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Ratings: Shaw played well; Fernandes and Rashford in with the chances to find a winner against Liverpool but a draw is where it ended

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday evening. It was a game of few credible chances. Perhaps the best opportunity was from Bruno Fernandes after United won a free-kick in the first half of the match. The ball dipped towards the top far corner, just missing the target and seeing United frustrated. Marcus Rashford had a chance in the second half with Edinson Cavani splitting away from him, Rashford having the ball and the three defensive players and being marked off the ball with Cavani unmarked and in space which could have resulted in the first goal of the game, if he had it.

United started well against Liverpool, having a lot of the ball in the early stages of the match. However, Liverpool then jumped in to start to control the match. Liverpool had 67% of the ball in the first half, having nine shots on goal; one of those on target. United had just one shot which was not on target. United looked to do well with Anthony Martial on the left, Paul Pogba on the right and Marcus Rashford playing in the centre-forward position. United will have been happy at half time with the game still 0-0 and all to play for. Bruno Fernandes had the best chance in the first half with a free-kick, which was just wide of the target.

Nearly eight minutes into the second half, United were pushing to get something from the game with Bruno Fernandes getting forward and trying to create something against the reigning champions, who could be there for the taking in this match. Nothing came of the attack but it was enough to keep Liverpool thinking. The home side then launched an attack with Mohamed Salah chasing the ball but United’s defence doing enough to see David De Gea ending up gathering the ball with the Egyptian frustrated from the attack, which was great to see. Liverpool seem to be lacking the confidence and a goalscoring ability at the moment.

Solskjaer made his first substitution in the 61st minute of the match with Edinson Cavani replacing Martial. United were pushing to get forward from there with a few chances being created but nothing coming from them. Liverpool then used their might to break forward, United doing what they needed to do defensively to thwart the threat of the reigning Premier League champions. United won a corner in the 71st minute with Paul Pogba getting his head to it but Alisson gathering the ball easily to send Liverpool on the attack once more, an attack which eventually came to nothing with United regaining possession through De Gea.

Both Liverpool and United had a fair few chances in the late stages of the game with United breaking forward through Rashford with Cavani going wide to the left and Rashford on the right, dragging all three defensive players with him leaving Cavani unmarked. Rashford tried to do something but Liverpool played the ball back into United’s half to find something of their own, which never came. Solskjaer made a second substitution in the 89th minute with Mason Greenwood replacing Bruno Fernandes with the score still 0-0 and both teams seeking a goal to win the game. Sadly, a goal was not coming and the teams would share the points.

United will be back in Premier League action on Wednesday evening as they face Fulham at Craven Cottage in a. match that United would need to get back to winning ways to add some pressure to those at the top of the table. There were no winners in this match but Manchester City, who could go top of the league should they beat Crystal Palace, could be the victors from this match, piling more pressure on Liverpool in their bid to retain the Premier League crown this season, which was always going to be hard for them but they did not seem to worry how hard it was to do just that.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Kept a clean sheet, which is one of the positives from the match. Made a few good saves to keep United in the game, not that Liverpool really punished United with the blistering attack that they are known for.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Did well defensively and got forward much of the time. Did not play the difference on the attack though, which is something I would like to see a bit more from him.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Recovered from his lower back injury and gave Bailly a rest ahead of United's next game, against Fulham on Wednesday. United will have more strength in depth in the midfield with him back in the swing of things.

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5 Harry Maguire

Played well against Liverpool and in the second half, stopped the attack of Firmino, ensuring the ball came off the Brazilian and that a corner was not awarded, which may have been luck rather than meant to happen. Got far forward in the second half on an attack to keep the ball rolling for United. Will be annoyed only taking a point from this game but thrilled with a clean sheet.

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23 Luke Shaw

I think Shaw did well at left-back, getting forward for much of the game and using his brain to try and help get the better of Liverpool. One of the better players in the match for me.

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39 Scott McTominay

Did what he needed to do in midfield against Liverpool. Never really did much to win the game with Liverpool rising to the challenge despite the injuries in their squad this season. Good to see him play a good game though.

