What the papers say
Stretched thinly across the pitch and playing without a back-up plan, Marcelo Bielsa’s men could only plough-on into oblivion
Perhaps, when we think about some of the great Marcelo Bielsa teams, this was the sort of thing we had in mind. Feverish attacking football played at a breakneck pace, with courage and verve and runners peeling in all directions. Players seamlessly switching positions and assuming each other’s roles. The problem for Leeds United was that for most of the game they were on the receiving end.
Not that you would have known it to look at them. Normally you get some sense of how a game is going from the demeanour and tactics of the two teams: the hunched shoulders and crumpled body language, the nonchalant rondos, the vague sense of deflation. But for most of this breathless farce, the only dead giveaway was the rapidly mounting scoreboard in the corner of the screen.Continue reading...
Scott McTominay broke a Premier League record, scoring twice in the first three minutes as Man Utd put six past Leeds in a glorious slugfest
Here’s Scott McTominay
“We played well today and I thought we deserved the six goals. Leeds are an amazing team and we’ve done a lot of video analysis on them. It’s nice to score two goals but you don’t want to get carried away - it’s all about the next game. We’re not looking at the league table.
A comedown for the ages
“What was that?” says Mary Waltz. “Answer. Joy!”
That win moves Manchester United up to third in the table. They’re two points behind Leicester, who they meet next in the league on Boxing Day, and five behind Liverpool with a game in hand on both. Ole out!
Just one more thing: what the hell was that?
A glorious slugfest comes to an end. That was so much fun, too much fun almost, and there could have been a lot more than eight goals. I feel slightly dazed, so goodness know how the defenders on both sides must feel.
90+3 min “That was a volleyball-style double dummy from Leeds,” says Hugh Molloy. “90th minute, 6-2 down. Phenomenal.”
90+2 min McTominay, who started this nonsense with two goals in the first three minutes, has limped off with a groin injury. That’s a big blow for United.
90+1 min There will be 12 hours of added time. Cavani has a low shot saved by Meslier.
90 min Harrison misses a sitter, sliding Raphinha’s cross wide from eight yards after clever dummies from both Rodrigo and Bamford. This game could feasibly have finished 10-6.
87 min Telles’s corner is headed over by Maguire. That’s the 41st attempt on goal: Manchester 25-16 Leeds.
87 min Mercy.
86 min Telles’s corner is headed straight at Meslier by Maguire. He rolls the ball out, United win it back straight away, and Meslier makes a terrifric save from Fred!
86 min Telles’s fierce shot from a tight angle is pushed behind at the near post by Meslier.
85 min Martial’s angled through ball finds Cavani, whose low shot is too close to Meslier. James’s follow-up is also saved by Meslier. It was a good double save, but Cavani should really have scored.
84 min This is the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement that Manchester United have been in a title race at Christmas. I still think Liverpool will run away with it, mind.
83 min “Please tell me,” says Karl Handy, “you think West Brom vs Villa is going to be a much more exciting game than this...”
As we speak, Big Sam is telling Ole to hold his beer, or maybe his pint of wine.
81 min Now Ayling misses a decent chance, heading over from a corner.
80 min Alioski’s cut-back is diverted by the stretching Fred towards Harrison, whose close-range shot is blocked desperately by Maguire. This is joyously bonkers.
80 min I’ve never seen a game of football quite like this. The Expected Goals computer has probably blown up.
79 min McTominay shoots well wide from 30 yards.
78 min There have been 31 shots in this game: Manchester 18-13 Leeds.
A corner was knocked up in the air by Lindelof. Bamford was about to volley it towards goal when he fell over after a challenge from van de Beek. No penalty. Hmm, I’d like to see that again.
VAR check I think this will be a penalty to Leeds.
76 min Here comes Leeds again, and Raphinha wins a corner. They get knocked down...
75 min “I still believe that Leeds are overrated,” says Bogdan Kotarlic. “Yes, they are fun but I prefer watching games that finish 1-0 or 1-1 but with some real and good defending. There are some of us who actually think that good defenders (and there is always less of them) are welcomed to the game and Leeds don`t have them at all.”
I can certainly appreciate that viewpoint, Jose, but Leeds definitely make my world a much better place.
74 min Leeds are still playing with the intensity and optimism of a team who are only one goal down. Their spirit is astonishing.
Stuart Dallas scores a beautiful goal, sweeping a curler into the corner from the edge of the D.
73 min Man Utd break four on four yet again. McTominay finds Martial, who takes the ball inside Shackleton with his first touch and slides a low shot that is kicked away by Meslier. He should have scored.
73 min “Leeds have built a reputation for swashbuckling football,” sys Peter Oh, “but today they’ve shown precious little swash and too much buckling.”
72 min Leeds make their final change: Leif Davies replaces Liam Cooper, who is limping heavily.
71 min A couple of substitutions: Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani replace Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.
Fernandes dances round the ball, jumps on the spot and passes it into the bottom-right corner.
PENALTY TO MANCHESTER UNITED! Martial dinked a loose ball over Struijk, whose followthrough took Martial’s legs from under him. It’s a soft penalty but a penalty nonetheless.
United broke four on four for the umpteenth time today. McTominay cut inside from the left and drove a long, low pass towards Bruno Fernandes at the far post. It was intercepted by James, who pushed it past Ayling with a fine first touch and drove the ball through the legs of Meslier.
