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Solskjaer hits back at Lampard’s ‘VAR favours United’ comments

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at the comments made by Chelsea manager Frank Lampard ahead of the Emirates FA Cup semi-final clash at Wembley on Sunday between the two teams. Lampard, a Chelsea legend with 648 appearances and 211 goals made the claim that VAR favoured United at this moment in time. United have had seven goals scored against them chalked off by the video assistant referee, which The Sun state is a league high.

On Thursday evening when United beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Selhurst Park, Jordan Ayew scored once against against United, like he did earlier in the season but VAR cancelled the goal for offside. Palace chairman Steve Parish tweeted; “Is the VAR broken ? Serious question …”. During his press conference on Friday morning, Lampard labelled cartoon VAR decisions as confusing. On hearing the suggestions that VAR favours United, reported by The Sun, Solskjaer stated:

“I can sit here for hours now and try to talk about this. It looks like there’s a narrative, it looks like people want to influence whoever’s making the decisions. I hear people talking about luck, that we’ve been lucky more than unlucky.

“If you look at the factual decisions, I don’t want to sound like a certain manager talking about facts, but if you’re offside, you’re offside.

“That’s clear. Talking about lucky, the penalty we got against Tottenham in the last minute that was taken away from us, that might be two points for us.

“Talking about the red card Romeu should have had against us when he almost got Mason Greenwood crippled, that should’ve been a red card, maybe that would’ve helped us.

“Talking about Mark Noble when he should have been sent off against us when we lost at West Ham, talking about the actual decision that is made that is against Manchester United but is overturned and corrected.

“So it’s actually me that should be complaining that we get decisions against us on the pitch by the on-pitch referee.”

Lampard was asked his opinion ahead of Chelsea’s clash with United at Wembley in the FA Cup with him giving a good suggestion of the issue as VAR has not been the best. Granted, United might have had more conceded goals chalked off this season, in the Premier League, but if a goal is not a goal, it is not a goal. VAR is there to get rid of the things that should not be missed by referees and after a period of time, things will iron out a little. Lampard, reported by The Sun, said:

“People said it would favour big teams maybe, because of the pressure or fan influence.

“But those days are gone. VAR has come in to try and change that, not just favouring teams but just to get the right decision.

“But there is always a human element to VAR, still, and clearly they have to make a decision. 

“The confusing thing about some of the recent ones, and the one on Thursday night, is that it’s a very, very clear and obvious decision that was wrong and didn’t get reviewed and changed.

“A few of those have happened and that is strange. I would like to think that with VAR you have to be level headed.

“Some might go against you or not, but we seem to be in a period where, in terms of Manchester United, they’ve got a few in their favour. It would be nice if VAR worked in our favour in this one.”

It is going to be a good match between United and Chelsea on Sunday. It will be the fourth time that Solskjaer’s side has met Lampard’s time this season, beating them twice in the Premier League; 4-0 at Old Trafford and 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. The other match was played in the Carabao Cup, against played at Stamford Bridge winning 2-1. So far this season, United have beaten Chelsea three times, scoring eight goals and conceding just one. Could Lampard be worried about a fourth consecutive defeat by United? It has certainly got to be a worry of his ahead of this match.

Written by John Walker

Odion Ighalo determined to succeed at Wembley after heartbreak of missing out in 2016 with Watford

Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo seems to be hyped up for his first appearance at Wembley with the Old Trafford club as they get ready to face Chelsea in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday evening. There are no guarantees that the Nigerian striker will start or even come off the bench on Sunday but some feel that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to make major changes to keep the team fresh for West Ham United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Wednesday.

However, Solskjaer suggested that ‘Wembley will give anyone energy‘ which suggests that his strongest XI, or as close as possible, will face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at the national stadium on Sunday. Ighalo has not featured for United since the 3-0 thrashing of Aston Villa, an unused substitute in the last two matches; a 2-2 draw with Southampton and a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. He has scored in each round of the FA Cup he has played in so far this season, so will probably get the opportunity once again.

It is playing in the FA Cup at Wembley that Ighalo wants to do, successfully this time though. When he played for Watford, they reached the semi-final during the 2015/16 season and were beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace, United’s opposition in the final which secured the first major honour for the Old Trafford club post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Ighalo recently spoke to the official Manchester United website about this experience with Watford, which still seemed to have a bitter taste in his mouth, presumably seeking to make it right this time. Ighalo said:

“It was a difficult one to take against Crystal Palace, we lost 2-1 at Wembley. If we’d have won, we’d have played United in the final.

“Unfortunately, we lost. It was a bitter one to take but this is an opportunity again in an FA Cup semi-final to make it right and go forward to the final. If I’m called to play, I’m going to give all I can to help the team win the game.

“Everybody wants to play against teams like Chelsea, big teams, and play well against them and, most of all, playing at Wembley and, you know if you win, you’re in the final. So, of course, it’s going to give you more to want to fight hard and make sure you give everything to win the game.

