What the papers say

Solskjær tells Robin van Persie: ‘You took my shirt number but that’s all’

What the papers say - Fri, 01/03/2020 - 22:30
• Manchester United manager hits back at criticism for smiling
• ‘I will not change my management style. That’s definite’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has rounded on Robin van Persie by saying the former Manchester United striker took his shirt at the club but will not take anything away from his management style.

Van Persie had criticised Solskjær for smiling after Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, saying: “I would like to see him more mean at times, just be angry. I see him smiling after a game like that. This is not the moment to smile.”

Related: Paul Pogba out for up to four weeks with new ankle injury, says Solskjær

Related: Solskjær’s game of patience at Manchester United is running out of time | Jonathan Wilson

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‘Everybody felt that sadness’: Nuno says Wolves grieved after Cup semi-final exit

What the papers say - Fri, 01/03/2020 - 22:29

• Wolves lost to Watford in painful fashion at Wembley last season
• Diogo Jota unfit to face Manchester United with thigh injury

The Wolves manager, Nuno Espírito Santo, says the “grieving” his team did in the aftermath of their FA Cup semi‑final defeat against Watford in May has made them better able to face this season’s competition.

On Saturday Wolves host Manchester United, whom they eliminated in the quarter-final last season before losing a two-goal lead in the semi‑final against Watford, who won 3-2 in extra time. Nuno admits that elimination hit him and the players hard and they had to grieve in order to come back stronger.

Related: Paul Pogba out for up to four weeks with new ankle injury, says Solskjær

Related: Tottenham’s Harry Kane set to be out until March with torn hamstring

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Paul Pogba out for up to four weeks with new ankle injury, says Solskjær

What the papers say - Fri, 01/03/2020 - 10:23
• Injury different to previous ankle injury, says Norwegian
• Manchester United face Wolves in the FA Cup on Saturday

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has revealed Paul Pogba has a different ankle injury to the one that had previously ruled him out for a large part of the season.

The Manchester United midfielder made a comeback from the initial problem with two substitute appearances against Newcastle United and Watford but has now been ruled out for up to another four weeks.

Related: Solskjær’s game of patience at Manchester United is running out of time | Jonathan Wilson

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Solskjær’s game of patience at Manchester United is running out of time | Jonathan Wilson

What the papers say - Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:22
Planning for the future is laudable, but at some point there must be evidence of a plan being enacted in the here and now

For eight minutes at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, everything looked to be going well for Manchester United. And then suddenly it wasn’t. As it was in the game, so it has been for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s career at Old Trafford. Have patience, the message comes again and again from the United board. Look at the youth in the squad. Wait for it to flower. But for how long, and at what cost?

Watching another insipid United performance away from home against a side below them in the table, Mauricio Pochettino’s aphorism about the cow came to mind. It can stand in the field every day and watch the train go by, but it’s never going to be able to explain the timetable. Just being there, experiencing the same thing over and over doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom, understanding or development. And there is little evidence that United are developing: they haven’t won three games in a row for 50 weeks, when Solskjær had just taken over and everybody was still euphoric just because he wasn’t José Mourinho.

Related: Paul Pogba’s foot surgery could force Manchester United to recruit in January

Related: Possessed Arteta coaxes Nicolas Pépé back from the living dead | Barney Ronay

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Paul Pogba’s foot surgery could force Manchester United to recruit in January

What the papers say - Thu, 01/02/2020 - 00:22
• Pogba advised to have operation but it is ‘nothing major’
• Scott McTominay out for ‘a few months’ with knee injury

Paul Pogba needs surgery to address his long-standing foot problem and although it is “nothing major” according to Ole Gunnar Solskjær, it needs to be done as soon as possible and will rule him out for three or four weeks.

Speaking after Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, Solskjær said Pogba had been “advised to have an operation by his people,” which sounded a little curious. But United said their medics had conducted the scans first, confirmed the diagnosis and were in agreement with Pogba’s personal specialist.

Related: Pépé strikes as Arsenal rediscover their mojo to master Manchester United

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Possessed Arteta coaxes Nicolas Pépé back from the living dead

What the papers say - Wed, 01/01/2020 - 22:56

Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Manchester United shows new manager may already have discovered how to make the most of £72m signing

Welcome to the Emirates, Nicolas Pépé. We’ve been expecting you. On a chilly, boisterous night in north London, Arsenal’s £72m record signing produced a fine attacking performance that was startling in more ways than one.