Dan James gets a rare Premier League goal!
66 min “Leeds overrated?” sniffs Tim Stappard. “Ridiculous. In this horrible year they are footballing Pfizer.”
In more ways than one.
65 min de Gea plunges to his right to push Raphinha’s half-volley round the post. I think it was going wide anyway but de Gea took no chances.
61 min “Leeds defence isn’t so much bad as suffering from the same problem as the city’s supermarket – Asda,” says Gary Naylor. “There aren’t enough staff and those that are there are in the wrong place.”
60 min Martial tries to give McTominay a hat-trick with a teasing cross to the far post. Ayling does well to get back and head behind for a corner. Before it is taken, Luke Shaw is replaced by Alex Telles.
59 min “Why no VAR for the James booking?” says Martin Lancon. “Farcical.”
They can’t adjudicate directly on yellow cards, though it would have been overturned had VAR given Man Utd a penalty. It probably wasn’t a foul though, and even if it was I think it was outside the area.
57 min Bruno Fernandes leathers a long-range shot that hits Ayling and spins behind for a corner.
55 min Shaw’s corner grazes the head of the leaping Bruno Fernandes. Approximately 1.4 seconds later, Dallas has a shot blocked by Maguire at the other end.
52 min James is booked for diving. Manchester United broke four on three, with James on the ball. He ran straight at Cooper, who put his arm across James’s neck on the edge of the area. James fell over, expecting a penalty, and was surprised to see Anthony Taylor’s yellow card. That’s a bit harsh I think.
50 min: Brilliant save from de Gea! This is glorious stuff. Rodrigo, on the right, curled a brilliant deep cross towards Raphinha at the far post. He sidefooted a fierce close-range volley that was pushed up in the air by de Gea, the kind of marvellous reaction save he used to make every week. The ball eventually rebounded off the far post before Maguire put it behind.
49 min “Am I the only one who thinks that Bielsa`s Leeds are overrated?” says Bogdan Kotarlic. “They are fit and they play interesting football but their defending is awful.”
I don’t think they’re overrated; they’re just very popular because they’re so much fun.
47 min: Martial misses a sitter! It should be 5-1. Fred won the ball off Dallas in midfield and found Fernandes. He eased a pass through to Martial, who took it beautifully in his stride but slid a low shot wide of the far post.
46 min Shackleton has gone to right-back, with Dallas moving into midfield. Struijk has taken Phillips’ place in front of the back four.
46 min Peep peep! Manchester United begin the second half. Leeds have made two changes: Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton replace Kalvin Phillips and Mateusz Klich.
“Stunning first half,” says Mark Gale. “Though I truly believe this Manchester United team have what it takes to lose 5-4.”
Imagine Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds. The ‘action areas’ percentages would be 49/2/49.
Episode two of United Rewind is OUT NOW!@DanielHarris & Rob Smyth look back at a monster of a performance from Robbo, Norman and the rest in the epic 1985 FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool. https://t.co/d2WJnEm5sa#MUFC pic.twitter.com/60FmL2sZhu
Yeah, nice one, but did he score his second in the third minute like Scott McTominay?
Please don’t ask me to summarise that.
45+1 min “Doogie Howser,” says Matt Dony, “was Keyser Soze all along. (I mean, makes as much sense as this scoreline.)”
You say that, but is anyone surprised by this score? Anything from 6-0 all the way round to 0-6 was conceivable.
45 min Rashford draws a decent save from Meslier with a low left-footed drive from 20 yards.
44 min Man Utd break four on four. Of course they do. Rashrford runs at Ayling, cuts inside and hits a shot that deflects behind off Cooper.
43 min Harrison’s corner is headed over his own bar by Wan-Bissaka. I never thought I’d say this, but Manchester United might need a fifth goal...
This is sheer delightful (and slightly bonkers) football. Raphinha’s outswinging corner is met emphatically by Cooper, who flicks an accomplished header into the net. De Gea got a hand on it at full stretch and couldn’t keep it out.
41 min “Hello Rob,” says Geoff Wignall. “There was a time when I thought McTominay looked a real prospect, but he seems to have lost his entire mojo in the last half hour or so.”
39 min Go on, explain it.
38 min Leeds are 4-0 down, and they have covered themselves in glory. Explain that.
Shaw’s outswinging corner was headed on by Martial towards the far post, where Lindelof lost Phillips and slipped the ball under Meslier.
Effing hell it’s Victor Lindelof!
35 min “Doogie Howser,” says David Wall. “He’s exposed as having bought his medical degree from Trump University, is struck off the medical register, and jailed for numerous counts of assault and obtaining drugs under false pretences. But there’s a spin off show, Doogie Howser Prison Kingpin, that is even more successful.”
I knew I recognised that young-looking bloke in Oz.
34 min Dallas’s cross hits James and goes behind for a corner. Phillips’s outswinger is only cleared as far as Raphinha, whose low drive is kicked away by the stretching de Gea. Taat’s good save, though it might not have counted - Harrison, in front of the keeper, was subsequently flagged offside.
32 min Alioski’s stinging shot is blocked by Wan-Bissaka. Leeds are like Tigger, whatever the scoreline.
32 min Manchester United look so dangerous on the counter-attack. With a better final ball and a bit more concentration, they could have had a couple more goals.
