What the papers say
- Manager dedicates victory to City legend and his family
- Guardiola praises John Stones for return to form
Pep Guardiola dedicated Manchester City’s Carabao Cup semi-final win at Manchester United on Wednesday night to one of his club’s enduring luminaries, Colin Bell, who died on Tuesday at the age of 74.
“It’s an honour to dedicate this victory to Colin Bell and his family,” said City’s manager, wearing a “Legend Bell” T-shirt in tribute to the former England midfielder as he celebrated leading his team into a fourth successive League Cup final.Continue reading...
It is a good time to be a Manchester City centre-back, if only because the team is more committed to the idea of defending
The Carabao kings march on. During Pep Guardiola’s four years at Manchester City much energy has been expended arguing over how much the great midfield-fetishist, the don of keep-ball, has changed English football. Who knew English football would end up changing Pep too?
City took the lead in this League Cup semi-final with a set-piece goal on 50 minutes, bundled in by a 6ft 4in English centre-half.Continue reading...
Second-half goals from John Stones and Fernandinho sent City to yet another League Cup final
So congratulations to Manchester City; commiserations to Manchester United. It’ll be City v Spurs at Wembley in late April ... hopefully with fans in situ, fingers crossed. Thanks for reading this MBM. Stay safe, and nighty night.
Pep Guardiola, wearing a LEGEND BELL t-shirt, talks to Sky Sports. “This is for him, for his family. This person helped to build something special for this club. It is an incredible victory for us, to beat United away, to reach the final, and of course this is for him. The team is ready. It was an outstanding performance. We were tired, they had two more days off to rest, but we achieved something incredible. I know the Carabao Cup is not the Champions League, but four times in a row to reach the final is incredible. I’m so impressed by the boys. The final is not next week. Tottenham is a top, top team but we will have time to think about it.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks to Sky. “City can score many great goals and you can accept that. But when you concede two set-piece goals, simple ones we should have cleared, you are very disappointed. We were just not good enough in those moments. We didn’t do enough to win the game, didn’t create enough big chances ourselves, we didn’t have the extra finesse in the games we’ve had in the league lately. We played against a very good team, they played well, and when they play well you have to play really well to beat them. That’s just the reality of where we’re at. We were just lacking that little bit. They deserve it. But we are getting closer. This is a much better version of Man United than a year ago. That’s positive, but that’s not enough. It’s not psychological, you meet good teams in semis and we just didn’t have enough. They are probably the best team in England. We wanted a final to look forward to, but it’s not going to happen. There are loads of things to play for.”
The managers will be speaking soon. But while we wait for that, Jamie Jackson’s report has landed ...
City’s goalscoring hero John Stones speaks to Sky Sports. “I’d like to send our condolences from everyone in the dressing room to Colin Bell and his family. How we played today was a reflection of him. A great moment for us, and I’m sure he’s looking down on the game today. Another final and another great occasion, and a derby won against a top team. They caused us problems but we dealt with them and had so many chances. Set pieces are vital in big games and it was good to get something on it.”
Manchester City celebrate their victory with great feeling. A huge team huddle, followed by backslaps and hugs all round. They’ll face Tottenham Hotspur in the final, to be played on Sunday 25 April, all going to plan. If they win that, they’ll equal Liverpool’s record of eight League Cup victories, as well as their record of four consecutive wins, set all the way back in the early 1980s. More history there to be written by Pep Guardiola’s remarkable side, who have rediscovered their form in some style. But let them enjoy tonight for now: another derby win, and a lovely way to say farewell to the great Colin Bell.
City reach their fourth League Cup final in a row! They were the better side and deserve their reward. A huge grin plays across Guardiola’s face. His opposite number, a grim-faced Solskjaer, walks off to contemplate a fourth semi-final defeat in a row.
90 min +2: De Bruyne curls the resulting free kick into the mixer from the right. Nobody gets near it, but it doesn’t really matter now.
90 min +1: Shaw stress-tests the referee’s patience a bit too vigorously, yanking Sterling to the floor. He’s booked.
90 min: Three extra minutes separate Manchester City from yet another League Cup final.
88 min: Shaw is doing his level best to goad his old foe Cancelo into a reaction that would earn him a second yellow. A couple of sly shoves in the chest, just on the right side of legality, as they compete in a tight space. Cancelo, who snapped fairly easily earlier, does well to keep his cool.
87 min: Fred is replaced by the lesser-spotted Van de Beek.
85 min: Martial tries to flick the ball around Dias and claims a penalty for handball, but again the referee shows no interest whatsoever. It looked a desperate shout.
84 min: City celebrated that goal in the grand style. United had been asking a few questions, but that was some response. Guardiola beams broadly. Yet another League Cup final is within touching distance now.
De Bruyne has a dig from the right of the D. The ball’s deflected out for a corner on the right. De Bruyne takes. Wan-Bissaka clears, but not with any power. The ball drops to Fernandinho, just to the left of the D. He meets it sweetly, threading a sensational fizzer into the bottom left, a flat-footed Henderson left with no chance!
81 min: Greenwood garrinchas in from the right and nearly dribbles into shooting space. Dias intercepts, just in time, and City launch a counter through Sterling and De Bruyne, the latter crossing to nobody in particular.
80 min: Fernandes hoicks a speculative long-range effort miles over the bar. A bit early for Hail Mary attempts like this.
79 min: City respond to United’s substitution with a change of their own: the quiet Mahrez is replaced by Rodri.
