Author Archives: Edward Severn

Manchester United v Newcastle Preview

Manchester United

Manchester United will square off against Newcastle on Monday in the Premier League. The match should go on despite the cancellations of previous Manchester United matches, but could still be cancelled.

The Magpies have had a horrid last couple of seasons. If it wasn’t for Joe Willock and some good form late in last seasons campaign the Tyne-side club will likely be playing in the Championship.

Eddie Howe picked up the only win of the campaign earlier this month against fellow relegation threatened Burnley. Newcastle sit joint bottom of the table, only ahead of Norwich by two goals. The Magpies have drew seven times in the league this season.

Despite only having 10 points this season, Newcastle can still stay up. Newcastle are only three points behind Watford with safety, but because of goal differential the Magpies would need another point.

Newcastle has been thrashed their last three games against formidable completion: Man City, Liverpool and Leicester easily dispatched the side who was recently bought by Saudis.

The new cash influx could help Newcastle out this window, but they have not received reinforcements yet.

Howe has come out lately in the 4-5-1, but the side has some flexibility to change shape. The only player that should really scared United is Allan Saint-Maximin.

The speedy and flashy French forward only has three league goals this, but his capable of the special goal. Jonjo Shelvey hit a stunner against Liverpool, two matches ago and is capable of producing a nice long range goal every now and then.

Manchester United and Ralf Rangnick will have nearly a full squad at his disposal on Monday. The only player out is Paul Pogba still because of an injury he picked up with France on November.

United Draw Atletico; Fascinating Match Set After Re-Draw

Champions League

Manchester United drew Atletico Madrid in the first round of the knockout stages on Monday. An error involving United occurred in the first draw, causing the re-draw.

During the first draw United were drawn Villarreal, but because they played in the group they are not allowed to compete against each other in the first knockout round. Balls were not placed back correctly, the draw continued and UEFA eventually decided on a re-draw.

United might be a little lucky. On the first draw they were paired up with PSG, a team that has had made the Champions League a top priority and probably favorites even before Lionel Messi signed.

But, the error’s were egregious.

United’s Opponent Quick Preview

The La Liga champions are a tough out for any team. Atletico were knocked out by eventual champions Chelsea in their last UCL campaign, but defeated Liverpool two seasons prior, just before the COVID lockdowns.

Atletico this season have started a little slow and were easily beat at the weekend to city rivals Real Madrid 2-0. Two early goals in the first and second half and a good performance by Courtois all but put an to any talk of them defending their title away at the moment.

Atletico sit in fourth and are 13 points behind Real, so Diego Simeone might shift his eggs to the UCL basket. Before they face United in February they have some important matches with league rivals that are fighting for top four.

They also have some fairly easy matches as well like Man Utd and could be coming to the UCL tie inform.

Atletico will host the first tie February 15th.

Man Utd v Norwich City Preview

Norwich V Man United

Man Utd take on Norwich City later on today in the evening matchup. Man Utd might be feeling good about themselves after the appointment of Ralf Rangnick.

Rangnick handed key players rest during the week in a meaningless Champions League match and with an easy set of fixtures upcoming during the festive season there might be plenty more to celebrate at Old Trafford than the holidays.

Man Utd’s Opponent

The Canaries, the definition of a yo-yo club. Norwich are one of the most prominent yo-you clubs having gone back up and down the last three seasons. If they get relegated it will be four seasons of up and down. If relegated they would defiantly be a favorite to go back up.

The Norfolk side have been tidy since Dean Smith took charge, but got smoked last weekend at Spurs. A team Norwich should loose too. Dean Smith is 1-2-1 since taking charge and seems confident he can get a result against Man Utd based off of Aston Villa’s performance against the Red Devils when Smith was in charge before he was sacked.

A decent amount of talent in Norfolk. Max Aarons is highly rated right back and has been linked with top clubs like Bayern Munich. Todd Cantwell was once linked away also and was priced at around โ‚ฌ20mil at some point, but has struggled this season.

Finish striker Teemu Pukki has a goal in him every now and then in the Premier League, prolific in the Championship. Ben Gibson, the center back has been solid for the club since singing from Burnley. Billy Gilmour is a talented holding midfielder on loan from Chelsea.

Kieran Dowell is one to watch off the bench, the ex-Everton man has settled in Norwich since signing in 2020 and American international Josh Sargent has yet to score in the league, but works hard off the ball. Both were on the bench against Spurs. Andrew Omobamidele is a talented teenager defender and recent Irish international.