Startling first of all because Pépé was able to unpick the left side of Manchester United’s defence with such ease that the heavy-legged, heavy-footed, and indeed heavy Luke Shaw looked genuinely lost at times, a single stone Easter Island head planted in the sand, watching on in sombre silence as a game of football took place around him.

Related: Pépé strikes as Arsenal rediscover their mojo to master Manchester United

Related: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

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Pépé strikes as Arsenal rediscover their mojo to master Manchester United

What the papers say - Wed, 01/01/2020 - 22:06

Mikel Arteta has his first win as the Arsenal manager on the back of a dominant first-half performance against Manchester United and, if there is a distance to cover before past glories are recovered, it is at least a start; a small step in the right direction.

Arsenal had kicked off in 13th place in the Premier League, four points above the relegation zone, and everybody knew another home defeat would have made it four in a row – admittedly not all of them on Arteta’s watch but it would have equalled a club–record low.

Related: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

Related: West Ham put four past Bournemouth to welcome back David Moyes in style

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Arsenal v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

What the papers say - Wed, 01/01/2020 - 19:31

7.31pm GMT

Some potential January moves in this morning’s Rumour Mill ...

Related: Football transfer rumours: Moussa Dembélé to join Chelsea's strikeforce?

7.26pm GMT

I am expecting Aubameyang to play on the left, which is a shame as it’s certainly not his best position but Arteta has obviously decided the way to go is to get all his best players onto the pitch and fit them into a formation.

7.22pm GMT

Bill emails in: “Re the 606 call (18.57), any analysis of Arsenal’s descent will have to include a look at the seemingly entitled, paranoid, delusional, highly critical parts of the fan base, I’d say. I think Arteta seems to have a great plan and be acting intelligently. No wonder he’s had to spend time rallying the fans, but should that be necessary? I can see the point of being vocal where it’s due (Emery was a mistake from the off), but surely support should go the other way, from fan to club”

7.20pm GMT

Welcome to a new year.

Related: Solskjær preaches cautious optimism as United look towards brighter 2020 | Aaron Bower

7.13pm GMT

No Pogba once again for United, which will fuel a few rumours, I am sure. He didn’t feature at Burnley due to some degree of fatigue. Can he still be tired?

7.07pm GMT

January business for United?

Related: Manchester United will spend if 'right type' of player is available in January

7.02pm GMT

Xhaka and Torreira are paired together as the wall to stop Manchester United and that Arsenal front four looks rather exciting: Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette.

Matic keeps his place in midfield for United, while Shaw will line up against Pepe, which will be an intriguing battle.

7.00pm GMT

Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Subs: Martinez, Ceballos, Holding, Nelson, Willock, Guendouzi, Saka.

6.57pm GMT

An Arsenal ‘fan’ has just phoned up 606 to say they are going down and Aubameyang and Lacazette aren’t good enough. I know things aren’t great the the moment but to say the Gunners will be relegated is bizarre. Odd chap.

6.49pm GMT

Here’s David Hytner on Mikel Arteta’s worries.

Related: Mikel Arteta wary of United threat to Arsenal’s weak defensive foundations

4.36pm GMT

Happy New Year!

Hopefully by now your hangover has subsided and you have moved back onto solids. Speaking of hangovers, Arsenal are still trying to get over the one induced by pumping 75% proof Unai Emery into their veins. New boss Mikel Arteta looks to have brought some endeavour and freedom to Arsenal’s attacking players but the same old issues continue in defence and it cost them two late goals and the match against Chelsea. Arteta will be hoping he can secure his first win tonight but that will not be as easy as it seemed a couple of months ago.

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Solskjær preaches cautious optimism as United look towards brighter 2020 | Aaron Bower

What the papers say - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 13:47
After a downward decade Manchester United’s manager believes he is beginning to see his side emerge through the mire

Perhaps, in many ways, it is fitting that the 2020s should begin for Manchester United with a trip to Arsenal. The last decade began with United and Arsenal second and third respectively in the Premier League table, but having shared 11 of the first 12 Premier League titles, there were just two between them in the 2010s: the most recent of those going to United in 2013.

