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Analysis

Harry Maguire stats which show how he became defender Erik ten Hag wanted at Manchester United

Maguire scored Man Utd's winner against FC Copenhagen but his all-round game earned plaudits from Ten Hag; Maguire is winning more duels and playing more ambitious forward passes this season; Watch Man Utd vs Man City live on Sky Sports Premier League on Sunday; kick-off 3.30pm.

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Sky Sports' Ben Ransom and Adam Bate analyse Manchester United's 1-0 victory over FC Copenhagen on an emotional night at Old Trafford.

Harry Maguire's Man Utd career looked over in the summer but, with a new approach to his game, three significant performances this month appear to have re-established his reputation at Old Trafford. Adapt to survive.

First there was a last-gasp match-winning assist against Brentford. Then a player-of-the-match performance at Sheffield United. And now the Champions League goal to savour, heading in to help United to a crucial 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen. The United supporters were singing his name again.

They are significant moments for a player who was stripped of the club captaincy just a few months ago and told he had a "decision to make" about his future by head coach Erik ten Hag.

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Tim Sherwood has given Harry Maguire a lot of credit for wanting to stay at Manchester United and fighting for his place in the starting XI.

For the majority of his reign, Ten Hag has exiled Maguire to the fringes of his squad, making it clear he was way down the pecking order and short of the attributes he was looking for in a defender. But a shift in Maguire's style has impressed the Dutchman, who says the England centre-back is "playing like we want him to" now.

A spate of injuries presented Maguire with an opportunity and he has seized the opening by showing he can do what's demanded of him.

"He's playing much more proactively in possession, stepping in, passing vertically," said Ten Hag on Tuesday night. "He's defending on the front foot, defending forward, very confident in the duels.

"I think he is dominating in the right way with his aggression against opponents. You see he also gets rewarded. Of course, his heading is a skill... a very good finish."

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The stats back up Ten Hag's takeaways from Maguire's performances.

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Image: Maguire has proven to be more proactive in and out of possession this season

Proactive possession and passing vertically? Maguire is completing almost twice as many passes into the final third on average as he was last season. His successful long passes have nearly doubled, too.

Interestingly, in the Premier League, he is by-passing at least four defenders with almost seven passes per game on average this term. This is a defender who is looking to break lines and spark attacks when he has the ball.

Harry Maguire is playing more on the front foot this season
Image: Maguire is playing more on the front foot this season
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Image: Maguire's touch map and pass map vs FC Copenhagen

That positive approach is replicated in his defending. Ten Hag described him as 'dominating' his opponents and this season his duel success has rocketed by more than 10 per cent, while he has won 13 of his 17 aerial duels in the Premier League and Champions League.

From Maguire's last 17 starts, United have won 16 times. Critics have questioned the calibre of the opposition in some of those matches but there's no denying Maguire is having a positive impact now.

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Erik ten Hag says he has been impressed with Harry Maguire's recent form after the defender scored Manchester United's winner against FC Copenhagen.

The contributions in the opposition box will grab the headlines but the substance of his overall performances could be key in shifting Ten Hag's long-term view on him.

Next up for Maguire? A certain Erling Haaland...

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Sky Sports' Ron Walker is joined by Ben Grounds to discuss Harry Maguire's form and whether he can stop Erling Haaland and co in the Manchester derby.

The next assignment for Manchester United and Maguire is a huge Premier League game against rivals Man City, also at Old Trafford, on Sunday October 29, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 3.30pm.

In The Question watch Sky Sports' Ron Walker and Ben Grounds discuss Harry Maguire's form and whether he can stop Erling Haaland and Co in the Manchester derby.

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