What the papers say

The Premier League's overachievers, underachievers and those on par | Paul Wilson

What the papers say - Sat, 07/25/2020 - 12:00

Liverpool’s ruthless consistency and Sheffield United’s ability to adapt exceeded expectations, but Arsenal and Spurs slumped, while Manchester City and United have been satisfactory

League tables may never lie, though everyone knows they can be economical with the truth. By Sunday evening we will have our final Premier League table, after an extraordinarily difficult season is played out to a compromised but fair conclusion. Yet what the record books and finishing positions never quite reveal is what was expected of teams beforehand.

Some teams in the top half of the table will be disappointed with their place in the order of things, whereas some teams in the bottom half will be relieved. What follows is an attempt to break up the table into three groups: those who have done better than anticipated, those who have done worse and those who have simply completed the course with an acceptable but unspectacular score.

Related: Three into two will not go as race for Champions League enters final sprint

Related: Relegation zone: What Aston Villa, Watford and Bournemouth need to do

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær urges Manchester United to stay focused at Leicester

What the papers say - Fri, 07/24/2020 - 12:40
  • One lapse in concentration could cost Champions League place
  • ‘We’re going into final game with strong frame of mind’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has warned that a “lapse of concentration” could cost Manchester United Champions League qualification at Leicester City on Sunday.

A point would guarantee United a top-four finish, while victory would confirm Solskjær’s side in third. And though they could still claim Champions League football if they lose against Leicester and Chelsea are beaten by Wolves, the manager is intent his team will not play for a draw.

Related: Three into two will not go as race for Champions League enters final sprint

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Three into two will not go as race for Champions League enters final sprint

What the papers say - Thu, 07/23/2020 - 18:18

Manchester United and Chelsea currently sit third and fourth respectively but Leicester can take advantage of any slip-ups on the final day of the Premier League season

Sunday’s fixture Leicester (a) What they need A draw, though defeat will suffice if Chelsea lose

Related: Manchester United can forget a title challenge with a defence like this | Jonathan Liew

Related: Cybersecurity at risk after hackers try to sabotage Premier League transfer deal

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Manchester United can forget a title challenge with a defence like this | Jonathan Liew

What the papers say - Thu, 07/23/2020 - 10:42

United’s backline is their weakest link, with crosses a particular trouble spot, and significant reinforcements are needed

Naturally, the jokes were not long in coming. Paul Pogba: the solution to Manchester United’s goalkeeping problems. A better reaction save than David de Gea has managed all season. If it wasn’t humour, it was blind fury.

“It’s rubbish from him, embarrassing,” Gary Neville chided on Sky Sports. “You’ve got to take that in the face,” James Collins agreed in the studio. And as a tired Manchester United stumbled at home to West Ham, putting their Champions League participation next season in doubt, Pogba felt like a very convenient scapegoat for a team whose current problems go plenty deeper than one pair of wandering hands and one instinctive handball.

Related: Greenwood grabs point for Manchester United after Pogba's penalty blunder

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Greenwood grabs point for Manchester United after Pogba's penalty blunder

What the papers say - Wed, 07/22/2020 - 20:01

Mason Greenwood’s 17th goal of the season places him alongside George Best, Wayne Rooney and Brian Kidd as Manchester United’s most prolific teenagers. More important his second-half equaliser means Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side have only to draw at Leicester on Sunday’s final day to seal fourth place and Champions League qualification: a demand the manager would have accepted during the dark days of winter.

Related: Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United: Premier League – live reaction!

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Manchester United v West Ham United: Premier League – live!

What the papers say - Wed, 07/22/2020 - 17:56

5.56pm BST

“Hi Simon,” writes Rob Carey. “Just wondering if anyone wanted to bet on what minute Man Utd will get their penalty tonight? I’ll go for the 36th minute.”

5.55pm BST

Tough call, this one. Looks like Fernandes is further off the ground and Pogba is closer to the sky.