31 min Martial runs at Ayling to win a corner for Manchester United. Shaw’s outswinger is headed away well by Cooper, under pressure from Maguire.
30 min “Last year on a business trip to Japan I saw an elderly gentleman in a cafe in the genteel suburb of Shirokanedai in Tokyo,” says Tony Barr. “He was wearing a Scotland home shirt with ‘McTominay’ on the back. I wondered what he had done to inspire such admiration from afar. Today goes some way towards an explanation...”
29 min Another dangerous Manchester United counter-attack ends with James having a shot blocked by Phillips. Leeds go down the other end and Raphinha’s shot hits Fred.
27 min It’s all Leeds at the moment. I suppose if they are going to win a league game at Old Trafford for the first time since 1981, they might as well do it the hard way.
26 min “Leeds is the best marketing tool the Premier League has,” says Mary Waltz. “ am sure the Jose-leaning purists are having seizures at the lack of defence but they don’t get it. There down 3-0 but they are not out of the match. it’s the non-stop action that is so much fun to watch. Even the odd low scoring Leeds fixture is full of action. Give me more of this. Yes, please.”
The Jose-leaning purists? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
25 min Klich lifts in a good cross from the right towards Bamford, who gets in front of Wan-Bissaka but heads over from 10 yards. That was another chance, though not as clear as the earlier one. Leeds, god bless them, haven’t given this up at all.
24 min I said a win would put Manchester United fourth in the table, but if they win by four goals (or 4-1, 5-2 etc) they will jump to third with a game in hand. Solskjaer out!
22 min “Hi Rob,” says Dexter Stern. “I’m shocked at the revelation you have not watched Batman Begins, which means the moment in The Dark Knight Rises when Miranda Tate announces to Batman SHE is the child of Ra’s Al-Ghul will mean nothing to you. Nothing.”
If anyone spoils the ending of Doogie Howser MD, there’ll be trouble.
Leeds are picked apart on the break. Rodridgo gives the ball to James on the halfway line and Manchester United set off. Fred surges through midfield and tries to find Martial in the area. He is well tackled by Ayling but the ball falls nicely for Fernandes, who smacks a low drive into the far corner from 10 yards.
Oh my days.
19 min: Bamford has a goal disallowed for offside! Rodrigo’s shot was half blocked and came to Bamford, who rifled it through the hand of the diving de Gea. Replays confirm he was a couple of yards offside.
18 min Leeds win their first corner. Raphinha’s inswinger rebounds off a couple of defenders and Manchester United clear. I thought that might have hit an arm, though nobody on the field seems interested in what I think.
16 min Rashford looks in the mood; he has beaten a Leeds defender with a body swerve two or three times already.
3 - Scott McTominay is the first player in Premier League history to score twice in the first three minutes of a match. Madness. pic.twitter.com/QtFGGS1JXa
14 min Another good bit of defending from Cooper, who slides to stop Martial’s through ball reaching Rashford.
12 min Scott McTominay scored more goals from open play in the first three minutes than the entire Manchester United team had managed in nine hours of Premier League football at Old Trafford this season.
11 min “Go football!” says Travis Giblin.
It’s all sorts of fun, this.
10 min Rashford beats Dallas on the edge of the area through sleight of hip and hits a rasping drive that is blocked by Cooper.
9 min “Watching Bielsa’s pre-match interviews, I can’t help but wonder if he is just a front and his translator is the real mastermind,” says Vibhanshu Bisht. “Like Liam Neeson being the real Ra’s Al-Ghul in Batman Begins.”
Thanks for spoiling a 15-year-old film I was probably never going to watch anyway.
8 min: Bamford misses an excellent chance! Leeds should be back in it. Rodrigo played a beautiful first-time pass down the inside-left channel towards Bamford, who held off Lindelof but steered his shot wide of the far post.
7 min Leeds are surging forward, just as they do whether it’s 2-0, 0-0 or 0-2. This could easily end 5-5.
6 min I know it’s been a surreal year, but Scott McTominay scoring two beauties in the first three minutes really is pushing it.
5 min Leeds almost get one back straight away. Harrison’s low cross is taken off Raphinha’s toe by Luke Shaw on the six-yard line. This is hilarious, it’s a basketball match.
This is ridiculous. Shaw’s throw was collected by Martial, who moved infield from the left. McTominay made a barnstorming run into the area, and Martial picked him out with a nice through pass. McTominay took it beautifully in his stride and swept it past Meslier. Another very good finish.
Scott McTominay, goal machine.
Shaw won the ball off Raphinha near the halfway line and found Rashford, who pushed the ball infield to find Bruno Fernandes in a lot of space. Fernandes ran towards the edge of the area and played an invitational square pass to McTominay, who marched onto the ball and spanked a brilliant low drive into the corner.
A dream start for Manchester United!
1 min Peep peep! Leeds, in white, kick off from right to left. Man Utd are in red.
Here come the players. Ach, if only there was a crowd at Old Trafford, even 2,000.
Prediction Manchester United 12-11 Leeds United.
Manchester United v Leeds United is one of the most mouthwatering matches of any season. This one comes with added Bielsa. I cannot wait.
Manchester United will go fourth if they win today, with a game in hand on those above them. A victory for Leeds would lift them into the top ten.
