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Ratings: 0-0 stalemate against Arsenal keeps United undefeated on the road but with many questions needing answers

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League on Saturday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the stronger team with Arsenal suffering with a few injuries. It was a game of few credible chances, something that will unnerve United, who have been playing a poor brand of football in their last two matches, resulting in a defeat and a draw. Arsenal will be the happier of thereto teams, winning four points and keeping two clean sheets against United this season. However, the gap between the two teams is still ten points, so Arsenal have a lot of work ahead of them to close the gap.

United started well, getting plenty of the ball in the opening stages of the match. Arsenal soon started to press, which worked well for them against Southampton during the week. Arsenal worked the ball into Cedric Soares in the fifth minute of the match with the fullback standing his cross into the far post. Alexandre Lacazette got his head to the ball but it went backwards with Paul Pogba making the clearance for United. Emile Smith-Rowe showed signs for Arsenal a minute later as he burst away from Luke Shaw, working the ball into Lacazette in the penalty box but United averted the danger once again.

In the eighth minute of the match, Cedric ushered Bruno Fernandes out of the way inside the penalty area but there was nothing in it for the referee who did not give a penalty. Cedric was then booked in the 13th minute of the match for a foul on Fernandes. The Portuguese midfielder then give Arsenal a free-kick, which was checked by VAR after a foul on Granit Xhaka – nothing further was given and rightly so. Lacazette forced a save from David De Gea in the 17th minute of the match after the Frenchman was 25-yards from the goal, firing his shot with some swerve on the ball. The Spanish goalkeeper made a comfortable save though.

Scott McTominay did not look comfortable in the first half of the match, seemingly having a stomach upset, taking a tablet on the sidelines. He never seemed to recover and was substituted in the 37th minute of the match with Anthony Martial replacing him. There were a few chances for Arsenal before McTominay was replaced. It was a shame that he could not continue but United would now have more attacking players on the pitch and could throw something at Arsenal, who were aiming to get something in the first half with the number of opportunities that they had against United.

United won a free-kick on the edge of the Arsenal box on the attack with Marcus Rashford with the ball in the box, but his avenues towards the goal were closed down, passing to Fernandes, who was fouled just as he placed his shot towards the goal. The free-kick was eventually taken and deflected over the crossbar with United winning a corner. United has Arsenal in their own half for the last few minutes of the half, including the one minute of added time. However, despite that, the score was still 0-0 with both teams needing to do a lot more in the second half to take the three points that were on offer.

Arsenal made one change at the start of the second half with Willian replacing Gabriel Martinelli, possibly aiming to cut down the chances of Aaron Wan-Bissaka breaking though on the right, as he had a few times in the first half of the match. Wan-Bissaka was booked in the 51st minute of the match after trying to cut down a change to break into the box, seemingly winning the ball but also taking the player down, which was a fair booking. It was an even start to the second half with both teams gaining space and ground, although United had little of the ball with Arsenal looking to break the deadlock, which was not coming for them.

United seemed to gain something around the hour mark of the match, launching an attack and coming close to breaking the deadlock themselves with Shaw smashing the ball across the face of the goal. However, Arsenal regained possession and broke forward into the United area where they aimed to get further forward and pressure the visitors, which was not working as well as it could have. David Luiz had a shot on goal in the 62nd minute of the match with Arsenal breaking forward through Nicolas Pepe and the ball ending up at the feet of the former Chelsea defender, whose shot was well over the crossbar, therefore wasted.

Lacazette had a chance in the 63rd minute of the match with Harry Maguire level with him and making a challenge just outside the box, which felled the forward. A free-kick was given with Lacazette taking it, rattling the crossbar with United regaining possession and sending the ball up field once more, only for Arsenal to get hold of the ball and press United once more, which does not seem to be the best thing for these players as Arsenal seem to be getting the better of them, despite not finding a goal so far in the match. The game was starting to get lively, but nothing like the United versus Arsenal matches of old – not yet anyway.

United had a great chance to take the lead in the game with Fernandes inn the Arsenal area in space, slicing the ball into Edinson Cavani only for his shot to end up behind him with Martial slicing it and still not able to carry United home. Shaw had the ball on the left, sending the ball into the box but it was cleared before Cavani could connect with the ball and score a goal. United started to press Arsenal in their own half from there, still seeing that elusive goal to lead the match. Arsenal then made the clearance with United regaining possession in their own half, sending the ball forward again.