These are two sides who find themselves in transitional periods, of that there can be no question. Whether the 2020s can provide happier times remains to be seen, but for Ole Gunnar Solskjær at least, there are grounds for cautious optimism. United finished 2019 with back-to-back victories against Newcastle and Burnley and, unlike Wednesday’s opponents, are firmly in the race for the Champions League places.

Related: David Squires on … cherished football memories from the past decade

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Manchester United will spend if 'right type' of player is available in January

What the papers say - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 10:34
  • United linked with Saúl Ñíguez and Moussa Dembélé
  • Solskjær says club will not buy players ‘for the sake of it’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has reiterated that Manchester United will only spend in the January transfer window if the right player becomes available, insisting that he has the backing from the board to add to his squad over the next month. United have been linked with a host of potential targets across Europe before the window opens on Wednesday, including Atlético Madrid’s Saúl Ñíguez and Lyon striker Moussa Dembélé.

Related: Premier League fans’ January transfer window wish lists

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Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

What the papers say - Mon, 12/30/2019 - 08:28
Lamptey may not last long at Chelsea, Leicester can be regular title contenders and have Pereira and Ndombele finally arrived?

Welcome to the Premier League, then, Tariq Lamptey. And – quite possibly – farewell. For the 19-year-old right-back, the Emirates Stadium was some place to make a professional debut. He rose to the challenge, keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet and making one thrilling foray into Arsenal territory before playing in Tammy Abraham. It says plenty about Chelsea’s short-term youth policy that Lampard felt able to throw an untried teenager into a game of this magnitude. It says plenty about Chelsea’s long-term youth policy that they may not be able to keep him. Lamptey’s contract is up at the end of the season, and Paris Saint-Germain are ready to pounce. “Hopefully he feels a bit of love,” Lampard said afterwards. The question, with three right-backs ahead of him and time running out, is whether it will be enough. Jonathan Liew

Related: The Dozen: the weekend's best Premier League photos

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Olympics, World Cups and more: Tom Jenkins' pictures of the decade

What the papers say - Mon, 12/30/2019 - 08:00

The Guardian and Observer sport photographer picks his favourite images from the thousands he shot during the past 10 years

This is a collection of images I have shot during the last decade. I wasn’t selecting them because they were necessarily the biggest moments or the greatest stars – it was purely because I liked them as pictures and some had nice stories attached. What jumped out at me when choosing them is there should be far more sportswomen featured. The amount of women’s sport I cover has gradually increased but if I get to do a decade round-up in 2029, I want there to be a far more even balance between the sexes.

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The Dozen: the weekend's best Premier League photos

What the papers say - Sun, 12/29/2019 - 19:46

Our picture editors select their favourite images from the weekend’s action

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Manchester United’s deadly Anthony Martial punishes sloppy Burnley

What the papers say - Sat, 12/28/2019 - 21:56

Nights like this, in the depths of December at a sub-zero Turf Moor, are not the ones that will stick in the memory for Manchester United supporters come May, but they could turn out to be decisive in their attempt to return to the Champions League. In the end, it was one moment of ill-judgment from Charlie Taylor, coupled with a clinical finish from Anthony Martial and a late breakaway strike from Marcus Rashford, that decided this encounter, which had all the festive fizz of a bottle of champagne left open since Christmas Day.

But that will matter little to United, who are now only a point shy of fourth-placed Chelsea after back-to-back victories. This was far from perfect from United, but a first away clean sheet in the league since February secured with a makeshift midfield of Fred, Nemanja Matic and Andreas Pereira, who impressed throughout, represents a solid night’s work for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side as they prepare for Arsenal on New Year’s Day.

Related: Burnley 0-2 Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

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Burnley v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

What the papers say - Sat, 12/28/2019 - 20:27

8.27pm GMT

42 mins: Hart has gone to sit back down. In other goalkeeping news: De Gea whacks the ball straight out of play. The resulting long throw ends up with Barnes in the area but he smashes his shot high and wide.

8.25pm GMT

40 mins: Hart is readying himself to come on. Pope is up once more and looks like he will try to carry on. Poor Joe Hart.

8.23pm GMT

38 mins: Fred is dictating things in the middle of the park, his latest work puts in Williams on the left, his cross flashes along the six-yard line but Mee does well to put Martial off and it goes away. Pope rolls his ankle repositioning himself for the cross and his game could be over. Hart on?

