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How Heath, Press will help Manchester United challenge the top three

Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

After weeks of speculation, Manchester United confirmed the signings of Tobin Heath and Christen Press on Wednesday. The arrival of two World Cup-winning United States internationals will obviously enhance Manchester United’s chances of chasing down the FA Women’s Super League’s top three of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, but there are still important tactical questions to answer.

Firstly, why did Manchester United specifically choose to focus their resources on Heath and Press, instead of, say, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis, who recently signed for Manchester City? The answer to this one is fairly simple: United went for two forwards because attack was their biggest weakness last season.

In the 2019-20 season, Casey Stoney’s side scored 1.7 goals per 90 minutes on average. This was closer to Everton and Reading’s record than it was to Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City’s. By contrast, their goals-against record was better than Arsenal’s and not far behind Chelsea’s. United’s defense was top-three material, but their attacking numbers were more reflective of a mid-table side. They needed more firepower up front to mount a serious challenge to those above them.

The second question requires a longer, more detailed answer: How exactly will the arrivals of Heath and Press impact Manchester United’s offensive style?

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