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Updated: 3 hours 19 min ago

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 10/22/2021 - 00:01

Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton all face tests of their ambitions while Norwich’s defence will be kept busy

One of English football’s fiercest rivalries resumes at Old Trafford on Sunday, with both teams coming off dramatic 3-2 midweek wins in the Champions League. Liverpool look close to the force of 2018-2020 again, give or take a few defensive doubts, and it is Manchester United who go into the game with shakier confidence. Jürgen Klopp’s first win at Old Trafford came in May of this year, a 4-2 victory that was chastening for Ole Gunnar Solskjær. “When you play against good players and good teams you can’t give easy goals away,” he said afterwards, a comment that could be readily attached to several matches this season. Klopp has his reliable trident of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino back in form. Solskjær has as much attacking talent to call on, but is yet to find consistency or coherence from a group including Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard. Does Solskjær risk the freeform presence of Paul Pogba? The Frenchman was benched against Atalanta, though his absence did little to lock down United defensively. JB

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Solskjær’s great entertainers thrill Old Trafford but lack grander purpose | John Brewin

Thu, 10/21/2021 - 16:00

United are back to the mid-80s, looking to cup competitions for glory while trailing in the wake of better organised clubs

Another act of escapology, more questions of Manchester United’s identity. A Cristiano Ronaldo winner on Wednesday night to complete a 3-2 comeback against Atalanta in the classic style to the sound of fans exalting their manager. These are the things the Theatre of Dreams was made of.

But there comes a time when a plot twist becomes so habitual as to become pulp fiction, particularly when preceded by turgid sludge served by United in the first half. Are late winners against Atalanta and Villarreal, fun as they might be, anything but an imitation of the grander deeds of the 1990s and 2000s, a weak reboot of a previously all-conquering franchise?

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Solskjær praises Old Trafford crowd despite jeering in dramatic Champions League comeback – video

Thu, 10/21/2021 - 10:15

Ole Gunnar Solskjær praised the home fans at Old Trafford despite boos and jeering from a section of supporters on Wednesday. 'We've had 18 months of playing without a crowd, and I think tonight is a big testament to the crowd as well' the Manchester United manager said.

Manchester United came from 2-0 down at half time against Atalanta with goals from Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo. The team face Liverpool at home this weekend in the Premier League

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‘We played well’: Solskjær shrugs off jeers of Manchester United fans

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 23:27
  • United pull off thrilling comeback to beat Atalanta 3-2
  • Some supporters booed players off pitch at half-time

Ole Gunnar Solskjær brushed off the half-time boos as Manchester United came from 2-0 behind to beat Atalanta thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s late winner.

Jeers were clearly heard around the stadium as the teams walked off at the break with United’s support unhappy at a poor first-half display in the third Champions League Group F game.

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Cristiano Ronaldo the inevitable headline star of a cinematic thriller | Barney Ronay

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 23:13

Manchester United’s win over Atalanta was made up of magnificent moments but this was a gruelling watch for home fans

With nine minutes to play on a thrilling, increasingly wild night at Old Trafford Cristiano Ronaldo made one of those half-runs, the run that isn’t quite the run, then stretched his stride as he picked up the flight of the ball from Luke Shaw’s boot on the left flank.

This is one of the things Ronaldo does so well, the algebra of flight, speed, timing, gravity, contact, the millions of equations and muscle‑mnemonics that go into making these moments work.

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Champions League roundup: Sané free-kick sparks Bayern’s 4-0 win at Benfica

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 23:09
  • Barcelona claim first points in Europe as Juventus top Group H
  • Villarreal ease to 4-1 victory at Young Boys while Sevilla draw

Bayern Munich hit Benfica with four late goals to seal an emphatic 4-0 win in Portugal. Leroy Sané broke the deadlock after 70 minutes before an Everton Soares own goal and strikes from Robert Lewandowski and Sané once more saw the German club surge away at the top of Group E.

Barcelona gained their first win in the competition this season after Gerard Piqué scored in a 1-0 victory against Dynamo Kiev at the Camp Nou.

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Manchester United 3-2 Atalanta: Champions League – as it happened

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 22:27

Manchester United recovered from 2-0 down to beat Atalanta, with Cristiano Ronaldo heading an 81st-minute winner

2 min: Atalanta are kicking towards the Stretford End in this first half.

Manchester United kick off ... but only after all 22 players take the knee. There’s no room for racism. Kick it out.

