Phil Jones: Manchester United have improved defensively this season

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Phil Jones believes Manchester United can take plenty of positives from the 1-1 draw with Stoke City on New Year's Day after praising their resolute display at the Britannia Stadium.

The fit-again 22-year-old feels that the Red Devils defence has come on leaps and bounds under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal as the season has progressed, and says that the main focus is now on improving in the final third of the pitch after another blunt attacking display from the club's forward line against the Potters.

Jones' comments come as a bit of a surprise, particularly after Manchester United conceded within two minutes of the kick-off, and the fact that David De Gea's goal led a pretty charmed life as Stoke turned up the pressure in the second-half.

Mark Hughes's side were denied a clear penalty when referee Michael Oliver failed to spot Chris Smalling's obvious handball, and later a well-executed Peter Crouch header came back off the post, leaving the hosts understandably disappointed they didn't secure all three points.

However, from the former Blackburn Rovers star's perspective Van Gaal's men were good value for their point, which extends their unbeaten run in the Premier League to ten games and maintains their place in third spot in the table.

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"We played well in parts but probably didn't create as many chances as we would have liked," Jones was quoted saying by the Daily Star. "I think the draw's a fair result in the end.

"I think it's maybe just the final pass, the final ball. But we'll evaluate everything we've done at Stoke and we'll try to improve."

The centre-back's intimation that it's the strikers that are letting the side down at the moment could risk angering the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao, especially when you consider that it was the Dutchman that won the corner that led to the equalising goal, the captain that took it and the Colombian that converted after a neat near post flick from Michael Carrick.

However, Jones appeared to be in no doubt about which players deserve the main bulk of credit for Manchester United's recent upturn in form after hinting again that the more attack-minded personnel need to contribute more if they are going to turn one point into three more regularly.

"Maybe if we'd got all three points at Tottenham, we could have looked upon this as a better result" - Phil Jones

"I think we've become resilient to play against," he added. "We could have been beaten, although I still think it's two dropped points. Maybe if we'd got all three points at Tottenham, we could have looked upon this as a better result in hindsight.

"As it is we've got another draw but we need to kick on and put in a good performance against Yeovil on Sunday."

The Stoke stalemate represented Manchester United's third draw from their past four games, so they'll be looking to get back to winning ways in the forthcoming FA Cup third round clash against The Glovers when they travel to Somerset to face the League One outfit at Huish Park on Sunday before welcoming high-flying Southampton to Old Trafford the following weekend.

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Phil Jones
Manchester United
Premier League

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