5.45pm BST

David Moyes is asked to explain West Ham’s improved recent form. He doesn’t entirely succeed.

Well, there’s never only one thing but we’ve been scoring goals, we’ve been making chances, we’ve defended a little bit better in the last couple of games. But I just think making chances and taking chances when we’ve got them as well.

5.40pm BST

“Huge game for United tonight because you know qualifying for the Champions League keeps Adidas happy and any prospective new recruits who just have a burning desire to play six games in next years competition,” meows Neil Carter. “Enough cynicism, after the debacle that was the FA Cup Semi three points would be great! Good luck in goal tonight David, no pressure son!”

5.29pm BST

Eight people photographed standing close together at Old Trafford. The odd thing about this photograph is that I can’t for the life of me work out who is talking/interacting/fist-bumping who.

5.18pm BST

I love how Robbie Savage is working the camera here.

The men in masks are ready... @ConorMcNamaraIE and @RobbieSavage8 are at @ManUtd vs @WestHam in the @premierleague for @5liveSport - commentary coming up from 6.00pm. #bbcfootball pic.twitter.com/dWhuQqLyaL

5.06pm BST

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes four changes, bringing in Pogba, Martia, Fosu-Mensah and Greenwood, and leaving out Bailly, Wan-Bissaka, Fred and James. West Ham are unchanged.

5.03pm BST

The team sheets have been handed in, and this afternoon/evening/morning/whatever’s game will feature this lot:

Manchester United: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial. Subs: Mata, Lingard, Fred, Dalot, James, Romero, Ighalo, Wan Bissaka, McTominay.
West Ham: Fabianski, Johnson, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Soucek, Rice, Bowen, Noble, Fornals, Antonio. Subs: Balbuena, Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson, Lanzini, Wilshere, Haller, Masuaku, Randolph, Coventry.
Referee: Paul Tierney.

Your #MUFC XI for our penultimate #PL clash of 2019/20!#MUNWHU

The team is in! Here's how we line up for #MUNWHU pic.twitter.com/x6rF9EVnMN

2.37pm BST

West Ham are now unofficially safe, though given that Watford and Aston Villa could both catch them on points (their goal differences are inferior by 14 and 13 respectively, so some thrashings would need to be handed out) they will be eager to bank the one point it would take to make it official. Wins tonight and at home to Villa on Sunday would leave them with a sufficiently large final points tally for the whole relegation threat to seem like a grim and distant dream. They might be inspired by these opponents: when the Hammers beat United 2-0 in September they were, with six games played, merrily skimming along in fifth (one place above Bournemouth). Happy memories, but they won only two more games before the end of 2019, losing nine, and by the turn of the year they were 17th (one place below Bournemouth).

It’s got to be said that they probably won’t win, mind. Manchester United are a team transformed over the last few months, and their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea on Sunday is the only reverse in any competition in the last six months - it is their half-year anniversary of their last league defeat, against Burnley at Old Trafford, today. They also have the incentive of knowing that draws in their last two games (they play Leicester, with whom they are currently level-pegging on both points and goal difference, in their last fixture on Sunday) would be enough to secure Champions League football next season, which would be a jolly impressive thing to achieve.

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De Gea mentally strong and knows his job is to perform, says Solskjær

What the papers say - Tue, 07/21/2020 - 11:18
  • Manager determined not to increase pressure on goalkeeper
  • Manchester United ‘sticking together’, Solskjær insists

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has insisted David de Gea is “mentally strong” following the goalkeeper’s latest error in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat but refused to discuss his No 1 in depth to avoid increasing pressure on him.

De Gea’s soft hands were at fault for Mason Mount’s second goal in Chelsea’s 3-1 win and he should have done better for Olivier Giroud’s opener, when he failed to repel a close-range effort. The Spaniard has also made mistakes in other matches.