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17 Fred

At times he seemed to be the Fred that was dropped by Mourinho but at others he was the Fred that won his place back in the the team under Solskjaer. In the first half have passed the ball well to get United forward, continuing into the second half with United looking to find a goal. He had the ball dribbled past him a fair few times in this match, something he will need to reflect on, learn from and sort out in the future.

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6 Paul Pogba

The Frenchman scored the only goal against Burnley but he should have done more against Liverpool. He lost the ball a few times and his passing was shocking at times. Pogba should have scored again, his first touch was good but his shot was straight at Alisson, making it an easy save for him.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Had the best chance to put United ahead in the game in the first half from a free-kick, dipping the ball into the top far corner, which just missed the target.

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9 Anthony Martial

After suffering an injury against Burnley, Martial recovered for the clash with Liverpool and played his part in the match. Despite not scoring, or creating much, United needed another option with resulted in the Frenchman being replaced by Cavani in the 61st minute of the match.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Did well to lead the line for United. He has scored against Liverpool before and was perhaps a good outlet to do that again. His best chance was late in the game, seeing Cavani split off from him with Rashford running to the right and into a cul-de-sac with Cavani unmarked which could have been an assist for Rashford and a goal to win United the match.

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Substitutes

7 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Martial 61'. United needed to change the game. Cavani played well and his positioning was good. I think he could have scored has Rashford passed the ball to him, instead of running into a cul-de-sac late in the second half.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Fernandes 89'. Came on late in the game to add more attacking threat.

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Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Pogba, Fernandes (Greenwood 89′), Martial (Cavani 61′); Rashford

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

Bookings: Xherdan Shaqiri 33′, Fabinho 66′; Marcus Rashford 90+4′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Martial, Rashford, Fernandes and Pogba in United’s attack against Liverpool; Cavani on the bench

Manchester United will travel to Anfield this afternoon to take on Liverpool in the Premier League. After beating Burnley earlier in the week, United move to the top of the Premier League table, three points clear of Liverpool ahead of this clash. A victory would see United extend their lead to six points over the current champions with a draw meaning they stay three points clear and a defeat will see United slip back into second-place on goal difference. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have done well this season to recover from their poor form at the very start of the season.

The ABU’s continue to mock United being at the top of the Premier League table at this moment in time, despite their own team’s failure and those so-called United supporters who do not value Solskjaer seem to suggest that United are only top in spite of, not because of Solskjaer, which is incredulous to say the least. United will be seeking to maintain the pressure on Liverpool this season which could become a title race providing that United continue to win their matches. United have not beaten Liverpool since the 10 March 2018 with the club unbeaten at Anfield since 2017.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred;

Pogba, Fernandes, Martial;

Rashford

Substitutes:

Henderson; Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe; Mata, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani, Greenwood

Liverpool:

Alisson;

Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Fabinho, Robertson;

Shaqiri, Thiago, Wijnaldum;

Salah, Firmino, Mane

Substitutes:

Kelleher; R. Williams, Phillips, N. Williams; Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones; Minamino, Origi

United and Liverpool have played 57 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 28 of the meetings, drawing 14 and losing 15. United have scored a total of 77 goals, winning five penalties and scoring three of them. Liverpool have scored 63 goals, winning six penalties and scoring five of them. United have kept 17 cleans sheets with Liverpool keeping 14. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 103 yellow cards with nine red cards being shown. Liverpool have been shown 88 yellow cards with seven red cards. This is an important match for United – a win will see them six points clear of the reigning champions.

In this match at Anfield last season, which was played on the 19 January 2020, it was a 2-0 victory for Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk opening the scoring in the 14 minute of the match, assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah sealing the win three minutes into added time, assisted by Alisson. In the fixture at Old Trafford, which was played on the 20 October 2019, it was a 1-1 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 36th minute of the match, assisted by Daniel James and Adam Lallana equalising in the 85th minute of the match, assisted by Andrew Robertson.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Cavani, Greenwood, Fernandes and Rashford fired up to face Liverpool; Pogba and McTominay in midfield?

Manchester United will travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon to take on Liverpool in the Premier League. After beating Burnley earlier in the week, United move to the top of the Premier League table, three points clear of Liverpool ahead of this clash. A victory would see United extend their lead to six points over the current champions with a draw meaning they stay three points clear and a defeat will see United slip back into second-place on goal difference. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have done well this season to recover from their poor form at the very start of the season.

