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Ratings: Greenwood and Diallo combine against Leicester, despite United losing 2-1

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Leicester City in the Premier League. Luke Thomas opened the scoring in the tenth minute of the match with Mason Greenwood equalising five minutes later, assisted by Amad Diallo, who made his Premier League debut alongside Anthony Elanga this evening. Leicester managed to find another goal through Caglar Soyuncu in the 66th minute of the match, which was enough to get them the win, which funnily enough put pressure one Liverpool’s hopes of achieving UEFA Champions League football this season, so it is not all bad.

Despite the ten changes made to the team from the victory over Villa, United started well and many of the younger players were showing good signs of technical ability in the game. That said, Leicester broke forward and opened the scoring in the tenth minute of the match with 19-year-old Luke Thomas scoring his first Premier League goal of the season, assisted by Youri Tielemans. United looked to get straight back into the swing of things though with Mason Greenwood scoring his seventh Premier League goal of the season, assisted by Amad Diallo, which was a good start for the Ivorian. Leicester should not write United off.

It was a pretty fair result that both teams got a goal in the early stages of the match but there was not really many great moments that came after the goals. United, obviously, looked like a team that had not played together before, which was the case for many of the players on the pitch but Leicester did not really show an advantage, which much have been a worry for Brendan Rodgers. Surely a team like Leicester should have been pressuring United a lot more than they did. United had the most possession in the match, having one shot on goal, which was on target and was turned into a goal. Leicester has three shots, one on target – their goal.

At the end of the half, it was 1-1 all between the two sides with Leicester needing to do a lot more to get something from this match. There was still a chance that they could drop out of the UEFA Champions League places in the league, playing 36 matches this season with Liverpool having two games in hand, which would add more pressure, especially if United won this match. The draw would be acceptable for United, who sit seven points clear of Leicester – with a game in hand, in their bid to secure second place in the league this season. Edinson Cavani was warming up at the end of the first half, which was not a good sign for the Foxes.

There were no changes by either side at the start of the second half. Kelechi Iheanacho had a shot on goal, assisted by Marc Albrighton in the first minute of the match but the shot was blocked. Wilfred Ndidi also had a shot but David De Gea made the save. In the 54th minute of the match, Greenwood had a shot after the ball was played in by Alex Telles. However, the shot was blocked. Ndidi had another shot two minutes later, but Leicester would need to try a lot harder to breach the United defence. Axel Tuanzebe was pretty clued up against Iheanacho, which was great to see from the fringe player.

Solskjaer was seeking to change things up after the hour mark of the match with Cavani and Marcus Rashford getting ready to come on. Leicester had tried to pepper the United goal with chances from Iheanacho and Ndidi before any changes were made by Leicester did not seemingly have an advantage. Cavani and Rashford replaced Greenwood and Anthony Elanga in the 66th minute of the match. As soon as the change was made, Leicester took the lead through Caglar Soyuncu, which was a shame. United now needed to get back up to speed in the match, coming from behind for the second time in the game.

It was a shame United were behind again in this match but looking at the players on the pitch, Leicester should really be taking more advantage. This will be something that many journalists will not talk about as United are losing, therefore that is the bigger story. Solskjaer made his final substitution in the 79th minute of the match with Bruno Fernandes replaced Diallo. United had just over ten minutes, plus added time, to find another equaliser and possibly a winner in this match. The fact Leicester were winning was a blow to Liverpool, who could now face a blow in breaking into the Champions League placed this season.

United were trying to get back into the match but the chances they had were not able to change the match. There were three minutes added on at the end of the match and it would seem that Leicester will win this match and Manchester City will be the Premier League champions, needing United to lose to secure that as they could not beat Chelsea at the weekend. I guess that is how the small teams win titles now. United have done well in this match. There was nothing to lose as they have already achieved a top four finish this season. Obviously they would like to finish second, which is still likely.

United will be back in action at 20:15 BST on Thursday 13 May 2021 at Old Trafford as they welcome Liverpool to the Theatre of Dreams following their postponed meeting almost a fortnight ago. United will have three matches left in the Premier League this season and a weekend’s break before they face their penultimate match, again at Old Trafford, this time against already relegated Fulham on Tuesday 18 May 2021 at 18:00 BST. United will hope to be in a position to field weaker teams in the last few matches so they can rest the majority of the players for the UEFA Europa League final which will be played in Gdansk on Wednesday 26 May 2020.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Unable to stop Thomas' effort on goal in the tenth minute. Made a save to deny Iheanacho. The defence were at fault for much of the match, as was expected.

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33 Brandon Williams

Lacked match fitness, but he has not been playing regularly, like he was last season. Seems to play better on the left. Perhaps needs a season on loan.

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3 Eric Bailly

Did well against Vardy, who was largely quiet against United. Bailly needs to do more to become a starter at the club.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Finished a lot better than he started. Dealt with Vardy at times. He was the better defender in this defence. Needs to play more. Has the ability - which will get better the more he plays.

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27 Alex Telles

Was unable to provide the same play as Shaw on the left. Targeted by Leicester at times. United rely on the left-back attacking, which did not happen tonight.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Helped to shield the back four as much as he could. He played an effective game. Soyuncu beat him to the ball to head in the winner though. Good to see him play a full game.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Did not get stuck into the game which indicated he needs to play more. He needs to find his form. It has been a tough season for him. He will get there, eventually.

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19 Amad Diallo

Had a good Premier League debut. Saw Thomas' mistake and jumped on the ball to assist for Greenwood to bet the equaliser. It was good to see him play. He was replaced by Fernandes in the 79th minute.

