Sunday, 23 April 2017

Burnley vs Manchester United



23 games unbeaten in a row, but more importantly, three wins in a row! As we come to a crucial time in the season, Manchester United are finally building the right momentum. 

We started the game really well and with intent, but it was clear that Burnley were well drilled and had a good shape. But our persistence proved too much to handle when United managed to break the deadlock in the 21st minute. A great counter attack led to Ander Herrera threading the ball through to Anthony Martial who poked the ball into the bottom corner of the goal to give United the lead. 

Although we kept giving away needless free kicks, we continued pushing for a second goal which would give us much more security. That important goal came in the 39th minute when some exceptional work from Pogba led to Wayne Rooney following up on Martial's shot which was saved by Heaton. Our captain was brilliant today and even though he wasn't playing in his natural position, he still kept up with play and gave a big contribution to the team. 

United ended up seeing the game through and managed to win the all important three points. Even after scoring two goals, there was still the intent and passion to go forwards and get more but we were unable to add to our lead. Burnley looked dangerous occasionally going forwards but we handled them pretty well, managing to make it our second successive game where we conceded no shots on our goal. One massive blow for us is that Paul Pogba was forced to depart the pitch early with an injury. Hopefully it won't be too serious and he will be available for Thursday's game. 

Our two attacking players that came in were brilliant. Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial showed Mourinho today that he has enough depth in his squad to field solid teams in both the BPL and Europa League. They were looked upon today as our backup, squad rotation players but they both put in great performances and together, won us the game. It was great to see Anthony Martial finally running and showing some passion. He was continuously making runs in behind the Burnley defence and managed to get a goal and assist to show for his efforts. 

Another player which I have to mention is Daley Blind. Last season, Blind and Smalling were our first choice centre back pairing without a doubt. However, this season with Bailly coming in and Rojo hitting form, Blind was finding it hard to get a chance to prove his talent to Mourinho. Today, he showed him. His intelligence and reading of the play is exceptional. Realistically, Blind could be the solution we have been looking for, he could be the one to replace Carrick when he retires. 

With only one point being the difference between us and Manchester City now, Thursday's game looks all the more important. If we win on Thursday, we will be 4th in the league. Hopefully this incentive will be enough to encourage the players to give it their all and win the game. It will not be easy, especially with the talented players which City possess, but we have shown that we are capable. Lets go and do both! Lets get top 4 and win the Europa League! Come on United!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Manchester United vs Anderlecht

I can't believe it! We've done it! We're through to the semi finals of the Europa League!

A good direct attacking start from Manchester United led to Mkhitaryan breaking the deadlock early on. A great ball by Paul Pogba to set Marcus Rashford off down the left wing led to Rashford passing to Mkhitaryan who slotted the ball home, scoring his 10th goal of the season.

After that goal it was the same old story. We didn't show the desire to kill off the game. The chances we did create were squandered by poor finishing. These misses proved to be costly as Anderlecht managed to grab the equaliser after some sloppy Manchester United defending.

The game then went to extra time and Manchester United were in total control of the game. Anderlecht were lucky to get a touch of the ball but poor finishing from United meant that Anderlecht were still in the game until the last minute. With Marcus Rashford missing a 1 on 1 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing dozens of chances, it felt as if a goal was bound to come at some point.

We almost scored the goal of the season when Rashford's rabona cross was met by an overhead kick by Pogba but the defender managed to block the shot which was destined for the back of the net.

Our winner was scored by one of the best young talents in world football at the moment. A ball into the box by Martial was met by Fellaini who headed the ball down to Marcus Rashford who turned away from the defenders and curled the ball into the bottom left corner of the net with his weak foot. It was a beautiful finish by an exceptional player.

Two massive blows for United are that Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic look to have picked up long term injuries. Rojo came off in the first half with what looked like a knee injury and Zlatan seemed to have hyperextended his knee and it did not look good for the Swede. Hopefully the injuries sustained won't be too serious and they can return soon.