United made their second substitution with ten minute left to play with Mason Greenwood, who was originally left off the team sheet in an admin error, replacing Rashford, who had not been as thorough in the match as he could have been, especially in front of goal. A few minutes later, Martin Odegaard made his debut, replacing Smith-Rowe. With all still to play for with a few good chances for United, with nothing gained, United had a few chances late in the game, but nothing to break the deadlock. It was a 0-0 draw with Arsenal the happier team, winning four points and two clean sheets against United this season.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Made a few good saved to deny Arsenal. His positioning seemed worrying at times, especially when he decided to watch balls come in rather then diving to prevent them going in. However, I did not see what he saw so I will let him off for that.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Had the better of Martinelli in the first half of the match, which forced a change during the half time break. He still got forward in the second half, playing a good ball in the 89th minute, which United should have scored from.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Defended well against Arsenal in a match which was going to be tough after the defeat to Sheffield United. United, as a team, dealt with Arsenal, who were not as polished as they might have been. I could have been costly for United if they were full in strength and form.

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5 Harry Maguire

Led well and broke forward with United to add some pressure in the box on the attack. He made a foul on Lacazette which gave a free-kick away, which luckily came to nothing. He was booked in the last 15 minutes of the match, earning his fifth yellow card of the season (luckily he will not be suspended).

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23 Luke Shaw

Broke forward a lot of the time with United. Had the chance to open the scoring but couldn't. Played a good attacking and defensive game and will perhaps be frustrated that the game was not as comfortable as it should have been.

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39 Scott McTominay

Started the match well but soon seemed to have a problem with his stomach. He was given a tablet but did not settle and was replaced by Martial in the 37th minute of the match.

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17 Fred

Played a good midfield game and could have perhaps had United in front with a strike on goal. He played the game well and did what he needed to do.

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6 Paul Pogba

United played well with three midfielders in the team but after McTominay came off, Pogba reverted back into a pivot, which at times looked good for United, also giving Arsenal some more space in the midfield. Pogba tried to get the ball up to the attacking players and got involved in a lot of the match. For effort alone, he played a good game.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Fouled by Cedric in the first half and could have perhaps been sent off for a challenge on Xhaka, if it was as bad as the media made out - it wasn't. Covered a lot of ground and did his best, but United were struggling to take on Arsenal and get something from the match. He will be frustrated with himself and will want to be the difference in the next match. If that fails, perhaps he does need a break after a turbulent year at United?

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21 Edinson Cavani

Perhaps should have done better when on the ball. In the second half of the match, a shot ended up behind him and into the feet of Martial, which should have perhaps been sent towards the goal instead. He was then unable to get one the end of a cross to break the deadlock. In terms of positioning, he did well but the end product was lacking. He is still the better striker in this team at this moment in time.

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10 Marcus Rashford

It was not the best match for the forward. I felt that he should have been doing a lot more and his chances on goal were not the best. He was replaced by Greenwood in the 80th minute of the match.

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Substitutes

9 Anthony Martial

Replaced McTominay 37'. Came on with less than ten minute of the first half to play. United had more attacking players on the pitch. I don't really think Martial did much in the game to flex the might of United. Yes, he got forward but inn terms of doing something, I am not sure he did.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Rashford 80'. Came on with ten minutes left to play. The game was still at 0-0 with all to play for. United had chances but Greenwood was not involved in them.

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Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay (Martial 37′), Fred, Pogba; Fernandes; Cavani, Rashford (Greenwood 80′)

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe; James, Matic, Van de Beek

Bookings: Cedric Soares 13′; Aaron Wan-Bissaka 51′, Paul Pogba 73′, Harry Maguire 76′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Cavani and Rashford lead the line against Arsenal with Fernandes supporting; midfield three of McTominay, Fred and Pogba

Manchester United will face Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League this evening, needing a victory to get back on track after a poor 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield United earlier in the week. The Blades, after 19 matches had been played this season, were the worst team in the history of the Premier League but will be happier with their cup final victory. Arsenal have struggled at times this season but in recent weeks have started to return to form, which will be a worry for United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get back to winning ways, also overturning a 1-0 defeat inn this fixture at Old Trafford.

