What the papers say
- Birmingham’s 16-year-old given permission to talk to clubs
- Borussia Dortmund also considering move for teenager
The parents of Birmingham’s Jude Bellingham met Manchester United executives at the Premier League club’s training ground on Monday after the 16-year-old was granted permission to talk to interested clubs.Continue reading...
We’ve all had a difference of opinion in the workplace before so let it concern no one that, following a particularly mishap-strewn early evening at the coalface, Bernardo Silva and Pep Guardiola did not quite see eye to eye. Manchester City’s performance at Old Trafford was “not acceptable”, according to the player in one of his more sensible public offerings this season. Resolutely refusing to back him up, on this occasion, was the City head coach. “I do not agree with him,” Guardiola grunted before explaining how good a toothless showing it had actually been, stopping just short of resorting to one of his newer post-big-game-defeat party tricks – outright delight.Continue reading...
Max Rushden, Lars Sivertsen, Mark Langdon and Philippe Auclair discuss Manchester United’s double over their neighbours, Chelsea thumping Everton, José Mourinho’s comments on Tanguy Ndombele and we get the latest on Italy as Coronavirus threat deepens
We look back at the big Premier League talking points, as Manchester United completed a league double over Manchester City thanks to goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay. We then look at the home wins of Chelsea and Liverpool, before looking at the latter’s game against Atlético Madrid later this week in the Champions League.Continue reading...
- United midfielder won free-kick that led to first goal
- Luke Shaw praises Portuguese for his risk-taking
Ilkay Gündogan believes Bruno Fernandes went down far too easily to win the free-kick that led to Manchester United’s opening goal in Sunday’s derby, the German midfielder saying he never touched the Portuguese.
The incident happened 30 minutes into the match at Old Trafford, which United won 2-0, when Fernandes went down as Gündogan challenged him. Mike Dean, the referee, awarded a foul and Fernandes subsequently chipped the ball to Anthony Martial, who volleyed home.Continue reading...
Pep Guardiola’s side could still win a trophy treble this season but malfunctions in their pressing game are proving costly
To an extent it doesn’t matter. Manchester City will almost certainly finish second in the Premier League and all defeat to Manchester United did on Sunday was hasten the moment at which Liverpool will be crowned champions. City’s priorities over the next few months lie in the FA Cup, the Champions League and the court of arbitration for sport. But losing to your neighbours three times in a season can never not matter, and there is the wider issue of how City, again, found themselves outmatched by a side that sat deep and countered at pace.
It’s not enough to point out that if Ederson had not made two uncharacteristic gaffes, the game would have finished level. It’s true that the goalkeeper’s mistakes were decisive – and that he got away with another one early in the second half, allowing a backpass to roll under his foot as Anthony Martial closed in – but more significant is the fact that United created opportunity after opportunity by doing little more than have players run very quickly at the gap between Nicolás Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko, a route that should also have led to a penalty before half-time.Continue reading...
Phil Foden gets a reality check, Chelsea’s veterans show their worth and West Ham’s board have a decision to make
The rehabilitation of Luke Shaw has been a success of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign. A player given harsh treatment by José Mourinho may never turn into the first-choice England left-back he looked set to be as a teenager at Southampton but his recent repurposing as a left-sided centre-back has revealed extra dimensions to his game. It is a highly specialised position, one only really suited to those games where Solskjær sets his team up to soak up pressure, but since Shaw was deployed there at Liverpool in January, 3-5-2 has been the default formation for United’s more testing fixtures. Shaw’s presence also gave Brandon Williams licence to overlap, though both were put through plenty of defensive work by Manchester City. At 24, Shaw has become a senior figure guiding young blood through matches, something inconceivable under Mourinho. John BrewinContinue reading...
- ‘Connection between fans and players pleased me most’
- Pep Guardiola refuses to criticise Ederson for mistakes
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United are heading back towards the top after his team recorded a third victory over Manchester City this season at an Old Trafford which celebrated vociferously.
Goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay – both due to mistakes by City’s keeper, Ederson – ensured United recorded a league double for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign. This was also an eighth clean sheet in 10 outings.Continue reading...
The Portuguese midfielder is the expensive, talented player United actually needed, a Paul Pogba who wants to be there
For Bruno Fernandes this must have felt a bit like a coronation. For the last two months there have been rumours of the rebirth of the Manchester United midfield, of gears beginning to clunk into place, those oddly assembled component parts finding their rhythms. The Manchester United midfield? Yeah, I remember that. Oh no, it’s been years now.