The ABU’s continue to mock United being at the top of the Premier League table at this moment in time, despite their own team’s failure and those so-called United supporters who do not value Solskjaer seem to suggest that United are only top in spite of, not because of Solskjaer, which is incredulous to say the least. United will be seeking to maintain the pressure on Liverpool this season which could become a title race providing that United continue to win their matches. United have not beaten Liverpool since the 10 March 2018 with the club unbeaten at Anfield since 2017.

How United have faired against Liverpool in the Premier League.

United and Liverpool have played 57 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 28 of the meetings, drawing 14 and losing 15. United have scored a total of 77 goals, winning five penalties and scoring three of them. Liverpool have scored 63 goals, winning six penalties and scoring five of them. United have kept 17 cleans sheets with Liverpool keeping 14. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 103 yellow cards with nine red cards being shown. Liverpool have been shown 88 yellow cards with seven red cards. This is an important match for United – a win will see them six points clear of the reigning champions.

In this match at Anfield last season, which was played on the 19 January 2020, it was a 2-0 victory for Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk opening the scoring in the 14 minute of the match, assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah sealing the win three minutes into added time, assisted by Alisson. In the fixture at Old Trafford, which was played on the 20 October 2019, it was a 1-1 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 36th minute of the match, assisted by Daniel James and Adam Lallana equalising in the 85th minute of the match, assisted by Andrew Robertson.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has made some massive improvements this season and is part of the reason why United are starting to regain pace in the Premier League. Whilst being at the top of the league means nothing right now, it is the first time that United have looked like the team they used to be post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Granted, United have won trophies under both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, but in terms of having a plan, Solskjaer is the manager that has started to put United on the road to winning trophies. De Gea is integral to United achieving things and Dean Henderson’s challenge will only aid that.

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

United’s defence seems to have found some form with Victor Lindelof being on the sidelines through injury which has given Eric Bailly a chance to shine and that is what he has been doing of late. It could give Lindelof a tough task to get back into the squad, at least in a starting position with Bailly;s partnership with Harry Maguire looking good so far. This match will be a test of that partnership though. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles should play in the fullback positions against Liverpool with Wan-Bissaka’s defensive attributes being good and Telles’ attacking credentials being of benefit.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

This is a problem area at this time with so much talent and so far positions in the starting XI. Scott McTominay will be up for the challenge of Liverpool this season, doing well in the last few matches including scoring the quickest brace in the Premier League when United demolished Leeds United before Christmas. Paul Pogba should partner McTominay in midfield as his performance against Burley earlier in the week developed into the second half of the match, which resulted in United scoring the only goal of the game. Both Pogba and McTominay have scored in recent matches now – something both will be seeking to do this weekend.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

This formation has been Solskjaer’s go to formation this season, but there is a chance he might switch things a little to face Liverpool, which in the past has both worked and failed in big matches. Personally, I feel sticking to the same formation would be beneficial, switching it in play if needed. Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford have scored a total of 32 goals and 20 assists between them so far this season, which is a good haul of goals and assists, continuing the form of the trio last season. I am sure that all three of them will be seeking to score or assist against Liverpool to keep United at the top of the league.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani, I believe is the best striker at the club at the present time. Granted, he has only scored four goals and two assists this season – six goal contributions but in terms of the positioning on the pitch, he can find spaces that Anthony Martial has not been able to find, helping the Frenchman for the future. Cavani was banned for three matches this season and started against Burnley earlier in the week. Martial was injured and is currently a doubt for the Liverpool match, so based on that I have suggested that Cavani will start. United would do well with his experience and I am sure he will savour the pressure in this big match.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Anthony Martial, Odion Ighalo

United will continue to be able to name nine substitutes on the bench in the Premier League, using just three of them. In the FA Cup, they are able to use five, which will be the same in the UEFA Europa League when it starts next month, although the remainder of the squad named in the competition will be named on the bench. Against Liverpool, Dean Henderson will be back on the bench, this being a big match so he will be there if needed. In defence, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe could provide something if needed. In midfield, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic’s experience, Daniel James’ pace and Donny van de Beek’s ability in and outside the box could come into play. In attack, Anthony Martial and Odion Ighalo could provide something, if they are needed to change the outcome of the game.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Liverpool -v- Manchester United – Premier League – A top of the table clash shows drive, determination and improvement for United