United have faced Arsenal 233 times in all competitions in the history of both clubs, winning 99 times, drawing 49 times and losing 85 times. United have won once in their last five matches against Arsenal, going back to the 25 January 2019, just over two years ago. It was a 3-1 victory for United at the Emirates in the FA Cup – the day that Jesse Lingard did the Milly Rock at Arsenal’s stadium. Not that it has done them much good since. In the past four matches since their last win, United have three defeats and one draw against the Gunners. United will need to get a victory on the board against the Gunners this season.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred, Pogba;

Fernandes;

Cavani, Rashford

Substitutes:

Henderson; Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe; James, Matic, Van de Beek; Martial, Greenwood

Arsenal:

Leno;

Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Cedric;

Partey, Xhaka;

Pepe, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli;

Lacazette

Substitutes:

Runarsson; Maghalaes, Chambers; Odegaard, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Willock; Willian, Nketiah

United and the Arsenal have met 57 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 24 times, drawing 17 times and losing 16 times. United have scored a total of 78 goals, conceding 61 with United winning six penalties and scoring four with Arsenal winning four and scoring two. United have kept 16 clean sheets with Arsenal 18. United have received 116 yellow cards and five red cards. Arsenal have received 123 yellow cards and four red cards. This fixture is normally one that is very fired up and with United losing at Old Trafford earlier in the season, United will need to find a victory to get back to winning ways.

In the fixture at the Emirates last season, which was played on the 1 January 2020, United were beaten 2-0 with Nicolas Pepe opening the scoring in the eighth minute and Sokratis doubling the lead in the 42nd minute of the match. United started 2020 on a sour note, only for things to change with an uptick in form a month later. At Old Trafford earlier this season, it was another defeat for United after Paul Pogba gave away a penalty with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring it in the 69th minute of the match. It was a poor result for United with neither team looking able to win the match. Solskjaer will need a good result this time.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Edinson Cavani has to lead the line against Arsenal. Bruno Fernandes needs to find his form again as United need to beat Arsenal

Manchester United will face Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League on Saturday evening, needing a victory to get back on track after a poor 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield United earlier in the week. The Blades, after 19 matches had been played this season, were the worst team in the history of the Premier League but will be happier with their cup final victory. Arsenal have struggled at times this season but in recent weeks have started to return to form, which will be a worry for United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get back to winning ways, also overturning a 1-0 defeat inn this fixture at Old Trafford.

United have faced Arsenal 233 times in all competitions in the history of both clubs, winning 99 times, drawing 49 times and losing 85 times. United have won once in their last five matches against Arsenal, going back to the 25 January 2019, just over two years ago. It was a 3-1 victory for United at the Emirates in the FA Cup – the day that Jesse Lingard did the Milly Rock at Arsenal’s stadium. Not that it has done them much good since. In the past four matches since their last win, United have three defeats and one draw against the Gunners. United will need to get a victory on the board against the Gunners this season.

How United have faired against Arsenal in the Premier League.

United and the Arsenal have met 57 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 24 times, drawing 17 times and losing 16 times. United have scored a total of 78 goals, conceding 61 with United winning six penalties and scoring four with Arsenal winning four and scoring two. United have kept 16 clean sheets with Arsenal 18. United have received 116 yellow cards and five red cards. Arsenal have received 123 yellow cards and four red cards. This fixture is normally one that is very fired up and with United losing at Old Trafford earlier in the season, United will need to find a victory to get back to winning ways.

In the fixture at the Emirates last season, which was played on the 1 January 2020, United were beaten 2-0 with Nicolas Pepe opening the scoring in the eighth minute and Sokratis doubling the lead in the 42nd minute of the match. United started 2020 on a sour note, only for things to change with an uptick in form a month later. At Old Trafford earlier this season, it was another defeat for United after Paul Pogba gave away a penalty with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring it in the 69th minute of the match. It was a poor result for United with neither team looking able to win the match. Solskjaer will need a good result this time.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates on Saturday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