“To get to the final would be great for me in my life and my career. I missed out in 2016 and I have the opportunity to now get to the final with the club I’ve supported all my life. It would make my dreams perfect. It will be tough but we have what it takes.

“We have beaten them three times this season I think, one in the Carabao Cup and two in the league, and we’re playing them now in the semi-final. All those games don’t count though. This is a different game which is going to be even tougher without the fans in stadium.

“We have to fight from the first minute until the end. It’s always tough against them but I think, with the quality and momentum we have now, we are ready to go and to win against any team.”

Since arriving at United in January, Ighalo have made a total of 14 appearances for his club, scoring five goals and one assist. He is yet to score or assist in the Premier League, scoring twice, with one assist in the Europa League, then scoring the remaining three goals in the FA Cup. He scored a brace against Derby County in the fifth round of the domestic competition back in January at Pride Park, then scored the opener in the quarter-finals against Norwich City last month with United winning 2-1 in extra time with Harry Maguire scoring in the 118th minute of the match.

Ighalo has seen a lot of his playing time from the bench this season with the form of Anthony Martial (22 goals and eight assists), Marcus Rashford (22 goals and 11 assists) and Mason Greenwood (16 goals and five assists) all playing ahead of him. He won’t mind that though as he is at the club to be the extra player to bring on if needed and he will understand that, His loan spell was never going to see him become the first-choice striker in the squad, unless his form forced that to happen. The Nigerian striker was asked about the trio, to which he concluded by saying:

“They are doing so well. Seeing them playing every week is a joy. Rashford has come back from his injury and is doing well. Martial is scoring goals, Mason Greenwood is unbelievable, he is such a good finisher with both feet.

“The team is doing well and the three forwards are scoring goals and that’s what we need – goals win games. And I don’t forget Bruno [Fernandes] with the assists and goals too. I think the mentality is getting stronger every time.

“As a professional, you have to be ready, you have to have that mental strength to be ready. We train hard to keep fit and I’m always ready when I’m called upon, and I will give 100 per cent. You always have to stay focused.”

After Sunday’s match, whether Solskjaer’s side win or lose, they will have tp go back to readying themselves for the final two Premier League matches of the season; facing West Ham United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, then heading to the King Power Stadium on the final day of the season, a week from Sunday, to face Leicester City in what could be a battle for a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League this season to qualify for the Champions League. United will then have some rest before embarking on their UEFA Europa League adventure.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: Manchester United to field strong side against Chelsea in FA Cup semi-final?

Manchester United will face Chelsea in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup at Wembley Stadium on Sunday evening. It will be the fourth time this season that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has met Frank Lampard’s side with the Norwegian doing the double over Chelsea in the league, which was a great achievement, also knocking them out of the Carabao Cup, winning twice at Stamford Bridge, an achievement in itself.

United will get a break from the Premier League this weekend with two matches still to play and a place in the top four up for grabs. Beating Chelsea and setting up an FA Cup final will be what Solskjaer would like to do, however, achieving UEFA Champions League football will be the more important task this season. Perhaps Solskjaer will try to do both, also having the chance of another trophy – the UEFA Europa League.

How United have faired against Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup, plus their recent form in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup.

United and Chelsea have played 16 times in the FA Cup with United winning nine, drawing twice and losing five times. United have scored 25 goals conceding 13. United have kept seven clean sheets with Chelsea keeping six. Three of the past FA Cup matches have been finals with United winning one against Chelsea, a 4-0 victory in 1994, losing twice by 1-0 scorelines in 2007 and 2018.

This season, United have beaten Chelsea three times already winning 4-0 at Old Trafford at the start of the season with Rashford scoring a brace with Martial and James on the scoresheet also. In the Carabao Cup, United won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge with Rashford scoring both goals then in the second Premier League match, played at Stamford Bridge, United won 2-0 with Martial and Maguire scoring the goals. Here’s to a fourth victory.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Chelsea in the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium on Sunday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Normally, I would think Solskjaer would rest David De Gea in cup competitions but against Chelsea, it makes me think that he would play him, no matter the fact that United will need to be rested enough to face West Ham United on Wednesday evening in the final Premier League match at Old Trafford this season. Sergio Romero has been a good back up goalkeeper this season, but something makes me think that he’s probably likely to remain on the bench, possibly getting a run out against West Ham or even Leicester – probably in the UEFA Europa League next month too, especially in the round of 16 second leg against LASK.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams

In defence, I think we are likely to see as strong a back four as possible. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will keep his place, possible for the first half, giving him a break before the visit of the Hammers next week. Brandon Williams seems the most likely to recover, out of him and Luke Shaw, so the left-back position will be his. If not, Tim Fosu-Mensah could be drafted in as he did well against Crystal Palace. Victor Lindelof and the captain, Harry Maguire will keep their places too. Both will need to be at the best of their ability as this season looks to get longer.

Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

United’s midfield does need some reinforcement. Scott McTominay did not look at his best against Crystal Palace and Nemanja Matic needed to come on to strengthen it with Paul Pogba unable to stabilise it himself. Solskjaer will have seen this and the fact that after Matic, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, the ability remaining is pretty questionable. As Solskjaer says, Wembley will give anyone energy, so that is a clear indication that his best team will start and this is not something that is debatable, his first choice XI includes these two in the centre of midfield.

Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood

United have been playing some spectacular football of late but in the past two matches, the magic seems to have burnt out and needs that spark to reignite is once again. This attacking trio with Mason Greenwood on the right, Bruno Fernandes in the middle and Marcus Rashford on the left is the best creativity in the squad right now – hopefully with Solskjaer seeking to bring in quality additions to his squad this summer so rotation will be an option without quality lacking. There are 46 goals and and 24 assists in this area alone this season, so goals are not something that United should struggle with these three on the pitch. Wembley should bring the life out of them as they could play again there this season if they send Chelsea packing.

Striker: Anthony Martial

The Frenchman as scored 22 goals and eight assists this season – 30 goal contributions. It is his best season at the club, by far and he looks set to continue his run of form, which is great to see. It is clear that his talent was never an issue but his application was, which could have been down to the manager more than anything else. That said. Solskjaer seems to have brought out the very best of Anthony Martial this season, seeking to continue his form into next season, albeit after a little break, after the UEFA Europa League, of course. United should be fired into the FA Cup final this season, where they will either face Manchester City or Arsenal.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James, Scott McTominay; Odion Ighalo

Solskjaer has five substitutes to use for the remainder of the season, and into next season. There are three opportunities within a match to make the substitutes, not including the half time break. Solskjaer might need these to keep his team fresh, pushing for the kill early in the match, like they did in the opening match of the season, beating Chelsea 4-0. Sergio Romero will likely be on the bench, if needed. I defence, Eric Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah could be brought it, if needed. In midfield, the experience of Juan Mata could be needed with Andreas Pereira, Fred, Daniel James and Scott McTominay could be utilised. In attack, Odion Ighalo could add a different type of forward, if required/

Written by John Walker

Preview: Solskjaer to go for broke against Chelsea aiming for FA Cup final?

Manchester United -v- Chelsea

Emirates FA Cup

Wembley Stadium, London

Sunday 19 July 2020, KO 18:00 BST

Referee: Michael Dean Assistants: Ian Hussin, Richard West 

Fourth Official: Andrew Madley Replacement Official: Stuart Burt

VAR: Michael Oliver Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis

Manchester United will face Chelsea in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup at Wembley Stadium on Sunday evening. It will be the fourth time this season that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has met Frank Lampard’s side with the Norwegian doing the double over Chelsea in the league, which was a great achievement, also knocking them out of the Carabao Cup, winning twice at Stamford Bridge, an achievement in itself.

United will get a break from the Premier League this weekend with two matches still to play and a place in the top four up for grabs. Beating Chelsea and setting up an FA Cup final will be what Solskjaer would like to do, however, achieving UEFA Champions League football will be the more important task this season. Perhaps Solskjaer will try to do both, also having the chance of another trophy – the UEFA Europa League.

Form: United unbeaten in 19 matches now with Chelsea losing two of their last six. United will be the team to beat in this match for the simple reason that Chelsea have not beaten United in three attempts this season.

Manchester United: WDWWWW

Crystal Palace 2-0 W, Southampton 2-2 D, Aston Villa 3-0 W, Bournemouth 5-2 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 W, Norwich City 2-1 W

Chelsea: WLWWLW

Norwich City 1-0 W, Sheffield United 3-0 L, Crystal Palace 3-2 W, Watford 3-0 W, West Ham United 3-2 L, Leicester City 1-0 W

Top Scorers: United have scored 104 goals this season with Chelsea scoring 90; Rashford and Martial have 22 goals each with Abraham on 16, Willian on 11.

Manchester United Goals: 22 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 16 – Mason Greenwood, 8 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Odion Ighalo, Scott McTominay, 4 – Daniel James, 3 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United are unbeaten in 19 matches, scoring 50 goals, conceding eight times, keeping 13 clean sheets. Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to end the season on a high with a place in the top four of the Premier League, which is not something they can work towards this weekend. However, winning a trophy will be important too. United could hope to set up a first Manchester derby FA Cup final, providing City beat Arsenal.

Chelsea Goals: 16 – Tammy Abraham, 11 – Willian, 9 – Christian Pulisic, 6 – Michy Batshuayi, Jorginho, Olivier Giroud, Mason Mount, 5 – Ross Barkley, 4 – Marcos Alonso, César Azpilicueta, 3 – Callum Hudson-Odoi, N’Golo Kanté, 2 – Reece James, Mateo Kovacic, Pedro, Antonio Rüdiger, Fikayo Tomori, 1 – Kurt Zouma

Chelsea are a team that are in a position that they perhaps do not deserve to be in based on their form since the restart of the Premier League and the FA Cup. They find themselves seemingly secure in third-place in the Premier League with United likely to take on Leicester City for a place in the top four the season. United have beaten Chelsea three times, doing the double in the league and knocking them out of the Carabao Cup.

