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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Everton vs Manchester United Preview

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After dropping six points in one week, we travel to Merseyside to pay a visit to Everton. This has been a rather disappointing festive period as we find ourselves in third place, a point behind Chelsea. However, during Manchester City's draw against Crystal Palace, Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne suffered long term injuries. This may slow down their incredible run of form, but overcoming 15 points, is a tough ask. 

We put ourselves into this quagmire with unnecessary losses and now we face the consequences. Anyway, onto our next game, that is Everton. We go to Goodison Park where a new man in charge has changed the entire dynamics of their season. A previously weak and incompetent Everton side are now up for a fight and seem more intimidating now. 

The players and the system is more or less the game but newer and fresher ideas have sprung life into this side. Despite conceding plenty of goals, Pickford has prevented the scoreline from getting embarrassing. He is one of the best keepers in the league and has been doing pretty well there. In defence, they are likely to play a back 4 of Jonjoe Kenny, Michael Keane, Phil Jagielka and Cuco Martina. This defence is not a one to be very wary of, but a slight caution needs to be exuded.

In midfield, star man Ross Barkley is still out injured but Yannick Bolasie seems to be back. Former United man, Morgan Schneiderlin is expected to partner Idrissa Gana Gueye in the heart of midfield, with two of Tom Davies, Aaron Lennon, James McCarthy and Gylfi Sigurdsson in front of them. 

Up front, without a doubt it has to be Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney and youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Their attack is very demanding and with a set piece specialist like Sigurdsson, they will look to punish us with the dead ball. Let us move on to our lineup, without further ado. 
After a really poor display and long injury list, I expect a lot of changes. My last time's line up prediction was completely correct, no applause please. So here I go again.

In defence, Ashley Young has been suspended for three games for elbowing Tadic in the stomach. So begrudgingly, we will have to reintroduce Darmian. However, I would love to see Tuanzebe playing there. There are multiple things that can be done. First, play Darmian. Second, play Tuanzebe with a Lindelof and Jones pairing. Or, play Lindelof at right back with a Rojo and Jones pairing. Knowing Jose, we is most likely to play the third combination. On a slightly related note, we should recall Fosu-Mensah from loan.

In midfield, I don't see anything changing because of the lack of options that we have. I really wanted us to play a 3-5-2 but with Young's suspension, we will be without a decent right back in that position. So my next favourite set up would be a 4-3-3 which will Pogba more space and freedom to do his thing. 

Up front, despite Martial and Rashford's poor run of form, we need to play them up front because of Lukaku and Zlatan's injury. These two youngsters really need to up their game and end their dry spell. Failing which, we could be in deeper trouble. Chelsea face Arsenal and we need to grab three points in the hope that they slip up. 

Predicted Lineup: De Gea; Lindelof, Rojo, Jones, Shaw; Matic, Pogba, Mata; Martial, Rashford, Lingard

Predicted Score: 2-1 to United. 

Manchester United vs Southampton Player Ratings

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David De Gea – 8
If it wasn’t for the greatest goalkeeper in the world, we would have certainly lost this game. He made some brilliant saves to keep us in the game. His two most notable saves were shots from Shane Long and Oriol Romeu.

Ashley Young – 7
Like in the game against Burnley, he proved to be a threat down that right-hand side. There is no doubt that he is much more of a threat in right back than left. He pushed forward at every opportunity he got.

Victor Lindelof – 6
He done well to handle Shane Long most of the time but did look shaky at times.

Phil Jones – 7
I am not quite sure what has happened to Jones this season, he has been our best CB. Another splendid display from the Englishman. If he keeps this up, there is no doubt that he will be the first player on Southgate’s team-sheet in Russia.

Luke Shaw – 7
He looked adventurous going forwards and put in another good performance which, I’m sure, is making Jose Mourinho reconsider selling him.

Nemanja Matic – 5
This is the first game in which Matic has really annoyed me. He wasted several attacks with long shots which ended up in row Z. He was also allowing Southampton players to get past him far too easily and got booked. Probably the Serbian’s worst performance in a Manchester United shirt.

Paul Pogba – 6
He has been getting abuse all over social media and I am not sure why. He was playing some delightful passes. Although he was nowhere near as influential as usual, he still put in an okay performance. As for the goal, I honestly can’t blame him for that. From his perspective, he wasn’t sure if it was going in and so instinctively got a touch to it.
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Juan Mata – 6
We should have gone ahead early on when Mata played in a delightful ball to Lukaku, who mistimed his header. Otherwise, Mata looked reliable in possession but done nothing else of note.

Jesse Lingard – 6
His delightful footwork inside the box should have earned us a penalty if not for some poor refereeing. For the rest of the game he looked average at best and should have scored but headed just wide of the post.

Henikh Mkhitaryan – 2
This was his chance to prove to the manager that he deserves to stay at the football club, but he done the opposite. His low confidence was abundantly clear, and the Armenian was by far the worst player on the pitch. He was constantly losing possession and overhitting his crosses. Probably Mkhi’s last performance (if you can call it that) in a Manchester United shirt. 
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Romelu Lukaku – N/A
He missed a great chance early on to put us 1-0 up. Unfortunately, he suffered a head injury and was substituted in the 14th minute. Leaving the pitch on a stretcher and with an oxygen mask, he left all United fans fearing the worst. However, he apparently didn’t go to hospital and was treated at Old Trafford. Mourinho confirmed that he will be out for a while and we wish him a speedy recovery!
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Marcus Rashford – 5
Another shocking performance from our young talent. For such a fast player, he looks so slow and lacklustre on the ball. This too looks like it’s a confidence issue and hopefully he can pick himself up in the coming days. We really need him to perform now that we are without Zlatan (for one month) and Lukaku.

Anthony Martial – 6
As soon as he came on, he was driving forward with intent and won us a freekick. That is the Martial I want to see more of! Unfortunately, he was unable to influence the game, but I did like seeing him drive at Southampton’s defence. He deserves to start against Everton.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Manchester United vs Southampton Match Analysis

Another lacklustre performance from the Red Devils as they end 2017 on a run of three consecutive Premier League draws and a winless run stretching for a further match and to start to show the holes in the United squad. Before the match had even begun, Man United's poor form of late has been used to Chelsea's advantage as the London giants leapt over their Mancunian rivals and into second place after thumping Stoke 5-0 at home, leaving Manchester United desperately needing a win in order to climb back to second place but unfortunately they remained third if only by a single point. 