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8 Juan Mata

Played his part in the match and kept the attacking players together at times. United rarely threatened though, even when Cavani and Rashford were on the pitch - they did improve United though.

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56 Anthony Elanga

Offered pace and energy on his Premier League debut. It perhaps came too early for him. He will build on this performance. It was his first time against a full first team. He was replaced by Rashford in the 66th minute of the match.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Scored his 12th goal of the season, which was great to see. He had some moments on the ball but United were short of ability to push Leicester - who should have scored more against this team. Cavani replaced him in the 66th minute.

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Substitutes

7 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Greenwood 66'. Had presence on the pitch and got forward in the right positions. Sadly could not get another goal this season.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Elanga 66'. Came on as Soyuncu scored the winner. Got forward at times but United were not really threatening the Foxes.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Diallo 79'. Came on for eleven minutes plus added time. Tried to change the game. It was not meant to be for United.

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Goals: Mason Greenwood 15′; Luke Thomas 10′, Caglar Soyuncu 66′

Assists: Amad Diallo 15′, Youri Tielemans 10′, Marc Albrighton 66′

Manchester United: De Gea; Williams, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Telles; Matic, Van de Beek; Diallo (Fernandes 79′), Mata, Elanga (Rashford 66′); Greenwood (Cavani 66′)

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Lindelof, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka; Pogba, McTominay

Bookings: 

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Elanga and Diallo make Premier League debuts against Leicester

Manchester United continue their tough week in the Premier League by welcoming Leicester City to the Theatre of Dreams this evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already confirmed their place in the top four this season and will play in the UEFA Champions League next season. Brendan Rodgers’ side are not guaranteed anything at this stage and will need to win to make it easier to finish in the top four this season, or face the option of slipping out of the Champions s League places, which is where they want to be. United need to reach 75 points to confirm their second-placed finish in the league this season.

United have progressed this season, no matter what the negative, agenda-driven supporters on social media say. Sometimes when you are that set by an agenda, you do not want to see anything else, therefore believe the agenda. United have already qualified for the Champions League, need five more points to secure second-placed in the league and ended their semi-final hoodoo after reaching the final of the UEFA Europa League where they will face Villarreal on Wednesday 26 May 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. United have scored more than 100 goals this season and look to be on the rise. Don’t let the agenda driven muppets get you down.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Williams, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Telles;

Matic, Van de Beek;

Diallo, Mata, Elanga;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

Henderson; Lindelof, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka; Pogba, Fernandes, McTominay; Cavani, Rashford

Leicester City:

Schmeichel;

Castagne, Fofana, Soyuncu;

Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas;

Perez;

Iheanacho, Vardy

Substitutes:

Ward; Amartey, Pereira, Fuchs; Maddison, Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Maswanhise

United and Leicester have played 29 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawing eight times and losing twice. United have scored a total of 62 goals, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Leicester have scored 24 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. United have kept 14 clean sheets in total against Leicester with the Foxes keeping just two. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 38 yellow cards with one red card also being shown. Leicester have been shown 35 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown. United have an advantage based on these statistics.

United and Leicester met at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day this season, resulting in a 2-2 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 23rd minute, Harvey Barnes equalising in the 31st minute, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead in the 79th minute. However, an own goal by Axel Tuanzebe in the 85th minute meant the teams took a point each. In this fixture last season, at Old Trafford, United won 1-0 with e penalty scored by Rashford in the eighth minute of the match. United were also beaten by Leicester in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup this season, so will be looking to avenge that result on Tuesday.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-3-3] De Gea to captain United? Diallo, Greenwood and Rashford to spearhead attack against Leicester City?

Manchester United continue their tough week in the Premier League by welcoming Leicester City to the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already confirmed their place in the top four this season and will play in the UEFA Champions League next season. Brendan Rodgers’ side are not guaranteed anything at this stage and will need to win to make it easier to finish in the top four this season, or face the option of slipping out of the Champions s League places, which is where they want to be. United need to reach 75 points to confirm their second-placed finish in the league this season.

United have progressed this season, no matter what the negative, agenda-driven supporters on social media say. Sometimes when you are that set by an agenda, you do not want to see anything else, therefore believe the agenda. United have already qualified for the Champions League, need five more points to secure second-placed in the league and ended their semi-final hoodoo after reaching the final of the UEFA Europa League where they will face Villarreal on Wednesday 26 May 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. United have scored more than 100 goals this season and look to be on the rise. Don’t let the agenda driven muppets get you down.

How United have faired against Leicester City in the Premier League.

United and Leicester have played 29 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawing eight times and losing twice. United have scored a total of 62 goals, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Leicester have scored 24 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. United have kept 14 clean sheets in total against Leicester with the Foxes keeping just two. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 38 yellow cards with one red card also being shown. Leicester have been shown 35 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown. United have an advantage based on these statistics.