Well, look again. At a damp and increasingly boisterous Old Trafford, Fernandes produced a central midfield performance that seemed to go against the tide of the last decade or so. So often United’s declining fortunes have been characterised by something ponderous at the heart of the team, a club drained not just of success, but of spirit and invention.Continue reading...
Manchester United have a first league double for a decade over Manchester City in a further sign that the faith shown by the board in Ole Gunnar Solskjær is being repaid.
United made their crosstown rivals appear the tamest City side brought here during Pep Guardiola’s four years in charge on a day Ederson will wish to forget for being directly culpable for Anthony Martial’s opener and Scott McTominay’s late second.Continue reading...
- Premier League updates from the derby kicking off at 4.30pm
- Live scoreboard: the latest from around Europe
- How they stand: the latest Premier League table
- And you can email Simon here or tweet him here
90+8 mins: It’s all over!
90+7 mins: Fred’s overhit pass runs through to Ederson, who picks it up on the right-hand corner of the area and bowls it out. McTominay runs 40 yards to reach the first, and passes it into a still-empty net!
An absolute howler from Ederson, and a 50-yarder from McTominay!
90+6 mins: United hack the ball clear. Probably another minute to go.
90+5 mins: It looks like Jesus has just been booked for grumpiness, as the clock ticked with Matic grounded.
90+4 mins: McTominay is down and feeling an ankle, while not two yards away Matic is down and struggling with cramp.
90+3 mins: Ighalo’s hold-up play has improved United immeasurably. He keeps the ball for a while on the halfway line, ghosting past a couple of opponents and earning delighted Olé’s from the crowd.
90+3 mins: James leads a break, but delays his pass infield to Fred long enough for Otamendi to turn up and dispossess him.
90+1 mins: There will be five minutes of stoppage time, or thereabouts.
90 mins: This time Cancelo’s cross runs to Sterling, just outside the area, but his shot is poor, and bounces feebly through to De Gea.
89 mins: Mendy’s overhit cross goes out of play. They don’t seem to be offering much except crosses, and often not very good ones.
88 mins: Bruno Fernandes is going off, and Ighalo coming on. “Fernandes is an intelligent player who obviously elevates Man U. What I’m having trouble sussing out is if he’s really excellent or if United have just been middling in tactics and inspiration for so long that anyone looks an improvement,” says Ray. I think he’s an excellent player: clearly extremely fit, but he makes good runs and good decisions, stretching defences and offering options.
87 mins: Cancelo’s overhit cross goes out of play, and United’s defence remains unbreached. Ighalo is going to come on for the last few minutes.
84 mins: Jesus bursts into the box, and Wan-Bissaka and Maguire both attempt sliding tackles. The former succeeds, the latter just steamrollers both Jesus and Wan-Bissaka and really should have stayed on his feet. Anyway, and just about, corner.
82 mins: James gets the ball, and attempts a solo break. Fernandes tries to offer him an option, but his run is covered and James just has to struggle on alone. He does so manfully before eventually spying a route to Fernandes and passing, only for the offside flag to go up.
80 mins: In the last 10 minutes, City have had 86% of possession. I’m not sure this front-none formation is going to work out for United.
79 mins: United now have James on his own in attack. In other words, they have abandoned all thoughts of attacking.
77 mins: United make two substitutions, bringing Eric Bailly and Scott McTominay on while Williams and Martial trudge off. City meanwhile make their final change, bringing Benjamin Mendy on for Zinchenko.
75 mins: What a miss! Mahrez crosses low from the right and Sterling runs onto it in the middle. It looks like a tap-in, but somehow he taps well wide! So wide in fact that Jesus keeps it in, turns back, executes a number of ostentatious stepovers and then slams in a low shot that De Gea saves!
73 mins: Luke Shaw is on the floor. The physio rushes on, but swiftly gives the bench a thumbs up and doesn’t seem to be administering anything more significant than a drink.
71 mins: United’s wide players essentially need to realise that after they burst into the box Bruno Fernandes is always perfectly placed infield, and stop having optimistic shots from unpromising angles.
70 mins: United nearly score on the break! Wan-Bissaka plays the ball down the right, and James takes on Otamendi, goes past him easily, but then doesn’t see the easy pass infield to Bruno Fernandes and instead blasts a shot towards the near post, which Ederson saves.
69 mins: Mahrez takes on Williams, beats him twice and then sends the ball across the United goal, where nobody is on hand to turn it in.