8.21pm GMT

36 mins: Sean King is thinking of January: “Lots of talk of talk of Maddison, Sancho and Haland to Utd, but stick Grealish and Adama Traore in this side and United would be immense going forward.”

Who will United get?

8.19pm GMT

34 mins: HOW HAS THAT NOT GONE IN?! Williams arrives on the overlap and lifts a cross over everyone to James at the back post, his original shot bounces out to Martial six yards from goal and he smashes it at goal, only to have it cleared off the line from Bardsley. Incredible stuff from the Burnley full-back.

8.17pm GMT

32 mins: Burnley finally create an attack which looks like it is going somewhere until Bardsley completely fails to find Westwood five yards away from him. United then break and it ends up with Rashford on the right who drives a cross from the byline straight at Mee who finds himself in the perfect position to stop the cross.

8.15pm GMT

30 mins: Rashford thwacks another free-kick form 35 yards, which clips off the top of the wall and heads over the bar. The corner is headed clear by Bardsley, who then checks to make sure his hair is still in place.

8.13pm GMT

28 mins: Mee catches Martial on the heel, probably just remind him that he’s there. Maguire and Mee have a long argument about it, which results in a smirk from the Burnley skipper and telling the United man to get back in his box.

8.11pm GMT

26 mins: Wood kicks Maguire in the face, as you do. There is no malice from Wood, just an honest attempt to get the ball.

Burnley are keeping it tight here and just waiting for a set-piece to put United under pressure.

8.09pm GMT

24 mins: Williams is fouled once more, this time by former United full-back Bardsley who catches him quite late while trying to get into the box. Pereira whips the free-kick in from the left but it is headed clear with minimal fuss.

Justin Kavanagh says: “As it’s Christmas, I’ve a fiver bet on Burnley keeping this game scoreless, based on the faithful’s belief (though not mine) that the Pope is infallible. Judging by his first few touches, I haven’t a prayer!”

8.07pm GMT

22 mins: Burnley earn a corner off Fred which never was and the Brazilian gets very angry with the referee. United will not want face many corners tonight, especially ones that are not merited. Luckily for all involved it comes to nothing.

8.05pm GMT

20 mins: United break on Burnley at pace, culminating in Rashford getting the ball on the edge of the box and whacking a shot against the foot of the post and wide.

8.03pm GMT

18 mins: Needless to say, United look more creative as Burnley just aim it up to the two big men. Williams does well to get away from Wood, who earns his revenge by somehow removing the defender’s boot.

Burnley hit a long free-kick into the box which Tarkowski knocks down for someone to attack but it ends up with De Gea.

8.01pm GMT

16 mins: A one-two between James and Rashford releases the former to get away from Taylor, who brings him down just before he reaches the area. It is a cynical challenge but he does not get a booking. Fred whacks the free-kick well over.

7.59pm GMT

14 mins: Tarkowski pulls down Fred around 35 yards from goal. Rashford lines it up and hits it wonderfully with power and precision, forcing Pope to dive to his left to palm away the swerving ball at around hip height.

7.56pm GMT

12 mins: Barnes has spent half the game in the air trying to flick the ball on to someone or other and the rest moaning to the referee about getting pushed in the back while jumping. Mike Dean, naturally, is having none of it. Probably because both sides played two days ago, the pace of the match can only be described as slow.

7.55pm GMT

10 mins: Rashford shouts in pain after being caught by Westwood. It does not look too bad but Rashford does take a kick on the top of his foot. The forward has looked United’s main threat thus far, so they will want him at 100 per cent.

7.53pm GMT

8 mins: Great work by Taylor on the left wing sees the full-back beat two men and chip a cross to the back post but his opposite number, Williams, is there to flick it clear before a claret shirt can get their head on it.

7.51pm GMT

6 mins: Pope runs 20 yards out of his goal, takes a poor touch and is almost closed down by Martial but just about gets his clearance away. Young is on the deck after getting a little push in the back from Barnes. The United full-back hits the ground hard and looks in pain. After treatment he seems fine to continue.

7.49pm GMT

4 mins: Rashford lifts a ball over the top for Pereira to chase but he is beaten to it by Pope, who decides to push it onto the midfielder, who knocks it out for a goal kick, rather than catch it. Whatever his intention, it worked.

7.47pm GMT

2 mins: Burnley are looking to put the balls into the channels and Barnes has already earned a free-kick from Maguire. A positive start from the hosts.