Team News: Solskjaer definitely has two players out of action with Lampard having three; United to sweat in the fitness of Shaw and Williams?

Solskjaer will continue to be without defenders Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones with the former out for the remainder of the season and the latter likely to return to training soon. Against Southampton, United lost Luke Shaw (ankle) and Brandon Williams (head injury) – both players missed the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Thursday evening. Shaw has a 50% chance; Williams having a 75% chance of making the match. We shall see.

Lampard looks set to be without at least three players for the FA Cup semi-final this weekend. Marco van Ginkel (knee), Billy Gilmour (knee), and N’Golo Kante (thigh) could miss the match with the former two ruled out and the Frenchman only having a 25% chance of making the squad for the encounter at Wembley on Sunday. Could Lampard have the right players to take on this high-press attacking United side?

Predicted Starting XI: I predict that Solskjaer will put out a full team. pushing for the win then grinding out the result in the Wembley spectacular. UTFR.

Many United supporters feel that Solskjaer should be making many changes ahead of this match, just to focus on the Premier League and finishing in the top four. However, I don’t think Solskjaer will give Chelsea the chance to make a cup final easily. It could be a trophy for Solskjaer this season, the same first trophy Sir Alex Ferguson won, setting off his fantastic reign of the club. Therefore, not one to turn down.

Match Prediction: United have beaten Chelsea nine times in the FA Cup in the history of both clubs, however, Chelsea has beaten United in two finals, which means nothing at this stage.

United and Chelsea have played 16 times in the FA Cup with United winning nine, drawing twice and losing five times. United have scored 25 goals conceding 13. United have kept seven clean sheets with Chelsea keeping six. Three of the past FA Cup matches have been finals with United winning one against Chelsea, a 4-0 victory in 1994, losing twice by 1-0 scorelines in 2007 and 2018.

This season, United have beaten Chelsea three times already winning 4-0 at Old Trafford at the start of the season with Rashford scoring a brace with Martial and James on the scoresheet also. In the Carabao Cup, United won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge with Rashford scoring both goals then in the second Premier League match, played at Stamford Bridge, United won 2-0 with Martial and Maguire scoring the goals. Here’s to a fourth victory.

Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea

Written by John Walker

Review & Ratings: Odion Ighalo and Harry Maguire score to see United into FA Cup semi-final; creativity worrying with club finding it hard to break down Norwich City

Manchester United beat Norwich City 2-1 at Carrow Road, reaching the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup this season. Odion Ighalo scored the opening goal in the 51st minute of the match but United saw Todd Cantwell score an equaliser in the 75th minute of the match, which forced extra time with United struggling to find a winner. That came in the 118th minute with club captain Harry Maguire heading from close-range.

The first half of the game was missing a lot of things. United ended up with 67.5% possession, had eight shots – five of which were blocked with three being off target. Solskjaer’s side is screaming out for the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who had all been rested, presumably to keep them fresh ahead of Tuesday’s visit to face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League. The half ended 0-0.

United opened the scoring six minutes into the second half with Odion Ighalo scoring his fifth goal for United this season. Luke Shaw tried to cross the ball into the box but it was blocked before Juan Mata could reach the ball and it ballooned into the air with the Nigerian striker in the right place at the right time, finishing superbly putting the ball into the back of the net to put United ahead in the match.

Solskjaer made a triple change in the 63rd minute of the match with United leading at the time with Brandon Williams, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood all coming on with Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata coming off. Minutes later, Norwich threatened and nearly equalised with the ball seemingly being cleared off the line, which was a close call for United, who were still 1-0 up in the match.

Norwich equalised in the 75th minute through Todd Cantwell, who is a player that Solskjaer should keep an eye on, although the 22-year-old predominantly plays on the left of midfield. The ball was worked across to Cantwell from the left and he unleashed a fizzing effort which swerved away from Sergio Romero and into the bottom corner of the net. It was unfortunate for the Argentinian, who has conceded four goal this season.

Solskjaer made a double substitution in the 78th minute of the match with Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic replacing Scott McTominay and Fred with United needing to score again to be in Sunday’s semi-final draw. Norwich held off the pressure for a while but in a challenge Timm Klose was sent off for fouling Ighalo on the edge of the box after the striker rounded him and looked to threaten once again.

United still required more with the clock counting down with six minutes of time added on. At the end, United had a double chance to find the winner with Mason Greenwood coming closest to beating Tim Krul just before the whistle was blown with Pogba offside. The half was over and extra time was coming after the 1-1 draw with United needing to take advantage of having the extra man for another 30 minutes.

Solskjaer made his sixth and final substitution, the extra one because of the match going into extra time, bringing on Anthony Martial and taking Eric Bailly off, throwing it all at Norwich to find that elusive winning goal of the game which would put United into the semi-finals of the FA Cup this season. With Norwich down to ten-men, it so far, seemed to be a tough task with four or five attacking players on the pitch.