78 min: Cancelo is booked for going forehead to forehead with Shaw, who had knocked him over in the silent-movie style.
77 min: United have enjoyed 77 percent of possession during the last five minutes. City seem perfectly happy about it, playing United at their own game, hoping to soak it all up and break dangerously if the chance presents itself.
75 min: United make the first change of the evening, throwing on Greenwood in place of McTominay.
74 min: It’s a good spell for United, who push City back. Suddenly Martial dribbles his way through a couple of gaps down the middle and enters the box ... before falling to ground over a non-existent challenge by Dias. Martial claims a penalty; a furious Dias demands retribution for the dive. Referee Martin Atkinson takes the diplomatic route by waving both claims away. We play on.
72 min: Pogba busies himself down the left and pulls back for Fernandes, who attempts a curler towards the top right. He finds the top right of the Stretford End.
71 min: A reminder that both teams can make up to five subs, in a maximum of three batches. United are playing well enough for things to remain as they are, but time is becoming a factor.
69 min: Fred goes into the box for an agricultural swipe through the back of Gundogan. Meanwhile Peter Oh (56 min) scores an open goal: “No second coming, promise.”
68 min: Fernandinho has a shot that has enough welly to knock Maguire to the floor. The deflection loops harmlessly into Henderson’s arms. This doesn’t feel like it’s going to end 0-1. But who scores next?
67 min: Fernandes drifts in from the left and shapes to curl one towards the top right. He telegraphs his intention, and the resulting floater is easy meat for Steffen. United have responded well to falling behind.
65 min: Fernandes has a dig from distance, but sends his shot straight down Steffen’s throat.
64 min: Some space for Martial down the left. His low fizzing cross forces Dias to stick out a telescopic leg and poke the ball out for a corner. From the set piece, Maguire rises highest, but under pressure from Stones, can’t steer his header anywhere hear the goal.
63 min: Nothing comes of the resulting corner.
62 min: Fred has the ball stolen off his toe in midfield by Sterling. He feeds Mahrez, who opens his legs, strides down the middle, and powers a curler towards the top left. Henderson tips over spectacularly. Great football all round, with the exception of Fred, whose leisurely faffing nearly cost United dear.
60 min: Martial contests a high ball with Zinchenko in the City box. It clanks off Martial’s chest for a goal kick. Martial claims the ball has hit Zinchenko’s hand, but neither ref nor VAR shows any interest. Then City break upfield, Sterling nearly rounding Henderson on the right, only for the keeper to snaffle just in time.
58 min: Foden crosses from the left. Sterling heads towards the top corner. Henderson claws it out. From the resulting corner, the ball’s worked to Cancelo out on the right. He whips towards the far stick. Foden is a toenail clipping away from poking home. Goal kick.
56 min: “Stones has come up roses for City,” quips Peter Oh, because somebody had to. But no more, please. This is the one.
54 min: That’s the first goal United have conceded in this competition this season. But they’ve not been too shabby at recovering after conceding first this season - 18 points gained from losing positions in the Premier League illustrate that - so there’s no need for the hosts to worry quite yet. City are on top right now, though, playing with something of a swagger.
52 min: ... and nearly doubled, as Cancelo drops a shoulder to glide in from the right and pearls a vicious rising shot towards the top left. Henderson can’t get anywhere near it, but the ball shaves the paint on the top of the bar. So close! That would have been a screamer.
51 min: VAR sticks its unwanted neb in - of course it does, boys and their toys - but Stones wasn’t offside and the ball didn’t hit his arm. City’s lead is confirmed.
It’s dangerous all right. Foden curls it in. The ball makes it all the way to the back post, where Stones - who accidentally trundled the ball into this very net early on - trundles another one into the bottom right off his thigh!
49 min: Sterling busies himself down the left and is dragged back by McTominay. This free kick will be in a dangerous position, just to the left of the United box. City load it.
48 min: Fernaninho slides in on Pogba from behind, unnecessarily so. The City player receives a double-whammy of punishment: a yellow card, plus he’s clouted on the follow-through as the players tangle on the turf.
46 min: Shaw sends in a free kick from the left. Pogba flicks on. There are red shirts lining up at the far post, but Dias hoicks clear. A bright start to the second half by the hosts.
United get the second half underway on a chilly night. No changes made by either side. Yet. So will either side finally get round to scoring after three consecutive goal-free halves in Manchester derbies? “What happened to ‘deadly strikers’?” wonders Phillip Wainwright. “It’s a shame that modern tactics lean toward the absence of a ‘proper finisher’ in a team. Even Cavani, arguably someone under this umbrella in modern times, misses a hatful of clear/easy chances every season. See also Rashford, Martial, Bamford, Bergwijn, Sterling, Werner, even Son at Spurs... Is it just my rose-tinted view or did Van Nistelrooy, Henry, Shearer, Fowler etc not miss as many easy chances? I am an enormous fan of Rashford, on and off the pitch, but if him and the enigmatic Martial were to not miss as many easy chances, Man Utd would be an infinitely more dangerous prospect. Imagine if they had Kane/Son.”
Half-time advertisement. Those siding with the red half of Manchester may be interested in this new podcast, presented by a couple of chaps you may recognise.
Episode 5 of United Rewind is out now!
Rob Smyth and @DanielHarris look back at the raucous FA Cup third round tie at the Etihad in January 2012, when the Ginger Prince came out of retirement to help United to a 3-2 win...