7.45pm GMT

Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!

7.42pm GMT

The players are out on the pitch and Turf Moor is looking packed. Hopefully the teams will put on a show.

7.41pm GMT

I have a feeling it is not warm in Burnley. But the Burnley team are all in short sleeves apart from Hendrick.

7.37pm GMT

No shortage of things going on here ...

Related: Harry Kane rescues point for Spurs at Norwich after Aurier’s farcical own goal

7.34pm GMT

Matic, Pereira and Fred is possibly the least terrifying midfield three United have put out in the Premier League.

7.29pm GMT

On BT Sport Marcus Rashford is taking Robin van Persie around Manchester and has been explaining the homeless issue there. As someone from the city, he is absolutely right to raise awareness of how bad the situation has become. He’s a good egg.

7.21pm GMT

I always get a little tinge of sadness when I see Joe Hart on a bench; he was so good for Man City for so long and since then has, metaphorically, fallen off a cliff.

7.19pm GMT

Stats ...

9 - Since winning their first ever Premier League meeting with Man Utd in August 2009, Burnley are winless in their subsequent nine against them in the competition (D4 L5). Tricky. pic.twitter.com/m75QNE3P8Y

7.15pm GMT

A busy time for the Pope.

@Will_Unwin
Nice to see Pope lining up just 3 days after Christmas
Continuing the trend of Wolves and Norwich , Burnley could make it a holy trinity weekend
Burnley is known for causing difficulties to Man U

7.11pm GMT

Have United recovered?

Related: Solskjær backs youthful Manchester United to recover quickly for Burnley

7.04pm GMT

Anyway ... when will we stop talking about the actual football and turn our thoughts to VAR? I will go for the 17th minute

7.01pm GMT

No surprises in the Burnley team. They will be even more excited looking at the United side. I suspect McNeil will be happier to face Young than Wan Bissaka.

6.56pm GMT

January transfer plans ...

Related: Premier League fans’ January transfer window wish lists

6.46pm GMT

No Pogba, so they have dusted off Matic for the game. His last league appearance came in September.

6.45pm GMT

Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Taylor, Tarkowski, Mee, Cork, Hendrick, Westwood, McNeil, Barnes, Wood

Subs: Hart, Lowton, Gudmundsson, Drinkwater, Brady, Rodriguez, Long

5.25pm GMT

Good evening!

Sean Dyche’s Burnley sit happily in mid-table and are not even looking over their shoulder, so will be very content with life. The squad and style are pretty much set and they will certainly make life difficult for a Manchester United team on a high after thrashing Newcastle.

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Premier League fans’ January transfer window wish lists

What the papers say - Sat, 12/28/2019 - 18:04

Marco Verratti to Manchester United? Adama Traoré to Spurs? Supporters set out their hopes for next month

Forgive the cynicism, but it’s hard not to think Arsenal’s suits went for Mikel Arteta because, unlike some of the more experienced options, he was happy to take the job without demanding a massive war chest up front. So, while the squad is gossamer thin and injury-struck, it won’t be a surprise if not much is spent next month. Especially since Emery seemingly wasted £72m on Pépé – that experience suggests the board are unlikely to risk £80m on another show pony in Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. Mikel might well be forced to rely on kids instead, hoping Saka, Maitland-Niles, Smith-Rowe, Nelson and Willock will flourish.

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Burnley v Manchester United: match preview

What the papers say - Fri, 12/27/2019 - 17:12

Manchester United have won two of nine away league games this season – and one of those came at Manchester City. The short trip to Burnley offers a chance for United to get over their travel sickness; they have lost only once at Turf Moor in 13 visits, a run that dates back to 1968. Paul Pogba looks set to start for the first time since September owing to Scott McTominay injuring his knee against Newcastle. Niall McVeigh

Saturday 7.45pm BT Sport 1

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Solskjær backs youthful Manchester United to recover quickly for Burnley

What the papers say - Fri, 12/27/2019 - 10:04

• United travel to Turf Moor 48 hours after beating Newcastle
• Solskjær says cluttered festive calendar should be changed

Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United’s youthfulness gives them a better chance of recovery than Burnley when the teams meet just 48 hours after playing on Boxing Day.

United beat Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford while the Clarets lost 1-0 to Everton before Saturday’s match at Turf Moor.