Liverpool -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Anfield, Liverpool

Sunday 17 January 2021, KO 16:30 GMT

Referee: Paul Tierney  Assistants: Lee Betts, Constantine Hatzidakis

Fourth Official: Craig Pawson

VAR: Stuart Attwell Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt

Manchester United will travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon to take on Liverpool in the Premier League. After beating Burnley earlier in the week, United move to the top of the Premier League table, three points clear of Liverpool ahead of this clash. A victory would see United extend their lead to six points over the current champions with a draw meaning they stay three points clear and a defeat will see United slip back into second-place on goal difference. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have done well this season to recover from their poor form at the very start of the season.

The ABU’s continue to mock United being at the top of the Premier League table at this moment in time, despite their own team’s failure and those so-called United supporters who do not value Solskjaer seem to suggest that United are only top in spite of, not because of Solskjaer, which is incredulous to say the least. United will be seeking to maintain the pressure on Liverpool this season which could become a title race providing that United continue to win their matches. United have not beaten Liverpool since the 10 March 2018 with the club unbeaten at Anfield since 2017.

Manchester United: WWLWWD

Burnley 1-0 W, Watford 1-0 W, Manchester City 2-0 L, Aston Villa 2-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Leicester City 2-2 D

Liverpool: WLDDWW

Aston Villa 4-1 W, Southampton 1-0 L, Newcastle United 0-0 D, West Bromwich Albion 1-1 D, Crystal Palace 7-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 W

Top Scorers: Mohamed Salah has scored 17 goals this season for Liverpool with Bruno Fernandes scoring 15 goals for United this season.

Manchester United Goals: 15 – Bruno Fernandes, 14 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Edinson Cavani, Scott McTominay, 3 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 2 – Daniel James, Juan Mata, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Own Goal, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

United have shown some improvement over the last few months, despite starting the month poorly (September, October, November and December) they have ended in fine form. January started well for United as they beat Aston Villa, then were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Manchester City, then beating Watford in the Emirates FA Cup and getting a victory over Burnley to top the Premier League ahead of the clash with Liverpool. United will face Fulham after this match, then Liverpool again in the FA Cup before facing Sheffield United and Arsenal to end another busy month for the club.

Liverpool Goals: 17 – Mohamed Salah, 9 – Diogo Jota, Sadio Mané, 5 – Roberto Firmino, 4 – Takumi Minamino, 3 – Curtis Jones, 2 – Georginio Wijnaldum, 1 – Marko Grujic, Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, Divock Origi, Andrew Robertson, Xherdan Shaqiri, Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool have not done as well as they did last season. Injuries have cost them this season, but it is something that can be looked back for any club, especially United over the past ten years or so. There has always been a costly injury at United from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes, to Louis van Gaal, onto Jose Mourinho and now with Solskjaer. However, United seemed to have turned a corner with a solid plan and decent young players coming to the club in order to succeed. Liverpool are hungry to achieve things this season, retaining the Premier League will be an achievement but United and other clubs look hungry too.

Team News: United has four players ruled out with Liverpool having five ruled out. One player is a doubt for Liverpool with United having three doubts.

Phil Jones (knee), Brandon Williams (knock), Facundo Pellistri (coronavirus) and Marcos Rojo (calf) have all been ruled out of the visit to Anfield to face Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. Nemanja Matic (groin), Anthony Martial (thigh) and Victor Lindelof (lower back) all have 50% chances of recovering in time to face Liverpool in the top of the table clash in the Premier League. United do have strength in depth this season and will still be able to field a side capable of beating Liverpool is each of the three players with a chance of making the squad are left out of the clash.

Virgil van Dijk (knee), Joe Gomez (knee), Naby Keita (other), Diogo Jota (knee) and Konstantinos Tsimikas (knee) have all been ruled out of the top of the table clash with United on Sunday. Joel Matip (groin/hip/pelvis) has a 50% chance of being available for the clash but will be the subject of a late fitness test. Jurgen Klopp may not have a full squad to take on United, but his side will be determined to continue their form against United and fight their way back to the top of the Premier League once again this season. Injuries have ben costly to Liverpool this season, but every other club has seen them ride their luck for a while now.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood to take on Liverpool and push for glory?