United made three changes to the squad that drew 2-2 with Burnley as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was declared injured and confirmed to be out for a month and so the Swede was replaced by match-saver Jesse Lingard, as well as Victor Lindelof and Henrikh Mkhitaryan making way for Marcos Rojo and Marcus Rashford respectively. With these changes, Jose Mourinho would have hoped for a more solid defence and an aggressive and incisive attack to cut open the Saints who lost woefully on Boxing Day. 

Romelu LukakuIn spite of this, the Saints started the better of the two sides with Manchester United strolling onto the pitch, expecting the win and goals to simply happen. James Ward-Prowse offered the first shot of significance as he drilled an effort just inside the box but was saved very smartly by David de Gea, despite seeing it late. More misfortune followed the Red Devils as Wesley Hoet clashed heads with Romelu Lukaku, who collapsed in a spread eagle position and looked severely concussed as the medics and stretchers came onto the field. The Belgian striker was stretchered off and whilst some United fans were wishing for Lukaku not to start due to poor form, it's doubtful they meant for it to be in such a horrific way. Marcus Rashford replaced the striker but the game continued in the same way and Manchester United struggled to break down the Saints and find a first half lead with James Ward-Prowse coming close again through a freekick which De Gea saved again. When the chances eventually did come to Manchester United, the players spurned them as if they meant nothing with Rashford and Lingard both missing easy headers and Mata and Matic hitting soft shots straight at Alex McCarthy, who had a relatively quiet game.

David de GeaThe second half started the same way with Manchester United looking less than sharp and Southampton taking their chances when they came with Shane Long played in by Ward-Prowse and struck a powerful shot which De Gea saved with his foot and sent it high over the bar and away for a corner superbly. This save led Gary Lineker to post on Twitter 'De Gea makes more saves with his feet than most 'keepers make with their hands' and to be fair to the Match of the Day presenter, he's not half wrong...
The hosts only really got going after Mkhitaryan was substituted for Frenchman Anthony Martial, who's quick feet and featherlike touch caused problems for the Saints defenders but even then the passing and play was far too slow for any real attack to be made. At the death there was a late chance of a goal after Matic's effort was poked home by Paul Pogba but denied by the linesman as the French midfielder was deemed offside. Whilst there was no real controversy against the decision of the officials, Pogba's decision to poke home an effort that was already going in is startling and compared with Juan Mata who left Lingard's flick against Burnley to trickle into the net shows a lack in something from the named captain for the match. 

As the final whistle was blown there were jeers all around Old Trafford as the year ended with a bitter taste of embarassment as the side that were once neck and neck with Manchester City opened the gap to be a potential 17 points and truly unassailable. The manager clearly was fuming about the decision not to award a penalty against Maya Yoshida's blatant handball and questioned further decisions against his players in the Leicester and Man City matches as well and clearly believed his side earned the penalty today as well as the ones in the respected games.

Some positives to take would clearly be how well De Gea continues to perform and hopefully how the Spanish shot-stopper will hopefully renew his contract for a lengthy stay at Old Trafford, but also how the partnership between Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones combined to form a more compact unit than the likes of Smalling, Rojo or Blind. But the injuries to Lukaku and Ibrahimovic are severe blows to Manchester United and might make Mourinho ponder whether to buy a new attacking player such as Gareth Bale, Antoine Griezmann, Malcolm or Ivan Perisic to bolster a 'tired' looking United and put them back on the pedestal they earned from the early performances of the season. 

Friday, 29 December 2017

Manchester United vs Southampton Preview

Taking all the disappointment to the chin amidst this busy schedule, we now welcome Southampton Football Club to Old Trafford for the last game of the calendar year 2017. On the back of yet another frustrating point against Burnley, we look to the game against Southampton for some solace.

Southampton are in a horrible run of form and haven't won a game since the 26th of November. This dry patch of their's also includes a 5-2 drubbing at Wembley last week and a 4-1 loss to Leicester at St. Mary's. But make no mistake, I assure you that Shane Long will turn into prime Ronaldinho against us. 

I heard a Southampton fan say this week, who was equating correctly predicting the Saints' lineup to winning the lottery. They have quality in their team but they just don't seem to click. They have one of the best shot stoppers in England, in Fraser Forster. He is absolutely brilliant, however he last kept a clean sheet two months ago.

Their defence will be a little shaky because Virgil Van Dijk has left them for Liverpool. As we saw in the Spurs game, they lack a lot of concentration and have moments where their defence can easily be penetrated through. Even in central midfield, we have the likes of Oriol Romeu and Steven Davies who are great individual players but do not flourish in the given system.

Up front is where they are most vulnerable. Pellegrino likes to rotate between Shane Long, Charlie Austin(injured and suspended) and Manolo Gabbiadini, all three of whom have been utterly dire this season. The Manolo of last season has been transformed into a striker who wouldn't even finish his dinner. Their strikers do not have it in them to create goals or even dribble past our centre backs. In order to overcome this, I expect them to play a high press and force us into making mistakes, which we have been doing in numbers. Also, watch out for the set pieces boys!
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This is an unpopular opinion among our volatile fan base but I believe that this is just a rough patch and we need to hold our head high through the storm. The fact that City are running away with the League seems to have gotten to our heads. No excuses, shake it off and concentrate on your game. 

I expect us to go with a four man defence like last time because of our defensive capabilities and options. This will enable us one fully functional, overlapping wing-back and a solid three man central midfield partnership. Our defence is not an issue at the moment as we have been conceding from follies during set pieces and not open play. That issue needs serious addressing. For me, Luke Shaw did splendid against Burnley both defensively and offensively. He should be starting more regularly.

My holding midfield partnership remains the same because one has been our signing of the season and we clearly can not survive without the other. Our team crumbles without Pogba, which needs addressing in the winter transfer window. However, I have tweaked a few things in attacking midfield. 