Related: Anthony Martial at double for Manchester United in Newcastle rout

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Anthony Martial at double for Manchester United in Newcastle rout

What the papers say - Thu, 12/26/2019 - 19:36

Manchester United again illustrated their ambiguous character by rebounding from Sunday’s dismal defeat at Watford with this smooth-geared, canter of a victory.

They even gave Newcastle the advantage of a goal start during a dire few first‑half minutes before upping quality and control to pull away and display a ruthlessness they can sometimes lack.

Related: Dele Alli’s flash of class seals home win for Tottenham over Brighton

Related: Manchester United 4-1 Newcastle United: Premier League – live!

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Manchester United v Newcastle United: Premier League – live!

What the papers say - Thu, 12/26/2019 - 19:08

7.08pm GMT

80 mins: Chance for Pogba! Mata plays a lovely pass infield from the left wing, and Pogba attempts a difficult first-time left-foot finish as the ball bounces across him and gets nothing on it at all.

7.07pm GMT

79 mins: Save! After all that pointless passing Maguire gets the ball, bursts forward, and has a 30-yard shot that Dubravka tips wide!

7.06pm GMT

78 mins: Man Utd pass the ball about. Newcastle don’t do much to stop them, and the home side don’t seem that bothered about moving it into dangerous areas.

7.02pm GMT

75 mins: Newcastle do a thing! Sean Longstaff nutmegs Fred and then blasts a 35-yarder over the bar.

7.00pm GMT

72 mins: They’re showing off now. Pereira does a spinning backheel flick to Mata, who crosses to Greenwood, who can’t finish.

6.57pm GMT

69 mins: Lingard chips a pass into the area for Mata to run on to. Dubravka reaches it first but forgets how to catch, and for a moment it looks like Mata will get an easy goal before the goalkeeper finally claims it.

6.56pm GMT

68 mins: Martial is off, and Mata is on. Greenwood, presumably, will move infield from the right.

6.55pm GMT

65 mins: Man Utd are in full and complete control of this game, with what suspense their remains surrounding quite how big the scoreline is going to get.

6.51pm GMT

63 mins: Further substitutional news: DeAndre Yedlin replaces Almiron for Newcastle, and Jesse Lingard replaces Rashford for Man Utd.

6.48pm GMT

61 mins: Martial tries to beat Dubravka at his near post again, with a low 20-yarder. This time the post itself gets in the way!

6.47pm GMT

60 mins: Gayle goes off having missed his only decent chance, and Atsu comes on.

6.47pm GMT

59 mins: Rashford is played through. The linesman raises his flag but the referee allows the move to progress. Rashford teases Dubravka for a while, takes his time, waits until the goal is genuinely gaping and then misses it completely. Replays confirm it was indeed offside.

6.45pm GMT

57 mins: Pogba resists the temptation to shoot from long-range, carries the ball forward for 10 yards or so and then caves in to the temptation to shoot. Dubravka makes an easy save, and Martial is a bit annoyed that his run into the area wasn’t rewarded.

6.44pm GMT

57 mins: Schar is back on, and celebrates by thumping a shot well over the goal from way out.

6.43pm GMT

55 mins: It looks like Martial accidentally trod on Schar’s hand as he tried to get to the ball there. The Newcastle defender is bleeding, and in some discomfort. He gets some treatment on the pitch, and then leaves it for a bit more.

6.41pm GMT

53 mins: Pereira tries to play in Martial, rather than the unmarked Greenwood to his right, and Schar covers the Frenchman’s run and cuts out the ball. Newcastle are in danger of letting this get embarrassing.

6.39pm GMT

Another Christmas present from Newcastle! Sean Longstaff spins on the ball, just inside his own half, and plays a delightful if unintentional pass to Martial, who runs clear, looks to have given Dubravka a chance with a poor touch but catches up with the ball in time to dink it over the keeper!

6.37pm GMT

50 mins: Ooof! The ball rolls to Pogba, 30 yards from goal, and he hits a first-time shot that sets off in the right direction but then curls away.

6.36pm GMT

49 mins: Manchester United appear in full control now. They continue to massively dominate possession, though with this team that isn’t necessarily a positive, while Newcastle struggle to string two passes together.

6.33pm GMT

46 mins: Peeeeep! The second half is happening.

6.32pm GMT

The players come back out, and Pogba will indeed replace McTominay.

