Smalling eyes clean sheets
Chris Smalling was disappointed to concede a goal to Sunderland and says United’s defenders are working hard to record more clean sheets.
Substitute Fraizer Campbell headed what proved to be a consolation goal for the Black Cats with 20 minutes left on Saturday, after Stephane Sessegnon reached a ball that looked to be going out of play.
The Reds won 3-1 but have now kept only three clean sheets in the opening 17 league games, a statistic on which Smalling is keen to improve over the busy festive period.
The defender, who played the full 90 minutes alongside Rio Ferdinand and, later, Nemanja Vidic, told MUTV: “There was a bit of carelessness from us [in the second half].
“We were disappointed with the goal we conceded because we wanted to get a clean sheet. We have to make sure it doesn’t cost us next time.
“Getting a clean sheet means to a lot to us as defenders but also because our record recently hasn’t included a lot of them. It would have been ideal to get one today.”
Like his manager, Smalling also felt United should have scored more against Martin O’Neill’s side, though he was impressed by the Reds’ attacking prowess, and the displays of midfielders Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick.
“It could have been more than 3-1,” he mused. “We had so many chances in both halves to make it a bit easier for ourselves, but we got the three points, which was the main thing.
“We took the momemtum forward from Sunday [against Manchester City] and Clevs and Carrick were playing some great balls and moving it very quickly around the field. It’s great to watch that going on in front of you.”
United, six points clear of Man City at the top, now head to Swansea on 23 December for the first of four games in 10 days that could have a significant bearing on the title race.
Smalling added: “The Christmas period is crucial because there are games every few days, but we’ve got a big squad and players coming back who are going to feel fresh.
“We need to put on some good performances and keep things going.”