66 mins: For the first time, United are under sustained pressure - and they are starting to creak. City win another corner, though they seemed to actively avoid attempting to score with it, passing it back 50 yards, playing it from left to right and then giving it away.
63 mins: Then City go down the other end, and Foden, who has moved infield following Mahrez’s introduction, shoots high from 22 yards or so.
63 mins: City are pushing forward much more now, which of course gives United opportunities to break. They pass out to James, who roars down the right and crosses, too high for Martial.
61 mins: City have another corner, this time from the left. Gundogan crosses, and Otamendi heads over the bar from the corner of the six-yard box.
59 mins: A double substitution for City, who take off Aguero and Bernado Silva and bring on Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.
58 mins: Williams goes past Cancelo, just outside his own penalty area, with almost insulting ease, and is brought down in retribution. Cancelo is booked.
55 mins: Foden wins a corner on the right. It’s taken short and eventually worked to Foden, now central, whose 25-yard left-footer is tipped ovrer the bar by De Gea.
51 mins: Back to that offside decision, and it was wafer-thin. De Gea made not attempt to save the shot, and would have looked exceedingly foolish had Aguero’s left shoulder turned out to be an inch or two further back when Sterling prodded the ball through.
50 mins: If Martial had been as desperate to get to that ball as Ederson was, he would surely have scored. He didn’t fling out his leg, though, and that gave Ederson a chance to recover.
49 mins: Ederson nearly hands United a goal! He takes a terrible touch when controlling a back-pass, and it looks like Martial will prod the loose ball over the line, but the Brazilian slides across to clear. Martial however does end up in the net, via the post, and is hurt.
48 mins: VAR is certainly having a good look at this. It looks like Shaw might have been playing Aguero onside there.
48 mins: Aguero is played in by Sterling and thumps the ball into the net, but the offside flag is raised.
46 mins: Peeeeeep! City get the second half started.
The players are back out and ready to rock. No changes that I can see.
Keane and Richards also think it should have been a penalty, the latter unenthusiastically. “The turnaround time by VAR for the penalty shout was alarmingly quick,” says Stephen Carr. “They haven’t looked at it properly. When you consider the decision re Bournemouth’s goal yesterday you could be forgiven for thinking VAR is getting quietly sidelined.”
“Lee Dixon disagrees with you about Fernandes being fouled leading to the free kick and goal,” reports JR. On Sky, Micah Richards and Roy Keane agree with Dixon. “After watching multiple replays he insisted it was never a foul on Fernandes. He then tried for a couple minutes to get inside the mind of Mike Dean but admitted he couldn’t do it. Can’t say he’s alone on that score.”
45+3 mins: That’s all for now. City started well, but have done nothing of note in attack for half an hour or more, have looked feeble in defence, and the goalkeeper’s let in a stinker.
45+1 mins: There will be about two minutes of stoppage time at the end of this first half.
45 mins: United continue to dominate. Fred and Fernandes in particular have been excellent, as well as Wan-Bissaka on the right. “It’s massively early days but I have not seen City look so shaky for so long a spell recently,” says Mary Waltz.
44 mins: That penalty call gets weirder the more I see it. “He’s having a nightmare,” says Gary Neville of Otamendi.
42 mins: Fred goes down in the area, and is booked for simulation. Replays suggest Otamendi kicked him in the shin, but VAR doesn’t seem interested.
41 mins: Manchester United are 7-1 up on shot count.
40 mins: Matic lifts the ball over City’s defence to Martial, but instead of holding up off the turf it bounces through to Ederson. “Why don’t more keepers use their feet, like De Gea? Seems like diving to get a shot that’s right at your side isn’t a very efficient approach,” wonders Joe Pearson.
39 mins: Wan-Bissaka ghosts between Zinchenko and Sterling with a lovely bit of skill. Lovely, but completely unnecessary: you could have driven a double-decker bus through the space the two City players were leaving.
38 mins: Wan-Bissaka runs into Otamendi inside the penalty area and goes down hard, but no foul is given.
37 mins: Shaw barges into Cancelo, conceding a free-kick. United are being quite physical in their challenges, all over the pitch. So far this seems to be annoying City a lot more than it’s annoying the referee.
34 mins: Looking at replays, I do think that Fernandes was fouled before the goal. At full speed it looked like Gundogan just kicked the ball, but I think he kicked the United player’s foot first.
33 mins: Looks like Rodri was also booked for dissent, either before or immediately after the goal.
32 mins: Another chance for United! Williams crosses from the left, but Fernandes misjudges its flight and in the end has to stop and jump backwards, and pays the price in both power and accuracy.