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Ronaldo completes Manchester United’s rousing comeback win against Atalanta

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 22:05

Manchester United continue to be a heart-palpitating proposition who cannot control matches. But, they also continue to be a box-office thrill, who stank the first half out, then put on a show that featured Cristiano Ronaldo heading the winner with minutes left. If this was not as late as his clincher against Villarreal it unleashed the same cocktail of relief, delirium and disbelief among fans, and when the final whistle went the No 7’s sink-to-the-knees and fist-pump illustrated precisely what victory meant.

While the bottom line is Atalanta are no longer Group F leaders and United have six points from three games, questions will continue regarding what Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side can actually win. If this was another Old Trafford night to shake the head at, is also the type the manager will hope to eradicate.

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‘You can see the progress’: Solskjær defends his Manchester United record

Tue, 10/19/2021 - 15:58
  • Manager accepts there is pressure after bad run of results
  • ‘We’ve been through this before and come through stronger’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has defended his record as Manchester United manager but accepted there is pressure on him following the club’s recent run of poor form.

United have won only two of their past seven matches, losing four of them, including the 4-2 defeat at Leicester on Saturday. This has led to heightened scrutiny of Solskjær, and the Norwegian was asked if he feels safe in his job.

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‘United not good enough,’ admits Solskjær after humbling Leicester loss

Sat, 10/16/2021 - 20:05
  • ‘[Our] best player was the goalie and still we conceded four’
  • Manager defends selection of rusty Harry Maguire in 4-2 defeat

Ole Gunnar Solskjær accused his side of failing to play with enough intensity after Manchester United slumped to a wretched 4-2 defeat against Leicester at the King Power Stadium.

United, who have taken one point from their past three games, dropped to fifth after a dismal defensive display.

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Solskjær cannot continue to survive on goodwill and fond memories

Sat, 10/16/2021 - 18:46

Not for the first time this season, Manchester United’s tactical shortcomings were ruthlessly exposed by Leicester

It was an afternoon to stir the soul, a thrilling game of three outstanding goals and a Leicester performance that suggested their injury problems may be behind them and their season may be about to begin.

Even in the context of recent successes, this was a game that will take an exalted place in the collective memory of the King Power. But beyond that excitement, this was another glum day for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjær. How long can this drift be allowed to go on? How long can nostalgia insulate against the recognition of mediocrity? How long can the same problems be allowed to keep recurring?

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Leicester’s Vardy and Daka end Manchester United’s away record

Sat, 10/16/2021 - 17:23

The most damning aspect of this sorry performance from Manchester United is that Leicester City simply looked like the better coached team. Ole Gunnar Solskjær had Cristiano Ronaldo, but Brendan Rodgers had a plan. Leicester, who had not tasted victory in the league since 28 August, were slicker and smarter from start to finish and there was no doubt that they were deserved winners. Youri Tielemans delivered a magnificent driving performance from central midfield, James Maddison rediscovered his creative zest and United were a sorry bunch, their 29-game unbeaten away record in the top flight brought to an end.

The questions about Solskjær will not go away after this tactically incoherent display. United, who have taken one point from their last three games, could not rely on individual quality to bail them out. A special goal from Mason Greenwood and a late equaliser from Marcus Rashford on his first appearance of the season could not mask their dreadful defending.

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‘Prioritise football’: Solskjær wants returning Rashford to focus on United

Fri, 10/15/2021 - 22:30
  • Manchester United striker back from injury at Leicester
  • Rashford has campaigned against child poverty

Ole Gunnar Solskjær wants Marcus Rashford to “prioritise” football for Manchester United over off-field commitments after his recovery from a long-term shoulder injury.

The 23-year-old could make a first appearance of the season at Leicester on Saturday after surgery in August. Solskjær was not suggesting Rashford has not previously been fully focused on playing but that he must allow nothing to interfere now he is fit again.

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Leicester v Manchester United: match preview

Fri, 10/15/2021 - 16:44

The last three meetings between Leicester and Manchester United at the King Power have been about stepping closer to glory – two Premier League duels where qualification for the Champions League was on the line, and a FA Cup quarter-final in March – but this one is more about getting back on the right track after stuttering starts to their seasons. Injuries in defence should harden both teams’ commitment to attack; this has the ingredients for a goal-fest. Paul Doyle

Saturday 3pm

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Mr Nice Guy v hairdryer: the dilemma facing Solskjær before crunch games | Jamie Jackson

Fri, 10/15/2021 - 10:00

The Norwegian rarely reprimands his players in public but could they do with a dressing-down every now and then?