United and Leicester met at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day this season, resulting in a 2-2 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 23rd minute, Harvey Barnes equalising in the 31st minute, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead in the 79th minute. However, an own goal by Axel Tuanzebe in the 85th minute meant the teams took a point each. In this fixture last season, at Old Trafford, United won 1-0 with e penalty scored by Rashford in the eighth minute of the match. United were also beaten by Leicester in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup this season, so will be looking to avenge that result on Tuesday.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leicester City in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea sat out of the 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday after featuring for United in the 3-2 defeat to AS Roma, which earned the club an 8-5 aggregate victory and therefore a place in the UEFA Europa League final against Villarreal on the 26 May 2021 in Gdansk. United will need to rotate players this week, therefore De Gea should start against Leicester City at Old Trafford, in which United will need a win start to secure their second-placed finish in the Premier League this season. De Gea played well in Rome and made some very important saves to keep his side in the game, and therefore win. His experience and class could well be required against Leicester, whose season could be falling apart after their defeat to Newcastle United.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles

Solskjaer will need to rotate his defence, not only because this is the second of three matches in five day period but because Harry Maguire received an ankle injury against Villa on Sunday. Therefore, Aaron Wan-Bissaka should keep his place at right back with Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly forming a central defensive partnership. Alex Telles could also start at left-back with Luke Shaw getting a rest ahead of the Liverpool clash on Thursday. United have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League next season and need just four points to secure their second-placed position. Not only that, winning could add further pressure to Manchester City’s title charge, which will show whether they are a great team or not, as the media will proclaim.

Midfield: Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

The midfield will be important against Leicester, as it was when they faced them in the FA Cup and were knocked out of the competition. A three-man midfield might be worth fielding in this match and the likes of Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba could be the right fit for this match. Matic has not played a lot of minutes this season and seems to be a player to bring on in the late stages of matches to protect a lead and help the defence. However, he has a lot to give and could well help United for a period of time. Of course, he may not last the full 90 minutes with Leicester’s young side pressuring him. Paul Pogba will give his all and Van de Beek will need the regular match time to find his feet at the club.

Forwards: Amad Diallo, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford

A 4-3-3 formation could be a good change for United at this stage of the season, giving a much stronger midfield, without the pivot. Mason Greenwood could lead the attack as the lone striker in this formation, fresh from his goal against Villa which saw him break Wayne Rooney’s record of 15 goals as a teenager for United, scoring his 16th Premier League goal. Amad Diallo was withdrawn from the match day squad against Villa and could well be ready to start for his club in a match that will have less pressure on him. He needs to start at some time – it might work well for him and United. Marcus Rashford could start on the left, with Daniel James injured, although Solskjaer might decide to bring some youth players into the squad.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Scott Mctominay; Edinson Cavani, Anthony Elanga

Three substitutes is all Solskjaer will have in the Premier League, so he will need to pack his bench with players who can make an impact. Dean Henderson will no doubt be on the bench, refreshing himself to start against Liverpool on Thursday. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Brandon Williams could be available with at least one of them expected to be used. In midfield, Juan Mata, who could actually start, Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Scott Mctominay could also be available, if required – there is a good chance they could be. In attack, Edinson Cavani could be kept for Thursday with Anthony Elanga also added to the squad, depending on whether he plays for the U23s on Monday evening as they play their last Premier League 2 fixture of the season.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Champions League confirmed with United close to finishing second. Time to beat Leicester City?

Manchester United -v- Leicester City

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 11 May 2021, KO 18:00 BST

Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants: Ian Hussin, Richard West

Fourth Official: Mike Dean

VAR: Jonathan Moss Assistant VAR: Marc Perry

Manchester United continue their tough week in the Premier League by welcoming Leicester City to the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already confirmed their place in the top four this season and will play in the UEFA Champions League next season. Brendan Rodgers’ side are not guaranteed anything at this stage and will need to win to make it easier to finish in the top four this season, or face the option of slipping out of the Champions s League places, which is where they want to be. United need to reach 75 points to confirm their second-placed finish in the league this season.

United have progressed this season, no matter what the negative, agenda-driven supporters on social media say. Sometimes when you are that set by an agenda, you do not want to see anything else, therefore believe the agenda. United have already qualified for the Champions League, need five more points to secure second-placed in the league and ended their semi-final hoodoo after reaching the final of the UEFA Europa League where they will face Villarreal on Wednesday 26 May 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. United have scored more than 100 goals this season and look to be on the rise. Don’t let the agenda driven muppets get you down.

Manchester United: WLWDWW

Aston Villa 3-1 W, AS Roma 3-2 L, AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D, Burnley 3-1 W, Granada 2-0 W

Leicester City: LDWWWL

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

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood have scored 73 goals between them this season with Leicester City’s whole squad scoring 89 goals this season.

Manchester United Goals: 27 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 15 – Edinson Cavani, 11 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

It will be very hard to deny that United have progressed this season. They currently have 70 points in the Premier League this season – four more than last season, and have already qualified for next seasons UEFA Champions League, which was achieved after the final match of the season last season. In the last six matches, United have won four, drawn once and lost once, with the defeat coming against AS Roma last week with United earning a place in the UEFA Europa League final on aggregate. United have scored 16 goals, conceded seven, keeping two clean sheets.

Leicester City Goals: 18 – Kelechi Iheanacho, 15 – Jamie Vardy, 13 – Harvey Barnes, 11 – James Maddison, 8 – Youri Tielemans, 4 – Own Goal, 3 – James Justin, Ayoze Pérez, 2 – Marc Albrighton, Timothy Castagne, Jonny Evans, Dennis Praet, Cengiz Ünder, 1 – Daniel Amartey, Hamza Choudhury, Wilfred Ndidi, Luke Thomas

Leicester are not have a great end to the season.They have not won in the last two matches, losing to Newcastle United and drawing with Southampton, after beating them in the FA Cup semi-final. They weekend they will take on Chelsea for the FA Cup, which could end their season on a high, but they will need to be on top of their game. There is a chance that Brendan Rodgers’ side could miss out on Champions League football against next season with Chelsea leapfrogging them this weekend after they beat Manchester City. Leicester will need to beat United to have a chance of staying in the top four ahead of their last two matches.