And they score from the free-kick! Fernandes chips it over the defence, Martial runs onto it and volleys goalwards, and Ederson flops limply over the ball as it skews underneath him and inside the near post!
29 mins: Fernandinho gets booked, after City players react furiously to the generous award of a free-kick to United after Fernandes goes down over Gundogan’s not exactly forceful challenge.
28 mins: Great chance for United! Martial beats Fernandino wide on the United left and cuts into the area. Fernandes is available just to his right for what would have been a fabulous shooting chance, but instead Martial shoots poorly from the left of goal, straight at Ederson. I’m all for players backing their ability, but that’s terrible decision-making.
27 mins: United have dominated the last 10 minutes or so, pushing mainly down the flanks. City haven’t kept the ball at all well.
25 mins: Fernandes tries a shot, but hits only the wall.
24 mins: James runs down the right, cuts infield and is brought down by Otamendi a yard outside the area. United have themselves a fine crossing/shooting opportunity here.
22 mins: Williams lifts the ball into the City area, and Martial controls excellently, but he then hits his shot into Otamendi. This isn’t a full-throttle, helter-skelter stereotypical British derby, but it is quite engrossing.
18 mins: Sterling goes down under Fred’s challenge, wants a free-kick and doesn’t get it. A few moments later and about 40 yards upfield Fred goes down under Rodri’s challenge, wants a free-kick and doesn’t get it.
16 mins: Save! United mount their first attack of note, and Fernandes prods through to James, who could have crossed to Martial at the far post, but instead shoots too close to Ederson.
13 mins: Ederson’s clearance is headed limply to Sterling by Maguire. Sterling passes to Aguero, who nudges past Maguire - who throws himself recklessly into a challenge and bursts into the box, but Lindelof comes to the recue.
10 mins: Save! Aguero and Shaw battle for the ball from the centre circle and down the right flank. The City striker wins the tussle and centres, and Sterling controls and curls a shot towards the far post that wasn’t very firmly struck, giving De Gea a chance to fling himself to the left and push it away.
9 mins: Martial jumps in front of Fernandinho, and goes down clutching the back of his head. He did get a forearm in the back, but I didn’t see any head-related issues.
7 mins: Gundogan tries to play in Foden on the right, and though Williams gets there first he is sufficiently spooked to send a 50-yard clearing hoik into touch for a corner.
4 mins: Zinchenko’s poor pass from the left almost plays in Martial, who reacts slowly and doesn’t seem to run with any pace as Joao Cancelo overtakes him and plays it back to Ederson.
3 mins: The first big cheer from the home fans comes when Ederson, in clearing the ball, slips and falls over.
1 min: Peeeeeeep! Fernandes takes the kick-off, and this game is on!
The players come out, and walk past each other without dangerous handshaking. “Newcastle fans reading Pep Guardiola’s pre-match musings must be chuffed to learn that their team is in a final,” notes Peter Oh.
The players are gathering in the tunnel. Bruno Fernandes seems to be sniffing some kind of nasal stick-type sinus-clearing device.
Pep Guardiola calls the games against Real Madrid and Newcastle “our finals”, suggesting that the league is now No3 on their list of priorities:
I think they’ll play five at the back, 5-2-1-2, the same set-up they had against Chelsea when they won 2-0. So ti doesn’t matter, they can change it, they can play 4-2-3-1, a diamond. United was in the recent past more on the break, but now I think they have the quality to play. When a team defends so deep they have the quality to break this. Or they maybe thought to break, but I think they’ll be aggressive, to make high pressing. We’re going to try to impose our game and make chances. In the next three games everybody’s going to play, to try to arrive against Madrid and Newcastle with fresh legs, to play our finals in the best physical condition and everybody fit.
“I find many things amusing,” writes JR, “and one of those things is that they have banned pre-match handshakes and yet after the game all the players and everyone around them are hugging, kissing, shaking hands and doing all sorts. You’ve got to laugh.” Yeah, laugh now while you’ve got the chance. Fast forward a few weeks, though, and you’ll probably have to cough, splutter and wheeze.
Foden is the second-youngest player in the starting line-ups today, with United’s Brandon Williams about three months younger. Mason Greenwood, who is on the bench, is 13 months younger still.
1 - Phil Foden (19y & 285d) will become the youngest Englishman to start a Premier League Manchester derby for Man City since Micah Richards in February 2008 (19y & 231d). Opportunity. #MNUMCI pic.twitter.com/g8IAJVpUFq
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a chat:
We just have to concentrate on getting enough points. Today’s a big task, playing against a huge team, but it’s important for us to keep picking up points. We’ve played this set-up before. Bruno is new, obviously, but we’ve had a few decent performances with it.