Solskjaer will need to have good tactics against Liverpool as despite their lack of strength at the back at this current time, they are an attacking team and will commit players forward when they can. United will need to be at the best to tackle the problems that Liverpool will look to pile on them. Bruno Fernandes will need to be at the best of his game to take on the reigning champions of the Premier League. Edinson Cavani should lead the line with Anthony Martial coming off the bench if he is indeed passed fit for the match. Cavani should be flanked with Marcus Rashford on the left and Mason Greenwood on the right with Fernandes in behind him. A midfield two of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay could work with a back four of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles ahead of David De Gea in goal.

Match Prediction: 57 matches between United and Liverpool in the Premier League. United have won 28 times, drawing 14 and losing 15 of them.

United and Liverpool have played 57 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 28 of the meetings, drawing 14 and losing 15. United have scored a total of 77 goals, winning five penalties and scoring three of them. Liverpool have scored 63 goals, winning six penalties and scoring five of them. United have kept 17 cleans sheets with Liverpool keeping 14. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 103 yellow cards with nine red cards being shown. Liverpool have been shown 88 yellow cards with seven red cards. This is an important match for United – a win will see them six points clear of the reigning champions.

In this match at Anfield last season, which was played on the 19 January 2020, it was a 2-0 victory for Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk opening the scoring in the 14 minute of the match, assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah sealing the win three minutes into added time, assisted by Alisson. In the fixture at Old Trafford, which was played on the 20 October 2019, it was a 1-1 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 36th minute of the match, assisted by Daniel James and Adam Lallana equalising in the 85th minute of the match, assisted by Andrew Robertson.

Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Gary Neville’s prediction sees Manchester United and Chelsea hampered in Premier League title race

Former Manchester United captain and Class of 1992 graduate Gary Neville believes that United and Chelsea have little chance of winning the Premier League title whilst Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola manager both Liverpool and Manchester City respectively. Both Liverpool and City have dominated the Premier League over the last three years with City winning the league twice and Liverpool winning their first Premier League title last season. Both United and Chelsea are aiming to close the gap on the two clubs.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard both saw their clubs finish third and fourth respectively last season and so far this summer, Lampard has had the best transfer window in signing Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr, and Kai Havertz whilst United have signed just Donny van de Beek this summer and have been linked with numerous players which nothing of note happening with three weeks of the transfer window remaining. Speaking to The Mirror, Neville said:

“The one thing I can guarantee you is that United will win again. That might not be this year or next year, but it will be amazing when they win again, and the longer it builds up, the greater the actual feeling is when you do it.

“It will be, maybe, when Klopp and Guardiola leave Liverpool and City – hopefully in the next couple of years! That will be the chance, as they’re two outstanding managers who have built really good teams, but they’ll leave in the next one, two or three years.

“That will be the point when United can come back in and capitalise – I’m sure Chelsea are thinking that way as well.”

Neville has a point in what he says but it will be up to United to play catch up with all three clubs now and those that finished below them in the league last season will be seeking to do a lot better too. United will know what Solskjaer needs to get United firing in the right direction this summer, but there seems to be an inability to land the signings that the club should be going for and more desire to keep saving money, which is what the Glazers have been doing at the club for years now.

United have a big rebuilding plan and have a manager that has sent the club in the right direction for the first time post-Sir Alex Ferguson, whicbis something that David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho all failed to do. Granted, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a financial problem for United this summer, but that should not be used an an excuse not to provide players for the manager to better his squad. United qualified for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League this season and will be looking to take on the biggest teams in Europe.

However, that may be where much bigger problems lie as United have a good starting XI, which has been strengthened by the signing of Van de Beek this summer, but United could really do with a minimum of three more signings with a left-back, central defender and a right-winger the positions that need to be fortified this summer. United have been linked with Jadon Sancho this summer, but had a deadline to sign the England winger, which expired more than a month ago now with the player making his first appearances for Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal on Monday evening.