Smith, who was only out of a job for hours, has kept it tight opting for a 5-3-2. Norwich need points and are tied at the bottom with all other relegation zone sides with 10 points. Norwich, Newcastle and Burnley trail Watford by 3 points, but Norwich have a horrendous goal differential with -23, basically an extra point.

Man Utd

Rangnick has the ability to take it to the Canaries early because of the freshness of the players, they could look to press early and get a quick goal to force Norwich out of their shell. A goal might not deter the Canaries from parking the bus with the hope of a late equalizer.

Norwich gave up an early goal to Tottenham, the 10th minute and when they decided to push for the equalizer they were punished.

Despite having 60% possession against Spurs, it was Spurs who had the better chances. The Canaries could only muster one shot on goal to Spurs’ seven.

Man Utd’s worst enemy defensively this season seems to be themselves. Mistakes could give Norwich opportunities. It will be interesting to see who Rangnick decides to play in the full back positions. Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles might be picked over Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. A combination of the two is also likely.

Man Utd and Rangnick must win these games, especially against teams that are bottom of the table. Norwich have let in 31 goals this season and can not be given confidence. The longer they hold on the more inspired they could be to see out the draw.

Big run of games for Rangnick even though most of the teams are in the bottom half of the table. No need to remain past the season if you can not beat Norwich.

United’s Young Boys Knock Young Boys Out Of Europe With 1-1 Draw

Man United V Young Boys

United and Young Boys drew 1-1 in the Champions League Wednesday night to wrap up the group stage. Young Boys were knocked out of Europe.

It was a litany of changes by Ralf Rangnick and it was expected. Plenty of youth in the side and on the bench were combined with fringe starting XI and first team players.

Maybe so many youth players was a bit of a shock, but a welcome sight in a meaningless game, no need to risk too many players to injuries. Rest is needed for most.

With both sides missing regulars, the lack of familiarity showed in the opening few moments. Wayward passes were common, but it was United players who settled down a bit first.

Two players with familiarity combined well for the opening goal. Luke Shaw found space down his wing. Shaw took his time to pick out Mason Greenwood who finished superbly with an acrobatic volley. Nothing the Young Boys keeper could do.

The 10th minute goal settled the match down. Dean Henderson played sweeper-keeper well a couple of times early and it was United who got the next good couple of chances.

In the 30th minute Amad Diallo had a nice opportunity in the Young Boys box with the defender in front of him looking off balanced, but he played a pass instead that was poor. Juan Mata got the next opportunity in the box, but the Young Boys keeper saved well to deny the Spaniard.

Young Boys leveled in the 42nd minute with a brilliant goal by Fabian Rieder, his curled shot from outside the box had no chance of being saved by Henderson. The goal came after a bad pass by Donny van de Beek on the outside of his box.

Nemanja Matic did kind of put DVB in trouble with the pass and put United in trouble again a minute later with a bad giveaway. Young Boys almost capitalized, but Eric Bailly was there too clear a shot that might have found the corner.

Second Half

United got a chance in the first 30 seconds of the second half after Anthony Elanga, who had a quiet first half, stormed down the right wing but his deflected shot/cross was saved. Elanga got the next chance, a better one then first, when Jesse Lingard slipped him in, but again the Young Boys keeper was strong.

United got into a little bit of trouble, but Young Boys could not capitalize. Sivlan Hefti was great down his right and troubled United at times. Most chances came after Matic gave the ball away in his center back position.

Debuts plenty for the Red Devils, 35-year-old Tom Heaton got his debut, Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal got some minutes.

Other than that it was a tame second half. Young Boys had some good possession, it was them who needed to go after the win to keep themselves in Europe, but could not do it.

United’s Key Performances

It was an average match for most players involved. Even Greenwood who scored the goal, maybe only had one other bright moment when he stole the ball and created a chance for Mata. Greenwood would probably get MOTM.

It does not really seem like anybody deserved the MOTM. Henderson was good, most of the time this year, United goalies only give up worldies or get put under pressure by mistakes in the midfield or defense.

Shaw had a decent game at left-back, Bailly looked solid in defense and Mata had some good passes. DVB was meh, and was at fault for the goal. Amad was okay, but looks a little indecisive and weak on the ball after a long lay off. Elanga should have scored.

Wan-Bissaka looked shaky early, but settled down and Matic was poor in a position he does not play. Wan-Bissaka looked like he got banged up at the end of the game.