Team News: Four players out of action for United with Leicester also likely to miss for players ahead of the Old Trafford clash on Tuesday evening.

Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (knee) and Daniel James (other) have all been ruled out for the foreseeable future, although Martial is back in individual training and could be back in action for the final match of the season, which will give United a boost ahead of the UEFA Europa League final. Harry Maguire (ankle) came off against Aston Villa on Sunday and has already been ruled out of the clash with his former club but there is much hope that his injury is not as bad as it seems, although he will undergo a scan of his ankle on Monday to find out the seriousness of the injury. Hopefully he could be back in action against Liverpool.

Wes Morgan (lower back), Harvey Barnes (knee) and James Justin (knee) have all been ruled out of the visit to Old Trafford to face United for the third time this season. Jonny Evans (ankle/foot) is currently being assessed regarding his injury and has a 50% chance of featuring against his former club. However, it is likely that he too will miss the clash with United. Leicester were dealt a blow in the 4-2 defeat to Newcastle United on Friday evening and now sit fourth in the Premier League with Chelsea leapfrogging them after their victory over Manchester City on Saturday. It is possible that Leicester lose a UEFA Champions League position again.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer will need to rest players against Leicester keeping his side fresh for the Liverpool clash on Thursday.

Solskjaer will need to rest a number of his players ahead of the clash with Liverpool on Thursday evening with United playing three Premier League matches in five days after beating Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday afternoon. David De Gea should return in goal having faces AS Roma on Thursday evening. Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly and Alex Telles could all start with Aaron Wan-Bissaka keeping his place in defence. In midfield, a three-man midfield of Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, keeping his place from Sunday could help with Amad Diallo, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford linking up as a three-man attack.

Match Prediction: 29 matches played between United and Leicester in the Premier League with United winning 19 times, drawing eight times and losing twice. United looking to avenge FA Cup defeat?

United and Leicester have played 29 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawing eight times and losing twice. United have scored a total of 62 goals, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Leicester have scored 24 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. United have kept 14 clean sheets in total against Leicester with the Foxes keeping just two. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 38 yellow cards with one red card also being shown. Leicester have been shown 35 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown. United have an advantage based on these statistics.

United and Leicester met at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day this season, resulting in a 2-2 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 23rd minute, Harvey Barnes equalising in the 31st minute, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead in the 79th minute. However, an own goal by Axel Tuanzebe in the 85th minute meant the teams took a point each. In this fixture last season, at Old Trafford, United won 1-0 with e penalty scored by Rashford in the eighth minute of the match. United were also beaten by Leicester in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup this season, so will be looking to avenge that result on Tuesday.

Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Fernandes, Greenwood and Cavani save the day for United at Villa; City’s title celebration delayed once again…

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League. Bertrand Traore opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the match which meant that United had to come from behind again, winning 31 points from these situations in the league this season. Bruno Fernandes equalised form the penalty spot in the 52nd minute of the match with Mason Greenwood putting United ahead four minutes later. United scored a third through Edinson Cavani in the 87th minute just before Ollie Watkins got himself sent off for a dive, earning a second yellow card in the match. Three more points well deserved at the Villa.

It was a good start for United against Villa. Marcus Rashford had an attempt blocked in the fifth minute of the match which was played in by Paul Pogba. A minute later, Luke Shaw was on the attack for United, played in by Rashford but his shot was saved by Emiliano Martinez. Villa then had a chance through Anwar El Ghazi, whose shot was off target. Fred was then the next United player to have a chance, which forced another save from Martinez. United seemed determined to get something early on and were continuing to go for it. In the twelfth minute, both Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore had chances but both shots were blocked.

In the 16th minute, Bruno Fernandes had a chance to find his 27th goal of the season, playing in by Rashford and firing towards goal from the left of the six-yard box but it was off target. United were having plenty of chances in the early stages of the half but would need to do better. Villa took the lead in the 24th minute of the match, two minutes after Mason Greenwood’s effort, with Traore finding the back of the net with a stunning finish. United would need to battle back once again this season, which is something they have done time and time again to win matches both at home and on the road.

United were creating themselves many chances but Villa were also pressing forward. Fernandes had another shot on goal in the 35th minute of the match but it was too high to hit the target after Rashford played the ball into him. In the 40th minute of the match, Greenwood ran the ball towards the box and played it in to Pogba, who tried to find the back of the net with the Villa defence panicking and managing to clear the danger with Pogba still searching for a goal. United then started to press high up the pitch with Harry Maguire, who passed the ball to Pogba, who again lost possession with Villa then countering United’s attack.

United did not seem to get anything positive in the first half, having a fair few chances with nine shots one goal and four of those on target, also having the Lion’s share of possession but they needed to show more desire in the second half. At the end of the first half, Ollie Watkins was booked for a late challenge on Maguire with the United defender clearing the ball before the challenge came in. United needed to be wary of this Villa side, who did everything right in the first half. Perhaps Solskjaer would need to say something during the break to get his side fired up for the second half with Manchester City 45 minutes away from winning the league.

There were no changes from either side at the start of the second half but United would need to work much harder to get something from this match. United started to attack again, as they were doing in the first half and Pogba worked his way into the box, threatening on the ball. Douglas Luiz fouled the Frenchman and the referee awarded a penalty which Bruno Fernandes converted, scoring his 27th goal for the club in all competitions this season. City would need to wait before celebrating their title win. It was a great finish by Fernandes who made the goalkeeper dive in the wrong direction, hitting the back of the net at the near post.

