Dan James was an unsurprising starter for Manchester United on Matchday 1 of the season against Leeds.

James played a key role in beating Leeds last season and with Marcus Rashford on slack and Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani, Jadon Sancho, Amad and Anthony Elanga all either not eligible, not fit or not ready to start there was a chance for that Welsh wingers to stake his claim.

While James was ahead of goal with just one in three goals, his pace of work and industry set the tone United needed on the first day of the season against one of the fittest teams in the league.

Every player who joins the team has to compete with James in addition to the quality that he offers. James made three tackles against Leeds, more than any United player, per FBRef.

(Photo by Ash Donelon / Manchester United via Getty Images)

Undefeated for almost a year

Whenever James is named on the Manchester United team roster, there is a typical overreaction from fans on social media who would prefer a more exciting name in the starting XI.

So it’s worth highlighting United’s impressive record with Dan James by their side, both as a starter and as a replacement.

Manchester United have not lost a game in which James played against Crystal Palace since Matchday one last season – apart from a loss on penalties.

This includes nine Champions League and Europa League games, two national cup games and now 15 games in the Premier League.

That’s 26 games in a row, United are unbeaten with James in the team.

Or if you prefer to count the 1-1 in the extension of the Europa League final as a defeat, James remains unbeaten in 17 national league and cup games.

These games include games against Chelsea (2), Leeds (2), Manchester City, Leicester City, Aston Villa and West Ham, and Wolves.

(Photo by Matthew Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)

The record underscores why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not afraid to play James and is confident that United are strong as a collective with the winger on the team, even though their game may lack the individual glitz of others.

James is a key squad player and while we can’t guarantee he’ll still be a United player in two or three years if he wants to develop regular football and players like Amad and even Facundo Pellitri, he’s in the here and now is an important part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.

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