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is the touchline Mr Nice Guy whose breezy demeanour may be counterproductive. To find a sighting of the manager scolding a Manchester United player is akin to a search for Lord Lucan: it could take some time.

Why does it matter? Because players, even subconsciously, can ease off, or just blithely fail to heed orders. There is, of course, little point in mindless venting with no material aim. But for a No 1 to be able to show who the No 1 is via a mid-game shock-and-awe lecture to stop aberrations is vital or performances will dip.

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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 10/15/2021 - 00:01

Bruce potentially set for his final game at Newcastle, Ranieri begins tough spell at Watford and Guardiola has Sterling decision to make

It feels trivial discussing mere football matters when set against the ethical concerns arising from Newcastle’s Saudi takeover, but it feels as if whatever happens on the pitch against Tottenham will accelerate Steve Bruce’s departure. He is unlikely to get much credit if his side record a first league win of the season; instead it will only heighten the sense of “new broom” momentum that would require a bigger-name manager as soon as possible, while defeat would only serve to demonstrate the immediate need for change. It helps Bruce that Newcastle’s first opponents of the new era are a side who have been desperately unconvincing for at least a month, and who could be there for the taking if the hosts get on the front foot early. Defeat for Spurs would intensify the early pressure on Bruce’s counterpart, Nuno Espírito Santo, and heighten the focus on the various aspects of Tottenham’s game that aren’t functioning properly, particularly if Harry Kane remains goalless. It will be a morally queasy occasion but the party atmosphere might just work in Newcastle’s favour, for all the good it will do Bruce. TD

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Manchester United’s Elanga subjected to alleged racism while with Sweden

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 12:56
  • Under-21 forward stated that Italian opponent abused him
  • ‘Completely unacceptable,’ says his manager Claes Eriksson

Manchester United forward Anthony Elanga was subjected to alleged racist abuse by an opponent while playing for Sweden Under-21s on Tuesday, the Swedish Football Association has said.

Elanga was part of the Sweden side that drew 1-1 with Italy in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier. A statement on the Swedish FA’s official website said: “In connection with the under-21 national team’s European Championship qualifier against Italy in Monza on Tuesday, Anthony Elanga has stated after the match that he has been subjected to a racist comment from an opponent in the Italian Under-21 national team.”

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The rise of the Monaco and France midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 12:39

Tchouaméni was a talented prospect when he joined Monaco last year. Now he is a France international – and champion

By Ben McAleer for WhoScored

When Bordeaux sold Aurélien Tchouaméni to Monaco for £16m last January they may have thought they had done well to command such a fee for a 20-year-old academy product who had only started 13 league games for the club. They won’t be seeing it that way now. Tchouaméni has blossomed in the last 18 months, becoming a star for Monaco and winning his first trophy for France.

As a youngster, Tchouaméni was used as a playmaker or a forward, but he has become such an influential figure from deep for Monaco that, despite his tender years, he is currently vice-captain for the club. Niko Kovac’s decision to use him in the centre of midfield has had a positive impact for Monaco, who finished third in Ligue 1 last season. Tchouaméni was their standout player, winning the Ligue 1 young player of the year award and making it into the Ligue 1 team of the season.

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Wayne Rooney opens up about ‘difficult periods’ in his life in documentary

Tue, 10/12/2021 - 14:58
  • ‘Rooney’ will appear on Amazon Prime in early 2022
  • Former England captain discusses mental health and family

Wayne Rooney will give an insight into his thinking during some of the biggest moments in his career and also open up on his mental health during a new documentary.

England’s all-time record goalscorer stars in ‘Rooney’, to be screened on Amazon Prime in early 2022, where viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look into his family life. Rooney addresses some difficult topics in the one-off film, talking about moments that led to stories on both the front and back pages.

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Premier League fans rate the season so far. Part two: Liverpool to Wolves

Sun, 10/10/2021 - 08:00

Fans on the best and worst of the opening stages – top performers, biggest mistakes and funniest moments

Best performance so far? Man City. A lacklustre first half totally changed round in the second. Two brilliant goals, the second already goal of the season, and a chance to win it. Not the result we wanted, but a superb 45 minutes of football.

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