You can’t [play like they did at the Etihad] at home. You’ve got to try to get after them. We have to try to press them, because if you give them easy possession they’re the best team. We’ve got to go up there and press, see if we can take the sting and the rhythm out of their game and try to dominate themselves. The messages have been quite clear, about what we want from them in this game, and they’re all looking forward to it.
Here’s PA Media on the teams:
Manchester City were without playmaker Kevin de Bruyne for their derby against rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. With the second leg of their Champions League tie against Real Madrid coming up next week, City decided not to risk the Belgian, who landed awkwardly on his shoulder in the Carabao Cup final last Sunday.
De Bruyne did not even make the bench but the Wembley man of the match, Phil Foden, was handed a starting place. Ederson returned in goal and Joao Cancelo was preferred to Kyle Walker at right-back.
I don’t know if these are freshly-installed or if they’ve been there a while, but I’m sure they’ll be particularly popular today.
The team sheets are in, and the headlines are that Harry Maguire is back to captain United while Kevin de Bruyne is nowhere to be seen:
Manchester United: De Gea, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Wan Bissaka, Matic, Fred, Williams, Bruno Fernandes, James, Martial. Subs: Bailly, Mata, Romero, Ighalo, Greenwood, Tuanzebe, McTominay.
Manchester City: Ederson, Joao Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Gundogan, Foden, Aguero, Sterling. Subs: Bravo, Walker, Gabriel Jesus, Silva, Mendy, Mahrez, Garcia.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Your City team to take on United!
Ederson, Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho (C), Zinchenko, Rodrigo, Gundogan, Foden, Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero
Subs | Bravo, Walker, Jesus, Silva, Mendy, Mahrez, E Garcia
#MUNMCI #ManCity pic.twitter.com/YtlDwVaRYY
It’s the fourth Manchester derby of the season! This fixture truly is the gift that keeps on giving, or at least the gift that keeps on being given. The previous three (and the one before that for good measure, and six of the last seven for that matter) ended in away wins. This fits with the long-term trend: since the day in October 2011 when City went to Old Trafford and won 6-1 there have been 14 away wins in this fixture and only six home wins, which is quite the turnaround - before that there had been one away win in nine. So, in short, Manchester City will probably win today, which is the outcome all this recent history suggests is more likely, and is also supported by the fact that, for all that United are on a Bruno Fernandes-inspired nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions and enjoying what Pep Guardiola called “their best moment of the season”, they have a significantly better football team.Continue reading...
• ‘They are getting closer to where they want to be’
When Pep Guardiola was asked about the size of the gap between Manchester City and their neighbours going into Sunday’s Manchester derby he misunderstood the question and presumed he was being invited to talk about Liverpool. That says a lot about the way the last few seasons have gone but, even when put straight and asked to consider City’s 15-point lead over Manchester United in the Premier League, the answer was the same one.
“When I came here I wasn’t expecting that,” the City manager said. “In previous seasons there was not so much of a gap between teams near the top of the league. I don’t have any doubts about United’s quality, though, and I think they are getting closer to where they want to be.Continue reading...
Manchester United’s huge social media following means that, in lucrative data terms, there is only one winner against City
A couple of weeks ago, at 8am New York time, Manchester United plc held its quarterly earnings call, in which senior board members talked through some of the club’s recent successes. For instance, the last week of January saw the club’s second-highest social media engagement ever, with more than 300,000 mentions of the new signing Bruno Fernandes on Twitter, and 38 million interactions in total. Odion Ighalo was the top trending topic worldwide, beating both Brexit and Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Meanwhile the Chinese New Year product line had performed well, and the megastore was experiencing what the managing director, Richard Arnold, described as “strong increases in average basket size”.
The following night, at the Bernabéu, Manchester City beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Champions League, a competition in which United are not playing this season.Continue reading...
Manchester United can record an impressive third win over Manchester City this season in a 182nd derby staged as these rivals hit prime form. There may be injury concerns regarding United’s Harry Maguire and City’s Kevin De Bruyne but whoever plays will surely provide a spectacle due to the importance of the encounter. Jamie Jackson
Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...