Listen now!https://t.co/d2WJnEDGjI#MUFC #MUNMCI pic.twitter.com/fVrky5j9Nd
Both teams have come close - there have been three disallowed goals plus one shot off the post - but it’s goalless at the break.
45 min: Fernandes has a chance to release Rashford down the middle, but uncharacteristically makes a royal balls of the through ball.
43 min: Rashford whips a ball into the City box from the right. It rears up and smacks Stones on the arm. Stones had been clumsily leaning into the ball, so there’s a big penalty shout, but his arm was just about in a natural position, and he gets the benefit of the doubt.
41 min: De Bruyne strides into space down the right. He hooks into the middle, looking for the so-far-ineffectual Mahrez. Wan-Bissaka volleys clear.
40 min: City continue to stroke the ball around, but they’re not forcing Henderson into too much action.
38 min: Foden has the beating of Wan-Bissaka down the left. He twice gets past his man in the space of a few seconds, though on neither occasion delivers the killer ball.
36 min: Fernandinho sends a glorious diagonal ball towards Sterling on the right. Sterling is in acres, and romps into the box. He just needs to jink past Shaw to make room for a shot from close range ... but clumsily runs slap-bang into the stationary defender, and doesn’t get the penalty he screams for.
34 min: Goal machine Scott McTominay tries his luck from distance. It’s not a bad effort, sent towards the top left from the best part of 30 yards out on the right, but always sailing a few inches over.
33 min: Rashford continues to look downcast after letting that chance slip by. He shouldn’t be too hard on himself; replays suggest he might have been a few millimetres offside, and he’d have been on the wrong end of one of those popular pernickety VAR decisions they have these days.
32 min: Fred, quarterbacking from deep on the left, launches towards Rashford, who has timed his break down the middle to perfection. If he brings the ball down, he’s one on one with Steffen ... but he can’t control and the keeper cleans up. The flag conspicuously stayed down.
30 min: Sterling one-twos with De Bruyne down the right. A crisp, quick exchange, and for a second it looks like Sterling will scuttle free into the box. But Shaw sticks to his shoulder like glue and hooks away brilliantly.
28 min: The first lull of an entertaining evening. Both teams deserve to take their breather.
26 min: Rashford sashays in from the right and looks to curl powerfully across Steffen and into the bottom left. That might have been going in, you know, but Dias sticks out a leg and deflects wide right of goal. At the resulting corner, Maguire flicks a weak header wide left, United having tried that thing with everyone at the near post again.
24 min: Zinchenko scoops a pass down the left touchline to release Foden, Wan-Bissaka beaten all ends up. Foden is free on goal! He dribbles into the box before calmly slotting between Henderson’s legs. But for the third time in the game, the goal is disallowed for offside. Foden went far too early. The flailing Wan-Bissaka will be a relieved man.
23 min: ... nothing of consequence happens.
22 min: City slow it down with some sterile centre-circle stuff. Then suddenly they up the tempo, Fernandinho sweeping a pass down the right for De Bruyne, who wins a corner. At which ...
20 min: United commit a few players forward, and nearly pay the price. Some overly intricate play between Pogba and Fernandes down the left is broken up, and City stream forward. The ball is shuttled upfield at pace, ending up at the feet of Foden, who nearly jinks his way into the United box down the middle. Maguire and Lindelof combine to usher him away from the danger zone.
18 min: More City passing. United hold their shape, coiled to spring forward given the chance. A pattern, it could be argued, has been set.
16 min: City are bossing this in terms of possession - over 70 percent so far - though United won’t be too worried about that. Not when Fernandes has the ability to pearl 50-yard passes from deep, nearly releasing Martial this time. De Bruyne and Zinchenko combine to close the door, just in time.
15 min: United respond through Martial, who makes good down the left before falling over his own feet in the City box. A lame appeal for a penalty that’s never going to be awarded. Then City nip upfield, De Bruyne dribbling down the right and nearly breaking clear into the box. Not quite. This is great fun.
13 min: Sterling strides down the inside-right channel and dinks inside for De Bruyne, who takes one touch and from 25 yards creams a full-fat rising shot towards the top left. Henderson is beaten all ends up, but the ball caroms off the post and clear. What a belt that was! City so unlucky.
11 min: Cancelo passes long. Gundogan attempts to tee up Mahrez, but United clear. Fernandes backs into Fernandinho and is clipped on the ankle for his trouble. He points this out to the referee with great clarity, but it’s a foul and nothing else. Let’s keep an eye on this duel.
10 min: United try something different at the corner, just about their entire team congregating at the near post. City refuse to become confused and clear their lines properly this time.
9 min: A really dismal clearance by Stones is intercepted by United. McTominay tees up Fernandes, who sidefoots powerfully towards the top right. Steffen does extremely well to tip round for a corner.
8 min: A lovely fast pace to this game. The polar opposite of the turgid nonsense these two teams produced here in the league last month.
6 min: This is an absurdly entertaining start. Some room for Pogba out on the left. He crosses deep, hoping to find Martial. Too deep. Pogba grimaces, perhaps thinking he might have done a bit better. City were short at the back there.
5 min: And now it’s City’s turn to have a goal disallowed! Some space for Foden down the left. He crosses low for Gundogan, who sticks out a toe and cleverly guides the ball across Henderson and into the bottom right! But the flag goes up; it’s another offside. What a start to this semi!
4 min: City breathe again ... and stroke it around again.