United’s Final Group Match

Man United V Young Boys

Manchester United have already booked their ticket to the knockout round when they defeated Villarreal a fortnight ago in Spain.

Tomorrow they will face Young Boys with nothing on the line, because of a new rule in the Champions League, even if the Red Devils were defeated by Young Boys and Villarreal win, United still win the group because head-to-head records count more than goal differential this season.

United are in a terrific spot to rest key players with the congestion of the upcoming festive fixtures closing in on them. This is an opportunity for Ralf Rangnick to assess whether players are capable of his system, maybe even some starters will have a run because of that.

Young Boys

Young Boys still have something to play for and that is Europa League possibilities. Young Boys are rooted at the bottom of the group with 4 points. A win at Old Trafford and Atalanta losing to Villarreal will lift the Swiss club into third.

Young Boys famously defeated United at their place to kick-off the group. Jordan Pefok, the American international scored the game winner late to give Young Boys the unlikely victory.

At the very least this is an opportunity for the Swiss side to showcase their talents on a big stage. Pefok is currently chasing a shot at making the United States national team roster ahead of the World Cup in the summer. The striker position is wide open on the team and he would look to impress.

Pefok has 10 in 21 competitive games this season and could lead the line against United. David Wagner’s side is a little banged up. A few players that took part in the first match against United are out.

First choice keeper David von Ballmoos is out, Christian Fassnacht a fantastic player is also out and Ulisses Garcia is out. Garcia played really well at left-back the last time the two clubs faced off. They will also be without a couple

In their last Champions League outing they drew 3-3 against Atalanta. The terrific match was leveled by Luis Muriel late to steal a point for Atalanta. The two clubs are not far apart geographically and on the pitch that night, but Young Boys could not finish off Atalanta.

The three points would have been huge going into the United match, especially in the fight for the third.

United Team News

As I mentioned earlier this is an opportunity for Rangnick to experiment a bit, to gauge his squad and he has already confirmed that Donny van de Beek and Dean Henderson will be in the starting XI tomorrow night.

“I haven’t finally decided to be honest. It definitely makes sense that we will rest a few players because of the crowded fixture list over the next few weeks and months. We need to make sure we have enough recovery as possible, also for the Premier League, but, on the other hand, we need to keep our positive momentum,” said Rangnick.

“To start with both will play tomorrow in the first XI and as you saw, Donny came on as a sub last Sunday. Dean is a very good ambitious goalkeeper, we definitely need two goalkeepers,” said Rangnick when asked about whether Donny and Dean are going to go out on loan in January.

United Victorious 3-2 In A Fantastic Match Against Arsenal

Arsenal v Man United

Manchester United defeated Arsenal 3-2 on Thursday night to get back to winning ways in the Premier League thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo.

A couple of changes for United tonight. Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot and Cristiano Ronaldo replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic.

United were put under pressure early after Jadon Sancho turned the ball over in his own box. Arsenal nearly scored on the first corner, but Marcus Rashford awkwardly cleared and United did well defensively against another couple of Arsenal corners.

Dalot got the first shot off for United after a spell of poor play from both sides. Bad passes and players getting the ball taken off was common early. Arsenal did a good job of pressing his early. Aubameyang also found space for a shot, but the Dalot and Aubameyang hit their left-footed shots straight at the keepers.

Thomas Partey dribbled into trouble in a bad spot, United took possession, but Ronaldo could not capitalize and his left-footed shot whimpered wide.

Arsenal looked to have taken the lead and maybe should have when Emile Smith Rowe’s left footed shot after a corner went in, but David de Gea was on the ground after being stepped on by Fred. It is not like Smith Rowe could see if de Gea was on the ground.

After consulting with VAR, Arsenal got the goal, weird situation. United down 1-0.

United were more aggressive in the first half then they have been in previous matches. After losing the ball they pressed Arsenal high and swarmed the player in possession with the ball to gain possession high up the pitch, but still lacked what to dow with it after winning the ball.

United dominated possession and the field after the Arsenal goal, but it was Arsenal who got the next best chance when Gabriel Martinelli found space in the box. His shot was weak and wide.

United got their deserved goal after a great sequence of passing. Maguire was his high up the pitch and found Jadon Sancho, he got space and found Fred who pulled it back for Bruno Fernandes. Bruno cooly beat Aaron Ramsdale to break his goal drought.

De Gea kept the score level when he pulled off a great reaction save from a corner. Ronaldo almost put the Red Devils in front after a nasty cut back opened up a left-footed shot, but it was saved by Ramsdale’s hip.