I worry about David De Gea’s form this season. Granted, he was fouled for the first goal for Sheffield United earlier in the week and the second goal was a deflection, but I cannot help wonder if De Gea still has what it takes to be the main goalkeeper at the club this season. There are times where he can be the best goalkeeper once again but others that put him on the demise. I’d hope we see the former against Arsenal. United will need to get back to winning ways, widening the gap amongst their rivals after Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea both dropped points earlier in the week. Beating Arsenal is necessary this season.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence needs to be strengthened and it will have to be something that is finalised in the summer with no new signings planned for the January transfer window. United had a shocker against Sheffield United earlier in the week and will need to show a flawless display against Arsenal this weekend. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will keep his place at right-back based on the fact he has no real competition at the club this season. Luke Shaw should be back in the starting XI along with Eric Bailly, who has now overcome a knock. Harry Maguire will keep his place in the centre of the defence, being one of the few ever-ready players at the club this season.

Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba

The midfield is an area of the squad which has a whole host of talent this season. Donny van de Beek may miss out a lot of the time but he will understand that he needs to fit himself into the team and in time that will come. Against Arsenal, Fred and Paul Pogba should start in the two-man midfield. Whilst Nemanja Matic offers a lot defensively, against Sheffield United, I felt that United did not have the midfield ability to take on the Premier League strugglers, as that is what they still are. Beating United does not guarantee survival in the league and never will – unless it is the final match of the season and you need the three points on offer.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial

I say this quite often but this is the area that has provided a lot of the goals scored this season. Bruno Fernandes has 16 goals to his name, Marcus Rashford has 15 goals and Mason Greenwood has four goals – that adds up to 35 goals from three players just after the halfway point of the season. In addition to the goals scored, Fernandes and Rashford have nine assists each with Greenwood having four – which is an additional 22 goals, meaning this trio have produced a total of 57 goal contributions at this stage of the season, which is a great feat for these players. United will need to keep them fit to continue delivering for the club.

Forward: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani is the better striker to lead the line with this season based on the poor showing of Anthony Martial thus far. United need to find a way to unlock the goals as they seem to have dried up this month, compared to December, which is not a good sign. However, it could well be a blip after another big month for the club. Cavani has the experience to drive United, unlocking more space for other players as he may become marked in and outside of the box. The same could happen to other players, which would free up some space for Cavani and from there, could find the goals United need to win the match.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay; Anthony Martial

All teams can name nine substitutes in matches in domestic competition, using just three of them during a match. This will give each manager two extra players which could help their teams from getting a much-needed result. In this match against Arsenal and the fact that players will be leaving the club on loan and permanently this month, United will have few options. Dean Henderson will remain on the bench for this match. Defensively, Victor Lindelof and Alex Telles will be available. Juan Mata, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay will be available, as will Anthony Martial. Amad Diallo could have been involved in this match but he will play for United’s U23’s against Liverpool in the Premier League 2.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Beating Arsenal is a must and Solskjaer just accomplish that feat this weekend

Arsenal -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, London

Saturday 30 January 2021, KO 17:30 GMT

Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Andy Halliday

Manchester United will face Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League on Saturday evening, needing a victory to get back on track after a poor 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield United earlier in the week. The Blades, after 19 matches had been played this season, were the worst team in the history of the Premier League but will be happier with their cup final victory. Arsenal have struggled at times this season but in recent weeks have started to return to form, which will be a worry for United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get back to winning ways, also overturning a 1-0 defeat inn this fixture at Old Trafford.

United have faced Arsenal 233 times in all competitions in the history of both clubs, winning 99 times, drawing 49 times and losing 85 times. United have won once in their last five matches against Arsenal, going back to the 25 January 2019, just over two years ago. It was a 3-1 victory for United at the Emirates in the FA Cup – the day that Jesse Lingard did the Milly Rock at Arsenal’s stadium. Not that it has done them much good since. In the past four matches since their last win, United have three defeats and one draw against the Gunners. United will need to get a victory on the board against the Gunners this season.

Manchester United: LWWDWW

Sheffield United 1-2 L, Liverpool 3-2 W, Fulham 2-1 W, Liverpool 0-0 D, Burnley 1-0 W, Watford 1-0 W

Arsenal: WLWDWW

Southampton 3-1 W, Southampton 1-0 L, Newcastle United 3-0 W, Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Newcastle United 2-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 4-0 W

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes is still United’s top scorer with 16 goals scored this season. Alexandre Lacazette has scored ten goals for Arsenal at this stage of the season.