Related: De Gea's decline continues as United's FA Cup chance evades his grasp | Jonathan Wilson

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Frank Lampard talks of Chelsea's 'three finals' after FA Cup semi win

What the papers say - Sun, 07/19/2020 - 22:38
  • Manager wants trophy and Champions League qualification
  • Solskjær says United have ‘got to move on’ from De Gea errors

Frank Lampard urged Chelsea to build on their potential by qualifying for the Champions League and winning a trophy after they took advantage of a poor goalkeeping display from David de Gea to join Arsenal in the FA Cup final thanks to an impressive 3-1 victory over Manchester United.

Chelsea head into the final week of the Premier League campaign on a high after Lampard ended a run of three defeats this season to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side, who were left with concerns over De Gea’s declining form after the Spaniard allowed shots from Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount to squirm past him.

Related: Chelsea pounce on De Gea errors to reach FA Cup final at United's expense

Related: De Gea's decline continues as United's FA Cup chance evades his grasp | Jonathan Wilson

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De Gea's decline continues as United's FA Cup chance evades his grasp | Jonathan Wilson

What the papers say - Sun, 07/19/2020 - 22:00

The Spanish goalkeeper handed Chelsea at least one goal at Wembley and his manager may soon have a decision to make

Amid the chaos of Spain’s World Cup in 2018, perhaps the greatest casualty was David de Gea. The days when his heroics repeatedly papered over the cracks at Manchester United feel a long time ago. It can be debated whether De Gea was at fault for the first and third goals, but he was clearly to blame for the second and, in those two moments, United’s long unbeaten run disappeared, and Chelsea’s passage to the FA Cup final was secured.

Frank Lampard had left out Kepa Arrizabalaga for his Cup keeper Willy Caballero, although given no goalkeeper has conceded a higher proportion of the shots on target he’s faced since Opta began collecting the data, he may have done so with a sense of relief. Ole Gunnar Solskjær will perhaps wish he had done something similar. Although he made a number of changes to a putative first-choice lineup, both a reflection of the fact his side had played Crystal Palace on Thursday and an indication that Champions League qualification remains the priority, he preferred De Gea to Sergio Romero, who had played in the four previous rounds.

Related: Giroud leads Chelsea's march to FA Cup final at Manchester United's expense

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Chelsea pounce on De Gea errors to reach FA Cup final at United's expense

What the papers say - Sun, 07/19/2020 - 20:28

Of all the selection decisions Ole Gunnar Solskjær made for this FA Cup semi-final, the one to persist with David de Gea rather than call upon Sergio Romero looked the safest; the least eyebrow-raising.

The Manchester United manager named Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood among his substitutes but, in goal, he went for continuity and the promise of stability, which spelt disappointment for Romero, who had played in almost all of the club’s cup ties this season. The notable exception had been both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final lost to Manchester City.

Related: Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea: FA Cup semi-final – as it happened

Related: Selfless Granit Xhaka completes unlikely Arsenal redemption | Jonathan Liew

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Manchester United v Chelsea: FA Cup semi-final – live!

What the papers say - Sun, 07/19/2020 - 19:14

7.14pm BST

46 min Chelsea begin the second half. No news on Eric Bailly, who presumably has been taken to hospital.

7.12pm BST

“Much has been said (by far cleverer people than me) about De Gea, but he’s a real conundrum,” says Matt Dony. “It wasn’t a case of him having a bit of a purple patch a few years ago. He was genuinely, inarguably one of the very best goalkeepers in the world. He seemed to pull off amazing saves regularly. During a period where United had the worst bunch of defenders they’d had for years, he made them respectable. It wasn’t even that long ago, was it? These days, he’s a liability. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, he still makes some good saves, but the ball goes through him far, far too often. On balance, he’s now an adequate keeper. No more, no less. I don’t understand the change. I can’t think of many other sportspeople who have gone from being consistently so incredible for a few years to consistently so average for a few years. Does Ole stick or twist before next season? Surely he has to twist...”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a keeper with better reactions than de Gea, so I’d be loath to sell him unless I was nigh-on certain he was past his best. He’s 29, which is young for a keeper, but he also started as a teenager. My hunch is he’ll never get back to his 2012-18 level. But how can you be sure?