2 min: City spend the first 60 seconds stroking the ball around. Then Fernandinho tries to spring De Bruyne down the inside-right channel. Right idea, but too much pace. From the goal kick, Martial slips Rashford clear down the middle, simple as that! Rashford’s shot is spilled by Steffen, and the ball ricochets off Stones and dribbles into the net! But the flag goes up, correctly, for offside. What a farcical start that would have been!
An emotional moment of silence perfectly observed ... Bell’s old team-mate Mike Summerbee is pictured in the stand wiping away a tear ... and we’re off. City get the League Cup semi-final underway.
The teams are out! United in red, City in blue. The visitors came out wearing their early 70s retro No.8 shirts in honour of the late, great Colin Bell. A lovely touch. Also, that old-school badge is a bona-fide design classic. We’ll be off in a minute ... after a silent tribute to the King of the Kippax. RIP.
Ole’s turn. “We have had to change a few players throughout the season, but with the rest between the games this is a fresh team so we can go for it. Lindelof and Harry have played well against City before. We should go and enjoy ourselves. Make it our game. We are at home, in a semi-final, and you just want to enjoy these games. But you only enjoy them if you win. We are playing one of the best teams in European football, so we have to defend well, keep our structure and shape perfect, and hit them on the break a few times. We want to make it our game and get our good players on the ball.”
Pre-match Pep patter. “We took a bus 20 minutes ago from our home, and we travel here. And we are going to try to do a good performance to reach the final.” He looks relaxed and happy, despite large chunks of his squad having been laid low by coronavirus.
Colin Bell, one of the genuine greats, passed away yesterday. City will take to the field in retro No.8 shirts tonight, there will be a minute’s silence, and both teams will wear black armbands in memory of a true legend of Manchester football. Pep Guardiola has paid his respects: “It is a sad day for all of us. We want to send our best wishes to the family. This club belongs to the players who made this club what it is. Thanks for personalities like Colin Bell.”
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes two changes to the team that saw off Aston Villa on New Year’s Day. Dean Henderson takes David de Gea’s place in goal, while Victor Lindelof replaces Eric Bailly at the back.
Pep Guardiola makes two changes to the City side named for the victory at Chelsea on Sunday. Fernandinho and Riyad Mahrez are in; Rodri and Bernardo Silva drop out. Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus return from Covid isolation, and will start on the bench. With two keepers having tested positive for Covid, 18-year-old James Trafford - young Trafford, if you will - is named as a sub.
Manchester United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes, Martial, Rashford.
Subs: De Gea, Telles, Bailly, Tuanzebe, James, Mata, Matic, Van de Beek, Greenwood.
Manchester City: Steffen, Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Foden, Sterling.
Subs: Trafford, Walker, Jesus, Aguero, Rodrigo, Mendy, Nmecha, Harwood-Bellis, Mbete.
Good luck calling the 184th Manchester derby. This League Cup semi-final arrives at a time when both United and City are in form and feeling good about themselves. United haven’t lost a domestic fixture since the start of November; City haven’t lost in any competition since the middle of that same month. United have the advantage in the head-to-head during the last 13 months, winning three out of five to City’s one ... but that one victory sealed semi-final triumph for City last time round. City are looking to win this trophy for a record-equalling fourth year in a row; United will think they’re due a semi-final victory after losing three of them last season. Yes, good luck calling it.
It’s not a two-legged affair this year, on account of that damned virus. This will be decided tonight, then, though there are limits to the pruning: we’ll still have extra time and penalties if needs be. Both teams will be able to make up to five substitutions, though they’ll only be permitted a maximum of three opportunities during the 90 minutes to do so. Should the game go to extra time, they’ll get one more opportunity. Who will face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the April final? We’ll find out soon. It’s on!Continue reading...
Manchester City will take on Tottenham in April’s Wembley showpiece aiming to win the Carabao Cup for a remarkable fourth consecutive year, a feat only Liverpool have achieved.
For Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Manchester United this was a fourth successive semi-final reverse: losing at the stage is becoming a habit they have to break. What killed them were the two latest episodes of slack defending from set-pieces. Each presaged John Stones and Fernandinho’s strikes. Here, too, is another bad practice that the manager bemoaned afterwards but the simple fact is that it is on him to eradicate.Continue reading...
- Manager hits back at criticism from Jürgen Klopp
- Solskjær says United have ‘no excuses’ in derby semi
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has dismissed complaints from Jürgen Klopp and José Mourinho regarding the number of penalties Manchester United win, saying it is up to the Liverpool and Tottenham managers if they want to “spend time worrying” about it.
Solskjær suggested Klopp may have been trying to influence referees when he said after Liverpool lost at Southampton on Monday that United had won more penalties in two years than his team have had during his more than five years at Anfield. Klopp felt Sadio Mané had been denied a clear spot-kick. Mourinho has previously questioned United’s penalty count.Continue reading...
- Manchester United forward suspended for using word ‘negrito’
- Players’ union says FA has ‘committed a discriminatory act’
The Uruguayan players’ union has called on the Football Association to overturn Edinson Cavani’s three-game ban for using the word “negrito”.
The Manchester United forward used the term in an Instagram story after scoring twice in a 3-2 victory at Southampton in late November. The 33-year-old received a three-match ban, missing United’s victory over Aston Villa on Friday, and said his “heart is at peace” because there was no racist intent behind his use of the word.Continue reading...
The Manchester United forward reflects on an extraordinary year where he improved the lives of millions of people – all, he says, inspired by his mother, Mel
The Guardian Footballer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done something remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty.
Marcus Rashford is mulling over a quite extraordinary 2020 when his words and deeds have made him the only choice to be named as the Guardian’s Footballer of the Year. The Manchester United and England forward has excelled on the pitch, as usual, but the day job no longer defines him. How can it do so when he has done more than anyone to look after the poorest and most vulnerable children in the United Kingdom?
Marcus Rashford MBE is the Guardian’s Footballer of the Year for 2020. Rashford is honoured for forcing the issue of child hunger in the UK on to the national stage; persuading ministers to extend free school meals into the summer holidays; raising money to enable FareShare, the food charity he works with, to distribute nearly 10 million meals for children and families in need; launching the Child Food Poverty Taskforce; and launching a book club to support children’s reading. He has made his own experience, living in a home where food was scarce, count. And he has transformed perceptions of what role models in football can achieve.Continue reading...
Pieces of the puzzle are coming together and fans are beginning to believe a first title win since 2013 is a genuine possibility
Harry Maguire’s resurgence. Marcus Rashford’s consistent menace. David de Gea’s riposte to Dean Henderson’s threat. Bruno Fernandes being Bruno Fernandes. Alex Telles vying with Luke Shaw. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s new attacking potency. Edinson Cavani’s pursuit of excellence. Scott McTominay maturing. Paul Pogba’s virtuosity. And two years of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s clear managerial vision.
These are some of the reasons Manchester United stand level on 33 points with the leaders, Liverpool, and firmly in the title race, as close to the top as they have been after 16 games since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013. Then the great Scot guided the club to their 20th league championship. In the seasons since, the closest any United side has been to the leaders at this stage is six points, the deficit of Louis van Gaal’s team to Leicester in 2015-16.Continue reading...
Fans rate the best and worst of the season so far – the stars, the flops and what needs to change in 2021
Always good to be top of the league, can’t get much higher than that. We dropped points in our last two games, but all things considered, I’m happy. The downside has been the injuries. To lose Van Dijk and Thiago away to Everton’s School of Science – or was it Dogs of War? – so early in the season was tough. But Thiago is back: I’m looking forward to seeing him on a regular basis. 9/10Continue reading...
Bruno Fernades scored the deciding goal as Manchester United prevailed in a white-kuckle ride of a game at Old Trafford
“First half we were miles off it,” he tells Sky Sports. “First 15 minutes felt like a testimonial. Then they injected some pace into it and deservedly went ahead.
“I asked for more at half-time and we deserved to get back in the game. Our goalkeeper has had to make some good saves but they were all from outside the box.
Premier League: Jamie Jackson was at Old Trafford to see Manchester United win an exciting game by the odd goal of three and go level on points with league leaders Liverpool.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka speaks: “That win shows how much work we’re putting in, how much of a performance that was,” he tells Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves.
On his cross for Anthony Martial’s opener: “I could just hear voices - back post, front post,” he said. “I just went with the front post and put it there.”
Manchester United, who travel to Liverpool on 17 January, began the game well, before Villa wrestled control from them after about 20 minutes. A very entertaining game see-sawed, with Anthony Martial giving United the lead by catching three Villa defenders napping as he converted an Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross.
Bertrand Traore restored parirty in a helter-skelter second half, as Villa capitalised on some Aaron Wan-Bissaka naivety at a free-kick, before United restored their lead soon after. Bruno Fernandes slotted home from the spot after Douglas Luiz tripped Paul Pogba in the penalty area.
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeep! It’s all over at Old Trafford, where Manchester United have beaten Aston Villa by the odd goal of three to go level on points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table.
90+5 min: Rashford embarks on a counter-attack but runs for the corner. He plays the ball inside to Pogba, who is more reluctant to run the clock down. He gives the ball back to Villa who get forward one last time, but to no avail.
90+4 min: United finally get to clear their lines, when Watkins is unable to reach a cross. United substitution: Axel Tuanzebe on for Fred.
90+3 min: From that set piece, Cash is teed up for a rising shot from distance, which De Gea puts out for a third corner in quick succession.
90+2 min: Villa win a corner after good work down the right from McGinn and Cash. Grealish’s delivery is put behind for another corner by Dan James.
90 min: Matic gets booked for a foul on Grealish. We’ll have five minutes of added time.
89 min: Rashford rampages forward with Villa’s defence backing off. He plays the ball wide – ac little too wide – to Dan James and the substitute’s cross come shot fails to trouble Martinez.
89 min: Luke Shaw is booked for a foul on Douglas Luiz.
88 min: James is straight into action, his low shot hitting traffic on its way through to the warm embrace of Emiliano Martinez.
86 min: Man Utd substitution: Dan James on for Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese midfielder, who has been outstanding, looks very displeased by his withdrawal from the action.
86 min: Matic fouls Cash just down by the technical areas and is perhaps lucky to escape a caution.
84 min: Villa substitution: Keinan Davis on for Anwar El-Ghazi.
82 min: Villa win a free-kick in a wide area after El Ghazi is blocked illegally by Shaw. Matty Cash curls a cross to the far post, where Mings heads narrowly wide. It was a fantastic cross and a brilliant scoring opportunity, but the defender headed wide with plenty of goal to aim at.
81 min: Man Utd substitution I missed earlier while in a Chris Kamara-esque reverie: Nemanja Matic on for Scott McTominay.
79 min: El Ghazi switches wings, presumably to give Matty Cash a dig-out, as he’s being given the run-around by Luke Shaw.
79 min: Villa substitution: Jacob Ramsey on for Bertrand Traore.
78 min: From this corner, the ball is cleared to Rashford. He sends an good effort fizzing just over the angle of post and crossbar.
77 min: The corner is cleared but only as far as Fernandes outside the area. He advances before sending a dipping shot goalwards. Martinez paws it over for a corner.
76 min: Luke Shaw drills another cross from the left towards the near post. Ezra Konsa intercepts to put it out for a corner.
75 min: Another curled Grealish cross for Watkins, who outjumps Bailly but skims his header wide of the upright from five yards out.
73 min: A loose pass from Cash is pounced on by Shaw, who gallops down the left unopposed. He combines with Martial before crossing for Pogba, who shoots low, hard and wide of the upright when scoring looked easier.
72 min: After good foraging work for Traore, El Ghazi shoots low and hard from distance, forcing David De Gea to dive low to his right and save. This is very entertaining stuff.
69 min: Matty Cash comes perilously close to giving away a penalty, getting in a tangle with Luke Shaw on the edge of his own area as the Manchester United full-back beat him for pace down his inside. Referee Michael Oliver sees no foul and neither, apparently, does his VAR Paul Tierney.
67 min: Bissaka goes some towards redeeming himself, taking an inch-perfect cross from the outstanding Grealish off El-Ghazi’s head when the Villa man looked certain to score at the far post.
64 min: Going back to the Villa equaliser, it was Aaron Wan-Bissaka who was guilty of tomfoolery, electing to try – and fail – to stop John McGinn taking a quick free-kick towards Jack Grealish, rather than getting back into position to help his team defend the dead ball. There was a giant hole for Grealish to run into, exactly where Bissaka should have been.
63 min: There was a pause for a VAR check before that penalty was taken but it was never going to be overturned.
United retake the lead! Fernandes arrows the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Martinez guessed the right way, but didn’t get a finger to the ball.
Douglas Luiz is penalised after a tangle of legs with Paul Pogba when the Manchester United midfielder had got wrong side of him on the edge of the Villa penalty area.
Villa equalise. Bertrand Traore fires home low and hard from about six yards, contrrolling and then converting a Jack Grealish cross from the left as Manchester United’s defence fell asleep at a free kick.
55 min: Eric Bailly gets booked for a late challenge on somebody or other.
54 min: Anwar El-Ghazi fires narrowly wide from distance after being picked out by Jack Grealish with a ball played from right to left.
53 min: Tyrone Mings is forced to head away from his own goal after twisting in mid-air to connect with a Luke Shaw cross.
52 min: Ollie Watkins brings a good save out of De Gea, stretching every sinew to steer a Grealish cross goalwards with his forehead, forcing the Manchester United goalkeeper to tip the ball over the bar. Nothing comes from the corner.
50 min: Lovely play from Bernard Traore after picking up a wonderful crossfield ball from McGinn. He picks out Grealish on the overlap with a backheel but his cross is too high.
50 min: Marcus Rashford does Matty Cash for speed down the left and drills the ball towards the near post. Emiliano Martinez is on hand to block.
48 min: Michael Oliver shows his first yellow card of the game and Harry Maguire is the recipient. He can’t complain, having shoved Grealish off the ball in instalments.
47 min: Good tracking back by Martial, who puts a stop to a Matty Cash gallop down the left, forcing the Villa full-back to play the ball backwards.
46 min: Harry Maguire clips a free-kick from just inside his own half wide in the direction of Fernandes. He proceeds to lose possession.
46 min: Play resumes at Old Trafford, with no changes in personnel on either side. If United can hang on for the win, they’ll go level on points with League leaders Liverpool.
A word on Ross Barkley: The midfielder was expected to feature for Villa tonight but it seems he hasn’t fully recovered from his injury. Apologies for the slightly confusing photo I posted earlier, which shows him training before a previous game.
Liverpool’s highly decorated captain gets a grilling from Donald McRae, one of the best interviewers in the business. Read on ...
Premier League: Spare a thought for Andy Hunter, who had to chisel out 1,000 or so words on one of the most dreary Premier League games ever played earlyier this evening. Here’s how he got on ...
Peep! Man United win a corner but there’s no time to take it. Michael Oliver blows his whistle to bring an entertaining first half to a close. Anthony Martial’s header separates the sides.
45 min: Fred plays the ball wide to Shaw, who tries to pick out Martial. Matty Cash clears.
43 min: Villa corner. Bernard Traore swings the ball outwards but it’s headed clear by Pogba, who is having one of his better games in a United shirt.
Anthony Martial stoops to conquer between three Villa defenders, powering home a header from the edge of the six yard box after getting on the end of an Aaron Wan-Bissake cross from the right. He had no business scoring there, with three defenders between him and the goal as the ball came in.
38 min: Bruno Fernandes tries his luck from distance, sending the ball flashing wide of the Villa goal. Good effort.
36 min: Eric Bailly swings a petulant hand in the direction of John McGinn’s face as he attempts to grab the ball to take a free-kick. He doesn’t connect and is very lucky - I suspect he’d have been in line for a red card if he’d made contact.
35 min: A Grealish through ball to the edge of the United penalty area is met by Cash, who has to stretch to get a toe on it. United clear.
34 min: Grealish sends the corner kick deep, where it’s met by Ezri Konsa, who sends a looping header towards the edge of the six-yard box. United clear.
33 min: Luke Shaw puts a Matt Targett cross from the left out for a Villa corner.
31 min: Nursing a cut lip, Pogba leaves the field of play after receiving medical attention, before returning immediately.
30 min: Matt Targett heads clear at the near post, contesting the corner kick with Pogba behind him. The Frenchman goes down injured, holding his face - Mings, it was, who caught him with an arm to the the head.
28 min: Tyrone Mings boots a Fernandes cross clear as Manchester United start to reassert their authority. Paul Pogba fails to pick out Martial with a cross but does win his side a corner.
25 min: Nothing comes from the corner but Villa are getting more and more confident. Paul Pogba reminds them they’re in a game on somebody else’s turf, shooting over from the edge of the box after receiving a pass from Rashford.
23 min: More good play from Villa who are visibly growing into the game. McGinn, Grealish, Cash and McGinn combine beautifully with some crisp, neat passing before Eric Bailly is forced to dive in at the near post to prevent Ollie Watkins connecting with a cross from deep. Corner for Villa.
22 min: El Ghazi runs on to a Grealish pass down the left and squares the ball. It’s blocked and cleared.
21 min: A little period of sustained possession for Villa, which abruptly ends by the time I type that comma. They’ve definitely got more of a foothold in this game after a slightly sheepish start.
17 min: Paul Pogba dummies on the edge of the area, allowing Fred to shoot over from further out after connecting with an Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross. The Man United full-back had combined to good effect with Marcus Rashford down the right flank, but Pogba probably should have taken the shot.
15 min: United deal with two Villa corners in quick succession in the wake of that McGinn shot. David De Gea appears to be unhappy with some roughhouse treatment he was getting as the players waited for Jack Grealish to deliver the ball into the penalty area. He complains at length to referee Michael Oliver.
14 min: John McGinn brings an excellent save out of De Gea with an excellent controlled volley towards the bottom left-hand corner. He connected with a cross from Cash, who had given Paul Pogba the slip down the right flank.
14 min: A tip of the hat to the excellent Fernandes, who is already the standpout player in this game. It was he who picked out Martial for that shot on goal, with an excellent pass tyhreaded between defenders.
12 min: Maguire gets his head to that Luke Shaw outswinger, but there isn’t enough pace on the ball for his effort to trouble Martinez.
11 min: Martial spanks the ball goalwards from the edge of the Villa penalty area, but Martinez is equal to his goalbound shot. He getsa a strong hand to the ball, putting it out for a corner. From that, United win another.
10 min: A curled Fernandes cross from the right is headed clear by Cash. United continue to pressurise their visitors.
9 min: It’s pretty even in these opening minutes, although Manchester Un ited are probably having the better of things and looking a little more assured.
7 min: A low, hard Scott McTominey pass towards the Villa penalty area is miscontrolled by Ezri Konsa. Martial can’t quite capitalise and the Villa defender recovers.
7 min: A Bruno Fernandes cross from the right is deflected towards Martinez off Tyrone Mings.
6 min: Villa play it out from the back, under pressure from United. Moments later, the ball is hoofed long and ends up back with David De Gea at the other end of the pitch.
4 min: A foul by Fred on Jack Grealish earns Villa a free-kick just inside the United half. Moments later, Targett’s cross from the left is cleared by Maguire.
2 min: Fred plays the ball down the inside left for Briuno Fernandes to chase. He rifles a cross into the chest of Emiliano Martinez at the near post and the ball breaks for Pogba, who eschews a shooting opportunity. Early panic stations for Villa following a great pass from Fred.
1 min: Another throw-in, this time for United. Luke Shaw takes this one.
1 min: Manchester United get the ball rolling, with Bruno Fernandes doing the honours. It’s immediately lumped out for a Villa throw-in on the left flank, which Matty Cash takes.
A minute’s silence: There’s a pre-kick-off pause to remember the former United and Villa manager, Tommy Docherty, who died a day or two ago. May he rest in peace.
Not long now: The teams are out on the pitch, with Aston Villa first out, their players wearing black shirts, black shorts and ... I’m going with “light blue” socks. United follow them, their players wearing their customary home colours: red shirts, white shorts, black socks.
Exciting news: We have a Big Interview with the Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson going live imminently, which will be posted here for your half-time reading pleasure.
A diabolically dull game of football has come to a merciful end at Goodison Park, where West Ham made off with the points courtesy of a Tomas Soucek stab from the edge of the six-yard box in the 86th minute.
Those teams: One change for Villa, for whom Tyrone Mings replaces Kourtney Hause.
Manchester United have four changes in personnel. Fred and Scott McTominay return in central midfield, while Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial also start.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial
Subs: Henderson, Greenwood, Mata, James, Van de Beek, Tuanzebe, Telles, Matic, Lingard
Ross Barkley and Tyrone Mings return from injury and suspension respectively and could go straight into the starting line-up. Having instantly hit his stride with Villa, Barkley has not played since 21 November.
Trezeguet remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and has yet to participate in full training since pulling up the day before his side’s game against Wolves in mid-December.
Victor Lindelof remains sidelined with a back injury, which means Eric Bailly is likely to deputise alongside Harry Maguire in the heart of United’s defence.
With Edinson Cavani suspended for three games after using a racial term in an Instagram post, which he swiftly removed and apologised for, Anthony Martial could start up front for United.
Happy New Year and welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of the action from Old Trafford as Manchester United entertain Aston Villa. Both sides are flying high in the table, with Manchester United second behind Liverpool and Aston Villa scaling the unexpectedly dizzy heights of fifth after 14 games. Kick-off tonight at Old Trafford is at 8pm (GMT). Stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.Continue reading...