Today's performance was not good to watch as a United fan. Just as it seemed like we had taken a step forward after the Chelsea game, today it looked like we took two steps back. The tie was not over until the final whistle and the players are to blame for that.

However, we done enough to make it through to tomorrow's semi final draw and that's what matters most. There are only 3 more games left that we need to win and that's Champions League football secured for next season. But it's easier said than done, that's been proven today.

Out next game is on Sunday against Burnley, another must win game. With fatigue kicking in from playing extra time today and the additional players added to our injury list, I think it's inevitable that Jose Mourinho will make changes and rest players for the match. Nonetheless, we need to play at our best and win the game to keep fighting for a top 4 spot.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Manchester United vs Chelsea

I still feel like I'm in a dream. We actually did it! We beat Chelsea! After seeing our line up and realising that Jose had fielded a "weaker team" after Jose decided to rest Ibrahimovic, most fans lost hope and a loss to the league leaders looked inevitable. Even I thought we were destined to lose. But Jose Mourinho, the tactical mastermind, managed to pull it out the bag and the lads went out there and were exceptional. 

Our first goal was somewhat controversial as Ander Herrera blocked Nemanja Matic's pass in midfield with his hand, but the referee saw no infringement by the Spaniard. Ander Herrera then picked out an exquisite pass behind David Luiz to Marcus Rashford, who kept his composure and lifted the ball over Begovic into the bottom corner of the goal. 

Ashley Young was the player to thank for the second goal as his hard work down the wing led to him dispossessing N'Golo Kante in the box. The ball fell kindly to Ander Herrera, who's effort took a big deflection off Zouma to end up in the back of the net. 

Today's man of the match was Ander Herrera. His performance was world class and today he looked like the Premier League's best midfielder. Ander Herrera was all over the pitch today. He was man marking Eden Hazard, who seemed non existent thanks to excellent marking by Herrera. At some points he was playing in right back in order to track Hazard's runs, but somehow he was still everywhere else on the pitch, a trait which we usually associate with N'Golo Kante. Even with the job of marking arguably the Premier League's best player, Herrera still found a way to thread a beautiful ball through to Rashford for the first goal and get the second goal himself! This has to be the best performance I have ever seen from the Spaniard. 

Recently we have been complaining that the team hasn't got the ability to kill off games and see results through. But today we showed that we are more than capable. Our early goal was not enough for the players so instead of small play in the middle of the pitch, we went out there and got ourselves another goal. Every single player in a red shirt on the pitch today showed the commitment and desire that is expected of a Manchester United player. That is not something i have been able to say all season. 

And of course there has to be a mention for a captain of the night, Ashley Young. One of the few players still remaining from the Fergie era, and today it showed. It was a real workman like performance today by Young who was leading the team with fighting spirit. Earlier when the lineups came out, I tweeted that if we won, I would dedicate my Twitter account to Ashley Young for the rest of the season, so here it is. Ashley Young MUFC (@DillanMUFC). 

Overall, today's performance was brilliant and the result even better, but as the season is coming to an end, it is important that we keep this passion and determination for the remaining games. Jose Mourinho has prioritised the Europa League and we cannot let that slip. We need to put in a similar performance on Thursday at Old Trafford against Anderlecht, which would be enough to see us to the semi finals of this competition. Today's win also means that our top 4 hopes are still alive. We need to continue fighting on both fronts for the rest of the season. Although a top 4 finish still feels slightly out of reach, there is no reason why we can't keep fighting until the end!

#GGMU

Friday, 14 April 2017

Manchester United vs Chelsea match preview

Premier League leaders Chelsea will be visiting Old Trafford on Sunday trying to end United's 21 game unbeaten run. Meanwhile, the reds will be hoping to close in on the top 4 as they continue their pursuit for Champions League football next season. 

Manchester United's last loss in the league came in October as the reds suffered a 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. Since then, we have won 11 games and picked up 10 draws. Sunday will be the third time Mourinho faces his old side as United boss, losing on the previous two occasions, scoring 0 goals and conceding 5. Hopefully our luck can change and it'll be 'third time lucky' for Jose Mourinho. 

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Anderlecht in Belgium on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League quarter finals. The reds led for most of the game but Anderlecht's first shot on target in the 86th minute proved enough to cancel out our advantage. Thursday marked another occasion where the Red Devils were unable to win a game due to poor finishing and sloppy defending. This is seeming like too much of a pattern for us recently. 

United are looking to end their worst ever run against Chelsea (D4 and L4), Conte's side will be looking to keep/increase their advantage at the top of the league. With Spurs closing in, it's vital for Conte that Chelsea avoid dropping any more points as the season comes to an end. For United, a loss this weekend will dent our hopes of a top 4 finish. 

On the bright side, United will start with the world's best keeper between the posts as David De Gea is set to return to the starting line up. Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young have also returned to training and will be hoping that they can play a part in Sundays game. However, Mourinho stated in his press conference on Friday that he expects Jones and Smalling to return mid May and Juan Mata to return at the end of May. 

Hopefully we can come out on top against this season's best performers. Chelsea have been good this season but are not invincible. We have proven that we are good enough to compete with the best but we need to get out of our bad habit of not finishing our chances. The importance of this game is undeniable and the players and the manager know that anything apart from a win will not be enough. We need to be at our best and we need these three points!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Anderlecht vs Manchester United



Manchester United will go into next week's second leg with only an away goal after a dominant performance in Belgium tonight, but once again they were unable to win the game.

The reds came close early in the first half when Rashford put in a lovely ball for Ibrahimovic, who flicked it towards goal but the keeper made a good save. The ball fell to Lingard but his poked effort was denied by the post. Manchester United should have been ahead. 

The deadlock was broken in the 36th minute by Mkhitaryan. Valencia's ball in from the right was struck first time by Marcus Rashford, but Ruben superbly tipped it away. Mkhi was there in the right place at the right time to turn the ball home from a tight angle. 

After we scored, we continued to dominate possession of the ball and were creating the occasional chance but once again, we were unable to get the second goal to kill off the tie. Our poor finishing was a problem for us again. Pogba missed a chance late on in the second half which could've secured the win but instead we showed no desire to get the second goal.

Our of nowhere and after Manchester United had been in total control of the game, Anderlecht scored with their first shot on target. In the 86th minute Obradovic delivered a great cross in towards Dendoncker who powered his header past Romero. 

Throughout the game it was clear that the United players were taking way too many touches in our own half, leading to some very slow build up play. However, the same cannot be said for the final third. There was some great one touch passes bring made by the front men which made us much more of a threat going forwards. But this wasn't much, with United dominating the game in the centre of the pitch for most of the game. 

Our attacking players all played well today. The movement at the top was terrific. It was great to see Mkhitaryan gliding along the front line with his neat passes and agility. Rashford was also a bright spark for us today with some very intelligent play and he was unlucky not to get a goal. The two times it looked like we wanted to get a goal was before our opener, and once Anderlecht got the equiliser, meaning we showed no real intent and desire to get a goal for over half the game and that is what cost us today, and has cost us most of this season.

The sad truth is that even when we do show passion and desire to get a goal, the chances do come, but the finishing lacks quality.

One player which we need to highlight is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Even though he wasn't at his best today and he hasn't been as clinical as he should have been this season, his importance is undeniable. He knows. He knows that a one goal lead is not enough. He knows the importance of killing off the game and striving for another goal. Just after the opener, video replays showed Ibra yelling to his teammates "we need to do more, we need to do more lads!". This is the mentality that every player needs to have at our club! We need to do more.

We face Chelsea on Sunday in the Premier League and we will go in as the underdogs. But the truth is, we can beat them. We need to be at our best and play with intent and passion for the whole game. Lets go into the game with a positive attitude and with optimism. I don't want to sound too pessimistic after today's result because a 1-1 draw away to Anderlecht isn't a bad result and does give us the upper hand at Old Trafford next week, but I want what is best for our club and I want to see us strive. The frustrating thing is that we are capable, but we just "need to do more"!

Jose Mourinho: "We have to kill matches. We had chances, we had control, but in one mistake we were punished"

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Anderlecht vs Manchester United match preview

Image result for anderlecht vs manchester united
The quarter finals of the Europa League are about to get underway. On Thursday, Manchester United will face Anderlecht in the capital city of Belgium, hoping to go into the second leg at Old Trafford with a lead. Anderlecht have won five of their last six European home games and will feel confident going into the tie. With next month's final in Sweden so close, United will be keen to build an advantage here. 

The first ever fixture between these two clubs is one which will be remembered forever as United won 10-0 against the Belgian side in 1956. This score remains Anderlecht's heaviest loss, and United's biggest win in Europe. 

After Sunday's win over Sunderland, Mourinho said that he expects Valencia to be available for selection again, but although De Gea's hip problem is "not serious", Sergio Romero may retain his place in goal. However, David De Gea is in the squad to face Anderlecht. Mourinho confirmed in his press conference today that Wayne Rooney is not fit for tomorrow's game, but may be available for selection on the weekend. According to the BBC, only Juan Mata, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were absent from training today. 

Anderlecht are a good team who have some very dangerous players. One player which most people would have heard of is Youri Tielemans, a 19 year old Belgian central midfielder who is already making a name for himself for his club and country. The midfielder has scored three goals in the group stages and captained his club for both legs in the round of 32 against Zenit. Also, Lukasz Teodorczyk has been a big danger for Anderlecht going forward this season. The Polish frontman has scored 5 goals in the Europa League since joining the club on loan from Dynamo Kiev last summer. 

As we all know and reality is beginning to kick in, it will be tough for Manchester United to finish in the top four this season. With arguably the hardest league fixtures left for the rest of the season of the top seven, it is clear that we need to be prepared for what happens if we don't finish in the top four. The Europa League seems like our most realistic route into the Champions League next season. There is no two ways about it, we must beat Anderlecht in this tie, then win the semi final fixtures and then most importantly, win in Sweden! 

Jose Mourinho in his press conference today: "We are going to fight with everything, domestically and in Europe, to reach the Champions League". 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Sunderland vs Manchester United match preview

Image result for sunderland vs manchester united
Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Everton made it increasingly unlikely that Manchester United will secure a top 4 place in the Premier League this season. It was the same story again for United as they were failing to take their chances which led to another draw at Old Trafford. 

With three draws from our last four matches, we need a win on Sunday to (hopefully) put us back on the right track. This month is going to be eventful with 2 games every week due to re-arranged fixtures and our Europa League campaign. With the top 4 seeming out of reach, it is essential that we put all our efforts into the Europa League, which looks to be our only route left for Champions League football next season. 

Although on paper, 20 games unbeaten in the league doesn't sound too bad, the boss and players know that the points dropped in this run have been unacceptable. While United are battling for top 4, Sunderland look destined for the drop as they sit at the bottom of the Premier League, 10 points away from safety. 

Manchester United will be up against a familiar face on Sunday with David Moyes, who managed United in the 2013/14 season, taking charge of The Black Cats.

As if our injury crisis wasn't bad enough, things have taken another turn as Mourinho confirmed that Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young will also be unavailable for the trip to The Stadium of Light. Wayne Rooney missed the midweek clash due to ankle issues and Ashley Young limped off with a groin injury. Meanwhile, Antonio Valencia returns after being rested while Mata, Jones and Smalling are all still looking at a long time on the sidelines. 

Our last three visits to The Stadium of Light were not fond memories, with United losing 2 and drawing 1. However, one thing looking up for us is our away form this season. Manchester United have won 6 and drawn 2 of their last 8 Premier League matches away from home. This is their longest unbeaten away run since August 2013. 

In truth, on Sunday we are playing against the worst team in the league this season. Anything apart from a win is completely unacceptable and would call into question the quality and mindset of the players and manager. We have recently been playing like a mid-table team but we are so much better than that and we need to go and prove it!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Manchester United vs Everton match preview

Image result for manchester united vs everton
Saturday's result against West Brom was devastating to see as a Manchester United fan as we were held to another draw at Old Trafford. We simply cannot afford to be drawing this many games at home. If we had won those games which we drew at home (when we were dominating the game) in the league, we would be at the top of the league celebrating our 21st league trophy. But due to poor finishing and us not being able to take our chances, we are sat in 5th place, 5 points away from the top 4. 

Manchester United will be given a massive boost as our most important player this season returns from his three match suspension after an altercation with Tyrone Mings. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been crucial for us this season and has been our biggest threat in the opposition box. In addition, we will see the return of Ander Herrera who received a two match suspension following his red card against Chelsea in the FA Cup. Herrera has been arguably our best midfielder this season and has given us the stability between going forwards and defending. 

United will be looking to close the gap on rivals Manchester City who are currently in 4th position, 5 points ahead of United. A win or draw (hopefully not the latter) against Everton would see Manchester United go 20 league games unbeaten. Mourinho is currently on his longest unbeaten run in the Premier League since October 2005 with Chelsea, where he managed to go 40 games unbeaten. 

Ronald Koeman will be looking to become the first manager in Premier League history to win three consecutive away games at Old Trafford. If Everton were to beat us on Tuesday, they would replace us in 5th place, although United have played two fewer games. 

Another potential boost for us is Paul Pogba's potential return after spending the last two games on the sideline due to a hamstring injury. At the end of the West Brom game he was pictured training on the pitch with the team, alongside Herrera and Ibra. It is likely that the world record signing will start.

Manchester United sold Morgan Schneiderlin in the January transfer window to Everton, but he might get the chance to face his old club on Tuesday. However, he has been unavailable recently due to a calf injury but he could make an appearance if deemed fit enough. 

Hopefully we can beat The Toffees on Tuesday and prove that we are good enough to compete and play in the Champions League next season. There is no room for mistakes now. There are a total of 30 points left on offer until the end of the season and every single one of them could be crucial in this competitive battle for a top 4 place. Let's hope we see a more clinical, motivated and hungry Manchester United side and we get the all important three points! 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Manchester United vs West Brom

Absolutely pathetic - that is the nicest way to describe this result. We cannot hide behind the excuse that we have several injuries and suspensions. We still had a brilliant attack and today's result represented our story of the season. 

The entire game followed the same pattern. Manchester United were always attacking, with West Brom sitting deep, parking the bus and hoping to snatch one on the counter attack. We were able to get past the West Brom defence once or twice, but the finish wasn't there. The biggest chance for United came to Mkhitaryan who was through on goal and dipped the ball wide of the post. United almost made the breakthrough when Marcus Rashford took a long range shot at goal which Foster done brilliantly to keep out. 

The closest anyone came to goal was from an unlikely source, Darren Fletcher. The ex-United midfielder blasted a powerful shot from outside the box towards goal. What should have been an easy save by De Gea ended up as a lucky escape for United. De Gea misjudged the shot and deflected the ball onto the crossbar, which then bounced back straight into his hands. We were lucky not to go behind. 

Today's draw was United's 8th in their last 12 games at Old Trafford. After Liverpool's win against Everton earlier today, the gap between us and 4th place has increased again. If Arsenal manage to win tomorrow then we could be back in 6th place. 

I think it's fair to say that we now need to focus on the Europa League. As the Premier League is looking more and more competitive and the top 4 seeming out of sight, our hopes for Champions League football next season seems to be relying more on the Europa League.

Our next fixture is on Tuesday when we face Everton at home in the Premier League. This will be another tough fixture against a top quality team close to us in the league. Everton will be looking to bounce back after losing today's Merseyside Derby in poor fashion. 

With morale down and fans angry and disappointed at the moment, lets hope we can bounce back after today's result with a win against a good opposition.