Pogba had a good shot on goal in the 104th minute of the match with Krul making the save with his arm then racing out to collect the rebound to stop United from taking any advantage. Martial then looked poised to score a minute later with Jamal Lewis putting the Frenchman off, stopping his side from conceding another goal in the game. United needed to keep throwing it all at Norwich.

Towards the end of extra time, United were still throwing all they had at Norwich to try and find the winner. Harry Maguire had an attempt earlier in the half with United seemingly all over Norwich with the home club not having much response, possibly due to tiredness. Maguire scored the winner in the 118th minute of the match with a header, finally beating Krul from close-range.

United will now find themselves in the draw for the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup this season, which will be drawn at half time during the Newcastle United versus Manchester City match at St Jame’s Park on Sunday evening, which will sort out their opposition in the matches which will be played behind closed doors at Wembley on the weekend of the 18 and 19 July 2020, meaning United will have another match to play.

Manchester United

Review & Ratings: Odion Ighalo and Harry Maguire score to see United into FA Cup semi-final; creativity worrying with club finding it hard to break down Norwich City

The Argentinian was unfortunate to be beaten in the 75th minute of the match, conceding his fourth goal this season, unfortunate not to be able to keep his 12th clean sheet in all cup competitions. It happens and he will not be happy that he was beaten.

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20 Diogo Dalot

The young right-back did what he needed to do defensively most of the time but his inexperience may have let him down at times. He's not Aaron Wan-Bissaka and could have been one of United's weaker players against Norwich. He was replaced by Brandon Williams in the 63rd minute of the match.

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3 Eric Bailly

The Ivorian defender did what he needed to do against Norwich and was unfortunate to see his side concede a goal in the 75th minute. It was good to see him given a chance to take on Victor Lindelof to partner Harry Maguire, doing himself proud on the way. He was replaced by Anthony Martial six minutes into extra time with Solskjaer taking a gamble to find the winning goal.

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5 Harry Maguire

The captain will probably go down as the Man of the Match in this game, doing well from the outset and through the 120 minute match, scoring the winner in the 118th minute, finally beating Tim Krul from close-range with a header and earning an FA Cup semi-final for United with then draw to take place on Sunday evening.

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back had a good game for United, breaking forward a lot of the time to support the attack during the entire game. He was going to be replaced in the 63rd minute of the match but Dalot was opted for instead, with Williams playing at right-back as opposed to left-back.

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39 Scott McTominay

The Scotland international played the game against Norwich, getting into the right areas but was unable to inspire United to much. He was on the pitch when United took the lead, and when Norwich equalised, not through any error of his own. He was replaced by Paul Pogba in the 78th minute of the match with United needing another goal to win the match.

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17 Fred

The midfielder did things in the right manner against Norwich but seems to be a player that has not carried his form on from three months ago, which is understandable. As a squad player, Fred fits the bill at United but with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba both at the club and the fact that Nemanja Matic offers more at the minute, his game time is going to be hampered. Fred was replaced by Matic in the 78th minute of the match.

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8 Juan Mata

The Spanish magician played well against Norwich despite a relatively poor first half of football. United were clearly lacking the impetus of attack but got there before any changes were made. Mata was replaced by Marcus Rashford in the 63rd minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

The Portuguese midfielder was a strong player against Norwich, doing all he needed to do to help create chances for the club, with many being missed left, right, and centre. He was booked in extra time for a cynical challenge, which might be something he needs to cool on, seemingly being frustrated that United were struggling to find that winning goal.

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14 Jesse Lingard

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed that Jesse Lingard would play against Norwich, I wondered why. After seeing him play for 60-odd minutes, I wonder how many more chances he will get to show that he is a player that United should be retaining ahead of the summer transfer window opening. Surely he does not have many more chances left? Not good enough for United, his form is just not improving at all.

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Review & Ratings: Odion Ighalo and Harry Maguire score to see United into FA Cup semi-final; creativity worrying with club finding it hard to break down Norwich City

The Nigerian striker scored his fifth goal for the club, meaning he has scored in both rounds of the Emirates FA Cup that he has played in during his time at the club. It was a good finish from the striker, who shows just what he can offer the club going forward.

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Substitutes

33 Brandon Williams

Replaced Dalot 63'. The fullback played in the right-back position for well over an hour with extra time being player in this match. He did enough to help United thwart the danger from Norwich and help set United on the front foot to push towards the victory.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Lingard 63'. The forward did not seem to be in the zone when he came on, but grew into the game, He was unable to help United get that winning goal, which was a shame.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Mata 63'. The young forward had a good game against Norwich, playing for well over the hour with extra time. He did not score but was very lively, pushing Norwich back with Solskjaer telling hims to stay wide to keep Norwich running, presumably to tire them out even more.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fred 78'. The veteran defensive midfielder played the part in United victory, adding some freshness to the team as they played extra time pushing for the victory they eventually got.