Written by John Walker

Nemanja Matic warns Manchester United ahead of Premier League title challenge

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, 32, warned the Old Trafford club that there would be no excuses if they failed to mount a Premier League title challenge during the 2020/21 season. Last season, United finished third in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football but finished 33 points adrift of champions Liverpool and 15 points adrift of second placed Manchester City. The Serbian midfielder lifted the Premier League title twice with Chelsea and believes that United must challenge Liverpool’s dominance.

Matic recently earned himself a new contract at United based on his performances this season, which saw him return to the best of his ability despite him largely being rested at the end of the season. The new contract keeps him at United until the summer of 2023. During the 2019/20 season, Matic made a total of 34 appearances for United, scoring one goal and three assists. He has a lot of passion for the club and wants to achieve things, matching what he achieved at Chelsea.

The Serbian midfielder, who retired from international duty this week was quoted by The Mirror saying that United had no excuse to most a title challenge this season, saying:

“From the next season there is no excuse. We have to go with everything. We have to fight for the title because I felt that this year we dropped some points too easy.

“They won the league, so we cannot allow that. We need to fight to the end. We have to play with more confidence, with more responsibility.”

United have a good squad and this summer, the addition of a few more players will raise the bar at the club, also raising the quality, which has been lacking outside of the starting XI and a few other players in the squad. If United managed to sign three players; a winger, a midfielder and a central defender, things might be a bit better for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to achieve things with the club. Matic will have personal targets that he wants to achieve, one of which is winning the Premier League with United. He continued by saying:

“My personal target is to win the league with United – and I am sure that everyone wants to do the same.

“We have to promise our supporters that we will do our best – exactly what we have done after corona when we started to play again.

“That’s United. We have to win five, six consecutive games then you can drop some points, then again you have to do that run.

“Like that we can win the league. In the beginning of the season we were not stable, we won one or two games then we lost and we drew.

“Proper United is exactly what we did after corona and I hope we can continue like that next season.”

It just goes to show that players have ambition to win things at the club and Matic is exactly the same. His stock has risen this season after he showed the signs of a leadership role at the club, seeking to get United firing and heading in the right direction. With the reports of Donny van de Beek being United’s first signing of the summer, the midfield will be a position that is strengthened with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred, with the addition of the Dutchman giving United six players and a little more depth and quality.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United in £27 million pursuit of Liverpool target Thiago Alcantara

Manchester United have reportedly joined Liverpool in the chase for Bayer Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara this summer. The player has already stated his desire to leave the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and the UEFA Champions League holders this summer in a bid for a new challenge. The player wanted to sign for United in the summer of 2013 but was rejected by David Moyes, who clearly had plans to chase the unattainable, rather than signing players that wanted to sign for the club.

Liverpool have been the frontrunners in the chase to sign the Spanish defender this summer but seem to be reluctant to spend the money in the player. Bayern Munich chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is expecting a bid for the £27 million rated midfielder in the next few days, as reported by Norwegian journalist, Fredrik A. N. Filtvedt, who works for Dagbladet TV – who states that United are now in the mix to sign the 29-year-old. It could be a blow for Liverpool but it is expected that this could be a move to hurry Liverpool into concluding the prospective deal. Rummenigge was quoted by The Sun as saying:

“We are expecting an offer from another club in the next few days. He told us that at the end of his career, he would like to try something new.”

It has been reported in the last day or so that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is already monitoring Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek this summer, a player who has been linked to United in 2020 already. If it was going to be either Van de Beek or Thiago, the 23-year-old Dutchman would be the better option in terms of longevity but if United were interested in signing both, it would be a massive upgrade on the likes of Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira and perhaps even Fred. Based on that, there could be something in this.

When United were linked to Thiago back in the summer of 2013, it was expected that the former Barcelona midfielder would sign for United. However, it has been suggested that Thiago begged Moyes to sign him that summer, but Moyes had decided that the Spaniard was ‘not the type of player that he wanted‘, which seems to be a very weird thing to say based on the player’s career in Germany since leaving Barcelona. It was a typical Moyes thing to do though, especially in the fact he signed one player that summer and that was not spectacular.