Four minutes after equalising, United were ahead for the first time in this match. Aaron Wan-Bissaka played the ball into Greenwood, who then carried the ball before firing his left-footed shot from the right side of the box into the bottom corner of the net. It was Greenwood’s 11th goal of the season but also his 16th in the Premier League as a teenager, breaking Wayne Rooney’s record for the club which is great to see. In the 65th minute of the match, Greenwood was replaced by Edinson Cavani, with United seeking to see this match out and drive for the victory. Harry Maguire was booked in the 67th minute of the match with United still on top.

Maguire seemed to get a knock a few times and despite coming back on after some treatment, came back on but could not continue. Solskjaer replaced him with Eric Bailly, which was a shame as he was not able to play every minute in the Premier League, which he had done since he signed for the club. However, that was likely to end this week anyway. Hopefully the captain is fine to continue for the club later this week against Liverpool. It was expected that he would be rested against Leicester City anyway, as that was the impression the Solskjaer gave on Friday. In the 86th minute, Nemanja Matic replaced Fernandes with United looking to keep their lead.

Ollie Watkins tried to get one over Dean Henderson in the 89th minute but Henderson pulled his leg back as Watkins was diving. It was suggested that it was a penalty but the referee saw it the other way, as did VAR and the striker, already on a yellow from the first half was send off and will miss the next match for his club. There is no need to dive when you are losing. If a United player did this, every football supporter would be moaning about it. In this instance, many will say nothing. United deserved their win and will be looking ahead to the Leicester match now with one full day to recover before match day.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Unfortunate to concede the opening goal which saw Villa take the lead. Saw his side scored three in the second half, therefore winning 31 points from behind in the league this season. Also saw Watkins send off for a dive, aiming to win a penalty. Also prevented an own goal by Maguire.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Needs to offer more going forward. Got an assist for Greenwood's goal which put United ahead. His defensive ability cannot be questioned - that is the strong part of his game.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Should have stopped Traore ahead of his goal but acted weakly. Also gifted Watkins a chance to equalise, so he needs to brush up on his defence a bit more.

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5 Harry Maguire

Did well against Villa and seemed to be at the top of his game at times. Got forward when he could and led his side well. Seemed to get a knock in the second half and could not continue. Was replaced by Bailly in the 78th minute.

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23 Luke Shaw

Played well in attack and had a shot on goal, drawing a save. He should be proud of his performances this season. He is arguably the best left-back in the country right now.

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17 Fred

Despite his performances this season, this was not one of the better ones. Needs to buck his ideas up at the club or could find himself benched or sold in the summer if a better player comes along.

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39 Scott McTominay

Was not his best performance for United and I feel he should find a way to find his form as he has shown glimpses of that this season, especially if he wants to start in Gdansk in just over a fortnight.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Had some involvement in the match but does not seem to have benefited from more than a week with no football. Got an assist for Cavani's goal at the end of the match but needs to start scoring himself.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Performed towards the best of his ability and had a few shots on goal in the first half. Scored the penalty, which saw United level in the 52nd minute of the match and helped United find another which happened minutes later. He was replaced by Matic in the 86th minute of the match with United seeing out their lead, but they scored a minute after the substitution, securing their lead and win.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played well with Shaw just behind him and got into some good positions. Won the penalty which saw United go level. Lost the ball at times, but it happens.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Played well as the striker against Villa. Was unlucky at times but got United ahead in the 56th minute of the match, scoring his 11th goal of the season and breaking Rooney's record of 15 Premier League goals as a teenager at the club. He was replaced by Cavani in the 65th minute.

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Substitutes

7 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Greenwood 65'. Unplayable. Perhaps should have started but fatigue from Thursday needs to be managed, so it was right for him not to. Scored his 15th goal of the season, scoring his eighth goal in seven matches.

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3 Eric Bailly

Replaced Maguire 78'. Needs a good defensive outing, which he might get on Tuesday. Made some last-ditch blocks and clearances.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fernandes 86'. Came on to sure up the defence and did what he needed to do, even if it was a cameo appearance.

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Goals: Bertrand Traore 24′; Bruno Fernandes 52′ penalty, Mason Greenwood 56′, Edinson Cavani 87′

Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 56′, Marcus Rashford 87′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (Bailly 78′), Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Rashford, Fernandes (Matic 86′), Pogba; Greenwood (Cavani 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Van de Beek

Bookings: Ollie Watkins 45+1′, 89′ s/o, John McGinn 79′; Harry Maguire 67′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Rashford leads the attack against Villa; Greenwood, Fernandes and Pogba in support

Manchester United return to Premier League action this afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

De Gea; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani

Aston Villa:

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett;

Luiz, McGinn;

Traore, Barkley, El Ghazi;

Watkins

Substitutes:

Heaton; Elmohamady, Hause; Nakamba, Ramsey, Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka; Wesley, Davis

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI against Aston Villa: [4-2-3-1] Greenwood, Rashford, Fernandes and Diallo to start; Cavani on the bench?