Ronaldo would get his goal. His 800th goal of all time for club and country. Rashford was found in space down the right side, he squared it for Ronaldo who could not miss the huge opening back post to give United the 2-1 lead.

Arsenal leveled immediately on their next possession. Martinelli found space on their right side, Alex Telles could not close down fast enough and he found Odegaard open just inside the box. Odegaard redirected the pass to far post with his weaker right foot, 2-2.

The match became really stretched after the hour mark. Both sides not keen to share the points.

Odegaard would turn from hero to zero in 10 minutes after he fouled Fred in the box. VAR awarded the penalty and Ronaldo smashed it down the middle to give Arsenal the 3-2 lead with 20 minutes remaining in the match.

United did well to see out the match and were not really threatened by Arsenal after going up. A couple of half chances is all the Gunners could muster down the stretch.

United’s Key Performers

Ronaldo got the brace and was great all match, probably the man of the match for most people. Bruno, Rashford and Sancho were all good on the night going forward.

Two of the best performers were at the back. Telles and Victor Lindelof were great most of the match. Telles should have closed down Martinelli for the second goal sooner, but was fantastic all night, especially when defending in one-v-one situations.

Lindelof was a rock at the back and has put it in some quietly good performances since the injury of Raphael Varane. Lindelof probably did not put a foot wrong at first glance and deserves a shout.

McFred was good in the middle. Fred had a really good match. De Gea probably should not have went down, but made up for it was a good save in the second half.

United take on Palace Sunday.

Arsenal Preview

Arsenal v Man United

Manchester United take on Arsenal in the Premier League on Thursday at Old Trafford. A big match for both sides trying to keep pace with the top four.

Arsenal currently sit 5th, but are tied with West Ham on points for 4th, but losing out on goal differential. Arsenal are five points clear of United who have 18 points in 8th place.

Arsenal will be able to see what they are going to have to do on Thursday because West Ham play on Wednesday. There could be no way for Arsenal to crack into the top four if West Ham wins, so the focus will be keeping teams below them at-bay and keeping pace with West Ham with a win over United.

Arsenal would get a huge boost if they can crack the top four, especially after a slow start to the season. Arsenal were unbeaten in 8 matches before getting handled by Liverpool, but bounced back against a slow-starting Newcastle side at the weekend.

The road has been rough on Arsenal this season, only two wins against Burnley and Leicester. Brentford, Spurs, Liverpool and City took care of Arsenal on their ground.

United on paper are probably the better team, but they have to be weary against Arsenal. A team that has not taken many big scalps this season, but have taken care of business against teams that they should.

Arsenal’s Spending

Mikel Arteta received funds to revamp the squad this summer and with their current form might get another reinforcement or two this upcoming winter window.

Nuno Tavares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard are a few of the players bought this summer that have featured recently for the Gunners, all with good sized fees.

Ramsdale has been great in goal. Tavares is still a little raw, but has been holding off Kieran Tierney. Tierney has been a bit injured already this season and has made the bench the last couple of matches.

Arteta has been lining up this season in a 4-2-3-1, but came out in a 4-4-1-1 against Newcastle. Tomiyasu is not a marauding full back so it could be a back three at times. Tomiyasu dropped a dime for the second goal at the weekend against Newcastle. Bakayou Saka covers a lot of space on the right, but could move around to find space.

Veteran strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are supported with some good young creative talent. Saka, Odegaard and Emile Smith-Rowe have good starts to the season. Smith-Rowe was recently called into the England squad because of his form.

Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga provide cover the center backs and are solid professionals as well. Lokonga was also bought this summer from Anderlecht and his slide into the first team. Arteta has put together a decent side that is flexible.

There is firepower off the bench. Lacazette usually comes off the bench, Eddie Nketiah, Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli have a goal in them off the bench.

Spending over โ‚ฌ150mil has helped as they now sit in 5th and are threatening for Champions League spots even though the season is still early.

The approach is slightly different from most big clubs, but is how Arsenal has done business before in the past. Not necessarily going all out for big named signings, instead getting solid well scouted players with decent sized fees. White is the exception probably because of his English fee.

The Gunners fell off a bit the last few seasons, but they have reloaded well and could be challenging for the top four come April and into May.

United Should Track These 8 Promising Players In The RB System

RB Leipzig

United Interim Manager Ralf Rangnick has had a long and solid career managing in Germany. Lokomativ Moscow was his most recent employer, prior to that he spent a lot of time in the Red Bull set up.