During his career in Germany, Thiago made a total of 235 appearances, scoring 31 goals and 37 assists at the club. The player won seven consecutive Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal’s, three DFL-Supercups, one FIFA Club World Cup and one UEFA Champions League helping his club win the treble during the 2019/20 season. Based on this, it would show the type of player that Thiago was and how Moyes missed out on him by being David Moyes. It might have been different for United if Moyes had acted differently.

I fully expect Liverpool to end up signing Thiago this summer. These rumours seem to come at times whereby the interested club is not hurrying the deal so things happen to ensure that happens. Journalist Jan Aage Fjortoft does not think that United are being in this instance, so there could well be something in that, although personally, this seems to happen a lot. United do have a good relationship with Bayern Munich though, so I guess anything can happen. I would not be surprised if Liverpool got the signing over the line now though.

Written by John Walker

Nemanja Matic says Manchester United ‘cannot allow’ Liverpool to romp to the Premier League title again

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has stated that the Old Trafford club ‘cannot allow’ the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City or another other club romp to the Premier League title like the Merseyside club did this season. It would seem that seeing Liverpool win their first league title in 30 years has started a fire within in order to aim to stop that happening again next season. Liverpool earned 99 points in the league this season, unable to break the 100 point barrier.

The Merseyside club ended up being named as the Premier League champions when Chelsea beat Manchester City with the club having seven matches of the season remaining. Of course, to the Liverpool aligned media, it made the club the best ever to play in and win the Premier League because they won the title at the earliest it had ever been won. Overreaction and Liverpool tends to come together, no matter the circumstance.

United had a strong end to the Premier League season, unbeaten in 14 league matches, earning a third-placed finish after chasing down Leicester City, who at one stage of the season were 14 points ahead of United with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finishing four points ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ side. Matic has stated that finishing 33 points behind the eventual winners of the league will not be good enough next season, which is 100% correct. United should be doing much better.

Solskjaer will need to get things started this summer with the club needing to add a minimum of three top players to the squad in order to have the strength and depth in the squad to be able to rotate players next season, which will be required with the club competing in the Premier League, Carabao Cup, UEFA Champions League and the Emirates FA Cup. Speaking to Inside United and reported by the official Manchester United website, Matic said:

“Me, personally, I would like to win the Premier League with Manchester United. I think that our club always needs to fight for the title.

“We always need to try to do the best for this club, which we are doing at the moment, and I think we cannot allow any club to win the league seven or 10 games before the season finishes. So we have to fight until the end.

“Of course, we have a young team, but this cannot be an excuse. I think these young players already have a few seasons behind them playing. So, from the next season, we have to fight for the title.

“I don’t know if we’re going to win [it] but I’m sure that we can fight until the end. That’s my personal target and I think the rest of my team-mates think the same.”

It is good to hear that at least one United player wants to hit back and make the Old Trafford faithful proud of the club once again. United should have been motivated that Liverpool have been getting better in the past few years and should have been aiming to stop them from winning the league. Now that they have done that, Matic and his teammates will be seeking to stop their party from spreading into multiple summers, aiming to wrestle the Premier League title from them, returning it to Manchester in May 2021.

Written by John Walker

Gary Neville suggests that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes Liverpool’s path to the Premier League title

Former Manchester United right-back and captain Gary Neville has suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer follows the steps that Liverpool took to deliver their first Premier League title, and league title in 30 years. Liverpool signed central defender Virgil van Dijk in January 2018, which seems to have been used as a catalyst, driving them to league title glory.

Van Dijk cost Liverpool £75 million two and a half years ago and helped drive them to challenge Manchester City last season, ending by winning their sixth UEFA Champions League trophy, after being beaten in the final the year before. It might not be good reading, but I feel that Neville does have a point here.

United signed Harry Maguire for £80 million last summer and Neville believed that it could have been United’s Van Dijk moment, however, it has not worked that way thus far, and probably won’t be anything near as similar as United are not Liverpool and Liverpool are not United. It is not something that is guaranteed to work with different clubs.

The rise of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes could be the start of success for United with both players seemingly hungry to achieve things at the club, which is great to see after seven seasons of United failing to challenge for a single league title, despite finish second once, 19 points behind Manchester City. Neville feels that an elite signing could help United in the right direction. Speaking to Premier League Daily, he said:

“I think one more signing. You think about Liverpool signing [Virgil] Van Dijk and Alisson in goal.