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

How United have faired against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Aston Villa in the Premier League at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson was rested against AS Roma on Thursday evening and has not played since the 0-0 draw with Leeds United almost a fortnight ago, so he will be raring to go against Aston Villa this weekend. So far this season, Henderson has made 23 appearances for United, conceding 16 goals and keeping 13 clean sheets. His commanding of his area is top class but he has some way to go before he’s considered as a world class goalkeeper. That said, there are supporters out there that would rather United broke a record to sign a new goalkeeper for the club – these people have no patience and don’t seem to want anything special. Imagine if these people were alive when the Class of 1992 emerged from the academy.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence did not look all that great against Roma on Thursday evening, conceding three goals altogether but two of them just three minutes apart. Eric Bailly played after not featuring for United before the last international break. Against Villa, who are safe in the Premier League, United could be faced with a few problems. Harry Maguire could break records this season playing every minute of Premier League football since he signed but these next three matches could put an end to that. Victor Lindelof needs to play alongside the captain with both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw playing in the fullback positions. United have done well this season but at this stage, they should be getting the results that need to end the season positively.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield is a problem area for United. There are players at the club that do not suit the formation and others that need to play more football in order to settle in at the club. The pivot may not be the best formation to use but it is a formation that Solskjaer has utilised for much of his time at the club. Against Villa, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba should be starting. McTominay was rested against Roma on Thursday and is one of a small number of players who have been rested recently and will be able to cope with the week that lies ahead for United with three Premier League matches between Sunday and Thursday. United have the players, in varying abilities and hopefully there will be some sort of plan in rotation.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

With three Premier League matches in the next five days form the Villa clash, United will need to rotate their players. Amad Diallo should be given more time on the pitch, having played just 96 minutes of first team action this season, scoring one goal. At U23 level, he has played 270 minutes of football, scoring four goals and three assists, so there is some ability in there. Playing him now would be good for him and the team. Bruno Fernandes will start too with United needing another win in the league with him scoring 26 goals and 17 assists so far this season. Marcus Rashford should play in the left-wing role he has played in this season, where he has scored 20 goals and 13 assists. This could work for United against Villa.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood has ten goals and six assists to his name this season with half of his goals in the Premier League alone. Last season, Greenwood scored 17 goals and four assists, with ten goals coming in the Premier League alone, so if he plays his part in the remaining five matches of the season, he could match his goal tally from last season (in the league) and possibly seek to better it. United have six more matches until the end of the season with the UEFA Europa League final also added to their fixture list. Edinson Cavani is the best striker at the club this season, but having played on Thursday evening, I think he will be on the bench for this match. I reckon Marcus Rashford will be starting as the lone striker though.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani

Solskjaer will have just three substitutions in the Premier League for the remainder of the season and with three three matches over a five-day period, rotation will be key. David De Gea should be back on the bench after his heroics against Roma. In defence, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could be available. In midfield, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek could be called upon if they are needed (as they will at times over this five-day period). In attack, United will have the services of Edinson Cavani, whose 14 goals and four assists have helped a lot this season and with him being in form, also needing rest, his appearances this week could be largely from the bench, which will be good for United.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Aston Villa v Manchester United – Premier League; the start of a busy five days

Aston Villa -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Villa Park, Birmingham

Sunday 9 May 2021, KO 14:05 BST

Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Sian Massey-Ellis

Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson

VAR: Jarred Gillett Assistant VAR: Lee Betts

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

Manchester United: LWDWWW

AS Roma 3-2 L, AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D, Burnley 3-1 W, Granada 2-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 W

Aston Villa: WDLLWL

Everton 2-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-2 D, Manchester City 2-1 L, Liverpool 2-1 L, Fulham 3-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 L

Top Scorers: Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani and Greenwood have scored 70 goals between them this season. Aston Villa have scored just 55 goals so far this season.

Manchester United Goals: 26 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 14 – Edinson Cavani, 10 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

United were defeated for the first time in the Europa League on Thursday evening, losing 3-2 to AS Roma but winning 8-5 on aggregate, reaching the final of the competition this season where they will face Villarreal. United have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six matches. United have scored 16 goals, conceded seven – keeping two clean sheets. Edinson Cavani is starting to catch up to Marcus Rashford, with 14 goals scored this season (Rashford is on 20). He has scored seven goals in the last six matches, which is great form. United will be seeking another win against Villa this weekend, heading into another busy week.

Aston Villa Goals: 15 – Ollie Watkins, 9 – Anwar El Ghazi, 7 – Jack Grealish, 6 – Bertrand Traoré, 3 – Ross Barkley, 2 – Keinan Davis, Own Goal, Ezri Konsa, John McGinn, Tyrone Mings, Trézéguet, 1 – Louie Barry, Kortney Hause, Conor Hourihane

Villa have had a mixed season and a lot of their recent results could have been better if Jack Grealish was fit to play for the club. In their last six matches, they have won twice, drawn once and lost three times. They have scored nine goals, conceded ten goals and kept no clean sheets. That is not good form when having to face United, even if they are playing at home. Villa have beaten United three times in the Premier League, twice at Villa Park but the last time was on the 19 August 1995 with Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and Dwight Yorke scoring the goals for Villa and David Beckham scoring a consolation for United.

Team News: Three players likely to be out for United with three also expected to be out for Villa – this match will be tough for both teams but United should have the edge over Villa.

Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (knee) and Daniel James (other) have all been ruled out of the clash with Villa this weekend in the Premier League. United have not been hit with any other injuries ahead of the three Premier League matches in the next week (Aston Villa, Leicester City and Liverpool) and there will have to be rotation during this week as not every player will have 90 minutes in them. Dean Henderson, Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, Amad Diallo and Scott McTominay were all rested against Roma with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw both coming off at half time – so Solskjaer has options for this match.