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6 Paul Pogba

Replaced McTominay 78'. The Frenchman was a breath of fresh air for United with only Fernandes creating in the game before his arrival. It was a frustrating match for United, but they got there in the end, with penalties on the horizon.

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9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Bailly 96'. The Frenchman should have perhaps started but with United facing Brighton and Hove Albion away on Tuesday, I can see why he was rested. He did play 20-odd minutes though so will be fresh for Tuesday. He provided the assist for Maguire's winner.

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Goals: Todd Cantwell 75′; Odion Ighalo 51′, Harry Maguire 118′

Assists: Emiliano Buendia 75′; Anthony Martial 118′

Manchester United: Romero; Dalot (Williams 63′), Bailly (Martial 96′), Maguire, Shaw; McTominay (Pogba 78′), Fred (Matic 78′); Mata (Greenwood 63′), Fernandes, Lingard (Rashford 63′); Ighalo

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah; Pereira

Bookings: Timm Klose 89′ sent off; Bruno Fernandes 109′

Confirmed Starting XI: Ighalo leads the line against Norwich, supported by Mata, Lingard and Fernandes; Pogba, Martial and Rashford on the bench

Manchester United will be back in Emirates FA Cup action as they travelled to Carrow Road to face Norwich City this evening. It will be the third time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faced Norwich this season, winning 3-1 at Carrow Road in October and 4-0 at Old Trafford in January, which has helped contribute to Norwich’s poor position in the league.

Daniel Farke could be seeking to get one over United, as this season, consistency is not something that Solskjaer’s side have had for much of the season, despite their 13-match unbeaten run which United and Solskjaer will be battling to keep running at this stage of the season, keeping chase on a UEFA Champions League place next season.

Manchester United:

Romero;

Dalot, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred;

Mata, Fernandes, Lingard;

Ighalo

Substitutes:

De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Williams; Pogba, Pereira, Matic; Martial, Rashford, Greenwood

Norwich City:

Krul;

Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis;

Tettey, McLean;

Buendia, Rupp, Cantwell;

Pukki

Substitutes:

McGovern, Vrancic, Leitner, Hernandez, Stiepermann, Trybull, Drmic, Duda, Idah

United and Norwich have played 18 times in the Premier League with United winning 14 times, drawing once and losing three times. In total, United have scored 35 goals conceding 11. United have kept 10 clean sheets with the Canaries keeping two. United have been awarded four penalties, scoring two with the Canaries having none.. In total, United have received 15 yellow cards. The Canaries have received 22 yellow cards. Neither team have had a player sent off.

United will have a break from Premier League action, which sees them still five points behind Chelsea after Frank Lampard’s side beat Manchester City in the Premier League on Thursday evening. Solskjaer will be seeking another win in the FA Cup, seeing his club in the draw for the semi-final stage and keep their chances of ending the season with a trophy on a high, which would be a good end to the season.

How Manchester United could look against Norwich City; Romero in goal; Matic, McTominay and Pogba in midfield, Rashford, Martial and Greenwood in attack?

Manchester United will be back in Emirates FA Cup action as they travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City on Saturday evening. It will be the third time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faced Norwich this season, winning 3-1 at Carrow Road in October and 4-0 at Old Trafford in January, which has helped contribute to Norwich’s poor position in the league.

Daniel Farke could be seeking to get one over United, as this season, consistency is not something that Solskjaer’s side have had for much of the season, despite their 13-match unbeaten run which United and Solskjaer will be battling to keep running at this stage of the season, keeping chase on a UEFA Champions League place next season.

United and Norwich have played 18 times in the Premier League with United winning 14 times, drawing once and losing three times. In total, United have scored 35 goals conceding 11. United have kept 10 clean sheets with the Canaries keeping two. United have been awarded four penalties, scoring two with the Canaries having none.. In total, United have received 15 yellow cards. The Canaries have received 22 yellow cards. Neither team have had a player sent off.

United will have a break from Premier League action, which sees them still five points behind Chelsea after Frank Lampard’s side beat Manchester City in the Premier League on Thursday evening. Solskjaer will be seeking another win in the FA Cup, seeing his club in the draw for the semi-final stage and keep their chances of ending the season with a trophy on a high, which would be a good end to the season.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Norwich City in the Emirates FA Cup at Carrow Road on Saturday evening…

Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero

The Argentinian has been called upon in the cup competitions this season and I expect that to continue on Saturday evening against Norwich City. Sergio Romero has kept 11 clean sheets playing in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the UEFA Europa League this season, conceding just three goals in his 14 appearances in this competitions this season. It could give David De Gea a break ahead of United’s return to Premier League action against Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday evening.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams

Solskjaer may not make many changes in his defence but he could opt for Diogo Dalot at right-back, instead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka but I reckon he will keep the more experienced of the two in the team to face Norwich. He might make a change in the game, if a win has been secured. Eric Bailly should be given the opportunity in this match, being an unused substitute against Sheffield United and raring to go. Harry Maguire should be kept in the side. Brandon Williams could be given another chance at left-back, giving Luke Shaw a rest ahead of Tuesday.

Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield is an area where Solskjaer has a lot of options now with Paul Pogba back in action and looking to prove his doubters wrong this season. I expect Bruno Fernandes to be rested, albeit on the bench for this game, being called upon should he be needed. Pogba could play in the advanced role with Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay playing in the deeper positions, which could work. Solskjaer will have adequate substitutes, if need be.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

This forward line could be very exciting for the future. Between them this season, with Anthony Martial scoring a hat-trick against Sheffield United on Wednesday evening, the trio has scored 50 goals in all competition this season. Marcus Rashford will be seeking to find more goals since his return from injury against Spurs with Mason Greenwood also seeking to raise his goal tally of 12 so far this season. Can they achieve 60 or more goals between them this season?

Substitutes: David De Gea; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw; Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, Angel Gomes; Odion Ighalo

From the bench, Solskjaer will have five substitutes for the remainder of the season, which is a good thing for the game. Granted, he can only have three substitution slots, for a total of five players, not five individual substitutes. David De Gea will be on the bench, should he be needed, as will Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw in defence. In midfield. Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James and Angel Gomes could be called upon if needed with Odion Ighalo the only forward on the bench.

Preview: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer out to push Norwich City aside once against as Manchester United push for FA Cup semi-final place

Norwich City -v- Manchester United

Emirates FA Cup

Carrow Road, Norwich

Saturday 27 June 2020, KO 17:30 BST

Referee: Jonathan Moss Assistants: Edward Smart, Peter Kirkup Fourth Official: Andrew Madley

VAR: Simon Hooper Assistant VAR: Derek Eaton

Replacement Official: Lee Venamore

Manchester United will be back in Emirates FA Cup action as they travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City on Saturday evening. It will be the third time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faced Norwich this season, winning 3-1 at Carrow Road in October and 4-0 at Old Trafford in January, which has helped contribute to Norwich’s poor position in the league.

Daniel Farke could be seeking to get one over United, as this season, consistency is not something that Solskjaer’s side have had for much of the season, despite their 13-match unbeaten run which United and Solskjaer will be battling to keep running at this stage of the season, keeping chase on a UEFA Champions League place next season.

Form: United unbeaten 13 matches, scoring 33 goals, conceding three times, keeping 10 clean sheets; Norwich poor in their last six matches and lost set to be relegated this season.

Manchester United: WDWWWD

Sheffield United 3-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 D, LASK 5-0 W, Manchester City 2-0 W, Derby County 3-0 W, Everton 1-1 D

Norwich City: LLLWWL

Everton 1-0 L, Southampton 3-0 L, Sheffield United 1-0 L, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 (4-3 pens) W, Leicester City 1-0 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 L

Top Scorers: Martial and Rashford have scored more goals between them than Norwich have this season. United’s forward line (Rashford, Martial and Greenwood) have scored 50 goals between them this season.

Manchester United Goals: 19 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 12 – Mason Greenwood, 5 – Scott McTominay, 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, 3 – Juan Mata, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire, Andreas Pereira, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United are unbeaten in 13 matches, scoring 33 goals, conceding three times, keeping 10 clean sheets and driving forward in their bid to reach the top four of the Premier League. Solskjaer’s side will be look to to retain that ruthless streak, especially after stuttering against Spurs last week. The 3-0 victory over the Blades will inspire them to do the same to Norwich, winning at Carrow Road for the second time this season.

Norwich City Goals: 11 – Teemu Pukki, 6 – Todd Cantwell, 3 – Josip Drmic, Adam Idah, 2 – Onel Hernández, 1 – Grant Hanley, Jamal Lewis, Kenny McLean, Dennis Srbeny, Alexander Tettey, Mario Vrancic

Norwich have not done well in the Premier League this season and look to be relegated back to the Championship before the season is over. They have won just two times in their last six matches and one of those wins was on penalties in the FA Cup. Since the league restarted, Norwich have conceded four goals without reply, which does not bode well. Perhaps they will put up a fight against United this weekend.

Team News: Solskjaer has no new injuries with Tuanzebe and Jones likely to miss the Norwich clash; Farke could be without up to four players for the second visit of United to Carrow Road this season.

Solskjaer could be without both Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones for the second visit to Carrow Road of the season as United take on Norwich City for the third time this season in the FA Cup. There does not seem to be any new injury worries in the squad ahead of Saturday evening’s match against the Premier League strugglers, which is a good thing.

Norwich manager Daniel Farke will be without Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram with the trio already ruled out of the clash with United. A fourth player could be missing from the match with Josip Drmic out with a knock, however, he has a 50% chance of facing United, probably after a late fitness test. This could be an important match.

Predicted Starting XI: Rashford, Martial and Greenwood to lead the line, Pogba in the advanced role, Matic and McTominay in midfield?

Before the coronavirus pandemic, this match would have brought a lot of rotation in the squad but because the club are only two matches back after three months of no action, many of the players involved in the last two matches might be called upon to get the result Solskjaer wants, a win so United reach the semi-final and possibly the final – winning it.