Tottenham were well beaten by Leicester in the 2.15pm game. Daniel Harris will tell you more.
“Hi Rob,” says Conol Huetter. “While Pogba can certainly be a defensive liability and doesn’t deserve to be an automatic pick, his ability to slow the game down and keep the ball could be missed in a game that looks like it will be frantic and end-to-end. Fred, for all his improvement, still loves to dither on the ball, and Leeds could absolutely punish that. I hope I’m wrong.”
Pogba dithers on the ball even more, I’d argue, though I thought he would start after his performance on Thursday.
David de Gea returns in goal for Manchester United, one of five changes from the team that beat Sheffield United on Thursday. Dan James, Scott McTominay, Fred and Luke Shaw replaces Mason Greenwood, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Alex Telles.
Leeds are unchanged from the team that thumped Newcastle on Wednesday.
Hello. Manchester United and Leeds United have a unique rivalry, fuelled by pharmaceutical grade hatred. There’s nothing quite like it in English football. It’s such a shame there will be no crowd at Old Trafford for their first league meeting since 2004, but the match should still be played with a shuddering intensity. You get that with Leeds at the best of times, never mind in a game of this significance.
Leeds won on their last visit to Old Trafford, an FA Cup shock in 2010, but their last league victory here was in 1981. Marcelo Bielsa is already adored by everyone connected with Leeds; imagine if he wins today. His intrepid Athletic Bilbao played Manchester United off the pitch in a Uefa Cup tie in 2012, and Leeds will come with the same aggressive approach. Manchester would be well advised not to make their usual slow start.Continue reading...
The rivalry between these two old enemies is supposedly as intense as ever, though it would be impossible to use that word to describe the actual football. If Manchester United went into this game wondering what it would be like to resume league hostilities after 16 years, they came out of it wishing they could play Leeds United every week. It was an almost perfect afternoon for the home side, apart from two-goal hero Scott McTominay pulling up with a groin strain near the end.Continue reading...
The number of big names to play for both sides is remarkable – but none made a bigger impact than the only player to have won titles with them
Manchester United versus Leeds will always be one of the most evocative fixtures in top-flight English football, even if Sunday’s game at Old Trafford will be the first league meeting for more than 16 years. Their rivalry is surprisingly intense given that Leeds won their first title in the Don Revie era in the 1960s and have spent much of their time outside the Premier League since becoming the last winners of the old First Division in 1992.
Ignore anyone who tells you this has anything to do with the Wars of the Roses, though historians pointing out there were decades of bitter trans-Pennine competition between the wool trade in Yorkshire and the ultimately more dominant King Cotton in Lancashire are probably close to the mark.Continue reading...
- ‘Leeds are so fit, they are going to push us to the edge’
- Manager says it is too early to talk about title chances
Ole Gunnar Solskjær expects an intense game against Leeds, a side he rates as the fittest in the Premier League. “We know it is going to be a running game because Leeds are so fit, they are going to challenge us and push us to the edge,” the Manchester United manager said.
As a player Solskjær was not frequently booked yet he twice picked up cautions against Leeds and he does not imagine much will have changed in the peculiar rivalry between the two clubs despite the absence of a crowd at Old Trafford on Sunday.Continue reading...
More than 16 years have passed since a 1-1 draw at Elland Road and the last time Manchester United played Leeds United in the Premier League. Marcelo Bielsa’s side arrive in 13th, seven places and six points behind an Ole Gunnar Solskjær team that are unbeaten in six matches (five of these wins) and rising towards the top. Both managers like to play the expansive stuff so this may prove a festive cracker to warm the cockles. Jamie Jackson
Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...
- United have won only won out of six home games this season
- Leeds make first league visit to United for 16 years on Sunday
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has denied Manchester United’s poor home record is a mental issue despite the team winning all their away matches.
United’s 3-2 victory at Sheffield United on Thursday was a sixth successive Premier League away win. Yet they have won only once at home, against West Brom, losing three times and drawing twice there.Continue reading...
Alex Iwobi could return to haunt Arsenal, the Sam Allardyce era begins at West Brom and Sergio Agüero is back
Jürgen Klopp loves a Saturday lunchtime kick-off away from home after his team has played on the previous Wednesday night, and the lucky Liverpool manager has another one to look forward to at Selhurst Park. Despite his grumbles about the dire need for extra substitutes to help ease player fatigue in this compacted season, Klopp didn’t use any of the three available to him against Tottenham, a lack of touchline activity BT Sport reporter Des Kelly might be minded to inquire about if he’s feeling brave. With eight of the team that started against Tottenham having played the full 90 minutes against Fulham, Klopp may freshen things up a little before a festive schedule in which his team is slated to play four matches in 13 days, including the FA Cup tie against Aston Villa. Midfielders Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both fit again and may well feature against Palace. BG
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Saturday 12.30pm GMT
Southampton v Manchester City, Saturday 3pm
Everton v Arsenal, Saturday 5.30pm
Newcastle v Fulham, Saturday 8pm
Brighton v Sheffield United, Sunday 12pm
Tottenham v Leicester, Sunday 2.15pm
Manchester United v Leeds, Sunday 4.30pm
West Brom v Aston Villa, Sunday 7.15pm
Burnley v Wolves, Monday 5.30pm
Chelsea v West Ham, Monday 8pmContinue reading...