From 2012-219, Rangnick served in the Red Bull system, starting as director of football in 2012 and later managed RB Leipzig in the 2015-2016 and 2018-2019 seasons. A lot of talent has come in and out of the Red Bull system the last few seasons.

He must be aware of some of the current talent in the system obviously and have connections still in that system.

It seems that Bayern Munich have also exploited that connection with Julian Nagglesman, an ex-manager at Leipzig. They have signed Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer, two terrific talents in recent windows.

Those connections could yield United some terrific talent.

8 is a decent sized list, but there is a lot of talent in the system and three teams: Leipzig, Salzburg and New York.

Christopher Nkunku

Nkuku has to be the first player listed. There are plenty of good talents, that will be discussed later but none that look more promising right now than Nkunku.

The French attacking midfielder is currently going through his best form of his career and is easily the best outfield player at Leipzig at the moment. Nkunku has the 13 goals and 6 assists in 19 matches, all competitions.

Nkunku has yet to be called into the French national team. The recently turned 24-year-old plays in a loaded French position, attacking midfielder. Also, like United, attacking midfielder is not a need at the moment.

Nkunku currently is value at around โ‚ฌ47mil. A fantastic talent that looks like he will continue to get better. Probably not a fit for United at the moment, but could be playing against United in the Premier League one day.

Nordi Mukiele

Mukiele could be one of the most realistic players on this list that could start for Manchester United right now, slide in the lineup. That has more to do with the recent run of form of Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Wan-Bissaska is a great defender. Recently he has had made some big mistakes and there is a consensus that he does not add much going forward, he could be on his way out if he does not grow into Rangnick’s side. I do think Wan-Bissaka could, it is hard to give up on a player that cost so much also.

But, if Mukiele was on the bench, he would get a shot. Even, Alex Telles is getting a shot at left back while Luke Shaw deals with injuries and poor form.

Mukiele has started the last few seasons at RWB/RB for Leipzig. The 24-year-old’s recent form has seen him called up by France. This season, Leipzig have played four at the back, with Mukiele being a more traditional right back, but Leipzig switches it up.

Mukiele likes to get forward and in 84 league appearances he has 8 goals and 6 assists. Decent for a full back, not spectacular. Nordi is a good defender and might not be far away from Wan-Bissaka in that respect, but makes up for it by being better going forward.

Nordi Mukiele is valued at โ‚ฌ27.5mil according to Transfermarkt. United could sell Dalot and fund the rest to buy Mukiele.

United need competition for Wan-Bissaka.

Dominik Szoboszlai

The Hungarian Prince. It is unfortunate that Szoboszlai plays in a stacked position at United. Bruno, Jesse Lingard, Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek play and could play the 10.

A good amount of players on this list play in that position, but Szoboszlai is young and United could be losing Lingard on a free soon, there could be some space for a younger player.

Szoboszlai could make the bench of any top club in Europe probably and develop into a starter for most. At only 21-years-old the Hungarian is turning heads in the Red Bull system and in Europe.

The Hungarians had a good summer at the Euros, despite Szoboszlai not being pivotal to their success in the summer, he had a decent tournament.

At Leipzig he has fit in well. This season he has 3 goals and assists in 12 league games. A couple of cup goals and a penalty in the Champions League with Neymar in his ear, rounds out his goal contributions for the season so far.

Karim Adayemi

Salzburg have had a great success rate at producing solid forwards lately with the gem being Erling Halaand. Patson Daka and Hwang Hee-chan are playing well for their Premier League Clubs lately.

Adayemi was in the shadows of some of those guys the last couple of seasons, mainly because he is only 19-years-old, but turns 20 at the beginning of the year.

The 20-21 campaign the forward scored 7 goals in 29 games, not bad for being so young and Daka being the main striker. This season he has hit the ground running with 11 goals in 15 matches in the Austrian Bundesliga and 4 goals in 7 Champions League matches.

His form has caught the eye of the German national team. Adayemi netted a goal on his international debut in September against Armenia.

The youngster is from Munich and would likely choose the Bavarians in the long run and they might get a nice deal for that past business with the system. United have a lot of good young talent at forward, but if the price is right for United, you can never have enough talented forwards.

Luka Sucic

The 19-year-old has a nasty left foot. For being as tall as he is (6ft 1in), he has great control with the ball at his feet similar to a Szobalzai, likely a similar career path as the Hungarian.