Match Prediction: United have more wins against Norwich in the past but in a cup competition, that form can soon go out of the window. In the last two matches (October and January) United have won 3-1 and 4-0. Solskjaer will want to keep that run going.

United and Norwich have played 18 times in the Premier League with United winning 14 times, drawing once and losing three times. In total, United have scored 35 goals conceding 11. United have kept 10 clean sheets with the Canaries keeping two. United have been awarded four penalties, scoring two with the Canaries having none.. In total, United have received 15 yellow cards. The Canaries have received 22 yellow cards. Neither team have had a player sent off.

United will have a break from Premier League action, which sees them still five points behind Chelsea after Frank Lampard’s side beat Manchester City in the Premier League on Thursday evening. Solskjaer will be seeking another win in the FA Cup, seeing his club in the draw for the semi-final stage and keep their chances of ending the season with a trophy on a high, which would be a good end to the season.

Norwich City 0-4 Manchester United

Edwin van der Sar sets Manchester United two targets for the remainder of the season

Former Manchester United goalkeeper and current chief executive officer for Ajax, Edwin van der Sar has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer two challenges ahead of the run-in to the 2019/20 season. The Dutchman has tasked the Norwegian to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season and win the Emirates FA Cup.

United still have two chances to obtain Champions League football next season; finishing in the top four of the Premier League (although Manchester City’s ban from European football could ensure a top-five finish would be enough, and winning the UEFA Europa League, which will be played as a 12-day tournament in August.

The Dutchman, who played for Ajax, Juventus and Fulham before signing for United, stated that Solskjaer getting points on the board early, starting with a victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Friday evening in imperative to finishing the season, which has been poor at times, one a high, which will be a good start for next season, which will be important.

Recently, the former United goalkeeper, who was a great replacement for club legend Peter Schmeichel, albeit six years too late, was asked whether he though United and Solskjaer could manage his challenge, which he seemed to be largely positive about. United have everything in their hands, as long as they do things correctly. He said:

“The first thing to say is that I really hope United get off to a good start when the matches start again.

“I think that will be crucial for any team who want to be successful in the final part of the season – starting well.

“That is crucial to build momentum. This is a scenario that no team has ever been in before though, so it will be interesting to see how it affects things.

“I am really looking forward to watching football again and of course to watching United, who I especially enjoy watching play.

“As for winning the FA Cup – I hope so. I always hope my former club will be successful in every game they play!”

United are currently challenging Chelsea for a place in the top four of the Premier League and a win against Spurs on Friday could see them level on points with the London club with a greater goal difference, which before the match against Spurs is by two goals. Chelsea will face relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Sunday, with many hoping Villa do United a favour, which will be tough for them.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has mind set on another Manchester United treble; haters will hate…

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is no stranger to a treble, helping his club to glory back in the 1998/99 season with his heroics in the UEFA Champions League final scoring the winning goal against Bayern Munich, a 2-1 victory with United lifting the European Cup for the second time in the clubs history.

That said, the manager has been looking towards another treble of his own days ahead of the Premier League’s resumption which will pit United against Tottenham Hotspur in London on Friday evening. United have their eye on a top four place, also the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Solskjaer, talking about what United could achieve, said:

“We are not going to discard one or any of the competitions – or prioritise one above another.

“We’ve got the league to go for and we’re in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, so there’s a good chance there.

“And there is also the chance to finish the season with Europe. So if we can finish with the same momentum that we had before, we could end up with trophies.

“The start will be decisive, because it’s almost like going into a European Championships or World Cup.

“You live together, you’re close together, you’re in the bubble. If we can create the momentum again it will be massive.”

At the time the coronavirus suspended world football in mid-March, United were on an 11 match unbeaten run, scoring 29 goals, conceding twice and keeping nine clean sheets in all competitions. The bonus is that both Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, who were both injured back then have both recovered and are ready to help United again. Solskjaer concluded:

“I feel very encouraged by the signs. When you have everyone fit and training everyday, you can see the potential of this group.

“It’s exciting and I feel very privileged to coach all these players.

“This club has been built on a young, exciting, positive team since Sir Matt and Sir Alex because that’s what our fans want to see.

“The staff here have the Man Utd DNA, as well as the players, and this team is looking more and more like a Man United team.

“But now is the time to start getting results. We can talk about potential all day long – but we need to get results as well.”

The resumption of the season is going to be an exciting time for United, especially with the fact that we will at last see Bruno Fernandes and Pogba in the same midfield, which could really guide United in the right direction inn their quest to finish in the top four of the Premier League, therefore earning UEFA Champions League football next season.

The bonus is that United are still fighting in the Emirates FA Cup, where they will face Norwich City in the quarter-final stage of the competition, seeking a semi-final place, which will be a good chance of Solskjaer winning his first trophy at the club. United will then continue in the Europa League, when dates have been decided.

copyright: JW