Manchester United recovered from conceding a calamitous early goal, and survived shipping a pretty bad late one, to chalk up another away win
And with that, I’m off. Here’s the match report again. Bye!
Chris Wilder has a chat:
I’m disappointed with the manner of the goals we conceded. I think we can look at ourselves first and foremost. We have to be brave, we want to get up the pitch, we want to make contact with good players. That’s what I said to their manager, we’re not just going to stand off you. We had to take chances, and we did, but we should see that run off [for the first]. The manner of their goals was disappointing.
We started the game on the front foot. I was pleased with the start that we had. I was pleased with the spirit, I was really disappointed on Sunday. It wasn’t passive, it was more of a Sheffield United performance. We’ve got to tighten up, and take opportunities when they come about. There’s examples of teams going 12, 13, 14 games and not winning a game of football, but the longer it goes on the harder it becomes. I feel we should be on more points but the brutal fact is we are there. But tonight should give the players a belief that if we do play in the manner that we play, especially out of possession, we work hard, we compete, and try to play, that there’s something left in this season for us. We’re all in it for results, I completely get that, but tonight I stick my head on the pillow knowing my team’s left everything out there, and that has got to be our stock performance from now on in.
Jamie Jackson has filed his match report from Bramall Lane:
What to make of Manchester United this season? An away victory that featured the customary concession of the opener lifts Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side into sixth place on 23 points and their game in hand means they could be in outright second if they win it.
Yet while Manchester United hardly performed in scintillating style from kick off to final whistle this was a sixth unbeaten Premier League match, including five wins. Sheffield United entered the contest with only one point and finished the same and while their visitors stuttered at first, then suffered a late scare, they did end up defeating the division’s bottom team as any title pretender surely must.
Ole Gunar Solskjaer says he was angered by a couple of Sheffield United challenges on his player, and said some things on the touchline for which he apologises.
We knew it was going to be a physical test. They were going to get kicked. I think it’s one of these games that these boys will learn from, it’s a proper game and it’s like football should be. I apologise, I went maybe overboard, but we’ll have a drink afterwards.
It could have been more comfortable, obviously. We were a little bit sloppy, 3-1 up we created some good chances. When the second goes in it’s really difficult. They are a handful, in a really unorthodox way, and they made it hard. It’s always learning. He comes back here, he’s probably been looking forward to this and it just shows his character, the rest of the game. With the pace and the skill, and the quality of the touches and movement, I thought all three goals were excellent.
We need to sort the home form. It’s not like home and away in these conditions, without fans. We should be more used to the Old Trafford pitch. Hopefully Sunday [against Leeds] we’ll start. It’s a massive game for us, we know that. We’ve been waiting for years to get this game on, and we’ll be ready for it.
Marcus Rashford has a chat. He is, it’s fair to say, much more scintillating with a ball at his feet than with a microphone in his face. Here are some, er, highlights.
Once again we’ve done well to respond to going a goal behind. Of course late on if we don’t kill a game off it’s going to be hard at a place like this. We didn’t get anything we didn’t expect, they fought for every ball. We have the potential to rotate a lot going forward and that type of free-flowing football is what we enjoy playing most. We have to perform better at home. We know as players, we just try to take on game at a time, try to win games. It’s early on in the season, there’s a lot of football to be played and there’s going to be ups and downs for everyone. We need to find consistency at home, and then we’ll see where we are at the end of the season.
Sheffield United scored a pair of slightly bonkers goals, but at no point did they really look capable of dealing with Manchester United. There was just too much space behind their defence, and Pogba and Fernandes merrily chipped balls beyond them all night for Martial and Rashford to run onto and cause havoc. Plus Berge twanged a hammy, which won’t help.
90+5 mins: It’s all over, and Manchester United’s 100% away record continues!
90+4 mins: Pogba and Robinson have a bit of a coming together, though it’s half-hearted at worst. Both are booked.
90+3 mins: So Sheffield United took the lead, Manchester United battled back to apparently win it, and now they’re hanging on in stoppage time? This is exactly what happened last season! Where’s Oli McBurnie? Oh.
90+1 mins: Save! Ramsdale boots the ball downfield, Brewster knocks it into the path of Mousset, and he volleys towards the far corner only for Henderson to push it clear!
90+1 mins: There’ll be four minutes of stoppages. They start with Henderson getting booked for timewasting.
90 mins: McTominay replaces Martial for stoppage time.
89 mins: Well that’s put a spring in Sheffield steps. Suddenly they’re hustling. They win a throw-in on the right, which Robinson flings into the area. Pogba heads clear.
The corner is curled towards the far post, where Lindelof wins the header, heads the ball into the back of McGoldrick’s head, and it rebounds into the net!
86 mins: A lovely pass inside the full-back for Baldock, bursting into the penalty area, but Telles absolutely busts a gut to get there and turn it behind for a corner.
83 mins: Brewster’s shot hits the wall. He falls down as he hits it; a minute or so ago he fell down in the action of hitting a pass wide to McGoldrick. I fear he needs to change his boots.
82 mins: Brewster plays a one-two with Mousset and tries to poke the ball past Maguire and into the area, but the defender blocks with a hand. The free kick will give the Blades a fine shooting chance. “Here in South America, Manchester United are known as ‘El Manchester’ and Manchester City as ‘El City’,” writes Rod Wooden. “Other teams with the word ‘City ‘ in their title are known as ‘El Leicester’, ‘El Norwich’, etc. Not a bad rule of thumb, methinks.”