6.28pm GMT

Paul Pogba is warming up and presumably coming on at the break. You’d expect McTominay to be the one to make way, given that he was booked after 20 seconds and has repeatedly flirted with disciplinary disaster.

6.19pm GMT

45+3 mins: Peeeeep! A game that appeared to be following Newcastle’s script for the first half-a-half turned rapidly in the other direction in the second half-a-half. Martial’s shot shouldn’t really have gone in, but Greenwood’s was irresistible if deflection-assisted, the third was all about Wan-Bissaka’s excellent delivery, and the home side are now in control.

6.16pm GMT

45+2 mins: Joelinton has a shot from wide on the left, which De Gea saves easily.

6.16pm GMT

45+1 mins: Into the first of two additional minutes, and another excellent Wan-Bissaka cross is headed away.

6.14pm GMT

44 mins: Martial spins on the halfway line. To his right two red shirts are moving, and for a while unmarked. But instead of passing to either of them, he runs forward, gets into the penalty area and falls over. The referee is unimpressed.

6.12pm GMT

42 mins: The goal stands! McTominay’s hand had brushed Matty Longstaff’s face, but it certainly wasn’t a foul and you couldn’t possibly classify the result as a head injury.

6.12pm GMT

And another! Wan-Bissaka’s right-wing cross is headed in by Rashford at the far post! Newcastle aren’t happy, because they had a player down and apparently injured as the move progressed...

6.10pm GMT

40 mins: Now Greenwood crosses low from the right, but Martial can’t turn it in. These last few minutes have been full of aggression and attacking intent from the home side.

6.09pm GMT

39 mins: Now United cross from the left, and Lindelof, beyond the far post, hits a wild left-foot volley way high of goal.

6.08pm GMT

38 mins: Rashford is taken out on the left wing, and from the free-kick Pereira curls the ball towards the near post, and Dubravka makes the save!

6.06pm GMT

Oh, hello! Shar foolishly gives the ball to Greenwood, 35 yards from goal, who carries it towards the edge of the box and then hits a ferocious shot, which clips off Fernandez on its way into the roof of the net!

6.05pm GMT

34 mins: This is a bit of a strange game, full of lulls and longeurs. Pereira gets himself booked for an untidy challenge.

6.01pm GMT

30 mins: Another shot from distance by Manchester United, Pereira this time sending the ball skimming wide.

5.57pm GMT

27 mins: McTominay has his latest attempt at getting a second yellow card, pulling back Almiron, but having been so very keen on booking him the first time, Kevin Friend is really not at all interested in doing it again.

5.56pm GMT

26 mins: Now Man Utd are stretching the visitors on both flanks and looking more dangerous, though their delivery from wide isn’t reliably good.

5.55pm GMT

United equalise with their first decent shot! They work the ball down the left and pull back to Pereira, who taps it straight to Martial, whose shots towards the near post is well struck but should have forced Dubravka into a regulation save - instead he gets two hands on it and lets it slip through them.

5.51pm GMT

21 mins: What a strangely fallible side this Manchester United team is. They win a fourth corner, from which Greenwood eventually does that Greenwood thing of jinking onto his left foot and shooting. It looks like it would have nestled inside the far post had a defender not been in the way.

5.48pm GMT

18 mins: There’s a delay while VAR checks to see if the bouncing ball hit Joelinton’s arm in the build-up, but they decide it didn’t.

5.47pm GMT

Now they do take the lead! Almiron finds Longstaff with a fine infield pass and he chips the ball through to Joelinton, who holds off Maguire, turns and lays back to Longstaff, who controls and then passes into the corner of the net!

5.46pm GMT

16 mins: What a chance for Newcastle, and what a miss from Gayle! Joelinton plays him through, and as United hesitate in search of an offside flag Gayle homes in on goal but with De Gea exposed blasts his shot over the bar!

5.44pm GMT

14 mins: Newcastle break; Willems’ pass is cut out but the visitors win it straight back and move it to Almiron, on the left-hand corner of the area, whose shot flies wide of the near post.

5.42pm GMT

12 mins: Manchester United win a free-kick, 10 yards or so outside the area and left of central. Rashford takes it, and his shot flicks off the wall on its way behind.

5.39pm GMT

10 mins: And McTominay continues to hog my updates by having the game’s first shot. It was from quite a distance, and was pretty useless.