Mahmoud Ibrahim Hassan (knee) has been ruled out of the clash with United at Villa Park on Sunday. Morgan Sanson (knee) has a 50% chance and Jack Grealish (calf/shin) has a 25% chance of being available for the visit of United, which does not look all that good, unless Dean Smith has something up his sleeve. Villa have been missing Grealish over the past few months and if he can be fit for the clash with United, it would be a big boost for both the player and the club at this stage of the season. Villa sit in tenth place in the league, at the time of writing and they could finish above Arsenal if they play their cards right.

Predicted Starting XI: Mason Greenwood to lead the line against Aston Villa? Edinson Cavani on the bench after Thursday’s brace which saw him score seven goals in six matches.

Solskjaer will need to rotate his side from Thursday evening, also keeping in mind that the club will face Leicester City at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, then Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams on Thursday evening. It is a possibility that Harry Maguire may not play in all Premier League matches since he signed for the club, which could see the record remain with Gary Pallister. Mason Greenwood could lead the line in the match with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Amad Diallo supporting him. Diallo will need to play at some point and there is no time like the present. Dean Henderson, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Diallo will be rested after not featuring for the club on Thursday evening. Tuesday might be a different problem though.

Match Prediction: United and Villa have played 51 Premier League matches with United winning 36, drawing 12 and losing just three times.

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Henderson, Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba and Rashford start against Liverpool; Van de Beek and Cavani on the bench

Manchester United go back to Premier League action this afternoon when they welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford. This will be the second time the reigning Premier League champions will have visited the Theatre of Dreams, losing 3-2 in the Emirates FA Cup a week after a 0-0 draw at Anfield in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s side have seemingly fallen off their perch almost immediately after they climbed upon it, falling out of the running to retain their title, which is seemingly set to be claimed by Manchester City. United though will be seeking to confirm their second-placed finish in the league under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United were in action on Thursday evening in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg, facing AS Roma at Old Trafford. United opened the scoring in the ninth minute through Bruno Fernandes but gave away a penalty five minutes later with Roma scoring another with 11 minutes of the first half left to play. United then scored five second half goals with Fernandes completing a brace, Edinson Cavani scoring a brace and Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood scoring the others. Liverpool were not in action since last weekend, so could be fresher for this match but as we saw against Leeds last weekend, there is no guarantee that it will help.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred;

Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba;

Rashford

Substitutes:

De Gea; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani

Liverpool:

Alisson;

Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson;

Thiago, Fabinho, Milner;

Salah, Firmino, Mane

Substitutes:

Adrian; Tsimikas, Williams; Wijnaldum, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Shaqiri; Jota

United and Liverpool have played 58 times in the history of the Premier League and have a rivalled history. United have won 28 times, drawing 15 and losing 15. The Red Devils have scored a total of 77 goals with Liverpool scoring 63. United have been awarded five penalties, scoring three of them with Liverpool being awarded six and scoring five of them. United have kept 18 clean sheets with Liverpool keeping 15. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 104 yellow cards with nine red cards whereas Liverpool have been shown 90 yellow cards and seven red cards. More fierce rivalry to be expected this weekend?

Earlier this season, United ground out a fraught 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League, knowing that they would face the club just a week later in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford. In that match, United won 3-2 with Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scoring the goals for United and Mohamed Salah scoring a brace for Liverpool. Last season at Anfield, United lost 2-0 but drew 0-0 at Old Trafford. This weekend, United will be seeking to defeat Liverpool, which might even dent their chances of a top four place this season, with them, at the time of writing, in sixth and four points adrift of Chelsea.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Cavani, Pogba and Fernandes to bring out the bitterness from the Scousers this weekend?

Manchester United go back to Premier League action on Sunday when they welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford. This will be the second time the reigning Premier League champions will have visited the Theatre of Dreams, losing 3-2 in the Emirates FA Cup a week after a 0-0 draw at Anfield in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s side have seemingly fallen off their perch almost immediately after they climbed upon it, falling out of the running to retain their title, which is seemingly set to be claimed by Manchester City. United though will be seeking to confirm their second-placed finish in the league under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United were in action on Thursday evening in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg, facing AS Roma at Old Trafford. United opened the scoring in the ninth minute through Bruno Fernandes but gave away a penalty five minutes later with Roma scoring another with 11 minutes of the first half left to play. United then scored five second half goals with Fernandes completing a brace, Edinson Cavani scoring a brace and Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood scoring the others. Liverpool were not in action since last weekend, so could be fresher for this match but as we saw against Leeds last weekend, there is no guarantee that it will help.

How United have faired against Liverpool in the Premier League.

United and Liverpool have played 58 times in the history of the Premier League and have a rivalled history. United have won 28 times, drawing 15 and losing 15. The Red Devils have scored a total of 77 goals with Liverpool scoring 63. United have been awarded five penalties, scoring three of them with Liverpool being awarded six and scoring five of them. United have kept 18 clean sheets with Liverpool keeping 15. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 104 yellow cards with nine red cards whereas Liverpool have been shown 90 yellow cards and seven red cards. More fierce rivalry to be expected this weekend?

Earlier this season, United ground out a fraught 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League, knowing that they would face the club just a week later in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford. In that match, United won 3-2 with Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scoring the goals for United and Mohamed Salah scoring a brace for Liverpool. Last season at Anfield, United lost 2-0 but drew 0-0 at Old Trafford. This weekend, United will be seeking to defeat Liverpool, which might even dent their chances of a top four place this season, with them, at the time of writing, in sixth and four points adrift of Chelsea.