The Croatian international, one cap, has been turning some heads and rumors are already popping up of teams interested. It is very likely he goes to Leipzig, especially if someone calls knocking for the Hungarian Prince.

AC Milan are interested in the young talent. Still too early to tell, but if he keeps getting games in Salzburg and in Europe, more teams will begin to circle.

United have Bruno Fernandes as an attacking midfielder and if Bruno gets dropped it is not going to be for another attacking midfielder. Plus, Jadon Sancho and even Donny van de Beek can play the 10. Sucic is one to keep an eye on.

The Americans

The American market is getting bigger. Christian Pulisic to Chelsea, Weston Mckennie Juventus and Sergino Dest Barcelona are three of the biggest transfer moves by Americans in football history. Clubs see the opportunity of cashing in on American players.

Those seeds have been planted for awhile with some clubs. Bayern Munich has great relations with FC Dallas. Mckennie came through the FC Dallas academy. Red Bull sporting group has been invested in New York for awhile and a couple of decent players have been produced.

NBC Sports just recently signed a deal with the Premier League to extend their coverage of the league in a deal worth around โ‚ฌ2 billion the next 6 years. United could cash in on more on that market.

United have not had an American since Tim Howard.

Tyler Adams

Adams was linked to Arsenal in the summer. Adams plays a RWB/CDM role at Leipzig. In the system he can move to RWB and then transition to CDM depending on the instructions. Similar to things Mykel Arteta likes to do at Arsenal.

Adams is flexible and has done that for a couple of matches with the USMNT under Greg Berhalter. With the USMNT you will see him primarily operate as the 6, shielding the two center backs. The RB role in the USMNT is deep, so he might not be used like that with them going forward, unless an emergency.

United need a 6. Someone who could shield the defense and get the ball out of his feet quick to start counters. Adams is the only American on this list with a serious shot of playing for United because of the need at that position.

Caden Clark

The young American burst onto the scenes in MLS in his debut season, in America rookie season. His season started of hot with a couple of goals.

An appendicitis put him for a bit during the season. His season was ultimately good enough for Leipzig to come calling. American coach Jesse Marsch will get a look at him soon. The season ended recently for NYRB, Clark should be in Germany.

The soon to be 19-year-old has a lot of work to do yet. The attacking midfielder will have to fight for playing time against a lot of talented players at Leipzig in a similar position.

Brenden Aaronson

Aaronson is not at Leipzig like Clark or Adams, but could be soon after a good year at Salzburg and decent performances for the USMNT has the stock of the 21-year-old from New Jersey rising.

Since breaking out for Salzburg and the USMNT in the least year, Aaronson has 34 league appearances with 6 goals and 8 assists. 7 Champions League appearances with 2 goals. In World Cup qualifiers he has 2 goals and appearing in all matches for the USMNT.

Aaronson is fast, really fast. Majority of the time he plays on the left, but can play in the middle also. High work rate offensively and defensively. Not always the focal point in attack, but finds away to insert himself into the game.

Similar to Dan James, but a better crosser and a slightly more precise finisher. At the least he gets his shot on target, but has squandered good opportunities like most players.

Honorable Mentions

Josko Gvaridol, Angelino, Brian Bobbery, Dani Olmo and Noah Okafor.

Man Utd Bounce Back In CL, 2-0 Win Sinks Yellow Submarine

Man Utd defeated Villarreal in the Champions League Tuesday night 2-0, courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho. The win will guarantee Man Utd’s involvement in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Carrick managed the game well enough. It was a classic smash and grab, not an easy place to win. Carrick used his subs well. You can not complain that much with a win at this point. Sancho’s goal made the win a little sweeter, but Chelsea looms on the weekend.

Michael Carrick had his side come out in a 4-2-3-1 in his first match as caretaker manager. A couple of surprises in the lineup, Bruno was dropped for Donny van de Beek and Marcus Rashford made way for Anthony Martial.

On paper, Ronaldo was central, but when the match started he took up space on the left and at times the formation shifted to a 4-4-2. Ronaldo would join Martial in attack, eventually Ronaldo would shift back to the center.

First Half

David de Gea was forced into work early. A shot from outside the box was well saved. Scott McTominay turned the ball over when his pass was intercepted creating a chance early for Villarreal.

Villarreal were patient in attack and Man Utd sat back and let them have the ball. An awkward deflection fell nicely to Yermi Pino, he let the ball roll across his body to create space, but his shot was bad and even missed the side netting.