“One or two more signings or [Paul] Pogba and one more signing playing to their absolute best. I think United can get closer.”

When he was pressed as to which position this elite signing would play in, Neville confirmed that it would be a central defender. It is an area that United need to work on but the addition of Maguire last summer, not to mention Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has seemingly solve the right-back problem, money would need to be spent elsewhere in the squad. Neville, however, said:

“Centre-back, you look at the impact Van Dijk had. Maguire has had a really strong impact but another real strong centre-back.

“They’ve still got to be defensively sound. One more signing and United can challenge.”

United could go a long way to listen to former players but also listen to the manager, his coaches and even the players, who will have their own ideas. However, United need to secure the right-wing position, in my opinion, possible add another midfielder, if one of two leave this summer and a central defender would be needed if the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones or Marcos Rojo end up leaving the club this summer. It could work.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defiantly vows to make Manchester United challenge for league titles again; Liverpool title win hurts

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that the Hirt of watching Liverpool romp to their first Premier League title will spur his team on to get United back to where they should be – challenging for the Premier League title. It was seven seasons ago that Sir Alex Ferguson clinched United’s 20th league title, their 13th Premier League title.

It has taken Liverpool 30 years to win another league title, securing the 2019/20 Premier League title after Manchester City were defeated 2-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It has an effect when you see other teams win the Premier League, seeing City (three), Chelsea (twice) and Leicester City and Liverpool (both once), win in the last seven seasons.

Solskjaer would like to see Liverpool have a brief spell at the top and would like to be the team challenging them next season and beyond. That would need to see some major improvement at United between now and the start of next season with the club needing some new additions to make the team worthy of challenging those at the very top.

Solskjaer gave credit to Liverpool and manager Jurgen Klopp for taking on the challenge and winning their first league title in 30 years, also confirming that it hurts to see it, which will be the same for every club out there, especially City who seemed to be dislodged of their grip on the title easily with Liverpool running away with it. Solskjaer said:

“Any team that wins the Premier League deserves it. They deserve credit. It is a hard league to win. Credit to Jurgen and his players.

“But every time you see anyone else lift a trophy, it hurts. That’s the feeling everyone associated with Manchester United. We want to get back to winning ways. That is our challenge.”

Solskjaer has history at United and made some of that history himself, helping the club win a prestigious treble during the 1998/99 season, which has not yet been matched by any other English club. Sir Alex Ferguson built a dynasty, winning 13 Premier League titles, ending a 26-year period without a league title. Solskjaer continued by saying:

“A run of titles like we had under Sir Alex Ferguson will not be easy for anyone to copy. He was a master of staying at the top.

“Our challenge is to make sure it is not 26 years or more before we win it. We need to shorten the distance or go past them.”

Solskjaer says that he sees signs from his team that what he is building at the club is starting to head in the right direction, which is the first time in seven years that this is happening, despite the club winning the FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Europa League post-Ferguson. Earning a UEFA Champions League place will be a start, then Solskjaer expects to take it from there. He said:

“The consistency and efficiency they have shown. That is a challenge for us as well. At our best we are very good. We have to do it again and again. That is the challenge for us going forward.

“We have to get into Champion League, get higher up the league and start challenging for trophies.”

Solskjaer has seen the highs and the lows in his relatively short time managing United and is now seeking that upward trajectory and few excuses from himself and his players. This season could be the start of something at United for Solskjaer and his team. Things do seem to be different under the Norwegian, despite his critics, albeit on social media. He said:

“I expect the players to turn up every time they get a chance to perform for Manchester United. I don’t expect bumps.

“You don’t go looking for them. We are on the right track. Every game is a game you can win.

“We have shown what we can do at our best. Gaps between the lows getting bigger. I am not looking for bumps.”

United will be back in FA Cup action on Saturday when they travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City in what will be the third meeting between the teams this season, United winning both matches 3-1 and 4-0. It would be a good start to win a trophy this season with the FA Cup likely to be the first option. Solskjaer concluded by saying:

“The FA Cup is a fantastic tournament and final to be a part of and trophy to lift.

“This is a new team and to get our hands on first trophy would be fantastic and hopefully catalyst for what is to come.”

copyright: JW