7.09pm BST

“A quick look at Project Restart shows Man Utd having a game on average every 3.3 days,” says Ben O’Connell. “That’s not counting the possible final of the FA Cup or any Europa League games. That’s an incredible amount of game time in a short period of time after a gap longer than most off seasons with no preseason. Add to that a shallow squad and you’re likely to get decreasing standard of play.”

7.04pm BST

“De Gea is not elite with the ball at his feet and never sweeps up,” says Digvijay Yadav. “His redeeming quality - pulling off ridiculous saves - has waned considerably. And now he’s on a massive wage. Oh well.”

It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it? For four or five years he was astoundingly good. Maybe he never got over that slightly miserable 2018 World Cup.

7.02pm BST

I can’t decide whether de Gea was at fault for the goal or not. Giroud was only six yards out so his reaction time was almost nonexistent, but having got a hand to the ball he probably should have saved it. I think he pushed it onto his leg and back over the line, in which case he was a little unlucky.

7.00pm BST

Half-time reading

Related: Harry Kane double lifts Tottenham and dents Leicester's top-four hopes

7.00pm BST

Peep peep! That was a strange, subdued first half, but Chelsea were the better side and probably deserve to be ahead.

6.58pm BST

Azpilicueta played a give and go with Willian down the right and curled a fast cross to the near post. Giroud got away from the sleepy Lindelof and flicked a neat shot with the outside of the left foot that went through de Gea and into the net.

6.57pm BST

Olivier Giroud scores in the 56th minute!

6.57pm BST

45+11 min Bruno Fernandes suddenly reverses a brilliant pass through the Chelsea defence, but the alert Caballero gets to the ball just before James.

6.55pm BST

45+9 min We’re in the 54th minute of the first half. What day is this?

6.54pm BST

45+8 min United appeal for a penalty when Martial goes down after a clumsy challenge from Zouma. VAR decides Mike Dean didn’t make a clear and obvious error. It was definitely a foul - Martial got to the bouncing ball first and Zouma booted his leg - but I reckon it was just outside the area, so maybe that’s why VAR didn’t intervene.

6.53pm BST

45+8 min Five minutes of added time were scheduled but I’d imagine it will 11 or 12.

6.52pm BST

45+7 min “Afternoon Rob,” says Tim. “City unarguably have strength in depth up front and in midfield, but it’s fair to say they didn’t cope marvellously well with Laporte’s injury this season.”

Yeah but wait until this summer, when they buy Koulibaly, Upamecano, Skriniar, Maldini, Beckenbauer and Baresi.

6.52pm BST

45+6 min Bailly is being wheeled down the tunnel and play will resume.

6.51pm BST

45+5 min Bailly is being moved very slowly onto a stretcher. The BBC commentator Steve Wilson said that Bailly had a delayed reaction to the clash of heads with Maguire, which is worrying.

6.49pm BST

45+3 min Bailly is now lying on his back near the touchline. He is in a neck brace and a stretcher is being prepared. Play has been stopped because Bailly is being treated right by the touchline.

6.48pm BST

45+1 min Bailly is on his feet, but he’s clearly concussed and is going to come off. Martial replaces him, so I imagine United will switch to the usual 4-2-3-1: de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; James, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.

6.46pm BST

45 min While Maguire has his head bandaged, Anthony Martial is getting ready to come on for Eric Bailly.

6.45pm BST

44 min Maguire is sitting up while his eye is stitched. He looks okay but Bailly is probably concussed; he’s clashed heads twice in the space of three minutes.

6.44pm BST

42 min Now Bailly has clashed heads with Maguire, who has a bit of blood coming from his right eye. Both players look very groggy. If United do have to make a change, they might take the opportunity to switch to a back four.