Alex Telles got caught sleeping on a long ball. Pino cut it back to Manu Trigueros, his cross/shot to the back-post was pushed aside by de Gea, Arnaut Danjuma was lurking at the back-post.

United looked dangerous when they got balls in the box. A Jadon Sancho cross in the 29th minute had to be dealt with well. Villarreal defended the corner well but the ball recycled back to Telles. His cross found Ronaldo, but it was straight at the keeper.

In the first half Villarreal had good spells of possession, but could not create many chances from their possession. Their best chances came from Man Utd mistakes or in transition. When they had the ball they were stagnant, not much running off the ball. They had a couple of nice passing sequences.

Martial took on his defender on the left. Telles made his run from the inside and was fouled on the edge of the box. The location was perfect for Ronaldo, but he could only hit the wall.

A couple of minor injuries slowed the game back down after a couple of flurries.

As the first half wore down, United looked like they were growing into the game. They got caught a bit when Villarreal broke their press. They caught United off balance on the counter and DVB was booked when he fouled an attacker outside the box.

Villarreal finished off the first half pressing really well. They ripped the ball off of a United player on multiple occasions. United continued to try and pass out of the back despite giving up the ball.

Man Utd were bailed out by the half time whistle, 0-0.

Second Half

More possession for Villarreal to begin the second half, and a couple of tense moments in defense for Man Utd, but they did well to not giving anything up quick.

Man Utd got things cooking a bit with some good passes. Sancho beat a man and the ball fell to Fred with a lot to do, his shot was straight at the keeper.

Villarreal got in between the lines on their next attack. Another deflected shot fell kindly to a Villarreal player. Trigueros’ shot was struck well and forced a brilliant save from David de Gea. De Gea bails out Man Utd again, but 30 minutes still remained in the match.

With all the possession that United gave up, eventually they would get tired from moving side to side and Villarreal almost caught them on a short passing switch. The final quick pass came to Danjuma, but he fired over.

Bruno and Rashford would replace the two that the replaced them in the starting lineup in the 65th minute.

Sancho almost got his first goal for United after he combined well with Bruno. They cut up the Villarreal defense, but Sancho could not finish on his left foot, it was a good save from the keeper.

The substitutes really gave Man Utd something different and they came in at the right time. Villarreal looked like they might steal the three points, but United grabbed a foothold in the game because of the fresh legs.

Villarreal began walking at times with the ball and got sloppy with some passes. United could smell blood and they pressed.

Ronaldo, again. The Villarreal keeper put Etienne Capoue in trouble with a bad pass. Capoue got his pocket picked and the ball fell perfectly in the air for Ronaldo who cooly finished.

Villarreal never looked like they could get back into the game and were eventually caught on the corner. Sancho got his first goal when he smashed it near post to sink the yellow submarine.

Man Utd Key Performers

Ronaldo and Sancho deserved their goals and Ronaldo won the game. Sancho had his best performance of his young United career, not just because of the goal, he looked good on the ball.

But, the man of the match had to David de Gea, the second save on Trigueros was massive.

A shout to the defense, they all looked solid especially when Villarreal got between the lines, they took care of business in the box.

An Okay Villarreal Side Is Their For The Taking

Villarreal v Man Utd

Manchester United take on Villarreal tomorrow in a pivotal Champions League matchup in Spain.

Both teams are tied atop of the group with seven points. Only two games remain in the group stage. Even a point could be useful for Manchester United on the road. United host Young Boys to finish the group, even they lost in Switzerland, they should look at that game with three points in mind.

Manchester United Squad

If United come out and take the game at Villarreal and win well they could flip momentum in their season. At this point getting to the knockout round of the Champions League is a success. A smash and grab could be another route, and even inspire the same.

Another late Ronaldo winner might not quell the doubts around this team. Ronaldo can not always bail this team out, other players like Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Luke Shaw need to step up big.

Bruno Fernandes has been impacting the game in other ways for Manchester United his deep passing has been superb, but if he only gets one or two chances in a match, he should finish, he has the quality.

The calls for Donny van de Beek to play from the fans has been loud and frequent for some time. It is a common talking point and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would say something like, “Donny works really hard, he is a great player and if he continues to work hard, he can be a great player,”

If you do not like him, just say it. It was rough to watch the treatment of a player who has a lot of passion, he obviously wants to play. Not just play, but the passion to work hard. His tackle on Sarr this weekend was a little dirty, but at least he went in and put a tackle on someone. At least he showed some physicality.