5.37pm GMT

7 mins: McTominay appears to have recovered from whatever was making him limp earlier, and is thus free to throw himself into more challenges. United are dominating these early exchanges, without really worrying the Newcastle defence.

5.34pm GMT

4 mins: Now McTominay is hobbling, after chucking himself into another couple of clumsy challenges, neither of which seemed particularly wise in the circumstances.

5.32pm GMT

1 min: Scott McTominay gets booked innside 20 seconds, for fouling Sean Longstaff. It’s extremely harsh in my opinion: there was very little contact, and you never get booked for that kind of challenge in the opening minute of a game. Well, not never, obviously, but close enough.

5.30pm GMT

1 min: Peeeeeep! The home side get the game started.

5.28pm GMT

And out they come! The players are busily handshaking as I type, kick-off just moments away.

5.26pm GMT

The players are in the tunnel! Seven Boxing Day Premier League games down, two to go, and the next a couple of minutes away.

5.16pm GMT

Steve Bruce has a chat:

To ask Big Andy to play three games in six days, we erred on caution then, and the same goes for Jonjo. It was a case of maybe having to patch up, but we’re quietly confident that we can make a good account of ourselves. They [the Longstaffs] will come in and throw lots of effort and endeavour, two brothers coming to take on Man Utd at Old Trafford, how fantastic for them. We’ve done OK of late. It’s important that we don’t get away. We’ve shown a bit of consistency, been difficult to beat, and we’re going to have to show those traits today.

5.11pm GMT

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a chat:

It’s still early days for Paul and we still feel he needs to be drip-fed into this, and play more and more and gradually. Andreas and Mason will freshen us up. Scott McTominay has been fantastic all season, he’s been one of the big, big pluses all season. He’s a leader, he knows what it means, and for us it’s about a good reaction now. We need a reaction after last week, and I hope we win. I’ve said to the boys, you’ve got to go out and prove to everyone what we’re about. Life’s not in one straight line. It’s ups and downs, you win some and you lose some, and you’ve just got to deal with it.

Hear more from the boss ahead of #MUNNEW — sound pic.twitter.com/yKM90lpsCg

4.57pm GMT

So Paul Pogba remains on the Manchester United bench, while Solskjaer brings in Andreas Pereira and Mason Greenwood. The Longstaff brothers come back in for Newcastle having both starred against the same opponents earlier this season, while Dwight Gayle starts for the first time in a long time.

4.54pm GMT

Youll be wondering who’s going to be playing in this game, no doubt. Well, here’s your answer:

Man Utd: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial. Subs: Jones, Pogba, Mata, Lingard, Young, James, Romero.
Newcastle: Dubravka, Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune, Manquillo, Sean Longstaff, Matthew Longstaff, Almiron, Willems, Gayle, Joelinton. Subs: Carroll, Shelvey, Hayden, Krafth, Yedlin, Darlow, Atsu.
Referee: Kevin Friend.

Two changes for #MUFC:

➡️ @_MasonGreenwood
➡️ @AndrinhoPereira

⬅️ @Daniel_James_97
⬅️ @JesseLingard#MUFC #MUNNEW

TEAM-NEWS

This is how we line-up for #MUNNEW at Old Trafford this evening!

Federico Fernández captains Steve Bruce's side.#NUFC pic.twitter.com/Lxs9uOyf12

4.51pm GMT

“Given that both teams have the same number of points why does one count as having been surprisingly good and the other as surprisingly bad?” wonders David Wall. “Shouldn’t they both be considered equally so-so, or sometimes good, sometimes bad (which is actually what they have been, both pretty inconsistent). Describing them otherwise is really measuring them against expectations that might not be based on how each clubs actually stands (in all respects) right now.” There’s no room for that kind of logic here.

4.22pm GMT

Half the season played, and the Uniteds of Newcastle and Manchester are level-pegging with 25 points apiece, thanks in part to the riproaring Newcastle win at St James’ Park in October, when Matty Longstaff scored the only goal of the game on his debut.

Steve Bruce says nobody should get carried away by how good Newcastle have been. “We haven’t done anything yet,” he insists. “We’ve given ourselves a nice platform, but we’re only halfway there, so we’ve got to show the same resilience and spirit that we’ve shown over the last few months and see where it takes us.”

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