6.42pm BST

41 min Zouma and Bailly are okay to continue.

6.42pm BST

40 min “United resting Pogba, Martial and Greenwood has exposed the lack of quality in the squad,” says Stephen Carr. “Same with Liverpool if any of the front three are missing (and god forbid van Dijk gets injured). Only City have genuine strength in depth - a squad which we now know was assembled using only entirely legitimate means.”

You say that about Liverpool, but one of the most astonishing things about that 4-0 win over Barcelona is that they were without Salah and Firmino for the whole game and Robertson for the second half. I agree that it’s not sustainable over a longer period though.

6.40pm BST

39 min Mount’s deflected cross from the left is headed over by the diving Zouma at the near post. It was a half chance at most. Zouma and Bailly clashed heads as they dived for the ball, and both are still down.

6.39pm BST

38 min “I blame the pace of this game on two things,” says Matthew Richman. “One, the way United set up with five across the back; two, the congestion of this schedule. Fernandes especially has been a presence in both boxes I think every game since the restart. The man needs a rest.”

Yeah, that’s going to be a big problem at the start of next season (!) as well, especially for teams who go deep in the Champions League/Europa League.

6.37pm BST

37 min Rashford’s free-kick hits the wall.

6.37pm BST

36 min Kovacic fouls Fernandes 35 yards from goal, to the right of centre...

6.35pm BST

33 min Mount’s long-range shot is comfortably held by de Gea. It was a shot on target, though, and I think that’s enough to move this game from ‘stinker’ to ‘mediocre’ on the anygoodometer.

6.34pm BST

32 min Fernandes hammers the corner hard and low towards Matic, arriving late in the box, but the ball is just too far in front of him. Chelsea broke broke three on three, only for Willian to overhit his cross.

6.32pm BST

32 min Fernandes’s free-kick is tipped over by Caballero. It was fairly central and thus a comfortable save.

6.31pm BST

31 min Fred is fouled 25 yards from goal by Kovacic, just to the left of centre. That was a silly tackle, and this is a chance for United. It’s probably more suited to Fernandes than Rashford, who scored from further out against Chelsea in the League Cup.

6.30pm BST

30 min United are enjoying their first sustained spell of possession since the first few minutes.

6.29pm BST

29 min United have been very poor in possession. They have some good attacking options on the bench: Greenwood, Pogba, Martial. At this rate they’ll need them.

6.27pm BST

27 min Maguire fouls Giroud on the left wing. Mount overhits the free-kick. This could be a long night.

6.26pm BST

25 min Fernandes is fine to continue.

6.26pm BST

24 min Bruno Fernandes is down after being studded in the phallus by Azpilicueta, who was trying to reach a bouncing ball to stop a United counter-attack. It’s a good time for the drinks break.

6.23pm BST

23 min Willian’s corner is overhit. As a piece of entertainment, this game stinks.

6.23pm BST

22 min Mount’s shot hits Maguire and goes behind for the first corner of the match.

6.20pm BST

20 min Pass pass pass pass. It’s all Chelsea.

6.19pm BST

18 min Chelsea continue to dominate possession, although they haven’t got behind the United defence yet.

6.17pm BST

15 min: Chance for Alonso! Azpilicueta, in a narrow position to the right of centre, floated a lovely cross to the far post. It went over the head of Wan-Bissaka and reached Alonso, who thumped a header over the bar from six yards. He might have done better, though it was difficult for him to get over the top of the ball.

6.15pm BST

14 min United move the ball nicely from right to left before Williams is dispossessed by James. It’s like a bloody chess match out there!

6.12pm BST

12 min Chelsea are having more of the ball, though that isn’t always a good thing in these games. It’s still very cagey.

6.11pm BST

10 min A fierce, swirling long-range strike from James is punched away by de Gea.

6.10pm BST

8 min “Let me tell you what I think would be a good week for United,” says Digvijay Yadav. “Win today, pump West Ham to make the Leicester game redundant and qualify for CL proper by finishing third. Don’t think I am asking for much.”

6.08pm BST

7 min It’s all very cagey at the moment. Both teams have plenty of knowledge of and respect for each other.

6.04pm BST

3 min A slow start, nothing to report except that Brandon Williams has a black eye after that clash of heads against Southampton.

6.01pm BST

1 min Peep peep! United, in red, kick off from right to left. Blue is the colour for Chelsea.

6.00pm BST

The players emerge on a cloudy evening in north London. This really is a biggie.

5.38pm BST

It’s already been a good day for these two sides, because Spurs are hammering Leicester.

Related: Tottenham v Leicester: Premier League – live!

5.25pm BST

Pre-match reading

Related: United and tough breaks keep coming back to haunt Frank Lampard | Jonathan Wilson

5.18pm BST

“Not happy with the defensive set up just announced by Solskjaer,” says Neil Carter. “Essentially seven defensive players on the pitch! It’s clear where his priorities lie for the run in.”

And quite right too, in my opinion. Also, the 3-4-1-2 worked very well in the league at Stamford Bridge (and also against Liverpool and Manchester City). I think it’s an understandable team selection, particularly in view of the schedule.

5.01pm BST

Both manager have made multiple changes, and it looks like both have switched to a back three. United used that system successfully when they won at Stamford Bridge in the league in February.

Manchester United (3-4-1-2) de Gea; Bailly, Maguire, Lindelof; Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Matic, Williams; Fernandes; James, Rashford.
Substitutes: Romero, Pogba, Mata, Martial, Pereira, Fosu-Mensah, Ighalo, Greenwood, McTominay.

4.05pm BST

Hello and welcome to the final part of the catchily titled Manchester United v Chelsea FA Cup Business End Quadrilogy. They met in the quarter-finals in 2017, the final in 2018 and the fifth round in 2019. Now they will complete the set by playing each other in the semi-finals.

It’s a fascinating match for all kinds of reasons: United could beat Chelsea for the fourth time this season, both clubs are rebuilding under a club legend and are two steps away from a first trophy, they are in a simultaneous battle to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. And, best of all, there’s been just a hint of needle in the build-up. One way or another, this should be fine Sunday evening entertainment.

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Categories: What the papers say

Frank Lampard wary Manchester United will punish Chelsea's flaws

What the papers say - Sat, 07/18/2020 - 22:30

‘We are working on how to cut out the defensive errors at crucial moments,’ the Blues manager said as he prepared for Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against in-form Manchester United

Frank Lampard admits Chelsea have given too many goals away through unforced individual errors this season and after three defeats against Manchester United already he does not need to be told that Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side approach Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final full of confidence.

“We know we will be playing a very good team in great form,” the Chelsea manager said. “Their front three are very potent and behind them Bruno Fernandes has given United a huge boost since joining in January. The way they are playing United have the individual quality to beat almost anyone, so we have to be at our best and make sure we keep our concentration.”

Related: Frank Lampard says VAR is favouring semi-final rivals Manchester United

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United and tough breaks keep coming back to haunt Frank Lampard | Jonathan Wilson

What the papers say - Sat, 07/18/2020 - 22:30

Chelsea under their former player are regularly being undone on the counter, leaking goals in a manner that suggests Manchester United could take advantage in FA Cup semi-final

On the opening weekend of the Premier League season, Chelsea went to Old Trafford, controlled possession for long periods, hit the woodwork twice and were beaten 4-0, shredded on the break again and again. The pattern for Frank Lampard’s first season in the Premier League was immediately set: Chelsea, good with the ball; not so good when they lose it. They have lost twice more to Manchester United since and, on Sunday afternoon, face them again in an FA Cup semi-final.

Lampard is widely considered to have had a decent campaign. Even with the competition’s diminished status, an FA Cup final and perhaps a first trophy would augment that – perhaps more so this year than for a while, given the oddity of the season restarting with the league in effect already won, leaving the Cup as the one domestic trophy still available. But doubts still remain, notably about Chelsea’s defensive record.

Related: Frank Lampard says VAR is favouring semi-final rivals Manchester United

Chelsea have leaked 12 goals from crossed set pieces this season, more than any side other than Norwich and Aston Villa

Related: Jorginho starting to look the odd man out in Chelsea midfield plans | Jacob Steinberg

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Solskjær tells Lampard and Mourinho: stop trying to influence referees

What the papers say - Sat, 07/18/2020 - 22:30
  • Manager hits back at idea United have had ‘lucky’ VAR decisions
  • Let referees do the refereeing, he says before Chelsea semi-final

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has hit back at José Mourinho’s claim that Manchester United have been lucky with VAR decisions by claiming his Tottenham counterpart and other Premier League managers have an agenda to influence match officials.

United face Chelsea in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and Frank Lampard, their manager, has also said United have benefited from questionable decisions going their way. In Thursday’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace Jordan Ayew’s goal was given offside by VAR, while Victor Lindelöf’s penalty-area challenge on Wilfried Zaha was not ruled a spot-kick.

Related: Frank Lampard says VAR is favouring semi-final rivals Manchester United

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Frank Lampard says VAR is favouring semi-final rivals Manchester United

What the papers say - Fri, 07/17/2020 - 22:30
  • Chelsea manager warns his side about conceding penalties
  • United have been given 13 spot-kicks in league this season

Frank Lampard has said VAR appears to be working in Manchester United’s favour at the moment and has warned Chelsea’s defenders to be wary of conceding penalties when they look to end a run of three successive defeats by Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side in their FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

United have equalled a record for spot-kicks awarded in a single Premier League campaign after winning 13 this season and Lampard wants his players to avoid diving in at Wembley, pointing out how Bruno Fernandes shaped his body to convince the officials to give him a controversial penalty against Aston Villa this month.

Related: Manchester United's Rashford and Martial sink luckless Crystal Palace

Related: Frank Lampard calls on quiet Chelsea players to make some noise

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Inside No 9: Martial excelling in central role with Solskjær's support

What the papers say - Fri, 07/17/2020 - 09:00

Anthony Martial has formed a deadly partnership with Marcus Rashford thanks to a motivational change of shirt number

What’s in a number? Plenty, it seems, if your name is Anthony Martial. Before Manchester United’s battling victory against Crystal Palace on Thursday, the Frenchman revealed the contents of a text Ole Gunnar Solskjær had sent him last summer.

“He said: ‘Do you want to take your No 9 shirt back?’” Martial said. “I straight up said yes! He told me: ‘Now it’s up to you to show me you deserve it every time you’re on the pitch’.”

Related: 'We have earned this': Solskjær relishes fate being in Manchester United's hands

Related: Manchester United's Rashford and Martial sink luckless Crystal Palace

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'We have earned this': Solskjær relishes fate being in Manchester United's hands

What the papers say - Thu, 07/16/2020 - 23:33
  • Manager praises team for delivering when it matters
  • Palace chairman Steve Parish unhappy with penalty rejection

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has urged his Manchester United side to embrace the challenge of qualifying for next season’s Champions League after a hard-fought victory over Crystal Palace.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial took their combined tally for the season to 44 goals as they scored either side of half-time at Selhurst Park to ensure United remain a point behind fourth-placed Leicester with two games to play following the earlier victory for Brendan Rodgers’s side against Sheffield United. United face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday at Wembley before rounding off their Premier League campaign at home to West Ham in midweek and travelling to the King Power Stadium on the final day.

Related: Manchester United's Rashford and Martial sink luckless Crystal Palace

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Categories: What the papers say

Manchester United's Rashford and Martial sink luckless Crystal Palace

What the papers say - Thu, 07/16/2020 - 22:22

Whatever Marcus Rashford does in a Manchester United shirt, it will struggle to surpass his work to combat child poverty. But the striker could enjoy his most fruitful performance since the Premier League restart as he helped his club to maintain their push for a Champions League finish.