79 mins: Fernandes has chipped his last pass, and Donny van de Beek has replaced him.
78 mins: Manchester United threaten again. Fernandes plays a low pass this time to Martial, who spots Mata’s run and picks him out with a cross from the left, and the Spaniard shoots too close to Ramsdale.
75 mins: Fernandes lifts the ball over the home defence again. This time it’s to Mata, beyond the far post, who manages to poke it back into play. It runs to Martial, whose shot is blocked.
73 mins: There is not a lot of drama to this game at the moment. Some motions are being gone through. Sheffield United bring Brewster on for Burke, and Manchester United bring Mata on for Greenwood.
71 mins: From the free-kick Rashford hammers a shot into the wall.
70 mins: Egan gets booked, for attempting to play quite a delicate pass despite Bruno Fernandes being between him and the ball. He didn’t get a lot of the Portuguese playmaker, but the ref thought it was enough.
67 mins: Greenwood runs infield from the right, is allowed to keep going into the area, and eventually smacks a shot that stings the palms of Ramsdale.
64 mins: Jagielka, who came on for Berge in the first half, has been replaced by Mousset.
63 mins: Fleck nearly scores an Olimpico! His curling corner from the right is dipping in at the far post, but Henderson tips it over.
60 mins: Bruno Fernandes has spent his entire evening chipping balls over the home defence for people to run onto. His latest effort was precision-engineered for Wan-Bissaka, but the full-back couldn’t find a finish.
56 mins: United win a corner, which Telles lifts to Bruno Fernandes on the edge of the area, whose attempt to PaulScholes it into the back of the net ends badly.
55 mins: “Is Kai Rooney signing a contract or working on his maths homework?” wonders Peter Oh.
Another goalkeeping howler in my book, but it’s a fine break from Manchester United, starting with Paul Pogba’s pirouette midway through his own half, continuing despite Jagielka’s foul on Greenwood - the referee waves play on; Jagielka is booked after the goal is scored - and ending with Martial’s poor first touch running to Rashford, whose low first-time shot from outside the area skids down the middle of goal and under Ramsdale!
49 mins: Ally McCoist, Amazon’s co-commentator, is working himself into a lather about Marcus Rashford and his grace and beauty when on the run, falling somewhere between David-Attenborough-describing-a-cheetah and pornography.
47 mins: The Salford side win a free-kick on the right, which Telles curls onto the head of Martial, who diverts it over the bar.
46 mins: Peeeeeep! The home side get the second half started.
The players are back out! No sign of any half-timely substitutions. “It’s like 32 players are lined up against the playground wall and two managers (who know them) get to pick teams,” writes Gary Naylor. “To even things up, the manager who doesn’t really understand football gets the first 16 picks and the manager who does know football gets the leftovers.”
“Rashford’s featherlike touch for that first Man Utd goal would have left a falling raw egg unbroken,” raves Justin Kavanagh. “Not that anyone would be chucking eggs at St Marcus.” His first touch wouldn’t have hurt a raw egg, his second would have done some damage to a brick wall.
Today’s other big Manchester United news:
45+3 mins: That’s all for now. It’s been a more than decent half, and as it ends the home side have a quarter of an hour to work out what to do about fast forwards who insist on running quickly.
45+1 mins: There’ll be two minutes of stoppage time. “Jimmy Greaves used to call United just Manchester, much to the annoyance of my City mates,” says Paul Howarth. That would be fine if there was only one Manchester, but as it is it doesn’t solve anything, except for the question of how to annoy City fans.
45 mins: McGoldrick runs from halfway, loses the ball to Matic with a poor touch, wins it back with a good sliding tackle, rises from the turf, and, after all that, leathers a pointless shot wide from 30 yards.
43 mins: An excellent spell of possession by the Blades ends with Burke taking Ampadu’s pass, spinning, and shooting low and hard towards the near post, where Henderson saves.
40 mins: Greenwood takes on Egan, bursting into the penalty area, and looks to have gone past him and opened up a shooting chance only for the defender to get a toe to the ball.
38 mins: Chance for the home side! McGoldrick gets to the byline but then decides against crossing and in favour of having a shot from a near-impossible angle, which duly hits Henderson.
36 mins: “’United nearly equalise’?! I think you’ll find United are leading 1-0 mate, that’s the first United, the originals, accept no imitations!” writes Steve Hewlett regarding my 19th-minute update. I bloody hate liveblogging one United against another United. Teams should not be allowed to have the same second-bit-of-name as other teams. They should have rules to stop it, like racehorses.
35 mins: The Sheffield United defence are handling Martial and Rashford as if they have never previously witnessed humans running and have no idea what is happening.
35 mins: Nearly a third for the visitors! Martial plays in Rashford, who again takes a touch before shooting early, but this time it’s low and too close to Ramsdale.
Another chipped pass over the home defence, and this one from Pogba releases Martial, who gets there just before Ramsdale, gets a lucky bounce that leaves the keeper nowhere, and turns in!
31 mins: At the other end Fernandes lifts another pass over the home defence, Martial chests it down, and Egan gets over to turn the ball behind before the Frenchman can finish.