That has not been the theme this season at United. There are a lot of physical players on United, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Luke Shaw are all physical players. Even Bruno likes to get dirty every now and then, but it has not been enough. The best tackle this season came from a box-to-box midfielder who has played a handful of minutes.

DVB needs to play against Villarreal, they need a midfielder who can play a pass between the lines, a player that can help break down the Villarreal low block. If they lose the ball high up the pitch, you need a guy who is going to sell out in the middle to help break up the transition, Villarreal like to defend and counter.

This could be a game for Alex Telles and his ability to put in a cross. Ronaldo has become one of the most dangerous target men in the world, his ability to leap is astounding. United need to utilize that ability more with crosses in the box.

It will be interesting what Carrick does in other defensive positions. Ole favored Victor Lindelof a bit more than Eric Bailly lately. Bailly’s athletic abilities could be a boost, but he has made some mistakes in the past. Diogo Dalot could also feature for AWB he had one of his worst games in a United shirt against Watford.

The defense has grown a little comfortable when Ole was in charge, they need to be pushed more and changing it up could lead to more competition in the side, thus creating better players overall.

If you are not going to use the players that cost millions on the bench, might as well sell them when they have value instead of letting them leave on a free. Some of these players were bought with the intention to switch it up. Telles and Dalot are good players and every now and then they should get a game.

You need squad rotation because you need your top players to be fresh. A game like Watford is the opportunity to play a rotated squad, so they could be fresh for an important Champions League game. Ole was forced to pick his best side against Watford because of the pressure on him.

Carrick has to keep Chelsea in mind at the weekend. I do not think United are going to win the league, I think most would agree, but if they want to qualify for Champions League next season, which are the minimum of standards at United, this Chelsea game is important to keep pace, every league game is really, but Chelsea a are a top club at the moment.

United should relish in those opportunities to play other big teams, not be worried.

For the Villarreal match I would go with de Gea, AWB, Maguire, Bailly, Telles, Matic, DVB, Bruno, Rashford, Ronaldo, Sancho.

That is what I would do, I think defensively these guys can handle the Villarreal attack. They need to take the game to Villarreal and get a good result. A win would almost guarantee the knockout rounds, it would bust the ghosts of the Europa League Final and boost spirits for the match against Chelsea.

Maguire will miss Chelsea because of a ban, so he is likely to play. I would give him some time off, but can see why Carrick will pick him. Lindelof is good at times and could start over Bailly. I like Bailly because of the counter, someone athletic to break stuff up, he played well in their last encounter.

Carrick has not had much time and could keep it Ole with only a day really to prep. The players that are likely missing were out this weekend.

Villarreal

The yellow submarine are not doing so hot in La Liga this season. In Champions League they should have beat United at Old Trafford, but Ronaldo. A draw against Atalanta in their first game and two wins against Young Boys give them seven in the group and tied with United.

Villarreal are like a Leicester, tactically not so much, but where they are in their league because of their involvement in Europe. Villarreal currently sit in the 12th spot in the league, just like Leicester. They both have good players and are capable of more in their leagues.

Villarreal lack wins, only three in their first 13 games. They have seven draws this season. Villarreal have a tough time seeing out games this season and give up late goals often. Another one this weekend against Celta Vigo.

Dalot got torched the last game by Arnaut Danjuma, but luckily he is hurt at the moment and is in doubt for the match. Star striker Gerard Moreno has been out for awhile and is out for the match. Etienne Capoue and Paco Alcacer join Danjuma as doubtful for the match.

Dalot could see minutes if Danjuma is out, but it might be too risky to start him tomorrow.

Villarreal have some injury problems to key players in their attack. Defensively they have been consistent and injury free. Juan Foyth, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres and Alfonso Pedraza cover Geronimo Rulli. Villarreal are tied for third best in goals allowed in La Liga this season.

Final Thoughts

Unai Emery knows this game is important, especially with their final game being against Atalanta, a draw could see the top three teams with 8 points. Atalanta will probably beat Young Boys. Villarreal has a good goal differential and could draw out the next two matches and qualify for the knockout round.

A win for either United or Villarreal would put either in the driver seat to qualify for the knockout rounds. The yellow submarine do not really have the firepower right now to go for it.

It is hard to expect much from a team with a caretaker manager. The quality is there and sometimes you cannot put your guard down against a wounded animal. I think Emery will leave his guard up, but United still have the quality to win even if Villarreal plays tight.

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