In my opinion, it makes more sense to play in form players than wasteful ones. So, in comes Lingard in place of Rashford who needs to find his form again. Lingard has been amazing for us and needs to start as he pulled us out of the ditch that Burnley shoved us into. I would also bring in Mkhitaryan as a number 10 as now, with the busy schedule and weak Southampton team, seems the perfect time to bring him in. If he gets an assist or a goal, it will do wonders for his confidence. 
So my lineup would be: 

Predicted Lineup: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lingard; Lukaku

Predicted score: 4-0 (Mkhitaryan and Lukaku to score)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Manchester United vs Burnley Player Ratings

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Another disappointing draw for Manchester United and a lack of clinical finishing once again, we looked like the Manchester United squad who drew 15 times last season. A delightful flick from Jesse Lingard halved the deficit and the England winger scored a late equaliser to keep United 12 points behind City (who have a game in hand) and a point above Chelsea. 

Image result for manchester united vs burnleyNothing he could do about the Barnes goal, Gudmundsson's cross was whipped to far away from the Spaniard for him to come and collect or punch it away. De Gea was very close to palming away Defour's freekick but the Belgian's freekick was spinning away from the 'keeper's grasp and would have been a tremendous save had he got to it. 

The only true creator Manchester United had yesterday. With Valencia out with injury, Young was able to play on the right and cross constantly and created numerous chances, including Lingard's first goal, and could have assisted Lukaku and Lingard again had the finishing been better.

Another strong performance from the England centre back, he defended well and came out with the ball when necessary and won the freekick from which Lingard equalised. He looks like United's best defender at the moment and with the right partner, can see them past this difficult run of form.

He conceded a foul in the first minute of the game and could not defend the resulting cross and thus resulted in the first goal and was removed by Jose Mourinho for Matic at half time as a yellow card and poor form forced the manager's hand. 

LUKE SHAW 7.5/10
Like Ashley Young, Luke Shaw looked very dangerous and whipped in a few good crosses and had a couple of shots as well. He looked far better than Darmian or Blind at left-back and although he got caught out a few times he made up for it with his pace, power and delivery. 

Influential in starting the attacks and even whilst acting as a defender. However he took too long on the ball sometimes and allowed Burnley to regroup at times.

Missed a few good chances and his passing was 'off' sometimes. He seemed stifled by Zlatan Ibrahimovic dropping deeper and thus forcing him to drop deeper and often recieved the ball in the position of a centre back, much like he did in the Euro finals. 

He was not as influential as he was against Leicester, he tried to impose himself but struggled against the physicality of the Burnely defence. He had a couple of opportunities to score but took the chances poorly. 

Tried to make an impact on the game but still looks rusty. He had three real opportunities but mistimed his overhead kick and had two shots blocked when taking a touch instead of striking the ball first time. 

He used his pace well but his crossing was abysmal today, when he whipped in he freekick, he missed everyone as it sailed above even Lukaku's head. His corners again were either overhit or failing to make it past the first man. He must improve to keep his place in the starting XI and with Oxlade Chamberlain, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling all playing well, he might have to do the same for England.

Showed some skill but overall was relatively quiet and absent when he needed to show up and once again failed defensively against Gudmundsson's cross. He missed an easy tap in and mistimed a simple header horribly. Jose Mourinho seems to be unable to sub him off when he plays poorly and that is affecting his confidence and form. 

Related imageThe man runs his heart out for his team and played tremendously. Realistically he could have won the game with a hattrick and Paul Merson exclaiming that his miss was the worst he had seen in a while, but made up for it with a stunning brace and impactful running and playmaking. He has clearly earned his place in the starting team. 

Tried some skill and general play which worked better than Ibrahimovic or Mata. Drew fouls from the Burnley side and should have seen Bardsley sent off but played better than he has done recently. 


Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Manchester United vs Burnley Match Analysis

Manchester United vs Burnley LIVE: Latest Premier League scores, goals, news and highlights
After a disastrous exit from the Carabao Cup against Bristol City and drawing at Leicester last Saturday, only a win would do for a Boxing Day fixture against Burnley at Old Trafford. Manchester United made four changes to the side that drew 2-2 Leicester with Smalling, Lindelof, Martial and Lingard making way for Shaw, Rojo, Rashford and Ibrahimovic, with the Swede making his first Premier League start of the season. 

Manchester United vs Burnley LIVE: Latest Premier League scores, goals, news and highlights
United got off to the worst possible start when Marcos Rojo brought down Jeff Hendrick just outside the penalty box and after deflecting off the Argentine defender and then Lukaku, Ashley Barnes hammered it in from close range and for the third successive game in the row, Manchester United were behind in the game. United responded in the best way possible and could have scored through Lukaku, Shaw and Ibrahimovic but it was Steven Defour who scored a rocket freekick past David de Gea and doubling the Claret's lead 35 minutes in. United kept pushing and could have halved the deficit before half time but credit to Burnley for gaining the lead and holding it for the half. 

Jose Mourinho made two changes after the break with Jesse Lingard replacing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan subbing on for Marcos Rojo and Nemanja Matic playing as a centre-back. United kept pressing and pressing for anything to take from this game and really ought to have scored early in the half after Ashley Young's driven cross was missed by Lukaku and hit onto Pope's face by Lingard from a yard out and clipping the crossbar on the way over. The English winger redeemed himself a few minutes later after Ashley Young's cross was flicked home and rekindling the fire in the United squad and the fans as well, especially with just under forty minutes to go. 
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The Red Devils continued to search for a leveller and Lukaku missed an easy header from another Young cross and Pogba narrowly missed from a freekick. Ashley Young and Luke Shaw both looked dangerous in the wide areas and should be looked at for the World Cup squad. Another man who is struggling to get into their World Cup squad is Juan Mata but the Spanish playmaker had a tough game against the physicality of the Burnley defence and when chances came he didn't take them and never more so than with 15 minutes to go as instead of putting his foot through the ball he attempted a chip which did not have the pace, height or power to do anything. There were numerous yellow cards in the game and especially in the second half against a Burnley side straining to keep their lead and had five players alone booked in the second half, but really ought to have had Phil Bardsley sent off after a nasty challenge against Mkhitaryan with Shane O'Neill exclaiming "That challenge by Bardsley on Mkhitaryan is normally a straight red for everyone else. Inconsistency with referees in this league is atrocious." But the game continued in the same way until the 91st minute when the ball fell to Lingard again who slammed the ball into the net on the half-volley to equalise and hopefully spur the squad even further and perhaps into a victory. 