30 mins: McGoldrick crosses from the left, and the ball is just too high for Basham, skimming the top of his head at the far post.
So it turned out that letting Manchester United pass the ball around the halfway line wasn’t a great idea. Lindelof eventually lifts it over everybody, and Rashford runs onto it, controls it beautifully, and slams a dipping shot past Ramsdale before the keeper knows what’s happening!
25 mins: No signs yet that the Blades are ready to sit back and defend their lead. Having said that, United have had the ball for a couple of minutes now, mainly around the halfway line.
21 mins: The Blades play the ball down the left flank for Burke to run onto, but Lindelof beats him to it, and as the two players fall over each other Burke gets a stud or two in his thigh, entirely accidentally, and calls the physios on to look at the resulting scratches.
19 mins: And now United nearly equalise! Bruno Fernandes lifts a lovely pass through to Rashford, who runs into the area but shoots wide as Ramsdale narrowed his angles! The linesman’s flag turned out to be raised, but I’m certain that Stevens was playing Rashford onside and the goal would have counted had it only been scored.
16 mins: Nearly a second! Excellent approach play, and a delightful flick from Basham to loop the ball over his shoulder, leave Matic floundering and prance away with possession, ends with Fleck running onto a low cross and shooting just wide!
15 mins: Tony Martial is played through, but Ramsdale is out like a whippet to reach the ball first and blooter it to safety.
12 mins: Berge will not return to the field tonight, and Phil Jagielka is on instead.
11 mins: Ramsdale boots a long pass over everyone and through to Henderson; he rolls it out to Pogba, who boots a long pass over everyone and through to Ramsdale.
8 mins: Berge races down the right before pulling up, clutching his right hamstring. He is being attended just off the pitch while play continues.
7 mins: The corner, incidentally, was interesting without being very fruitful. The Blades absolutely loaded the six-yard box with bodies before swinging the ball in, and Henderson did well to fight through the crowd and push the ball clear.
A nightmare for Dean Henderson! Maguire passes to him and instead of just booting it clear he gives Burke a chance to close him down and block his attempted pass. The ball rolls loose, and Burke touches it back to McGoldrick, who hammers into the empty net!
4 mins: A corner kick for the home side. You’d have thought set pieces could be important for them tonight, so let’s see what they’re made of.
2 mins: The Blades have started rather brightly. “The photo of the gushing sprinklers in full glory makes me wonder if Solskjaer’s men are about to meet their Waterlog, er Waterloo,” smirks Peter Oh.
1 min: Peeeeeeep! The game is on!
The players are on the pitch! Can one United keep their 100% away run running? Can the other United haul themselves out of their stinking cesspit of misery? Time to find out!
And we’ve now heard from Chris Wilder:
We have to get on with it. It’s a ruthless division, and you have to quickly get over it. It wasn’t a very good performance, where we set our bar, not just this season but over three or four years, it didn’t sit well with me and I’m sure a reaction today will be seen. Hopefully we can cause them problems.
They’ve got some fabulous players, so we’re going to have to defend very very well, but we want to have a threat as well. If we’re sat on the edge of the box for 90 minutes we’re going to get beat, so we want to force the issue when we get an opportunity to play. They’ve got some world-class performers. This is a world-class football club, in the top three, top five of world football. There’s a big gulf in terms of the clubs but we’re going to try to close that gap tonight by being aggressive, trying to put some pressure on them. But we’re going to have to play really well tonight to get a result.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a chat:
I’ve picked a team that I feel is ready for this game. I think Dean [Henderson] has played really well, of course he did really well last time against West Ham when he played in the league. I’ve got two great goalkeepers, and today is Dean’s chance. We’ve seen loads of their games and they’ve been tight games and they’ve missed loads of chances, so we know it’s going to be a very difficult game. Without the fans it’ll be a bit different to last season. We just have to take one game at a time and keep improving. Today is a test, a challenge, and one we didn’t pass with great colours last season. 3-3, but we had 20 minutes then when we were scintillating.
Apparently there hasn’t been enough rain recently.
So Oli McBurnie is indeed out with the shoulder injury that was troubling him in the build-up. He, Jagielka and Sharp all drop out of the Sheffield United side that lost at Southampton on Sunday, while Robinson, Burke and McGoldrick come in. Manchester United make four changes: Dean Henderson replaces David de Gea at the ground where he starred on loan last season, while Alex Telles, Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial also come in, and Shaw, Fred and McTominay drop out.
The team news is in, and these are tonight’s star attractions:
Sheff Utd: Ramsdale, Baldock, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Stevens, Berge, Ampadu, Fleck, Burke, McGoldrick. Subs: Sharp, Mousset, Jagielka, Norwood, Verrips, Osborn, Brewster.
Man Utd: Henderson, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Alex Telles, Matic, Pogba, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Martial, Rashford. Subs: De Gea, Mata, Fred, James, Shaw, van de Beek, McTominay.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
It’s the battle of the Uniteds, a match between the team that sits bottom of the home table with one point from six games (despite having only hosted one of the top six) and the side that tops the away table with a maximum 15 points from five (not to belittle this achievement, but the nine away games they have scheduled for the next four months include visits to Leicester, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham). The killer stat heading into this game is that the last time a top-flight side had one point or fewer after 12 games it was Manchester United, and it was October 1930. That is the year nineteen hundred and thirty of the common era.
