to leave him out”. At such a young age, Williams has the chance to become a true Old Trafford stalwart.