You can only ask for so much and it was not to be for the Red Devils who moved a point ahead of Chelsea and to allow Manchester City to move fifteen points ahead of their city rivals provided the league leaders win at St James Park tomorrow. Jose Mourinho will be scratching his head as it seems almost impossible at this point to find a victory with the current squad and run of form. But at the moment the players who are looking the best are Young, Lingard and Shaw who left a solid impression for Gareth Southgate. 

Monday, 25 December 2017

Manchester United vs Burnley Preview

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       Boxing Day is here! As a massive sports fan, this day is one I look forward to every year. On this day, all Premier League clubs play regardless of when they have played over the weekend. This Boxing Day, Manchester United face Burnley at Old Trafford.

       After another disappointing encounter against Leicester saw the gap between us and Man City open to 13 points. But I am not going to talk about the draw because it has been blown out of proportion on every level. Don't get me wrong. It was extremely frustrating to watch but seeing fans hurl abuse at players' "Merry Christmas" posts and calling the likes of Rashford and Martial, "frauds", is way out of order. And above all, blaming Jose for the draw is a degree of stupidity on its own.

        Anyway, onto the next game. Burnley are currently seventh on the table after probably their best start to the Premier League. Sean Dyche has set his team up very well with an extremely astute defence and a free flowing front line. Their defenders, namely, Mee, Tarkowski(suspended and injured) and Ward(injured)  have been immense having conceded only 15 goals. That is one more than Manchester United and Chelsea. Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal have conceded more than them.

        Upfront however, they are not too good going forward. Having scored only 16 goals, their source of goals is very erratic. Chris Wood plays as their central striker in front of Jeff Hendrick. Basically, they do not have a striker they can rely on, week in, week out. And after their prolific set piece taker, Robbie Brady, got injured, they haven't been too efficient. 

       Let us see how we might set up for the tie tomorrow. Since they are scanty going forward and are away from home, we should concentrate more on our finishing this time. However, I will drop Smalling and Jones. There was a clear lack of professionalism about them for both goals. I want to see Jose be more ruthless and drop them for a while just to show the team that he isn't going to entertain "childish behavior" at this club.

        The midfield pivot remains the same for me. Also, I don't see Jose dropping Mata after his two goal haul that should have won us the game. I do see him being sent to play on the right wing instead though. However, I wouldn't be particularly surprised if he did drop him for Mkhitaryan.

        As our main attackers, I would love to see Mkhitaryan make a comeback and give him one more chance. And contradicting popular opinion, I want to see Rashford start alongside Lukaku. Rashford has been an amazing player for us and is still very very young. If you don't get behind him now, don't bother singing his name when he wins us silverware. By the way, another thing that I learnt, is that Lukaku can be absolutely brilliant. Anyway, my starting eleven would be: 

Lineup prediction: De Gea; Young, Rojo, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford; Lukaku

Score prediction: 2-0 (Lukaku and Pogba)

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Leicester City vs Manchester United Player Ratings

Leicester City vs Manchester United Player Ratings

Mata scores with a free-kick

A few defensive errors and a lack of clinical finishing gave Leicester the chance to snatch a late equaliser and pin United a further two points behind City to make the deficit an almost unreachable thirteen points from 1st place.
Nothing he could do about either goals, he was stranded by his defence. Other than the goals there was not much to do for the Spanish no.1 and only had to make one save all game. 

Despite heavy criticism on social media for not running back for the Vardy goal, overall Lindelof played very well at right back and dealt with the pace of Gray very well. He is continuing to become much stronger and intelligent in his defending and his distribution is consistently good.

Gave Mahrez enough time to find Vardy for the goal and was at fault for the last minute equaliser as he returned from the sideline and did not get close enough to Maguire to stop his free run and finish and simply looked on as it slotted into the net. 

Very good performance today. He was strong and powerful in his defending and quick to the ball when he needed to be. Should he stay fit for the season he should hopefully carry his good form into the World Cup with England as Gareth Southgate prefers him to the likes of Maguire, Keane and even Cahill. 
Riyad Mahrez in action at the King Power Stadium
His passing was a little off yesterday and he really struggled (as many have) against the pace and wizardry of Riyad Mahrez and will be looking over his shoulder for club and country as Luke Shaw keeps trying to force his way into the first team. 

His passing was just that little bit off again today but his strength and pace influenced the attacking play in other ways. He had one effort on target but from around 30 yards out and with not enough power to trouble Schmeichel and will really hope for another goal soon. 

Played very well and like Pogba bridged the gap between defence and attack very well. He got booked early in the second half for a challenge on Mahrez so might have been a bit cautious in the second half with respect to his challenges but overall played very well.

Juan Mata celebrates his first-half equaliserWonderful performance. Played on the wing, as a no.10 and even as deep as Pogba or Matic at parts but was influential wherever he played. The first finish was clinical and the free kick was sublime. He needed those goals to keep him in the team and will hopefully start against Burnley on Boxing Day.
He had one good chance in the first half and came close but his touch to set up Mata was composed but lost all composure to seal the game in the second half and missed an open goal and instead smacked the post with his right foot.

Looked dangerous like Lingard but lost all composure when it all mattered and on another day would have slotted the ball into the goal from 12 yards out and not sent it out of the stadium. 

Held the ball up well and played Lingard and Martial in and had they finished the chance would have had two assists today. He plays much better when Pogba is in the team and looks like creating chances. He will hopefully score against Burnley on Boxing Day to build his confidence up further.

Drew the foul from Amartey with his pace and strong runs. Recently he has been hesitant to shoot or pass first time and that has shown in this game as he could have played Lukaku in first time and finished first time when played in by Pogba but might be reluctant to do so due to a lack of confidence and with Martial being preferred to start by Mourinho. 

Was forced to play right back when Smalling was injured but played very well for the time he was on

Really should have scored at the death. He tried a few things but none really came off. His confidence is very low and may be lower if he continues to be in a lesser role for the club and could go the extremity of departing after only 18 months at Old Trafford. 


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Leicester City vs Manchester United Match Analysis

The picture says it all really

Another stomach-wrenching performance to watch as Manchester United end the first half of the Premier League season second on 42 points and an almost unbelievable thirteen points behind their rivals Manchester City on 55 points. Manchester United made eight changes to the side that lost to Bristol with Lindelof, Martial and Pogba the only survivors. With Valencia out injured, Victor Lindelof acted as a proxy right-back with Darmian clearly unable to be trusted by the Portugese manager. 

After a shock defeat to Bristol City on Wednesday, Jose Mourinho would have expected his team to bounce back to winning ways and with the return of Paul Pogba to the side after his suspension, United fans would expect a good performance. The Red Devils started well and created chances early in the game and Lingard could have scored early. Mahrez, Gray and Vardy look very dangerous since Puel has come in and challenged the United defence from the off. Just before the half-hour mark, Mahrez slipped the ball into Vardy who cooly finished past David de Gea to ruin his clean sheet and more importantly, gave Leicester the lead. Manchester United responded very well and Juan Mata and Paul Pogba looked influential in the heart of midfield and with five minutes to go, the Spaniard slipped the ball to Martial who's deflected cross hit Lingard who set up Mata to score his 71st Premier League goal and equalise for Manchester United. 

Juan Mata celebrates his second goal of the evening
Mata has now been a part of 160 Premier League goals (72 goals, 88 assists)
in 300 games.
The second half started the same way it ended, with Manchester United dominating the play and as Gary Neville said, looking dangerous every time they have possession on the counter and with Leicester just as attacking, the game was becoming end to end. This could not have been more clear within the first ten minutes of the second half when a cross from Mahrez was missed by Gray and Fuchs' shot was blocked off the line by Lindelof - who himself was playing fantastically. On the counter from the latest Leicester attack, Lukaku fed a delightful ball into Martial who from around 12 yards out lacked any composure whatsoever and blazed his effort over the bar. The Frenchman kept pressing for redemption and after being blocked by Fuchs and Maguire, he won United a freekick just outside the area. Once again Young and Mata looked over the ball and this time the little playmaker curled the ball past Schmeichel to give United the lead. 
Martial missed a great chance for United
Martial and Lingard both could have eased United into a win
but neither could find a clinical finish
There were several chances to win the game comfortably with Jesse Lingard fed into the box by Lukaku and after rounding Schmeichel had the whole goal gaping but could only strike the post with his stronger foot and leave fans and players stunned. Things looked even more positive when, after Marcus Rashford was subbed on, he was brought down by Daniel Amartey and the Foxes' player was send off despite playing only 17 minutes of game-time (after subbing on for the injured Danny Simpson). Herrera and Mkhitaryan both entered the fray and the Armenian was looking much more lively than before but really should have finished the game off when given the ball roughly eight yards out but again overplayed the ball and the chance was lost. Eventually, with Chris Smalling struggling with an injury and, to the dismay of Jose Mourinho, treated on the pitch and having to come off, was at fault for the dramatic equaliser in which Maguire, completely unmarked, cooly finished past David de Gea to save a point for the home side.

Overall, a better performance from Manchester United as they created chances and looked dangerous but the lack of clinical finishing proved theirn downfall and could easily have been out of sight even before Amartey was sent off and even further so after! Lindelof and Jones looked very strong in defence and Pogba's return increased Lukaku's impact on the game as well. It's just one of those weeks for United and with a Boxing Day fixture against Burnley coming up, the finishing ability must improve.   

Friday, 22 December 2017

Leicester City vs Manchester United Preview

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      In the aftermath of a disappointing result against Bristol City, we move on the Premier League where we face a resilient Leicester City. We travel to the King Power Stadium where after the appointment of Claude Puel, their season seems to have taken a U-turn for the better.

      However, in their last home game against Crystal Palace, they lost 3-0. This result should not make us turn a blind eye to the beautiful football they have been playing recently. They held Manchester City to a draw midweek but ended up losing on penalties. This was all despite resting Mahrez and Vardy. The irony is that these two players missed the decisive penalties that saw them lose the game.

      Anyway, Leicester play a 4-2-3-1 with Marc Albrighton, Demarai Gray and Riyadh Mahrez playing right behind Jamie Vardy. Puel likes to rotate the three attacking midfielders with players like Ben Chilwell and Shinji Okazaki. And their squad players also seem to deliver every time they are given a chance.

      Their deep lying midfielders are usually Vincente Iborra and Wilfred Ndidi. However, Ndidi was sent off against Palace and is ineligible to face us. So I feel Puel will go for holding mids of Andy King playing next to Iborra.

      They have a decent defence as well. I am personally baffled as to why Puel does not make us of Christian Fuchs as much. He is amazing down the flank and a great defensive asset. The signing of Harry Maguire has been excellent business for Leicester. With Huth injured, Maguire has really stepped up. He is a proper ball playing centre half who is not afraid of travelling deep with the ball. if his run is not checked, we could have some serious problems. He also needs to be closely marked during corners. So that is the Leicester side, now let us see the Manchester United side. 
      In defence, I want to see us play the usual three man defence. Since it has been confirmed that stand in captain Valencia will miss the game, that leaves a gap at right back. Fill it with Darmian? No way. Darmian and Blind were absolutely abysmal against Championship side Bristol. Darmian got turned inside out throughout the game and frankly, it was embarrassing to watch. So I want to see Mourinho slot Ashley Young at right back and play Luke Shaw at left back. Gary Neville approved of this idea. Do it Jose!

      In midfield, for me McTominay keeps his place. He has been incredible, though he was at fault for the first goal against Bristol, he was been great overall. Pogba returns from his suspension and walks straight into the squad because clearly, we can not survive without him. I would love to see Mkhitaryan get a run in but I feel Jose will start Lingard for obvious reasons.

      Up front, I will go with a front two of Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku. I am a big fan of Marcus Rashford and I haven't really seen the Martial, Lukaku, Rashford trio click. They do, but it happens once every 3-4 games. I'd bring on Martial in the last 10-15 minutes to finish the game off. So that has been my lineup, let us know what you think of it and hit us with your own preferred lineup. 

Predicted lineup: De Gea; Smalling, Lindelof, Jones; Young, McTominay, Pogba, Shaw; Lingard; Rashford, Lukaku.

Predicted score: 2-1 to United (Lukaku, Lingard)

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Bristol City vs Manchester United Player Ratings

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This will be brutal to the majority of United players who kicked a ball yesterday. A terribly poor, effortless performance from a team showing no care or respect to a Championship side that clearly wanted to win more than the Red Devils and outmatched and really outclassed the holders of the Carabao Cup. Best of luck to Bristol City who will take on Manchester City in the semi-final, they thoroughly earned their victory but for Manchester United, it will hopefully be a wake-up call from the set of poor performances (despite the two victories against Bournemouth and WBA) to return them to the form in which they started the season with. 

He made some decent saves in the first half, but a miscued punch and a couple of dodgy clearences made his night even more nervy. Nothing he could do about the first goal but as for the second, perhaps if he had held his ground he would have saved the shot but instead watched it slip through his legs and into the goal. Not his best night.

Absolutely awful. He could not do anything right yesterday, he looked very rusty defending and scared to make a challenge. He offered next to nothing offensively and pulled Lindelof into wider areas because he could not get back in time. It seems clear that he will leave (to the relief of many fans) as even as the game had basically finished, he was substituted by Mourinho for Chris Smalling.

A decent performance in spite of the result. He looked composed and calm for the majority of the game. Was stretched at times by Rojo and Darmian but overall is improving constantly.

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Luke Shaw is one of few players who can hold his head up high
A bad performance from him, he looked uneasy in a back four and didn't catch the run from Bryan for the goal. His idea of distribution was whack the ball upfield and expect Zlatan or Lukaku to make something of it which seems rather careless. Will hopefully not be starting again any time soon. 

LUKE SHAW 7.5/10
Looked livey offensively and offered many runs forward that were not found. His crossing is improving and his pace made up for the few times he was caught out. Just like Lindelof he often was stretched by Rojo and on some occasions had to play as a third central defender to help cover thr Argentine. 

One superp last-ditch tackle does not reflect his performance at all. A sloppy performance at the heart of midfield, his distribution was careless and not forward enough, simply playing sideways and backward balls and relying on Pogba and McTominay to get the play forward. Matic can sit comfortably knowing his position is far from in jeopardy. 

He is only having a six for the last 30 minutes in which he was much better. The first half demonstrated his rustiness with his passing always just off perfect and often was overwhelmed in midfield with the challenges from Pack and Smith and was, unlike his counterparts, more interested in appealing for fouls than carrying on with the game. However, as soon as Lukaku entered the pitch, he was a changed player, he looked lively and strong and almost set Lukaku up for a goal to put United on the front foot. He should be a welcome return for the trip to Leicester. 

Whilst his shooting was a tad awry, his play was very good, making powerful runs and good, concise passes. Looks set to feature a lot this season. 

Unlucky not to score a couple of times, looked the livelier of the two wingers, which is not saying much. His freekicks and corners are still inconsistent but in time they should improve and could have set up Lukaku at the death but did not play the ball fast enough.

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Zlatan was named captain for Manchester United and
on his first start since April, returned in some style
Did not look his best today. He seemed frustrated by his lack of chances and often searched for the ball deeper than Pogba or McTominay (perhaps part of Blind's lack of creativity) and was often, like Pogba, trying to claim freekicks here and there instead of getting up and continuing the game. 

Lovely driven freekick to equalise for Man United and had a shot deflected onto the crossbar but played well for his first start in 8 months.

Played exceptionally well when he came on and was denied at least three times by Luke Steele to win the game for United but looked confident and powerful in his play and was the best attacking player on the pitch for Manchester United.

His first touch summed up his confidence at the moment. He tried to get forward and make things happen but nothing would work. He had a few dribbles towards the goal but they, like most of the chances created, came to nothing.

Could easily have given him man of the match simply for removing Darmian from the pitch, but Mourinho should have taken the Italian off sooner and might have saved the game from it. 


Bristol City vs Manchester United Match Analysis

Scenes at Ashton Gate
The scenes after Korey Smith sent Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup
What an absolute disaster.

A horrendous performance from relatively the whole team and as Bristol City beat Manchester United after a 92nd minute strike from Korey Smith sent the Championship side into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and potentially pitted against Chelsea, Manchester City or Arsenal.
Manchester United made ten changes to the side that narrowly beat West Bromwich Albion on Sunday with the only survivor being Marcus Rashford. Zlatan Ibrahimovic started his first game for Manchester United since his injury against Anderlecht and was named captain for the game. Paul Pogba also returned after his three-game suspension from a challenge on Hector Bellerin. 
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Marcus Rashford struck the woodwork and was unlucky not
to find the back of the net from it
The Robins were the better team of the first half as they dominated the play and smothered Manchester United's star players so that they could not really get going and overall looked like the lesser side in the early knockings of the game. The passing overall was very sloppy and despite the team looking to be playing with a back three, a formation which all the defenders play better in, Daley Blind was chosen to be the anchor of the midfield, a position frequently played by Matic this year and Carrick last year and was rather underwhelming in his passing and overall play. The main strikers of last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford both struck the woodwork in the first half with Ibra's deflected effort clipping the crossbar and Marcus Rashford's long distance effort hitting the inside of the post and bouncing agonisingly away from the goal line. Sergio Romero, who came in for the rested David de Gea, was forced into having a more active night and making a set of good saves to keep the game-favourites in the fixture.

The second half started relatively similar with Bristol bringing the game to the Red Devils and couldn't have started better when Joe Bryan continued his run all the way from  to get past McTominay, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo to hammer the ball past the helpless Sergio Romero to give the home side an unexpected but well-deserved lead. 
Manchester United responded very well after Paul Pogba was blocked by Korey Smith. After Marcus Rashford had taken the last two freekicks, Zlatan Ibrahimovic decided to take matters into his own hands and after a slight deflection from the wall, the Swedish hero scored his first goal for the season and the first goal for United since April. Almost immediately afterwards, Daley Blind, who had not had the best night was replaced by Romelu Lukaku. 

As soon as the Belgian striker entered the pitch it was almost as if Paul Pogba, who had been sloppy in his possession and passing, came to life and played much like the player that started the season so well. Sergio Romero was very lucky not to have handed the so-called 'underdogs' the lead after his punch landed straight on the head of Flint and as it sailed through the air, the whole stadium watched in anguish or relief respectively as the ball bounced wide of the post. Lukaku looked lively as soon as he came on and after Ibrahimovic was subbed off for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, that increased further with the Armenian looking to prove a point (despite his first contribution to give the ball away). Lukaku forced Luke Steele into several fantastic saves to deny the Belgian a third goal in three games. It was not until the 92nd minute when it seemed to all that extra-time would be a certainty until substitute Taylor set up Smith who cooly finished past Romero who, if he had held his ground, would probably have saved the effort but instead saw it slip through his legs and roll into the net and knock the holders out of the Carabao Cup. 

Overall an abominable performance from the Premier League team who never really got out of first gear and simply expected to win 'in the end'. The team's passing was sloppy in the midfield and gave possession away too cheaply. Martial and Pogba were more interested in claiming free-kicks for 50-50 challenges (if that) than getting on with the game for the majority of the game. Pogba looked incredibly rusty after his three-game ban and only looked revitalised after Lukaku came on, who was the best player on the pitch for Manchester United. In contrast, the worst player by miles was Matteo Darmian who might have his potential move to Napoli on his mind because football most certainly was not. He was horrendous defensively and could not cope with the pace from Bryan and Magnusson and would have reminded viewers of the same Darmian who crumpled against Alexis Sanchez two years ago in a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates. Marcos Rojo was also agonisingly poor as he, as well as Darmian, allowed Bryan to run past him with ease for the goal and simply hit the ball forward towards Ibrahimovic's or Lukaku's general direction in hope that they can start an attack from it and ought to have been much smarter with his distribution like his partner Lindelof who was by far the better of the two. 

The only positives to take from the game were the returns of Ibrahimovic and Pogba to the starting lineup, Shaw's and Lindelof's continued improvement and the fact that there is now a clearer January for Manchester United who can focus on the League and the FA Cup and more urgently, Leicester City on Sunday. 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Bristol City vs Manchester United Preview

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So the Carabao Cup defence continues, this time at Bristol City's humble abode of Ashton Gate stadium. We move on to this second consecutive away game after a tough draw against West Brom. Lukaku and Lingard scored, but a dodgy West Brom goal saw the game remain tight till the end.

I see plenty of fans moaning and quantifying every tiny flaw, but these are the games that we drew and dropped points at, last season. We are progressing slowly, but steadily. Besides, our team's core is still very young and most of them are yet to peak. Patience and time are fundamental ingredients for creating a dynasty that most journalists are absurdly crediting Pep for.

Manchester United is a club that has built its foundation of success on heaps and heaps of failure and disappointment. One team turning up after spending billions, is no reason to panic. Jose Mourinho beat Pep's 2011 Barcelona squad, who by popular opinion are one of the best teams in world football, to the title.

Moving on, Manchester United last played Bristol City in 1980, which saw us grab a 4-0 win. I feel that due to the previous games being so long ago, they become irrelevant. However, Bristol City are a very good side at their own level. They are third in the Championship and might very well be a Premier League team next season.

Bristol are on a four game winning streak and are going to be no pushovers. However, we do need to rest our key players as we face a resilient Leicester City (again away) on Saturday. So I have come up with a formation that will suit both games. 
 I am going to change most of the back-line and bring in the likes of Tuanzebe and Darmian in. I want to see Rojo in the team because I don't want him starting against Leicester. Maybe even play Blind at centre back and see how he fares. The midfield is going to be highly revamped as well because Fellaini has been ruled out during the hectic festive period.

Pogba and McTominay need to start for sure. Pogba makes his comeback tomorrow after suspension and minutes against a relatively easier side will do him good. McTominay is a bright prospect and needs to get as much game-time as he can get, in order to develop. Mentioning for the umpteenth time that this was the perfect game for Andreas Periera. Anyway, Matic has to be rested, no debate about that. He has been playing with a niggle and we can not lose him at this point in the season like we have lost Valencia. If it were down to me, I wouldn't even tell him to travel to Bristol.

In my opinion, this is the perfect game to bench Lukaku and bring Mkhitaryan back in. I didn't want him to be benched for the Premier League games so as to help build his confidence, so this seems like a nice opportunity. He has played 90 mins in all games for United this season and we need him fit to bully Morgan and Maguire on Boxing Day. So my lineup for the game against Bristol City would be: 

Predicted 11: Romero; Tuanzebe, Blind, Lindelof; Darmian, Herrera, Pogba, McTominay, Shaw; Mkhitaryan, Rashford.

Score prediction: 2-0 United win. (Mkhitaryan and Pogba)

Monday, 18 December 2017

West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United Player Ratings

After another tight and nervy game against West Brom, Manchester United earn the three points and maintain the three point gap between Chelsea and seven ahead of Liverpool at fourth. 
One concern after the match was Antonio Valencia's injury after 65 minutes as he was replaced by Marcos Rojo. However, he has come out and said he is now "fine" and will certainly feature next weekend at the King Power Stadium.
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Did not have much to do all game apart from a few comfortable saves. A little controversy with James McClean but was clear from reflection that it was nothing. He couldn't do anything about the goal but was furious with the goalscorer later on after Barry seemed to stamp on the spaniard.

Coped well with James McClean's pace for the time he was on the pitch but his crossing must be more consistent. 

Played very well over the 90 minutes. Made a series of good tackles and is returning to his best after a less than confident 2016/17 season. 

Coped well with the power of Rondon and is playing very well after his return to injury. 

Had a handful with the sheer pace of Oliver Burke and with Luke Shaw breathing down his neck, he will need to be much more impacting in the squad to remain a starting player.

Played very well and demonstrated why Mourinho payed £40m for him and why Chelsea are missing him so very much. His strength as always was imposing and his forward passing was influential in the attacking play.

Not his best game as he made a few rash challenges here and there and based on McTominay's performance against Bournemouth, must improve quickly to maintain his place. 

Image result for jesse lingard vs wba 2017Played very well in a more free role on the right wing, a lovely lay off for Lingard but will want to return to scoring form soon. 

Perhaps a tad lucky with the goal but that does not reflect his overall performance which substantially improved from Wednesday.

Very lively today, a fantastic performance on the left wing. His cross to find Lukaku was sublime and will be hoping to start against Leicester next weekend

He is regaining his goal-scoring form and is looking much better from the defeat to City. He will hopefully be growing further in confidence with every game. 

Was overly responsible for the goal but came on into a more uncomfortable position than he normally plays and will be hoping to start mid-week.

Did not really have enough time to impact the game but will also hope to start against Bristol.

Helped in midfield when he came on. Dominant in the air and strong in the midfield and is breathing down Herrera's neck for the reserve midfielder given Pogba's ban finishing this game. 


Sunday, 17 December 2017

West Brom vs Manchester United Match Analysis

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For the second time this week, we have just scraped a win, this time against West Brom. On Wednesday we managed to secure a 1-0 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford with a less than convincing performance. Today's opponents drew 0-0 with Liverpool midweek and if Liverpool's attack couldn't break them down, we knew it would be tough for us. Nonetheless, we still managed a 2-1 victory and in the end, it is the three points which matter most.

The first half was by far the better half for us and although there weren't many chances created, we were the team that took our chances. The deadlock was broken in the 27th minute by the big Belgian who is continuing to prove his critics wrong by getting on the score-sheet for the second game running. Lukaku got ahead of Gibbs to head home beautifully Marcus Rashford's cross. 8 minutes later Jesse Lingard, this week's birthday boy, found the back of the net again. His shot from just outside the box was deflected which caught out Foster who, due to the deflection, had no chance of saving the shot. The first half finished 2-0.

It's a shame that the second half did not follow the same pattern... We started off well, creating chances and Rashford and Lingard should have probably scored. In the 65th minute we were forced to make a change with Antonio Valencia coming off injured. He was replaced by Marcos Rojo who made his 100th appearance for the Red Devils. According to Mourinho, Valencia picked up a "December injury" and he is unsure of how serious it is. However, on Twitter, Valencia tweeted saying that he was okay. Hopefully it is not as bad as it looked with him holding his hamstring, especially during this time of year where the fixtures are very congested. From that moment, the game turned completely in West Brom's favour and they were creating chances but failing to convert them. In the 77th minute, Barry pulled one back for the Baggies but they couldn't get the equaliser and the game finished 2-1 to us.

Overall, again, this wasn't the prettiest performance and we didn't look great. But what's most important is the three points which we managed to win. We haven't looked great in our last three league games and we all know why that is - Pogba. However, he has now seen out his three match ban and will be available for the rest of our fixtures. This will be a huge boost for us.

Our next fixture is away to Bristol City in the Carabao Cup quarter final on Wednesday. This is a must-win game and we cannot hold back in our team selection. Although Lukaku is getting back into a good bit of goal-scoring form, I would love to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic start this game. With Pogba back and an incentive to reach the semi-finals of the league cup, we have a lot to look forward to!

I'd like to end on two interesting stats I found out:

Friday, 15 December 2017

West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United Preview

West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United Preview

After a hard-fought victory over Bournemouth on Wednesday, Manchester United travel to Birmingham for Sunday's early-afternoon fixture against West Bromwich Albion. Both Manchester United and WBA know that only a win will suffice despite the different situations the clubs are in. For Manchester United need to keep close to Man City's tail with a chance for the Citizens to slip up against Tottenham this weekend and with Chelsea high-flyers on their tail, three points are desperately needed. West Brom also know that a defeat could send them into the relegation zone with literally half of the clubs within a four point gap to the relegation zone with both Crystal Palace and West Ham United both looking revitalised after appointing new managers. 

Manchester United are still without Eric Bailly after Jose Mourinho all but confirmed he would sit out the remainder of 2017 with his injury he suffered whilst playing for the Ivory Coast. Henrikh Mkhitaryan still cannot even reach the bench of the Manchester United squad after being publically criticised for not earning his spot in the team. Luke Shaw and Phil Jones demonstrated againsr Bournemouth why both Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate should pick them for their starting teams and will be hoping to continue their form against the Baggies as well. Paul Pogba is serving his final game of suspension after the 3-1 victory at the Emirates and will be expected to return against Bristol City in the Carabao Cup fixture on the 20th. 

Whilst West Bromwich Albion did hold Liverpool at Anfield, in front of their own fans, they may be expected to be more offensively minded and go for the win. This could fall into United's hands with their counter-attacking ability one of the best in Europe with Rashford, Martial, Lingard and Lukaku all quick on the break and able to link up well with one another. 

Predicted Lineup: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young, Matic, Herrera, Martial, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Manchester United vs Bournemouth Player Ratings

Lukaku's celebration

A hard-fought, almost unearned victory against the Cherries kept Manchester United three points ahead of Chelsea and maintaining the deficit of eleven points behind Manchester City. 

Image result for david de gea v bournemouthAnother top-quality performance, perhaps not the fixture he expected to be so active in but kept United in the game once again and earned his tenth Premier League clean sheet

Didn't do anything wrong but was not his best performance offensively. His crosses were all inaccurate and not as influential as he has been in recent weeks

Another solid performance but ought to have made more of an effort in the wider part of the pitches when the defence is stretched as he was beaten too easily on several occasions

A great return to the starting XI demonstrating why he was put ahead of Smalling and Lindelof at the start of the season. He showed his strength in every tackle and his pace to reach the ball. Will be vital in the weeks to come

LUKE SHAW 8.5/10
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Luke Shaw will be wanting to keep his place against WBA
Another outstanding performance to compete with Young for the starting position at left back. He was quick and powerful attacking and is demonstrating the form that took him to the World Cup and to Manchester.

Average to say the least. Was not his most influential performance and did not make enough tackles to help out the defence. Was also unusually sloppy in possession. 

A really good performance from the 21 year old, he was strong and dominant in the air. He used his strength to his advantage and made some powerful runs from the middle of the pitch.

A sublime cross to find Lukaku but other than that was not very effective from the right. He needs to get in the pockets of the defence and be creating and scoring more goals than he has done. 

Didn't really get a sniff yesterday. He can be very inconsistent as a no.10 as his pace and forward runs are matched by his lack of vision and creativity in his passing and did not combine with Martial and Lukaku as he did against Arsenal. He really does prefer to work with a back three to give him license to go forward more. 

Most forward player of the first half, dancing through the defence on numerous occasions but cut in too early and whilst he was selfless in his crossing he should have driven down the left-hand side much more.

Will be happy to have scored his ninth Premier League goal to ironically level with Wayne Rooney on the scoring tally but overall he played averagely and will be hoping to improve at the weekend with Zlatan Ibrahimovic breathing down his neck.

Unlucky not to score with a rocket of a shot but a standard Marcus Rashford performance, using his pace and whip on the ball to some effect 

Once again controlled the midfield as soon as he came on but gave away an unnecessary foul which could have got him suspended with five yellow cards.