Crunch time for the Blades tonight, characters needed, give your all,leave everything out there on the pitch. Be a leader, be brave be the one who creates the spark,be infectious. Make sure your body language is saying I’m in this with you . You can never get these times back!Continue reading...
What to make of Manchester United this season? An away victory that featured the customary concession of the opening goal lifted Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side into sixth place on 23 points. Win their game in hand and they could be in outright second.Continue reading...
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Edinson Cavani has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association for using the word “negrito” on Instagram in November and the Manchester United striker could be banned for three matches if found guilty.
The 33-year-old has to respond by 4 January, after his swift removal of the post and apology proved insufficient to avoid a charge.Continue reading...
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Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United’s busy festive period of five games in 16 days – beginning on Thursday with the trip to Sheffield United – will be vital if they are to mount a title challenge.
United play at home against Leeds on Sunday, travel to Leicester on Boxing Day and host Wolves three days later then Aston Villa on 1 January. Solskjær’s side also visit Everton in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals next Wednesday, making it a packed schedule.Continue reading...
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Manchester United face a testing tie in the last 32 of the Europa League after being drawn against the La Liga leaders Real Sociedad, while Arsenal must get past Benfica and Tottenham were drawn against the Austrian side Wolfsberger.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team were eliminated from the Champions League last week and their reward is a showdown with the side who lead Atlético Madrid on goal difference but have played two more matches.
Wolfsberger v Tottenham
Dynamo Kyiv v Club Brugge
Real Sociedad v Manchester United
Benfica v Arsenal
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In an exclusive interview, the Manchester United manager talks about pressure being a privilege and being a strong role model
If Casey Stoney is feeling the pressure of having guided Manchester United to the summit of the Women’s Super League in their second year in the top flight and third season of existence, then she is not showing it. “Pressure is a privilege,” says the 38-year-old. “If people are talking about you, if people are criticising you, it means that you’re doing something right.”
United have rapidly shifted from being outsiders to favourites heading into pretty much any game they play. “You’re always up against it when you play for Manchester United. As soon as you pull on that badge there’s not many that want you to win. But the standards are set now. Every single week there’s a pressure to achieve.”Continue reading...
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How much worse can it get for Arsenal? Against Burnley they were slowly gaining momentum before Granit Xhaka swung his hand and shattered Mikel Arteta’s fragile gameplan. From there, an own goal from their shot-shy striker brought defeat and boos from 2,000 scattered fans at the final whistle. This was almost too perfect an implosion, peak Arsenal taken to sobering new heights. It is tempting to feel sorry for Arteta, but this alarming new pattern of self-destruction is happening on his watch. His job role changed from head coach to manager in September, reward for a stellar first season. By broadening his focus, Arteta may have lost the steely grip on his squad that drew such impressive collective displays last season. Burnley were solid, organised and positive when the chance came; they looked like a team and Arsenal did not. That should worry Arteta just as much as the growing rap sheet of red cards. Niall McVeighContinue reading...
City may be in transition during a season in which cagey draws have greater value, but their flatness is still a surprise
A familiar trope of the classic ghost story involves an encounter with a stranger that appears entirely normal until it’s suddenly realised that while the protagonist has made distinct footprints in the sand or dust or snow, the stranger has left no trace at all.
Saturday’s Manchester derby felt similar. A lot of people will feel they watched it, although none of them were actually there. Some will even claim to have played in it. Many newspapers carried the score, along with vague, slightly hallucinatory reports, paragraph upon paragraph about nothing. And yet go back, examine the scene, and it turns out it left no trace whatsoever.Continue reading...
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Paul Pogba says he is “1000% involved” at Manchester United, playing down suggestions his future lies away from Old Trafford.
The French midfielder’s agent Mino Raiola has repeatedly stoked rumours that the 27-year-old was set to leave United, and spoke in an interview on the eve of the crunch Champions League clash at RB Leipzig about his client.Continue reading...
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Ole Gunnar Solskjær praised the goalless draw with Manchester City as the best derby performance in his time as Manchester United’s manager, commending the mental toughness needed to bounce back from Tuesday’s Champions League exit.
United, needing only a draw, failed to qualify for the last 16 after losing 3-2 at Leipzig. That defeat renewed scrutiny of Solskjær’s position and raised more questions about the direction of the team. Yet after the stalemate at Old Trafford, in which Pep Guardiola’s team were unusually becalmed, Solskjær declared himself pleased.Continue reading...
Manchester United’s eerily featureless 0-0 draw with City will at least have eased the pressure on their manager
“Football without fans is nothing,” read the banner draped across the Old Trafford seats on a lukewarm night in Manchester.
Not quite nothing, perhaps. But in these Covid-19 ghost games there is a tendency, now and then, for the occasion to collapse like a deflated meringue if the start is too slow, the mood too muted. Football without fans isn’t nothing. But on nights such as these it can look like 22 men running around while people in padded jackets shout at them.Continue reading...
After the trauma of Manchester United’s Champions League exit at RB Leipzig last Tuesday, when they were exposed defensively, perhaps there was something soothing about a stalemate with their neighbours.
From the perspective of Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the manager who only seems to deal in chaos and extremes, the priority was certainly to avoid further damage. He could ill afford another high-profile loss which would have given more ammunition to his critics.Continue reading...