Manchester United Goals: 16 – Bruno Fernandes, 15 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, 2 – Daniel James, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Own Goal, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Over the last six matches, United have been in good form but goal scoring seems to be a problem that needs to be resolved. United have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six matches, scoring eight goals, conceding five and keeping three clean sheets. However, in their last match, a poor game plan cost United three points and their pace at the top of the Premier League. United have a good squad of players and some need to start looking at the bigger picture, that they are not as great as many suggest in their positions. Solskjaer will need to be ruthless in his selection as results are needed more than building egos.

Arsenal Goals: 10 – Alexandre Lacazette, 8 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 – Nicolas Pépé, 5 – Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka, 3 – Joseph Willock, 2 – Folarin Balogun, Gabriel Magalhães, Emile Smith Rowe, 1 – Mohamed Elneny, David Luiz, Pablo Marí, Reiss Nelson, Kieran Tierney, Granit Xhaka

In their last six matches, Arsenal have been finding some positive form which is frustrating to see. Mikel Arteta’s side have won four, drawn one and lost one, which is the same record as United. Arsenal have scored a total of 12 goals, conceding twice and keeping four clean sheets, which is better than United in their last six matches. At the time of writing, Arsenal sat in ninth place in the Premier League table, on 30 points, which is ten fewer than United with both teams playing 20 times fro far this season. This is going to be an important match for both teams – United to keep a title chase on and Arsenal to propel themselves further up the table.

Team News: One player on the sidelines for United ahead of important Arsenal clash whilst the North London club are sweating on up to seven players ahead of the visit of United.

Phil Jones (knee) is the only player on the sidelines ahead of the Arsenal match. Brandon Williams (knock) and Eric Bailly (knock) have both recovered and could be added to the United squad due to travel to the capital for Saturday’s clash with Arsenal. Marcos Rojo, who has been on the sidelines for most of the season, looks to be leaving the club, so has played his last match already. Facundo Pellistri also seems to be heading out of the door on loan with Jesse Lingard also likely to leave the club before the transfer window closes. What happens with Sergio Romero remains to be seen as his future seems unlikely at United.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could miss this match with a personal issue, which would be a massive blow for Arsenal. Kieran Tierney (leg), Emile Smith Rowe (other), Thomas Partey (other) and new loan signing Martin Odegaard (fitness) all have a 50% chance of featuring against United either being close to recovery or too soon to feature. A late fitness test will be conducted in this case, which will probably see most of them have some sort of involvement against United. Dani Ceballos (calf/shin) is nearing recovery and might miss this match with Pablo Mari Villar (calf/shin) also likely to be out of contention to face United.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani to lead the line against Arsenal?

Solskjaer needs to be ruthless in his starting selection against Arsenal. Anthony Martial is not a striker in any kind of form to suggest he could do what is needed to get United scoring. Edinson Cavani has shown more importance in that area in the past few matches, despite actually scoring. The Uruguayan has five goals and two assists to his name this season, still needing more to be lauded as a player to be recognised as a legend of the club in the future. Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood should flank the striker with Fred and Paul Pogba in midfield ahead of a back four consisting of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw. David De Gea should keep his place in goal.

Match Prediction: 57 matches played with United winning 24 times, drawing 17 times nd losing 16 times in the Premier League.

United and the Arsenal have met 57 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 24 times, drawing 17 times and losing 16 times. United have scored a total of 78 goals, conceding 61 with United winning six penalties and scoring four with Arsenal winning four and scoring two. United have kept 16 clean sheets with Arsenal 18. United have received 116 yellow cards and five red cards. Arsenal have received 123 yellow cards and four red cards. This fixture is normally one that is very fired up and with United losing at Old Trafford earlier in the season, United will need to find a victory to get back to winning ways.

In the fixture at the Emirates last season, which was played on the 1 January 2020, United were beaten 2-0 with Nicolas Pepe opening the scoring in the eighth minute and Sokratis doubling the lead in the 42nd minute of the match. United started 2020 on a sour note, only for things to change with an uptick in form a month later. At Old Trafford earlier this season, it was another defeat for United after Paul Pogba gave away a penalty with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring it in the 69th minute of the match. It was a poor result for United with neither team looking able to win the match. Solskjaer will need a good result this time.

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW