Monday, 20 November 2017

FC Basel vs Manchester United Preview


Zlatan Ibrahimovic replaces Anthony Martial to make his return from injury
"Lions don't recover like humans" Zlatan Ibrahimovic
A fantastic Saturday evening performance kept Manchester United 8 points behind Manchester City and a point in front of Chelsea with a far superior goal difference. A stunning performance from Paul Pogba revived a team that was suffering a poor run of form in the Premier League and scored more goals against Newcastle than they had done in the last four Premier League games (Chelsea, Tottenham, Huddersfield and Liverpool) and now need one more point to secure the path to the Champions League Round of 16. After watching the Newcastle game from the bench and playing with the U23's last week, Marcos Rojo must be itching to start a game with his return to fitness after many months out and with Phil Jones limping off against Germany whilst on international duty for England and likewise Eric Bailly is once again sidelined after sitting out for the Ivory Coast against Morocco. Basel was of course the fixture in which the Red Devils lost £89m Paul Pogba to his hamstring injury and hopefully history will not repeat itself with Jose Mourinho controlling his game time to prevent the big Frenchman from sitting on the sidelines for any longer, thus Pogba will either start the game or maybe enter the field with half an hour to go, either way, it is doubtful that he will play the full 90 minutes. Zlatan Ibrahimovic also returned on Saturday and almost crowned his second debut with a delightful scissor kick and will also want to be part of the side heading for Switzerland. Likewise Henrikh Mkhitaryan will also want to be proving his class to Jose Mourinho after being left out of the squad facing the Jordie side altogether because of 'tactical reasons' (i.e. the lack of confidence due to poor form).



In the reverse fixture, Marcus Rashford added to his debut records with a goal on his Champions
League debut and sealing a 3-0 win.

Basel have had a successful start to the Champions League this season, hammering Benfica 5-0 and winning away in Moscow, making them the favourites to join the Red Devils in the Round of 16. Jose Mourinho may be wary of Basel's need for another victory to help make this happen and so might adopt a more withdrawn formation to the team and hit Basel on the counter with the pace and power at his disposal.

A win would give Manchester United a much needed place in the Round of Sixteen and two wins against Basel and CSKA would keep the Red Devils at the top of the group but would want to avoid Juventus, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid should they be drawn from the bowl on December 11th.

Will Mkhitaryan and Rojo return to the starting lineup?
Predicted Lineup:

De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Darmian, Matic, Fellaini, Rashford, Ibrahimovic, Lingard, Lukaku

Predicted Score: FC Basel 0-2 Manchester United

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Manchester United vs Newcastle United Match Analysis

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An interesting game to watch with Pogba, Martial and Mata returning to the lineup and playing along side Rashford and Lukaku looked to be a dangerous force to reckon with. Unfortunatley the game got off to an atrocious start with Newcastle capitalising on a lack of communication between Ashley Young and Chris Smalling through DeAndre Yedlin surging forward and forcing another mistake from Victor Lindelof who slipped at the wrong time and allowed Dwight Gayle to coolly finish past De Gea. Paul Pogba was the star of the first half though, returning to the starting team after 2 months out, distributing the ball fantastically to the wide areas and sauntering forward to create the leveller for Anthony Martial to score his seventh of the season in all competitions. From this point on, the Red Devils looked like the team that started the season and Ashley Young turning creator this time, curling a wonderful ball to the back post and Chris Smalling nodding in the goal to take Jose Mourinho's side into the lead at the end of the half.
Pogba scores United’s third.

The second half started much more in favour of the home side with far more dynamism in United's play and further extended their lead with Lukaku's cross cushioned by Rashford and hit home by the star man, Paul Pogba to return in some style. United's fortune increased immediately after Pogba was replaced by Fellaini with Mata and Lukaku linking up and finally, FINALLY, Lukaku ended his goal drought by rifling his shot past Robb Elliot and scoring his eigth Premier League goal for Manchester United.

One of the highlights for United fans across the globe was to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in action and linking up well with the new squad and almost scoring a delightful scissor kick to cap his second debut. Overall a fantastic performance and great character to come back from 1-0 down and to make it a near-perfect night for the Red Devils. 

MATCH RATINGS:
DAVID DE GEA 7/10
Slightly lackadaisical in his distribution but made two great saves and held Jonjo Shelvey's thunderous effort very well. Nothing he could do about the goal.
ANTONIO VALENCIA 7.5/10
Motoring forward at every opportunity, looked strong defensively and offensively as usual.
VICTOR LINDELOF 6.5/10
One slip is all it takes but apart from that, a solid game for the Swedish defender, good with the ball and strong in the air
CHRIS SMALLING 7.5/10
Looked strong despite the mistake leading to the goal and made up for it with his header just before half time.
ASHLEY YOUNG 7.5/10
Looked much stronger then against Chelsea and put in some fabulous crosses and got another assist for the season to set up Smalling
NEMANJA MATIC 7/10
Looked strong and composed with his partner-in-crime Paul Pogba with good passing and strong runs
PAUL POGBA 9/10
World class performance today. Absolutely oustanding passing and distribution this match and contributed with a goal and an assist through his powerful runs forward.
ANTHONY MARTIAL 8/10
Stunning at times, put in some fantastic crosses and ran through the Newcastle defence at points. Showed his physicality to nod in the leveller and looked much better than last season
JUAN MATA 7/10
Looked absent in the first half but got on the ball more in the second. Much better than Mkhitaryan these last few weeks. Will be looking to start again
MARCUS RASHFORD 7/10
Looked lively, fantastic cushioned header for Pogba but would've wanted to score and end his six-game drought for club and country
ROMELU LUKAKU 8/10
Looked much more lively and ended his drought in style. Great hold up play and overall performance was great
SUBS:
MAROUANE FELLAINI 7/10
Unlucky not to score and did what he has been doing all season long and looking much fitter
ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC 7/10
Creative and imposing as soon as he came on, almost scored a superb scissor kick and recieved a fantastic ovation immediately after entering the pitch
ANDER HERRERA 6/10
Controlled the tempo of the match, almost assisted Fellaini and looked like he is returning to last season's form.



MAN OF THE MATCH: PAUL POGBA

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Manchester United vs Newcastle preview

Image result for manchester united vs newcastle
BREAKING NEWS: JOSE MOURINHO CONFIRMS THAT POGBA, ROJO AND ZLATAN ARE ALL AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION AGAINST NEWCASTLE 

      So we are back from the boring international break and the Premier League mood is slowly setting again. It is time for us to put last gameweek's disappointment behind us and start afresh. We need a new beginning on a strong ground to really push Manchester City to their limits.
      We face Rafa Benitez's Newcastle United at Old Trafford on the last kickoff of Saturday. As with every game, it goes without saying that this is a must win game. We currently sit eight points behind City and are level on points with Spurs in second place. Spurs play Arsenal at the Emirates and a upset for the Lilywhites is on the cards. A win or draw for Arsenal will give us some room to fight it out with City.
       We must go into this game completely charged and motivated. Though City are doing very well and they look formidable and what not, I feel that it is only a matter of time. Life comes at you fast and as a City fan would tell you, this seems too good to be true for them. And when they do eventually fall, we need to be right at their tails to grab that opportunity. They play Leicester away this weekend and the Foxes have looked great under Puel. Maybe they will fall, but it doesn't make a difference if we don't do what we have to do. 



      We have quite an update in the injury list so this time's lineup prediction will be a tricky one. However, let us jump straight into it. 

Goalkeeper: Obviously, David De Gea. Okay, next.

Defenders: I'm going to play a three at the back with Bailly, Smalling and Lindelof. Jones has been ruled out and Lindelof had an amazing time with Sweden. Though, to fill the void left by Jones, we'll need two more centre backs. As wingbacks, the obvious options are Valencia on the right and Youngy on the left. I would like to see Rojo get a few minutes after he got some gametime for the U23s earlier in the week.

Midfielders: This will heavily change if Pogba returns. If he does make a comeback, we'll play a 3-4-3 with Matic and Pogba in the middle. If Pogba starts on the bench, we'll go for a 3-5-2 with Matic and Herrera playing a deeper role with Mkhitaryan playing a more advanced role behind the forwards. I'm going to take a risk and say that Pogba will make his comeback this Saturday and that too in a spectacular fashion.

Forwards: I'm going with a front three, attacking trio of Rashford on the left, Mkhitaryan on the right and Lukaku upfront. Lukaku and Mkhitaryan have been in some dire form but I like to believe that it was majorly down to Pogba's absence. We were seriously lacking creativity upfront and now that we have it, our goal-scoring form will be back. During the international break, Martial provided a silky assist and is sure to grab a goal when he comes on in the second half. 

So my lineup for the game is: 
De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic, Pogba; Rashford, Lukaku, Mkhitaryan.

       Now let's see how Newcastle are. They had a pretty decent start to the season but seem vulnerable after a few poor performances. However, Rafael Benitez is a very competent manager who hates United. He'll bring his A-game to Old Trafford and try to bring us down. But if all our players do turn up and we play like we did at the start of the season, we are going to smash them. 
       Anyway, that is it for this time. Here's hoping we do a number on the Tyne-siders. I'm going for a 3-0 win for us. Lukaku to end his goal drought. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Chelsea vs Manchester United Post Match Review

Chelsea vs Manchester United Post Match Review

Where are the defenders?
A fantastic game of football overall but a dissappointing game for the Red Devils in the end. The game that would keep Manchester United fighting for the title or the game to send them eight points behind the Noisy Neighbours (with Man City beating Arsenal 3-1 earlier today) and above Tottenham on goal difference of +18. A promising start to the game for both teams with opportunities at both ends. Phil Jones almost got the game off to a horrific start with an own-goal ruled out due to a 'shove' from Morata, Marcus Rashford was the next to attempt to open the scoring with his header going inches over the bar and with Gary Neville on commentary for Sky Sports critical of the 20 year-old closing his eyes when jumping and not being brave enough and Lukaku later in the first half tested Courtois for the first time in the game with a good shot to Courtois' right hand side.

Bakayoko also spurned several opportunities and after a big save from David de Gea from Hazard's shot, Fabregas hit the side netting from 3 yards with his header. At half-time the game looked overall even but with Jose Mourinho not adopting a park-the-bus strategy and attempting to gain something from the game was leaving spaces at the back for Hazard and Morata to move into. 

Chelsea capitalized on these spaces early in the second half and looked by far the better team in the opening stages with Azpilicueta's wonderful delivery meeting a completely open and unguarded Alvaro Morata to score a sumptuous header against the team that rejected him in the summer. Throughout the second half Chelsea kept looking more and more dangerous as Man United looked less and less clinical. When Jose Mourinho put Marouane Fellaini and Anthony Martial on for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Phil Jones, the Red Devils had a focal point for their attacks and finally put Martial, Rashford and Lukaku in the same 11 for the first time this season and it looked much better than with Mkhitaryan in the team but still unable to test Thibaut Courtois as they would have liked to. The only shot on target for Manchester United fell to the big Belgian, Marouane Fellaini who's chest and volley was smartly saved and returning Blues player Nemanja Matic was inches away from the rebound. In the final knockings of the game, Marcus Rashford stood over the freekick that could decide the game and spare some dignity for Man United and was unfortunate not to score but at the end of the day, a miss is a miss.

No creativity, no clinicality, no points.

MATCH RATINGS: 
DAVID DE GEA 7/10
Good saves and urging his team forward in the last minutes of the game. Always calm and composed, no chance for the goal and the best Manchester United player on the pitch by far.
ERIC BAILLY 6/10
Whilst not looking overall convincing and really should have got closer to Morata for the goal, put in a shift at the back and showed his strength and pace against Morata and Hazard.
CHRIS SMALLING 6.5/10
Looked the strongest of the defenders for the Red Devils, aerially strong at the back and did very well in jockeying Morata late in the second half
PHIL JONES 5/10
Looked like he was in trouble from the start and kept getting knocked about the park by the Chelsea forwards and was a good decision by Jose Mourinho to take him off after 60 minutes
ANTONIO VALENCIA 6/10
Not as strong as he has been in recent weeks. His attacking play halted every now and then and didn't trust his pace against Alonso in the final third and rarely delivered a cross.
NEMANJA MATIC 6.5/10
Solid for the majority of the game. Was dictating what small possession Manchester United had and was the most consistent of the game despite the odd poor pass and foul.
ANDER HERRERA 6/10
Took a couple of fouls for the team and did man-mark Eden Hazard once again but was in the end lucky to stay on the pitch
ASHLEY YOUNG 4/10
As good as Young was against Tottenham he was just as poor today. Shambolic passing and no link up play between him and Matic or Rashford. 
HENRIKH MKHITARYAN 3/10
The worst player on the pitch. A shame he didn't leave after 45 minutes as he was basicsally absent for the whole time he was on the pitch. Missing Mata and Pogba more than ever.
MARCUS RASHFORD 5/10
Not the best game from the now 20 year-old. His work rate and pace is ever-present but his final ball was poor and either overhit or underhit with respect to his corners for the latter. 
ROMELU LUKAKU 5.5/10
Played with more movement today but still feeding off scraps against the big teams and needs to work better with Rashford and Martial. Ibrahimovic can't come back sooner.
SUBS:
MAROUANE FELLAINI 6/10
Poor defensively and could have caused Chelsea to be 3-0 up in the second half but offensively was the target man up front and made more chances by himself than the rest of the team during thw whole game.
ANTHONY MARTIAL N/A
Did nothing to prove he should start, unlike against Spurs he had a good half an hour to show his quality and failed to do so
JESSE LINGARD N/A
Did nothing of note

MAN OF THE MATCH: DAVID DE GEA (on a technicality that there has to be a MotM)

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Chelsea vs Manchester United Preview

Image result for man utd vs chelsea
Another heavy-weight clash in the Premier League this season
but who will come out on top?

Man United Match Analysis

Another 'Big Six' battle in the Barclays Premier League for Manchester United and its a trip down to Stamford Bridge awaiting the Red Devils on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho will hope for a better set of results than away to Chelsea last year with the 4-0 hammering and the 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup given his team's gritty wins over Tottenham and Benfica and Chelsea's poor Champions League defeat to Roma clearly displaying their second season slip after winning the title last year.

Jose Mourinho will almost certainly use the same tactics he used at Old Trafford last April to 'control Chelsea' as he said in the post match interview but despite critics claiming that Manchester United should not be playing conserved football, Jose has claimed in the pre-match press conference that the press and critics have given double standards for the way that Manchester United perform and other teams.

He claimed: "Similar performances for some clubs are magic, examples of brilliant tactics and amazing attitudes by the players. For other teams, the same kind of performance becomes a conservative, negative - so many adjectives. Just as an example, Tottenham beat Liverpool 4-1 and Real Madrid 3-1 but did not score against Manchester United, so we deserve credit."

As for the team news, Manchester United's midfield is limited to very few players due to the injuries to Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and of course Paul Pogba who are still unavailable for Sunday's fixture. Jesse Lingard limped off the Old Trafford pitch at half-time nursing his hip and was replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan who once again put in a lacklustre and overall sub-par performance so Juan Mata will be hoping to show his quality against his former team.

After being selected for the England squad, Ashley Young will hope to continue his good run of form in the left wing-back position and Marcus Rashford will also hope to start another Premier League game alongside Romelu Lukaku who will still be hoping to finally score again since September against Crystal Palace.

As for Chelsea, Victor Moses is still injured and so either Cesar Azpilicueta or David Zappacosta will start as the right wing-back and David Luiz will certainly return to the starting lineup. N'Golo Kante is back in training and pushing for the first team place and to keep his good run of form against Manchester United but otherwise Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas will retain their place in the starting lineup.

Overall it seems that Manchester United will be more defensively inclined but will have to take their chances when/if they get them at Stamford Bridge to come away with anything and with Manchester City looking on fire this season and Harry Kane returning for Spurs, the Red Devils will need to get something from this game to keep pushing for the title and it may be a one goal game and could easily go either way.

Predicted Lineups:

Manchester United:
De Gea, Bailly, Smalling, Jones, Valencia, Herrera, Matic, Young, Mata, Rashford, Lukaku

Chelsea:
Courtois, Cahill, Luiz, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso, Pedro, Hazard, Morata

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Manchester United vs Benfica Post Match Analysis

Image result for manchester united vs benfica

Manchester United vs Benfica Post Match Analysis

A big game in the Group Stages and a big win if not a weird one for Manchester United with goals from Mile Svilar and Daley Blind to send Man United into the Champions League knock out rounds.
Overall a mediocre performance and Martial looked the brightest player of the game with his confidence brewing after the late winner against Tottenham on Saturday and after winning the penalty, couldn't put his good work on the score sheet with Mile Svilar saving his penalty and making some vital saves from Lukaku to keep Benfica in the game. However the 18 year old couldn't help but pick the ball from the back of the net after Matic's shot hit the post and rebounded from the unlucky goalkeeper's back and into the net. Another poor start to the second half with Lingard replaced by Mkhitaryan for the second half after an elbow to the ribs, Benfica always looked like scoring throughout the game with David de Gea making two stunning saves. After Marcus Rashford came on the game was rekindled into life and e won another penalty with his first dribble of the game and after a little debating, Daley Blind scored the penalty with his only real contribution to the game.
Overall a poor game with a few glimmers of brilliance but enough to send Man United to the next stage of the Champions League and build up the confidence ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Match Ratings
David de Gea 8/10
A stunning save in the first half but mostly a quiet first half and made another great save early in the second half
Matteo Darmian 7/10
Not done much wrong but getting forward well and putting in some solid tackles
Eric Bailly 6/10
Strong but easily could've given away a penalty but always a solid 
Chris Smalling 7/10
Solid as well not much wrong
Daley Blind 6.5/10
A little rusty but not too much wrong again but by far the worst of the back four even so, scored a penalty and showed his confidence
Nemanja Matic 7.5/10
His shot opened the scoring and his presence is being made even more known every game he plays 
Scott McTominay 7/10
Strong in midfield despite a couple of nutmegs from the Benfica players but kept going on his Champions League debut
Juan Mata 6.5/10
Good performance, more clinical passes and getting forward and wide very well
Jesse Lingard 6/10
Tried to impact on the game and continue his good run of form but was elbowed early on and had to come off at half time
Anthony Martial 7/10
Brightest spark of the first half and despite his saved penalty he looked sharp and confident making strong runs and pushing for a Premier League start
Romelu Lukaku 6/10
Always strong but could have had a better first half, some poor touches but had some great passes and spotted Matic in the centre for the goal and looked hungry for goals but needs to be more clinical

SUBS
Henrik Mkhitaryan 5/10
Really looking to get his season back on track but once again looked relatively lax in his movement 
Ander Herrera 6.5/10
Calmed the game down as soon as he entered the pitch and looked 
Marcus Rashford 7/10
Won the penalty on his first run of the game and looked as bright as normal

MAN OF THE MATCH: DAVID DE GEA

Monday, 30 October 2017

Manchester United vs Benfica Match Preview

Image result for manchester united vs benfica
After Anthony Martial's late winner against Tottenham, Manchester United will hope to continue their winning form at Old Trafford against Benfica. With three wins out of three in the Champions League group stages, a win against Benfica would secure United's place in the knockout stages of the UCL. Despite not putting in the best performance on Saturday, we will be hoping to get back to our stunning best and perform like we did before the international break. 

Our last game against Benfica a fortnight ago ended with a 1-0 win with Marcus Rashford grabbing the winner with a mistake from the young goalkeeper Mile Svilar. The young 18 year old looked nervous all game and Marcus Rashford kept on exploiting that. However, in all honesty, I am not sure if we deserved to win the game. The performance was shocking. A similar performance will be unacceptable. 

When the draw was made, Benfica were the team expected to be finishing 2nd in the group. However, they have been dreadful so far. They opened their UCL campaign with a 2-1 loss at home to CSKA Moscow, and then managed to get annihilated 5-0 by Basel. Their performance did improve when the hosted Manchester United, however it was not enough to take them off 4th place and on 0 points. 

Mourinho remains without Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini in midfield but the return of Michael Carrick should ease Mourinho's injury problems. Meanwhile, Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic continue their rehab as they both look set to return over the Christmas period. With the fixture against Chelsea coming up on Sunday, Mourinho might look to shuffle his squad and rest some of the key players. 

One player which needs to start is Romelu Lukaku. After getting off to a flying start this season, the goals have started to dry up for the Belgian. However, although he hasn't been the one putting the ball in the back of the next, he has been assisting and contributing to the team. Many fans have started having doubts about our new signing but I am sure that he will prove his class and continue to shine for us. 

Predicted line-up: De Gea, Darmian, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Blind, Carrick, Matic, Lingard, Mata, Martial, Lukaku

I am going for a 3-0 win for Manchester United. Lets hope for a good performance, and most importantly, a win to send us through to the knockout stages of the Champions League!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur Match Analysis



A late goal from Anthony Martial is enough to seal three points for Manchester United. Despite not putting in our best performance, we still showed great resilience and managed to take our chance to win the game.

The game was started with a brilliant attitude. We were pressing Tottenham high up the pitch and showing intent going forwards. However, that took a turn and within 10 minutes, it was Spurs on the front-foot and looking more likely to score. Throughout the first half, both teams had their fair share of possession and chances. From the offset, the game was very heated with both teams throwing in questionable tackles. There was a moment where Dele Alli and Ashley Young squared up to each other and another instance where Serge Aurier looked set to start a fight but in the end, everyone kept cool heads and focused on the football. 

Manchester United were much more dominant in the second half and there were more chances being made. Two big chances came in the 78th minute. First, Spurs almost took the lead through Dele Alli who volleyed Eriksen's cross just wide. Moments later, Romelu Lukaku was unlucky when he hit the post with a powerful header from Lingard's cross which had Lloris beat. 

The deadlock was broken in the 81st minute when Anthony Martial capitalised on Tottenham's tired defence. After a great flick by Lukaku with his head, Martial finished with a miss-hit shot to give Manchester United the three points. That made it 4 losses in a row for Spurs at Old Trafford in the league and again, they failed to hit the back of the net. Manchester United are the only team in Europe's top 5 leagues not to have conceded a home goal so far this season and our unbeaten run at home extends to 37 games. 

The two stand out players for us today were Ashley Young and Nemanja Matic. Young was exceptional both defensively and going forwards. He was curling in delightful crosses when going forwards, and made no mistakes at the back. Today he showed what it meant to play for the shirt, he did not stop working throughout the whole game. Matic, again was one of our most important players. He had the role of protecting the back 3 but he done much more than that. Not only did he dominate the midfield when we had possession, he was also creative when going forwards. 

Our next game is on Tuesday against Benfica in the Champions League. After a poor performance against them a fortnight ago, a win is not enough, we need to put in a good performance. We then travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, which is another big game which we cannot afford to lose. 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspurs Pre Match Analysis

Image result for manchester united vs tottenham

Back to winning ways after the horror show at Huddersfield Town and with Spurs losing at home to West Ham United, Jose Mourinho will hope to push the North London team three points below the Red Devils with a victory at Old Trafford and keep chasing the high flying Citizens. 
Jesse Lingard starred for Manchester United against Swansea but will it be enough to reward him with a first-team start? 
Marcus Rashford is sure to start on the left-hand side being pushed across by returning no.9 Romelu Lukaku who will hope that finally he can end his four-game goal drought (in all comps). The three players to choose from in the no.10 and right wing position (Mkhitaryan, Mata and Lingard) is difficult with Mata having a shocker against Huddersfield and Mkhitaryan not showing his form he started the season with, Jesse Lingard will be rather bemused if he is left on the bench. 
It is almost certain that every Manchester United fan is sweating bullets for Bailly and Jons to be fit for Saturday given the shockingly abhorrent performances from Victor Lindelof at Swansea and Huddersfield and needs to be taken out of the spotlights with Alli, Son and Eriksen hungry to capitolise on any mistakes at the back. 
Nevertheless, Jose Mourinho will be relieved to see that Harry Kane is in serious doubt over his fitness and may not be ready for the game which will compel him to man-mark the Tottenham target-man Fernando Llorente who was Swansea's top goal scorer last season and a consistent aerial threat for many years. 

Given Matt Le Tissier compiled his Manchester United and Tottenham XI this week with some odd choices and with players who are injured, here is a combined XI for the players who are fit:
GK: DAVID DE GEA 
Easy choice and while Lloris is a world-class keeper, De Gea is that much better and deserved to be in this XI
RB: ANTONIO VALENCIA 
Confused by the choice of Tripper by Tiss but Valencia is one of the best right backs in the world at the moment and leading by example at the back
CB: TOBY ALDERWIERELD 
The best central defender in the Premier League. He is consistent, an aerial threat, rarely gets booked and is able to ping a cross field ball like Bonucci can
CB: PHIL JONES 
If Bailly is fit then he would be here instead but Phil Jones has started the season fantastically, winning Mourinho's trust and was looking solid until his injury against Huddersfield and certainly in this XI over Vertonghen
LB: MATTEO DARMIAN 
At the moment Danny Rose is injured but would be there over Darmian and Shaw looking like he has given up so the Italian starts in this team with his strong tackling and attacking play (putting in a superb cross to Lingard on Tuesday) and his ability to play well with both feet
CDM: NEMANJA MATIC 
Easily one of United's best players this season, he has been the difference from sixth to second and could easily be the signing that makes The Red Devils fight for the title to the death
CDM: MOUSSA DEMBELE 
Powerful runner, a consistent player for Tottenham and a fantastic overall midfielder
RM: CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN 
A superb talent who has established himself in the Tottenham side and is more consistent than his Arsenal counterpart Mesut Ozil with his fantastic crosses and free-kicks, incredible vision and pushes both Mkhitaryan and Mata out of contention for the right hand side
CAM: DELE ALLI 
If only he could play as well for England as he does for Spurs with his goal and assist levels climbing to those of Frank Lampard's and looking more like the Chelsea midfielder every season, it won't be long before Real Madrid come knocking...
LM: MARCUS RASHFORD 
Another young talent that is sparkling this season and pushing both Martial and Son Heung-Min out of this lineup with his goals and assists and of course, his general pace a threat to any Premier League or Champions League defence
ST: ROMELU LUKAKU
A goal machine that has stalled at the moment but with Kane injured (who would be in this side easily if fit), Lukaku would lead the line with his pace, strength and thuderbolt of a left foot, he is still a great striker who will challenge Kane and Aguero for the golden boot.

Predicted Lineups:
Manchester United:
De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Darmian, Matic, Herrera, Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Lingard, Lukaku
Tottenham Hotspurs:
Lloris, Trippier, Alderwiereld, Vertonghen, Aurier, Dier, Dembele, Son, Alli, Eriksen, Llorente

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Swansea vs Manchester United Post Match Analysis

The match to bounce back from such a poor run of quality football and Jesse Lingard was running the show with two stunning finishes from some classy assists from Rashford and Darmian respectively. I am certain this game  was aimed to give players such as Victor Lindelof and Ander Herrera their confidence back but with the former looking as solid as wet paper, every Manchester United fan will be praying that Phil Jones starts against Tottenham.
The second half was much of the same but with much less pressure from Swansea until the final kickings of the second half when Sergio Romero was forced into making two super saves and send Manchester United into the next round of the Carabao Cup.

Match Ratings:
Sergio Romero 7.5/10
A quiet first 45 minutes, a cheeky Cruyff turn was his only highlight of the first half but two superb saves in the second half made him earn his clean sheet
Daley Blind 6/10
Solid for most the game, a miscues header could have equalised for Swansea in the first half 
Chris Smalling 6.5/10
Looked solid but a little scrappy on a couple of occasions in the first half
Victor Lindelof 5/10
Terrible first half, looked like a deer in headlights and made many mistakes that Swansea should have put to bed but a quiet second half. Must improve 
Matteo Darmian 7/10
Good attacking play and a decent defending performance but did get turned about by Ayew. Produced a quality cross for Lingard and is looking a sturdy second to Valencia
Ander Herrera 6/10
Constantly improving but still below par from his impressive 2016/17 season
Axel Tuanzebe 7.5/10
Good strength in midfield and good pace to recover from Routledge's run, missed a sitter in the second half but a strong run to start the play leading up to Lingard's second goal, overall a good performance
Anthony Martial 6.5/10
Ever present pace and skill and drawing fouls from numerous Swansea players but his performance could have done with a goal or assist
Scott McTominay 7/10
Great strength and hold up plays really well and some good bursts of pace in the second half
Jesse Lingard 8.5/10
Great finish in the first half, and an even better header in the second, always working hard and making the runs that Mkhitaryan wasn't 
Marcus Rashford 7/10
Delightful flick to assist Lingard and always showing his pace and skill but his set pieces were average to say the least
SUBS
Romelu Lukaku N/A
Nothing of merit to talk about
Nemanja Matic 6/10
Regulated play straight after entering the pitch
Luke Shaw N/A
Entered too late into the game to do anything

Man of the Match: Jesse Lingardf



Monday, 23 October 2017

Swansea vs Manchester United pre match

      

So Manchester United face Swansea in the round of 16 of the Carabao cup. After a drab and disappointing week of football, we hope to re-lift our campaign by convincingly defeating Swansea midweek. However, it will be far from easy. First up, we're away from home. That makes this our fourth consecutive away game. Next, we're going to put out an average team while Swansea are expected to play a full strength team. But then, this is one of those games that no one really cares about. If we win, amazing! If we don't, no need to sweat over it and move on to Spurs.
       So instead, let's take a quick look at what went wrong this week.

Firstly, the draw at Anfield: 
      This game was the least worrying for me. What else did you expect from Mourinho? He isn't a manager to give you swashbuckling, end to end football. He is a manager who will give you a result. The final against Ajax is a brilliant example. We did not park the bus, nor did we play mouthwatering football. We went there, shut them down completely, took our chances, kept it tight, won the game. We tried to do the same against Liverpool but without our best centre back and our best central midfielder, it was always going to be difficult. Herrera was clutching at straws while trying to distribute the ball and provided almost no service to our forwards, making their defence look like the 1982 Italian defence.

Secondly, the win against Benfica: 
      This game had the warning signs which we did not seem to address correctly. We were sloppy in midfield and barely created any chances. Benfica left back, Grimaldo, had an amazing game and wrecked havoc in our defensive third. Their loss was their own doing, owing to some terrible finishing. That and Rashford's outrageous free kick gave us a win but we all know it was far from convincing. Rashford and Jones picked up knocks and were always doubtful for the tie against Huddersfield. This game was slightly disappointing, but the result made it feel better. Big mistake.

Image result for swansea vs manchester united carabao cup
   
      Thirdly, the loss to Huddersfield Town:
      Easily the most disappointing game of the season. We started with Jones, despite him carrying a knock. I feel the problem sprung from here. Midway through the game, Jones had to be taken off and Lindelof had to replace him. This sudden change probably left the young Swede unsettled and within five minutes. Don't get me wrong, I am not defending Lindelof for the absolute schoolboy errors that he made. Mata was at fault too, but we can not blame the loss on individual mistakes as the entire team did not put a shift in. The attitude was questionable and Jose seemed extremely disappointed in the post match interview. We all knew that David Wagner was a disciple of Klopp and he was definitely going to play a similar style of football. We were conducive and we succumbed.

      Anyway at the end of the day, Mourinho is still the best man for the job, there is no question about that. The Tottenham vs Liverpool game really put things into perspective. I would rather sit back and take a well earned point away from home, than get slapped by a rival.
       About this game though, I expect us to be back to our best because nothing less will be tolerated against Spurs at the weekend. These Carabao Cup games are like fillers and I hope we play a weakened team. Here is my lineup prediction:

Romero; Darmian, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Shaw; Herrera, Blind, Mata; Lingard, Rashford, Martial.

       Yes, the back four is a little shaky but I want Lindelof to start because he needs to regain his confidence. Tuanzebe is a talent who needs to be starting these kind of games. And about Shaw, until the day we sell him, I will have expectations from him. I have also thrown Blind in defensive midfield because Matic needs rest before the Spurs game and we can't afford another injury to a key player. Anyway, that is my preview. Let's hope we get back to winning ways tomorrow. I'm going for a 2-1 United win!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Huddersfield Town vs Manchester United post match

      So Manchester United have finally lost a game since last season's beating at the Emirates. The loss comes at the hands of newly promoted Huddersfield Town. After a rusty draw at Anfield followed by a scrappy win at Benfica, we have finally been punished for our sloppy game play and passing. 
      We walked into the game as clear favorites but things soon went south. The first domino fell when Phil Jones had to be brought off for Lindelof, who happened to be the second domino. And within 10 minutes, we find ourselves down by two goals. For the first one, Lindelof does not close down Mooy who goes onto score. Shortly after, he completely mistimes a header and gives Depoitre a one-on-one with De Gea. He coolly rounds the keeper and scores. 
      We did press high in the second half and got a goal back, but it means nothing. These well-fought, heroic defeats have no place in a champion's history books. Today, Huddersfield were the better team and we weren't. That happens in football. But what shouldn't happen is for a team that is challenging for the title, to be the second best team for the third time this week. 
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      The game started on a rough note with three yellow cards inside nine minutes. Anthony Martial was booked for having a little spat with Smith. After which, by the looks of it, he completely lost his composure. That ruined us on the left flank as Young looked extremely shaky. And I do not mean it figuratively. He was literally shaking. On the right, Mata contributed nothing. He brought nothing going foward, he missed easy chances and overall, did not put a single foot in the right place.
      The only players who did impress me(Kind of) were Lingard and Matic. The usual scapegoat, Lingard, put in a decent shift today. After finally taking Mkhitaryan's place, he took this opportunity to showcase his talent. He worked extra hard, running up and down and almost played like a box to box midfielder. He diligently ran back to defend and tried his best to build play upfront.
      The other player who did good was Matic. The big Serbian was average in the first half but showed his true brute power in the second half. Bullying Aaron Mooy in the centre of the park, he barely let any ball reach our defensive third. While going forward, he had attempts on goal and also fed forward passes. Though it all went in vain, we know he gave it his all.
       So... what now? Individually, we have a great record on the charts but it means absolutely nothing if we're not giving our rivals a fight. To top that off, we're without Jones and Bailly for God knows how long. However, the major missing from this team is Paul Pogba. His absence is heavily felt. We lack that power and skill going forward and there isn't a good distributor of the ball. Anyway, it has been horrible. Let's just hope we move on from this. Onto Swansea...

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Huddersfield Town vs Manchester United Pre Match Analysis

Image result for huddersfield vs manchester united



Well it wasn't the prettiest game in the Champions League but a win's a win and now Manchester United will face newly-promoted Huddersfield Town who are looking for their first win since August and their first point since thd 23rd of September against Burnley. While Huddersfield are struggling to regain their August form, Manchester United look to use the 1-0 away win against Benfica as a foothold to keeping up with the noisy neighbours as their dire stalemate at Anfield pegged them two points behind City and they need a big win to keep up with them. Moreover with Spurs breathing down the Red Devils' necks, Jose Mourinho will be expected to bring back the dazzling football that he began this season with.

Huddersfield Town are without Michael Hefele and Jon Stankovic for some time still and with Collin Quaner and Kasey Palmer pushing to be fit for Saturday it would seem that Australian star Aaron Mooy will look to return to the first team lineup after starting sub against Swansea.

Manchester United now add Marcus Rashford to the now seven-man injury list to become the most injured Premier League team for the current time, meaning Anthony Martial will hope to make successive Premier League starts for the first time this season and the chance for either Young or Lingard to replace Juan Mata who played averagely mid-week. Phil Jones and Matteo Darmian will hope to replace Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind respectively in defence to make the same back seven (as such) that started at Anfield. Finally, Romelu Lukaku will hope to finally break his mini-drought having been absent against Benfica and missing his only chance against Anfield by forcing a rather standard save from Belgian compatriot Simon Mignolet.
The last time these teams faced eachother was 1972


Manchester United look too solid in defence to concede against Huddersfield and will hope that the forward players will deliver as they have done consistently all season and gain a much needed three points in the Premier League.


Predicted Lineups:

Huddersfield Town:
Lossl, Smith, Zanka, Schindler, Malone, Hogg, Mooy, La Parra, Ince, Kachunga, Depoitre

Manchester United:
De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Darmian, Matic, Herrera, Martial, Mkhitaryan, Young, Lukaku

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Benfica vs Manchester United Post-Match Review

Benfica vs Manchester United Post-Match Review

Following the dry stalemate at Anfield, Jose Mourinho bounced back with another victory in the Champions League and tightened Manchester United's grip on Group A, and finished another mediocre performance fortunately with a narrow victory once again through Marcus Rashford.
The first half was a subdued performance from the Red Devils with Romelu Lukaku having a very quiet first half with the only shot on target from an onside player being Nemanja Matic who returns to Benfica having left there for Chelsea twice. Unfortunately Manchester United should have broken the deadlock in the 42nd minute with a quick counter from a Benfica free kick falling to Mkhitaryan who blazes his effort over the bar. 
The second half began with the same tempo but the impact of Marcus Rashford once again brought light to the average performance in Lisbon with his corners testing Mile Svilar in goal until finally he opened the scoring with a whipped free kick which fooled the teenage goalkeeper and put Manchester United ahead after 64 minutes. The unfortunate consequence of his dynamism is that he now joins Pogba, Ibrahimovic, Carrick, Bailly, Shaw, Fellaini and Rojo on the long injury list having been replaced by Anthony Martial in the 75th minute. Overall a poor performance and United will look to improve away from home as they need to use this win as momentum for their away game at Huddersfield on Saturday.


Detailed Match Ratings:
David de Gea 6/10
Quiet game really but what he did he showed the same class he usually displays in every performance
Daley Blind 6.5/10
Most active player in the first half, making many more runs upfield than usual and is finally complementing Antonio Valencia's dynamism from the full-back position but reverted back to his usual self in the second half with some safe-playing football 
Chris Smalling 7/10
Solid game, looking to prove himself after Bailly's injury and keep his place in the Champions League and Premier League XI for now. 
Victor Lindelof 7/10
Half a shout for handball at the end of the first half but looked solid on his return to Benfica and keeps improving game-by-game
Antonio Valencia 7/10
Controversial yellow card late in the first half as the Benfica player did overreact but nevertheless still the powerhouse he consistenstly has showed these past years and pulled off an impressive block from a Benfica cross early in the second half. 
Nemanja Matic 7.5/10
Best player of the first half, only player to have a shot on target in the first half and made good interceptions, darting runs forward and a deep playmaker who was not afraid to pass forwards
Ander Herrera 6.5/10
Much better performance than at Anfield, making substantially fewer poor passes and working hard as usual
Marcus Rashford 8/10
Showing why he is keeping Anthony Martial out of the team with a dynamic second half, running circles around Douglas and from his whipped crosses and shots forcing Svilar into several saves and finally tricking the 18 year-old debutant into conceding a free kick when, honestly, he really should have a few minutes after the hour mark but unfortunately joined the long injury list with fifteen minutes to go. 
Henrikh Mkhitaryan 6/10
He should have at least hit the target in the first half with a few dribbles and quick passes to show for his first half but didn't really effect the game as he did in the first few games of the season 
Juan Mata 6/10
Should have completed more crisp passes in final third, dallying on the ball in the first half, found little pockets of space in the second half but a pretty average performance from the little Spaniard.
Romelu Lukaku 5/10
Another absent game, rarely did anything of note and the free kick in the 93rd minute summed his game up perfectly
SUBS
Anthony Martial 6/10
Showing his bursts of pace as soon as he entered the pitch and not letting Douglas have a minute off but his final ball could be better
Jesse Lingard 5/10
Did not affect the game and got booked late on
Scott McTominay N/A
Immediately drew a foul and a sending off from Luisao and looking to squeeze his way into a depleted United midfield 

MAN OF THE MATCH: Marcus Rashford


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Benfica vs Manchester United preview

      Manchester United travel to Portugal for their third group stage match in this season's Champion League. After a rather frustrating draw at Liverpool, we now arrive at the Estadio Da Luz after beating both CSKA and Basel comfortably. Another straight win will put us on the verge of entering the round of 16 for the first time since David Moyes' time at the club *shudder*.
      While we have straight wins in the group, Benfica lost 2-1 to CSKA and got thrashed 5-0 by Basel. They are in a must win situation and it is always tough to play against determined sides.
      I think we should prioritize these Champions League games for now because if we get two more wins, there is nothing stopping us from entering the round of 16, which only starts in February. So we get over 3-4 months to concentrate on the league and not bother with midweek distractions. Our top players can be rested instead of making them travel and play 90 minutes in cold conditions. We saw this in Fergie's last season where we qualified from the group within four games and then completely shift our focus to the Premier League. He played academy players in the remaining matches and we picked up a lot of points in the November-December period. Also, if results go our way in the game between CSKA and Basel, we can virtually seal our place in the round of 16.
Image result for benfica vs manchester united 2017
      So, without further ado, let's get down to the lineups!

Goalkeeper: There is no scope of any discussion here. De Gea proved why he is the best goalkeeper in the world, against Liverpool. He retains his place in the lineup, without doubt.
Defenders: I will go for Ashley Young at right back because Valencia uses a lot of pace and effort in every match and he is at the age where playing two games with that work-rate is not ideal. Smalling and Lindelof, our Champions League duo, will start at the heart of defence. I'd slot Daley Blind at left back so we can convert to a three man defence of Smalling-Lindelof-Blind while Young whips in crosses ahead. Shaw and Rojo have traveled but I am certain neither will start. They might come on with a few minutes left.
Midfielders: In midfield, we don't have any options as Carrick, Pogba and Fellaini have been ruled out of the game. So the that means Herrera and Matic get to start again. After doing a number on Liverpool's midfield, their place is warranted. However, none of them are distributors and that is what cost us two points at Anfield. To solve this problem, I suggest we play Mata in the hole where he can collect short passes from Ander and feed them to our forwards. I would love it if Pogba makes his return with a little cameo appearance.
Forwards: A knock keeps Rashford out of the squad which means that it will definitely be Mkhitaryan and Martial playing on either side of Lukaku. If pace is lacking, we might get Lingard on to speed things up.

So my lineup is: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Blind; Matic, Herrera, Mata; Mkhitaryan, Lukaku, Rashford.

     About Lindelof's former team, there isn't much to say, really. They have a squad with a bunch of half decent players that we should not be worried of. They are currently third in the Portuguese Primera Division and their Champions League form is dreadful. We should capitalize on it and get the job done by the 60th minute. I'm going for 3-0 to Man United! Let me known what you guys think the score will be!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Liverpool vs Manchester United Post match

      Liverpool and Manchester United have played out a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield on the first game after the second international break. On a day meant to eulogize Liverpool great, Kenny Dalglish, who got a stand named after him, a game like this was the ideal one to play. This was the perfect opportunity for Liverpool to rise from their poor form and make a statement by beating their bitter rivals. 
      But the game was very mellow and barely lived up to the hype of being called one of the fiercest rivalries in football. For instance, the first yellow card was brandished in the 74th minute. There were no fights or bust ups either. Growing up watching Gary Neville's antics at Anfield and even Rafael, this seemed like such a disappointment. 
      Anyway, we held Liverpool to a draw, like last season, De Gea was our man of the match, like last season, and we were dreadful going forward, like last season. Considering Liverpool's current run of form, we should have taken the game to them and smashed them like we did to the other clubs. But instead, we gave them the space and respect. 
      I knew we reached the abyss of the game when Chelsea reject, Mohammed Salah, started running rings around our defence. However, we did keep Coutinho relatively silent. 

      Anyway, while this game was strewn with disappointments, De Gea stood out and stepped up, making God-like saves to keep us in the game. Seriously, do not sell this man Ed, no matter what. We have the best goalkeeper in the world playing for us and I couldn't be happier. He has been our man of the match today and has been, on a consistent basis since Moyes. 
      All the other players were either half decent or pretty bad. Our attacking midfield was all over the place and did not seem to get a single pass right. We let Jordan Henderson and Winjaldum(I could not be bothered to look his spelling up), boss our midfield through the game. Martial and Rashford got dominated by Joe Gomez. I don't even know who he is! 
      I don't understand why we need to sit back when we're away to teams in the top 6. If we don't exploit our good form now, when are we going to? I wouldn't have a problem if we gave our everything and then drew, but we didn't even leave first gear. 
      Anyway, despite my rants and disappointment, this did not have any major impact on the league table and we are still very much in the running. At the time of writing this, City lead Stoke by 2 goals after only 26mins which send us second in the table, two points ahead. Nevertheless, that's my rant done. Now we travel to Benfica and hopefully we can close the deal in the group as soon as possible so that we can spend rest of 2017 on our league performances. Either way, on to Benfica!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Liverpool vs Manchester United Match Preview

Image result for liverpool vs manchester united
One of the most anticipated matches of the season. Liverpool host Manchester United this Saturday lunchtime and for both teams this fixture is vital for keeping up with ‘the Big Six’ early on in the season. 

Liverpool look to end their dismal form of just one win in two months since their big win against Arsenal and are yet to keep a clean sheet since then. Whereas the white hot Red Devils are looking for a seventh consecutive win and to maintain their unbeaten Premier League season with something from this fixture at Anfield. 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are still without long-term absentees Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne and now with Sadio Mané out for six weeks Jurgen Klopp may choose to play one of Liverpool’s few in-form players, Phillipe Coutinho on the left-wing and Roberto Firmino to return to the starting line-up. Simon Mignolet would hope to keep his starting place having conceded 12 goals from just 31 shots on target while Lovren and Matip attempt to re-find a decent partnership as they had for periods of last season.

Manchester United are still without Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Paul Pogba but José Mourinho may choose to start Ander Herrera to partner with Nemanja Matić in the heart of midfield and as always the left wing of Manchester United is always a mystery before the line-ups are announced with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial battling for starting places. 

A question that is still in doubt is whether the Manchester United boss will choose to defend deep and play for a draw as he orchestrated in this fixture last year or go out all guns blazing at a low-confidence Liverpool side who are conceding goals left, right and centre. It seems that Liverpool’s tactics are simple; score more than United and show off their attacking prowess. 

Despite Liverpool’s home advantage, the Red Devils would hope to gain something from this famous fixture with their solid defence in only conceding six goals in eleven games and strength and pace in attack and to torture Liverpool’s dire defence with the attacking prowess of the side that have scored 33 goals in all competitions and claim a needed victory to keep up with the very noisy neighbours who have showed they can beat Big Six teams with victories against both Liverpool and Chelsea

Predicted Line-ups:

LIVERPOOL FC:
Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Coutinho, Firmino

MANCHESTER UNITED FC:
De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Young, Matic, Herrera, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku

Written by Arjun Handa

Thursday, 5 October 2017

United In Action - World Cup Qualifiers

Image result for rashford england


It's that time again that some football fans love yet many hate – it's when the domestic and European programme is temporarily halted and the latest round of World Cup European Qualifiers takes place. Naturally, several United stars will be hopefully helping their countries enhance their chances of qualifying for next year's tournament in Russia.

In the UK, most eyes will be on England's matches, as Gareth Southgate's boys look to cement the progress made so far. Unbeaten England top Group F, five points clear of second place Slovakia, and can complete their qualification by defeating Slovenia on Thursday, rendering the tie with Lithuania on Sunday meaningless. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford will all hopefully make the team and ensure England's place in the 2018 tournament.

Scotland can actually help England qualify by defeating Slovakia the same night England take on Slovenia, and England will help Scotland if they win as the Scots can still clinch a playoff place. Domestically, Northern Ireland have a difficult home tie against Germany followed by a trip to Norway, Wales are in Georgia and then host Ireland, while Ireland's other game is at home to Moldova.

The key United pair of Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini will probably be taking it easy for Belgium's games at home to Bosnia & Herzegovina and Cyprus. Roberto Martinez's men sit atop Group H having amassed twenty-two points from eight games, and are so far the only European nation (aside from hosts Russia) to have qualified for the finals.

A Paul Pogba-less France will be hoping to gain ground on their rivals after completing their ties away to Bulgaria and at home to Belarus. Group A is one of the most keenly-fought European groups, with France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Bulgaria all still having a chance of qualification. Daley Blind will no doubt be playing for the Netherlands in their games against Belarus (A) (no call up for Timothy Fosu-Mensah this time around) and Sweden (H), and of course in the latter game Blind will be joined on the pitch by Old Trafford new boy Victor Lindelof, who'll be wearing the yellow and blue of his nation's team.

Armenia captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be praying for miracles if he wants to perform in Russia next year. Armenia are out of the competition already, picking up just six points from their eight games with wins against Montenegro and Kazakhstan, and face Poland and group whipping-boys Kazakhstan in the return fixture.

Serbia have emerged as the unlikely likely winners of Group D, which they top by four points. Nemanja Matic should help his team secure top spot in games against Austria and Georgia.

Finally, the most intriguing battle for qualification should be found in Group G, where Spain are three points ahead of Italy. David De Gea should be in goal for Spain as they host Albania then visit Israel, while full-back Matteo Darmian will line up for Italy for their games against Macedonia and Albania.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

CSKA Moscow vs Manchester United preview

      Manchester United take on CSKA Moscow on a cold evening in Moscow. This is the second round of the group stages of the Champions League and our first away game in Europe. The match, as mentioned before, is in Moscow with fond memories attached to it we will look to extend our great start to the season and place one foot in the knockout stages.
      We pick up from our comfortable 3-0 win over Basel with goals coming for Lukaku, Fellaini and Rashford. CSKA will be a far tougher game owing to the conditions in Russia. The controversy was set as soon as the draws for the group stages were announced. Manchester United will be in Moscow on the same day as the Liverpool team who also happen to play a Moscow based team. There is going to be a burgeoning in the security and a set of rules have been drawn out for the players and fans alike.
      Moscow are second in our group only to us, by virtue of goal difference after they beat Benfica. A win tomorrow will give us a three point lead in the group, regardless of what happens in the game between Basel and Benfica. This will ease the pressure when we travel to Portugal in the midst of a busy October schedule. Right now, we are in the flow and after the game against Moscow, we play lowly Crystal Palace who are yet to score a goal in the Premier League this season.

Image result for cska moscow vs manchester united

      The starting 11 is going to be tough to predict after what we have seen so far. But hey! Give or take one player, I have predicted rather efficiently. So let's get straight to it.

Goalkeeper: Without a doubt, this position goes to David De Gea. Last time I was a little skeptical if Jose would have gone with Romero but clearly he has set the Argentine for the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup maybe.So my goalkeeper for tomorrow is Big Dave.
Defenders: I'm going to change every player who played against Southampton because our defence in the league is very impressive and it is important to keep them fresh. I shall go for Darmian and Blind on the right and left flank respectively. Both are decent fringe players and will get the job done when called upon. I am going for the centre back pairing that started against Basel - Smalling, Lindelof. Lindelof looked shaky but that is how he is going to improve.
Midfielders: Here is the tricky bit. We know for certain that Carrick, Pogba and Fellaini haven't traveled with the squad. So in the midfield pivot I'm going for Matic and Herrera. I really wanted to rest Matic for this game but we don't have any other reliable option in midfield. I would like to see Mkhiaryan playing right in front of the pivot and deliver some defence splitting balls into the final third.
Forwards: Up front, I think Jose will go for Mata and Martial on either side of Lukaku. Martial can make his devastating runs on the left flank while Mata can deliver some killer aerial balls for Lukaku who is known for out-muscling defenders.

So my team is: De Gea; Darmain, Smalling, Lindelof, Blind; Matic, Herrera; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial; Lukaku

      About Moscow, they haven't had a great run and are without a win in two games. They are fourth in the Russian League and have only 20points from 11 games. This should not be a tough game for us, though the last time we visited them, we could not get a win. However, this time we have a great chance and I will be thoroughly disappointed if we don't get a win. Though we may not fire 4-5 goals past them, it should be an edgy 2-0 win for us. Come on you Reds!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Southampton vs Manchester United post match

      Manchester United have beaten Southampton Football Club at the St. Mary stadium in a rather tight match at the south coast of England. It was a tough and hard fought win to go second on the table behind City who won their game 5-0 against Crystal Palace. Chelsea are also maintaining pressure on the Manchester clubs with a tremendous 4-0 away to Stoke City.

      The game started with on a mediocre note but we had the better chances throughout the first half. We took the lead in the twentieth minute when Lukaku converted his own rebound off Forster. It was a brilliant cross whipped in by Ashley Young who is looking like a good fit at left back. We did threaten after the goal but it wasn't enough to double our advantage. Southampton had a couple of shots on goal but nothing to bother David De Gea.

      In the second half, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly had to put in an extra shift to keep Southampton's incessant attacks at bay. It looked exactly reminiscent to what happened against Everton and Swansea but this time, we sat back for the entire game. When the token Martial for Rashford substitution was expected, Jose subbed in Smalling much to the surprise of the fans and Pellegrino alike. That was the movement that set the tone for rest of the game. It was a typical Mourinho move to defend the slim lead and the boys at the back did it splendidly. It did give a few nervy moments which included Fellaini clearing the ball off the line.

      Today, let us talk about the team as a whole. Because unlike the previous games where all the plaudits were shared by the frontline and Matic, this time all the players worked hard for the result. Today it looked like a proper team effort as opposed to Lukaku, Martial and Rashford banging in goal up front.
      De Gea turned up every time he was called upon and and made three vital saves. He kept a clean sheet which showed that he did his job to the tee. Well, nothing lesser was expected of one of the best goalkeepers in the world. It is an absolute shame that he didn't make the FIFA three man shortlist. Bailly and Jones were nothing short of splendid and put in world class performances throughout the game. They were called upon multiple times during the death. Our fullbacks were a let down as compared to the rest of the team. It does feel a bit unfair because Young played the cross for the winning goal but they did allow Tadic and Redmond to cut in a lot.

      About our midfield, it feels redundant praising Matic and Fellaini every week but what a game those two played. They never let our defence be isolated and were involved in winning the ball back every time Southampton pushed up front. As mentioned before, Fellaini also cleared a ball off the line in the second half. Our attacking midfielders for today were Mata, Mkhitaryan and Rashford. They, along with Lukaku did their job well by getting a goal but today was more about the defence than the attack. So that would make my man of the match Phil Jones for his brilliant resilience.

      When the final whistle was blown before my heavy sighs of relief, a few doubts did come to mind. Even when Southampton were hogging possession, we did break a couple of times and with the adjustment of a few details, we could have scored. But why did Jose show Southampton respect and sit back. In my opinion, there was no need to bring on Smalling. We could have brought Martial on and finished the game off.

      Yes I do know that we can not play mint football every week and get 4-0 results. The league is long and sometimes we do need to churn out a result. But this time it looked like Jose was taking this risk on purpose and that was unsettling. What if Romeu's shot across goal had gone in? It was probably to test the mentality of the players as we have a tough October coming up. Either way, it was sad to see us sitting back while City were scoring 5 past Palace. Anyway, that is all for this time. Our next game in the league is against Palace while City host Chelsea. So that is a consolation right there. Onto Palace!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Southampton vs Manchester United Match Preview

Image result for southampton vs manchester united

Manchester United face Southampton this Saturday at 3pm as they hope to retain the top spot in the Premier League. Last weekend's 4-0 win against Everton and Man City's 6-0 win away to Watford means that both Manchester teams share the top spot with an identical record. If the Premier League were to end like this, there would need to be one more Manchester Derby to determine who lifts the 2017/18 Premier League trophy. For this game, a win still wouldn't be enough to secure the top spot for United, but we would need to win by a bigger margin than Man City against Crystal Palace. There is no doubt we have the harder fixture, but hopefully we can stay at the top as we have done since the first game of the season!

On Wednesday night, Manchester Untied were victorious against Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup. A 4-1 victory was enough to send us through to the Round of 16 (4th round) where we will face Swansea City away from home on the 24th of October at 7:45 pm. Wednesday's fixture means that we have had only 2 days to prepare for this game, whilst the hosts will be fresh after having a week to recover. Southampton were knocked out of the Cup in the Second round when they lost 2-0 to Wolves at home. However, in terms of morale, they look to have had a boost after their victory over Palace but they have still been a little goal shy at home for quite a while. 

In terms of team news, as expected, Paul Pogba looks like he will still be out for some time trying to recover from a hamstring injury. Luke Shaw will be hoping to make an appearance against his former club after his brief appearance against Burton as a substitute. Also, De Gea, Valencia, Bailly and Matic are likely to start after being rested for Wednesday's game. What could be a big blow for United is that Virgil van Dijk looks set to make his first start for the Saints in 8 months after a serious foot injury and the big transfer saga this summer. 

One statistic which is very interesting is that Romelu Lukaku has scored more Premier League goals this season (5) than Southampton (4), despite taking 47 fewer shots. Saints boss, Mauricio Pellegrino has described Manchester United as "the biggest in the world" and is insisting on taking this opportunity and enjoying the game. Southampton have lost 24 times in the Premier League against Manchester United; four more defeats than they have suffered against any other team. 

Lets hope that we can continue our exceptional form this season with a win at Southampton, and most importantly, retain the top spot in the league because after all, we are the biggest club in the world!