- United level on points with Liverpool after beating Aston Villa
- Villa’s Dean Smith unhappy at Paul Pogba penalty award
Ole Gunnar Solskjær praised Manchester United for beating Aston Villa and drawing level with Liverpool on 33 points but insisted his team need to improve if they are to maintain their title challenge.Continue reading...
Manchester United have moved level with Liverpool, separated from the champions by goal difference only. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side did so courtesy of Bruno Fernandes’s 15th strike of the season, United finding a way to claim victory as they did against Wolves, the Portuguese’s winner coming moments after Aston Villa had levelled.Continue reading...
Loans, not big-money buys, are likely to be flavour of the month, but from top to bottom managers want to do business
Arsenal need to shift a formidable bulk of dead wood before they can make significant efforts to address, among other things, an enduring lack of creativity. Sead Kolasinac has joined Schalke on loan and is among several they hope to move out, at least temporarily. At this point any incomings are likely to be loans, too, with Isco among the names considered before Mikel Arteta looks longer-term in the summer. Nick AmesContinue reading...
Today’s tittle-tattle is taking back control
The dust sheets are off, some engineers in overalls have hit various bits with a large spanner and the giant lever has been pulled. Yes folks, after months on the sidelines that clunk-whirr-clunk sound you can hear is the sound of the Rumour Mill cranking back into action after wheezing its way through a late fitness test.
With English football’s transfer window due to open tomorrow, our return hasn’t come a moment too soon; fighting fit, raring to go and ready to bring you daily digests from the frontline of transfer speculation, much of which will inevitably prove to be misguided, if not downright incorrect.Continue reading...
Sam Allardyce takes aim at Arsenal, Danny Ings could return to haunt Liverpool and José Mourinho must change tack
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has taken significant stick from laymen convinced their footballing expertise trumps his, but even they must concede that Manchester United are better now than at any stage in the Post-Fergie Wilderness YearsTM. Though it’s hard to envisage United winning the title, they must attack games as if they intend to, and should they fail, it will not be because they were too cautious. Solskjær’s side are too ruthful in attack and defence, but can offset these weaknesses by dominating opponents in midfield. Before their midweek win with Wolves, the Norwegian said “we need to go after them and get after that ball,” but it was not until the final quarter of the game, when Paul Pogba moved further forward, that United did that. They got away with it against Wolves, just, but to achieve the improbable this season, they must be braver from the outset in every game. DHContinue reading...
The former manager of Scotland, Manchester United and many others was an unconventional and outspoken coach
Tommy Docherty spent a lifetime breaching convention. From a loft – a “doocot” to Docherty – atop the main stand at Stamford Bridge, he could be found peering down on Chelsea. Docherty, the club’s manager from 1961 until 1967, determined he could have a better view of play from on high.
If that was a footballing break from the norm, Docherty’s departure from Manchester United in the summer of 1977 because of an affair with the physiotherapist’s wife dominated Britain’s news agenda. Docherty later married Mary Brown – the pair remained together until his death aged 92 – and apparently bore no grudges at all about his sacking but the scenario was tabloid gold. It helped that Docherty was and remained one of football’s great personalities.
I will take you places no other man could. First stop, the Old Bailey
Related: A life in pictures: Tommy Docherty
If Manchester United had kept me for another couple of years the trophies would have been rolling inContinue reading...
Tommy Docherty, who has died aged 92, often liked to say that he had “had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus”– a joke that referred not to his successful playing career as a hard-tackling, intelligent international right-half, but to his peripatetic existence as a manager. Beginning with six years at Chelsea in the 1960s, which started brightly but ended in chaos, he had more than a dozen spells in management, including at Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers, Derby County, Porto, Wolverhampton Wanderers and his own national side, Scotland. His most celebrated period came at Manchester United in the mid-70s.
Although he was one of the highest profile football managers of his generation and remained highly marketable well into the 80s, Docherty’s returns were actually rather slight, amounting over three decades to a Second Division title and FA Cup win with Manchester United and a League Cup victory with Chelsea. He took all the ups and downs with his trademark ebullient humour, and was ever willing to tell a story against himself. In 1967, after the Chelsea directors had called him to the boardroom and told him he was being released, he disappeared momentarily before returning with several bottles of champagne, with which he cheerfully toasted those who had just dismissed him. His enemies would say of him that you always knew he was lying because his lips moved – but he would make jokes about that as well.Continue reading...
The former Manchester United and Scotland manager has died following a long illnessContinue reading...
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes there has been a shift in his team’s mentality in recent weeks. Speaking ahead of their game against in-form Aston Villa, Solskjær believes the club’s recruitment, alongside the players within the squad, has contributed to the change in mentality which sees United sit in second. The 47-year-old also praised the job Dean Smith has done at Aston Villa and described the job done by his opposite number as ‘brilliant’.Continue reading...
- Former Scotland player managed national team and 12 clubs
- Docherty’s family say he has died after a long illness
The former Manchester United and Scotland manager Tommy Docherty has died at the age of 92 after a long illness, his family have announced.
Docherty, who was known as “the Doc”, spent nine years as a player with Preston after joining them from Celtic in 1949 and won 25 caps for Scotland. He went on to manage 12 clubs, including Chelsea, Aston Villa and Derby, and had a stint in charge of Scotland. But he was best known for his five-year spell at Old Trafford, overseeing an FA Cup final win over Bob Paisley’s Liverpool in 1977.
Related: A life in pictures: Tommy DochertyContinue reading...