Make no mistake, this was not the comfortable evening for United that the scoreline might suggest. Crystal Palace were committed opponents who found that the finest details were against them. The excellent Wilfried Zaha shouted in vain for a first-half penalty while Jordan Ayew had what would have been an equaliser pulled back by the tightest VAR offside call.

Related: Pérez and Gray goals reward revitalised Leicester in win over Sheffield United

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Categories: What the papers say

Crystal Palace v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

What the papers say - Thu, 07/16/2020 - 19:54

7.54pm BST

A big result just in, with implications for Manchester United. Leicester have bounced back from that farcical defeat at Bournemouth with a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. That’s a fine victory over obdurate opponents, and they’re now three points clear of United in fourth. The race for the Champions League looks like going down to the wire, and a possible final-day winner-takes-all showdown between Leicester and United. One way or another, it’s going to be dramatic.

Related: Leicester City v Sheffield United: Premier League – live!

7.47pm BST

A chat with Roy Hodgson. “If you analyse runs of results, there are always things you’re not that disappointed with, and others that you are. We’ve not exactly had the best of luck, we’ve made a rod for our own back in a couple of games by giving things away, but these things do happen. It’s important that we put on a good show, a good performance. I’m not sure what playing at home means any more! But our last home game was a good one against Chelsea and hopefully we can reproduce that tonight.”

7.40pm BST

A word with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “We know what we have to do, come here on the front foot and start positive. That’s what we want to see in the beginning of the game. Timothy Fosu-Mensah has been waiting for his chance and will be ready. Scott McTominay has done a great job this season so we felt it was time to freshen up [the midfield]. We lost to Palace at home so we know how they can hurt you. Their front three are quick and skilful and can score a goal from nothing.”

7.24pm BST

Palace make two changes to the team that went down at Aston Villa last weekend. Andros Townsend and James McCarthy take the place of Cheikhou Kouyate, who drops to the bench, and Christian Benteke, who is suspended.

United make two changes to the side that conceded a late equaliser at home to Southampton. In come former Palace loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Scott McTominay. Nemanja Matic drops to the bench, while Luke Shaw is injured.

7.18pm BST

Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Dann, Sakho, van Aanholt, Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, McCarthy, Zaha, Ayew.
Subs: Meyer, Kouyate, Hennessey, Schlupp, Kelly, Woods, Mitchell, Pierrick, Riedewald.

Manchester United: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Fosu-Mensah, McTominay, Pogba, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Bailly, Mata, Lingard, Fred, Dalot, James, Romero, Ighalo, Matic.

1.56pm BST

Ah yes, Crystal Palace against Manchester United. We’re all thinking about it, aren’t we, so here goes.

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Categories: What the papers say

From starters to five: a short history of football substitutions

What the papers say - Wed, 07/15/2020 - 14:00

Managers can make five subs in Premier League games. Long gone are the days when players battled on with broken bones

By Richard Foster for the Guardian Sport Network

More than 170 years have passed since the first football substitutes were used on the playing fields of Eton College. Back in the 1850s, when schoolboys did not turn up for games, replacements were drafted in at the last minute. The first recorded mention of substitutes came in 1863.The Charterhouse eleven played a match in cloisters against some old Carthusians but in consequence of the non-appearance of some of those who were expected it was necessary to provide three substitutes,” reported Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, a weekly eight-page broadsheet.

It took the professional game almost a century to catch up, finally introducing substitutes in qualifying matches for the 1954 World Cup. The honour of being the first substitute in top class football was accorded to Richard Gottinger, who came on for West Germany in their 3-0 victory over Saarland in Stuttgart on 11 October 1953. West Germany qualified for that World Cup and went on to win it – the first of their world titles – but those 37 minutes were to be Gottinger’s only involvement. He never played for his country again.

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Categories: What the papers say