The club can learn from cautionary tales of Manchester United and Liverpool when trying to prevent a slump after success
At Liverpool in 1990 and Manchester United in 2013 an era of dominance became a spiralling freefall. After Kenny Dalglish claimed an 18th title for the Merseyside club, a 30-year drought followed. Sir Alex Ferguson led United to a 20th crown and the wait for a 21st will stretch into an eighth season. Both plunges occurred after the manager stepped away – Ferguson in May 2013, Dalglish in February 1991.
When Pep Guardiola one day departs as Manchester City manager, the history of their two fiercest rivals may resonate for those charged with replacing him.
Ferguson left and all hell broke loose. They’ve spent close to a billion quid and are probably further behind than they’ve ever beenContinue reading...
- Manchester City manager relishing Sunday at Old Trafford
- Kevin De Bruyne has only remote chance of starting
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City will on Sunday face an “incredibly aggressive” Manchester United enjoying their best moment of the season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team are unbeaten in nine matches, a best run for a year. The trip to Old Trafford will be City’s fourth meeting with their crosstown rivals this term, having lost two of the previous three.Continue reading...
- Incident occurred after FA Cup tie at Derby on Thursday
- United to contact Derby for help in investigation
Manchester United have condemned what appears to be racist abuse suffered by Jesse Lingard after Thursday’s FA Cup win at Pride Park, with the club to contact Derby for help in investigating the matter.
The incident occurred as Lingard and teammates got on to the coach outside the stadium. In footage seen by the Guardian, the forward is sworn at and then seems to be the target of a racist term as he enters the bus.Continue reading...
- Manchester United manager referring to 3-1 Carabao Cup defeat
- Players have learned from that, Solskjær says before derby
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has admitted Manchester United lost their heads for 15 minutes when Manchester City beat them in January but said his team had learned from the Carabao Cup defeat at Old Trafford.
United host City in Sunday’s league match, which is the 182nd derby and a fourth meeting with their crosstown rivals this season. Solskjær’s side have won two – 2-1 in December’s reverse league fixture and a 1-0 in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg – but in the home defeat United were overrun during the first half and fortunate to trail only 3-0 at the interval.Continue reading...
A chance for Bournemouth at Anfield, Burnley and Spurs battle for European slots and Fernandes can seize big derby stage
Given their 22-point lead at the top of the table, no one at Liverpool is likely to be concerned by three recent defeats in four games across three different competitions. Of course, while a win against Bournemouth would help steady the ship and halt the onset of anything approaching mild jitters, Eddie Howe’s men will head to Anfield to face hosts recently derobed of what had previously resembled a cloak of invincibility. With Fabinho in poor form and Jordan Henderson still sidelined with injury, Liverpool look uncharacteristically vulnerable in midfield and are crying out for on-field leadership. While it ought to come in the form of James Milner, who returned from injury during their midweek FA Cup defeat at the hands of Chelsea, Bournemouth will still fancy their chances. There is never a good time for a relegation-threatened team to venture into the belly of the beast that is the champions-elect, but if you had to pick your moment, now seems a better one than any other. Barry GlendenningContinue reading...
- City midfielder battles to be fit for Manchester derby
- City owners in talks to buy French club Nancy
Kevin De Bruyne will undergo a late fitness test on his damaged shoulder before being made available for Sunday’s Manchester derby.
The midfielder sustained the injury during City’s Carabao Cup final victory over Aston Villa. While Pep Guardiola said after Tuesday’s FA Cup win at Sheffield Wednesday that De Bruyne had hurt his back, the player actually has a shoulder problem. City believe he has a chance of facing United and will give him as long as possible to prove he can play at Old Trafford.Continue reading...
The former England striker is a throwback to the ITV Digital age but can still caress a football like few have in this country
Give me the ball, he says. He doesn’t need to say the words. There’s an opening of the hips, a broadening of the chest, like a bird unfurling its plumage, that makes it clear exactly what is wanted, and who wants it. There’s a little glance over the shoulder to make sure he’s in as much space as he thinks he is. Now the eyes widen, the arms spread. Give me the ball, he says again with his body. And Max Lowe gives him the ball.
Then again, as anyone who has had to sit through one of his interviews over the years will tell you, Wayne Rooney always spoke the language of football better than he spoke the language of language. There’s a grammar to his shape, the little first-touch-and-look-up that you would still recognise in silhouette. Partly it’s the indelible imprint of all those years, all those games we’ve seen him play, all the times we’ve seen him control the ball on the outside of his foot and take a little look up, as he does here. The pass travels all of three yards, a simple lay-off under zero pressure that you or I could have completed. Somehow, Rooney still manages to make it look like pure velvet.Continue reading...