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

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson has had a good season at United. He has challenged David De Gea which has led to speculation suggesting that the Spaniard could leave the club this summer, which is partly because of the fact his partner gave birth to his daughter in the past few months. Henderson has a good future ahead of him but he is a different goalkeeper to De Gea – commands his area well but has a mistake in him, which is really the case for any goalkeeper out there today. Youth is on his side and his inexperience will soon turn into experience. For years United have been trying to create a goalkeeper from their academy.

That may well have happened after the likes of Ben Foster and Sam Johnstone came close to being the one, although for the latter, the goalkeepers already at the club created a block which led to him leaving the club instead of aiming to prove himself. Henderson could well be the goalkeeper at the club for a decade or more, which would be good for United and Solskjaer and create some stability in the squad with the manager rebuilding he club in the right direction to return the club to the success that they became accustomed to during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at the helm of the club.

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

United’s defence still have mistakes in them but it is a game of mistakes – that is literally one of the reasons that goals get scored – someone messes us. Still, I would like to see the defence a bit more on top in matches, like in the second half against Roma. If United played in a similar manner, they would be a lot stronger at the back. Against the threat of Liverpool, United will need to be strong at the back to overcome the threats that could be encountered. I would expect to see Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles in the fullback positions for this match with Luke Shaw rested and only playing if needed. The break would do hims good for next week.

In the centre of defence, Eric Bailly could make his first start since the international break and his coronavirus encounter, which could give Victor Lindelof a rest ahead of next week’s clash with Roma, which will be a tough encounter, even if United are four goals better off than the Italian club at this time. Harry Maguire will continue to play though, not missing a single minute of Premier League action since signing for the club in the summer of 2019. Many seem to suggest that Maguire is not captain material but it is clear that he is, especially in the fact that his teammates seem to respect him. He’s United’s captain and he is doing a good job.

Midfield: Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba

Solskjaer will probably utilise Scott McTominay and Fred in these positions again but I think Donny van de Beek should be given a match from the very start. Granted, there is a plan in place to ease him into the Premier League but he will need to be starting sooner rather than later. Against Liverpool, a pivot of Van de Beek and Paul Pogba might work but the defenders will need to do their job well. This is just a suggestion, not how it will probably play out but United need to start with their best players which could do the job needed in midfield. Pogba was immense against Roma on Thursday and has had a few good performances lately.

United have too many decent midfielders at the club at this time, both in the first team and coming through the academy. Solskjaer will need to get them implemented into things sooner rather than later. Many would like to see Pogba and Bruno Fernandes rested but against Liverpool, the best players at the club will need to start. This is a match that means so much more than keeping all players fit for Thursday, it is Liverpool and a win is expected, otherwise Jonny will be spitting at his phone in an empty room again. As Leicester City dropped points on Friday evening, United have the chance of going seven points clear after 34 matches played.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James

United will probably continue in the 4-2-3-1 formation which means three attacking midfield players. Bruno Fernandes scored his 26th goal and 16th assist against Roma, which puts him in the starting XI by itself. 42 goal contributions so far this season in all competitions is admirable. He was back to his best against the Italian side, which is good news ahead of the Liverpool clash. Some may suggest that Marcus Rashford will start against Liverpool but I think he should be kept on the bench for later in the match as he was largely ineffective against Roma on Thursday. He still needs a bit more time to rest after that injury.

In his place, Daniel James should start on the left as he is a player that can do somme magic, despite the criticism he faces week in and week out for not have the talent to succeed. I mean, it seems to come from FIFA players, so the reality is not really there, is it? Mason Greenwood should start on the right. He was impressive against Roma on Thursday and bagged his 10th goal of the season for his club. Last season he got 17 goals and four assists – this season he has 10 goals and six assists, so he is getting there. James has five goals and one assist to his name this season, so in the next seven or eight matches he will be seeking more.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani got himself two goals and two assists against Roma, taking his goal tally to 12 so far this season, also doubling his assists to four. The rumours suggest that he will spend a second season at the Old Trafford club next season, which if true is great news and will put a bit less pressure on the club to bring in a new striker. Cavani is everything that United needs at this time and I believe that he can teach Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford more in a further year at the club. Cavani will be in his element right now, especially after bagging goals against Granada, Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley too.

I feel that the Uruguayan leading the line against Liverpool will put some pressure on their defence and could result in more goals for him, or create the space for Fernandes, James, Greenwood or any other player to get in there and score goals. United have a great player on their hands and yet again those supporters who know it all wrote him off before he even got to the club because age clearly means more than anything. Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved them wrong and is still doing that today. Cristiano Ronaldo is older and still doing his thing, but they seem to rate him. It is strange judging a player by their age but stupid is as stupid does.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Scott McTomminay; Marcus Rashford

Solskjaer will be back to naming just nine players on the bench in the Premier League, using just three of them – which was all he used on Thursday evening. It worked though and it may not work as well ons Sunday afternoon. The substitutes could well be called upon to change the game or even support what United had already done, keeping a lead or whatever. I fully expect David De Gea to be back on the bench after the Roma match and I think he will start in the second leg too. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could all be available.

In the midfield, Juan Mata, who made a cameo on Thursday, Amad Diallo and Scott McTominay could be available with both Fred and Nemanja Matic being rested ahead of Thursday’s match in Rome. United may end up picking these players for this match with Matic’s experience and ability to defend and Fred’s ever presence in the midfield despite his performances. In attack, Marcus Rashford could be on the bench as he is not fully fit and did not get much against Roma, despite United player a better brand of football in the second half. It is possible that Solskjaer picks a different team with Donny van de Beek on the bench again instead of starting.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW