Why Ryan Fraser is ready made for Mauricio Pochettino’s project at Tottenham Hotspur

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Ryan Fraser in recent months has been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, an individual who is having one of his best seasons as a Bournemouth player and is in his fourth campaign within the Premier League.

When a player from a mid-table side is in fine form and is playing a crucial role towards his team finishing in the top half of the table, they instantly become wanted by the top clubs in England. Players such as Jamie Vardy, Ruben Neves and Wilfried Zaha have unsurprisingly entered this category thanks to the contributions and performances they’ve produced for their respective clubs.

Focusing back onto Fraser himself, it’s time to look at his rise within the Premier League over the last year or so, and how he has caught the attention of Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur.

With no further ado…

He fits well into Pochettino’s and Spurs’ project

Pochettino has made a name for himself when it comes to developing young talented players and taking them to the next level since arriving to England in January 2013. From his early days at Southampton up until his current days at Tottenham, he has helped a number of English youngsters to make improvements and tweaks to their style of play, with the well-known ones being Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Kyle and James Ward-Prowse.

On top of that, the former Espanyol and Southampton coach is yet to make many signings of the age of 30 and over, which clearly shows the players he brings in are those are who suited to his long term plans and are willing to stay around for at least three to five years. With Fraser turning 25 in a few days time, he has the ideal skillset to go on to being someone who can control and dictate the side’s attack, especially given he has created the most chances (17) in the league so far this season.

Pochettino craves for intelligent midfielders

Looking at Tottenham’s current midfield, it’s none other than Christian Eriksen who is pulling the strings for the side, a player who is very tidy on the ball and can produce something out of nothing. Meanwhile, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have actually come into their own in the last couple of months, but are yet to show they have the ability or the spark to guide the team forward, to produce a moment of brilliance from midfield and importantly for when their key men are not on the pitch.

But if Spurs were to go all out for Fraser, they will be going for an individual who is stepping up on his numbers in the final third of the pitch and is proving to be a valuable asset when it comes to delivering set-pieces. Currently on five goals and nine assists in 26 league games, if the Scotland international was to confidently hit double figures in both departments before the season finishes, he would potentially be making a serious name to become one off Tottenham’s main transfer targets for the summer window.

Allows Eriksen to player higher up the pitch

It is more or less fair to say that, Eriksen is one of the side’s most crucial players and is seen as one of the best playmakers within the league and the whole of Europe. Although he is playing in a deep role at this moment of time, alongside either Winks or Eric Dier in the middle of the pitch, the possible arrival of a central midfielder would allow him to play high up the pitch once again, where he can feed the perfect passes into Harry Kane, Heung Min-Son and Fernando Llorente like a piece of cake.

If Ryan Fraser just happens to be that midfield signing in the summer, he could play a useful role as a box-to-box midfielder as well as in Eriksen’s position for whenever the Danish playmaker is in need of a rest or is unable to start the match. The Aberdeen-born star has proven himself as a versatile play over the last couple of months, where has played in all the tactical roles within midfield and also the key areas out on the flanks, which could be important to Pochettino as he continues to utilise a small squad.

Why Manchester United’s main issues lie in midfield, where they lack quality and depth

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When looking at Manchester United’s squad, one can easily see the many options available in defence and attack, whilst the midfield looks completely thin and barely existent. It’s no secret to why the Old Trafford faithful are always nervous for when they see Ander Herrera or Paul Pogba suffer a knock or a minor injury, two midfielders who play a huge role for the side on and off the ball.

Also, the departure of Marouane Fellani half way through the season made very little sense, especially when a replacement did not come in and nor did someone get promoted from the youth academy. For sure, he wasn’t seen as a United type of player and may not suit the club’s style of play, but letting him go when the side are still in the Champions League and the FA Cup was a huge mistake.

The Belgian international clearly wasn’t the fastest, most intelligent or complete midfielder available within the squad, though, his aerial dominance and presence in the penalty box allowed the side to pose further danger to the opposition. Not only that, he has always got on with his job no matter what position he played in, whether it was as a defensive-midfielder or as an attacking one.

Focusing back onto the midfield department, Pogba is the only one that can influence the side’s midfield and attack to drive on forward, which is slightly down to the lack of tactics implemented by the manager but also the limited amount of midfielders to choose from. Due to this, the Red Devils do not have the total freedom to rotate around like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City can.

Both Herrera and Nemanja Matic should be praised for how they constantly assist the defence and help to retain and recycle the ball, something that the duo complete at a high level and importantly when the full-backs are high up the pitch and out of position. Though, the former is not known to unlock the opposition’s defence from a deep position whilst the latter does not have the intelligence or pace to play as a box-to-box midfielder, which leaves everything to be done by Pogba himself.

Andreas Pereira and Fred have had their moments here and there to prove themselves, but did not make the most out of the limited opportunities they had so far, as they failed to take the game by the scruff of their neck and were unable to dominate the match and the opposition. On a serious note, the Brazilians should surely receive another match or two to potentially win over Solskjaer soon or later.

Having a quick look back at recent years, United did not do enough to replace the veteran Michael Carrick, an individual who had spent 12 years at Old Trafford and had gone on to become one of the most decorated English players of all time. When you deep the crucial experience and presence he brought to the side on and off the pitch, nearly everyone knew of how much he would be missed once he was gone.

Overall, Manchester United have decent quality and depth when it comes to defence and attacks, which can be easily reflected on when you see the likes of Alexis Sanchez Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly and Romelu Lukaku on the bench. Meanwhile, in the defeats to Manchester City away and Tottenham Hotspur at home, the side only had young Scott McTominay and summer signing Fred on the bench.

In the end, if United are aiming to compete in all competitions they take part in, they will need quality midfielders in the starting line-up and on the bench. The last time they had a good number of options to choose from, it was during the 2007-08 season under Sir Alex Ferguson, where they amazingly had Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Ji-Sung Park, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves.

What did Manchester United learn from loss against PSG?

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Manchester United headed into the first leg of the Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain with full confidence, given their fine form in recent weeks and the fact that Edinson Cavani and Neymar would be missing both legs of the Champions League tie. Though, all did not end well, as the visitors gave the host a football lesson and showed that they are levels ahead of the Red Devils.

Despite the questionable refereeing and the fact that the side lost Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard by the half-time break, Thomas Tuchel had his side setup in the most perfect way whist Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now showing that he is beginning to lack a Plan B. With how the first leg had come to an end, United’s chances of qualifying for the next round are very slim as PSG take two away goals and a win back to France.

Here are three valuable lessons that can be taken from the Champions League defeat…

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to desperately find a Plan B

For sure, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is enjoying the dream of managing Manchester United and has got the fans of Old Trafford bouncing again. However, he needs to come up with a backup idea or a different system for when things don’t go according to plan, especially with how Tuchel made some clever choices with his starting line-up and made sure to make tactical tweaks during the game.

It’s more or less obvious that the injuries to Lingard and Martial badly affected to how the side normally attempt to break on the counter through pure pace and movement, which led the full-backs and the midfielders to then take part in a more direct approach. Given the injury issues and the lack of midfield options, it may be ideal for Solskjaer to consider using the back-three/five setup, to restore balance from defence to attack.

In regards to a back-three/five formation, it would allow both Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot to push high up the pitch as the wing-backs whilst Paul Pogba potentially playing in an attacking role with freedom will do the side real good. As long as United’s main players in Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford and Victor Lindelof are in high confidence and spirits, they should be able to play effectively and smartly within this style.

The midfield battle is where the match was won and lost

Without a doubt, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos stole the headlines at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, as the midfield duo controlled and dictated the game like it was a walk in the park. From keeping it simple with the short passes and the through balls into the wide players, to silencing each attack United could offer, they truly gave Gianluigi Buffon and Thiago Silva a quiet night at the back.

Meanwhile, for the hosts, it had seemed like only Pogba was attempting to guide the midfield and attack whilst the rest were waiting in the opposition’s half for something to happen. Herrera and Nemanja Matic provided assistance defensively and were able to support the backline when required, though, they struggled a lot when it came down to helping them push forward and to create constant chances.

The midfield department is an area that the hierarchy should look to aggressively strengthen, especially when the only options are Andreas Pereira, Fred and the young Scott McTominay from the bench. If one of the current midfield trio were to be injured or suspended for a number of games, then it can easily be stated that the backup choices would not be able to come up with the needed displays without any issues.

United’s board need to have a good look at the strength and quality between both squads

Majority of football supporters would have thought that the absence of Cavani and Neymar would make the fixture more balanced and would make the hosts the favourites, on the other hand, the visitors still had the likes of Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and surprisingly Dani Alves utilised as the front three. Straightaway, one can gain the understanding that PSG’s squad depth is no joke at all.

Though, when United’s two main attackers were forced off a half-time, Solskjaer could only bring on Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata, two players that are clearly past their best and are not able to take the side’s attack to the next level. On top of that, PSG’s quality in the starting line-up was incredibly outstanding, leaving Tuchel with no reasons for them to complete their third and final substitution.

Overall, PSG have the perfect squad to allow them to convincingly challenge in every competition they take place in, whilst United’s current team is just about enough to challenge for the top four spots as well as the Carabao Cup or FA Cup. If the board want to improve instantly, they will need to bring in a director of football, someone who can help when it comes to recruiting and scouting.

Manchester United: Who should start against Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford?

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With the Premier League fixtures of the weekend now coming to an end, the main focus now turns to the exciting and thrilling Champions League matches, where Manchester United will be taking on Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the knockout stages. Potentially, if all the build-up and hype meets its true expectations, the tie could go on to be one of the best ties of the whole competition.

The main news at this moment of time is that Neymar will be missing both legs of the tie, as he suffered an ankle ligament injury a few weeks ago and is not expected to return to training until the middle of April. Not only that, the Ligue 1 leaders have had to release more injury issues today, stating that both Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier are unavailable for the match on Tuesday.

Focusing back on the Red Devils, it’s time to look at who has become really reliable under Solskajer and are expected to start in what is the side’s most important fixture of the season. The selections for the midfield and forward department would seem straightforward and very easy to complete, whilst the defence would be a questionable one as they can become inconsistent here and there.

It’s time we look at United’s best XI that should start against Paris Saint-Germain…

David De Gea and the backline

Starting with the main individual between the goalposts, it is a no brainer that David De Gea will be starting a huge match like this rather than the back-up options in Lee Grant or Sergio Romero. At the heart of defence, it should be a partnership of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, who are simply he best centre-backs within the squad and are the only ones capable of helping the team out on and off the ball.

Meanwhile, the full-back position can be covered by Ashley Young, Diogo Dalot or even Luke Shaw, three players that are capable of defending at a decent level whilst attacking when required. Given that the opposition will have the likes of Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe starting, it will be more than important to have the experienced ones in Shaw and Young as the full-backs.

David De Gea, Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Ashley Young.

The consistent and dominant midfield

In the middle of the pitch, the usual midfield trio of Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba will be expected to carry out their duties on both sides of the pitch. This will have become clear and plain obvious over the last couple of weeks, especially with Marouane Fellaini leaving for China, whilst both Andreas Pereira and Fred have not been able to take their chances when provided.

Not long ago, Herrera and Matic were seen as two average and unconvincing midfielders under the managerial of Jose Mourinho, but are now regarded as the key pair in midfield that helps the side to defend in numbers and to retain possession of the ball effectively. On top of that, Pogba continues to control and dictate the side’s attack as well as produce the much needed goods in the final third of the pitch.

Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba.  

Pure movement and pace of the attacking trio

When Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford were rested on the bench ahead of the Fulham game, it was a clear indication that Solskjaer were giving the duo a well deserved break going into the Paris Saint-Germain fixture. The third and final player that should be completing the front three is none other than Anthony Martial, because he can amazingly produce something out of nothing and is really clinical in front of goal.

All three individuals have shown what they can do in attack, whether it’s through their intelligent movement off the ball or the way how they can dribble past two to three players within the matter of a few seconds. If they can start off the game at a quick pace and at a high tempo, then there should not be a problem at all of expecting two to three goals in the first leg at Old Trafford.

Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford.

Fulham 0-3 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men show the crucial consistency

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Manchester United had a big chance to enter the top four position for the first time since the start of the season, with their next fixture being away to Fulham, a side that have only won four league games and are in the relegation zone. With Chelsea and Manchester City facing one another on Sunday, it was important for the Red Devils to pick up the three points and in a secure manner.

Overall, United dominated the game from the first second of the match till the final whistle, where they could have even scored a further couple of goals to pile on the misery. Despite the early scares and nerve-wrecking moments, the visitors were allowed to attack in numbers and simply take their chances, which they did so as both Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba scored in the first 25 minutes.

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts in the second half, as the side’s positional awareness on and off the ball was something that you would truly witness from a Sunday league team. Not only that, manager Claudio Ranieri has been struggling to motivate and revive this Fulham side, otherwise they would be showing positive signs in recent weeks and would be climbing slowly up the table.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Changes to the side were effective in the end

When deciding who would start in the fixture against Fulham, Solskjaer was bound to keep one eye on the monumental Champions League fixture at home to Paris Saint-Germain, whilst choosing which players deserve a rest and which could do with some further game time. Due to this, the likes of Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Victor Lindelof were given a well deserved rest.

Meanwhile, individuals such as Chris Smalling, Diogo Dalot, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku returned into the line-up, and went on to play a key role towards the side winning the three points. Although these four players may not be seen as good enough players to play regularly for Solskjaer, they still have a duty to complete when they are required from the bench or in the less relevant matches for the remainder of the season.

Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba continue with their brilliance

At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that both Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are the club’s best outfield players, two individuals that are capable of producing something out of nothing and are able to help the side’s midfield and attack tick. When the pair are not in the starting line-up, the team’s style of football has a tendency to become slow on both sides of the pitch and painfully predictable.

With Martial signing a contract extension recently and Pogba reportedly expected to sign one once the season comes to an end, United have two serious Premier League beaters that they can build their team around for the next five years. Now, it all depends on who is the next permanent manager, because the Frenchman’s will not want another Jose Mourinho type of coach to come in to shamelessly limit and nullify them.

The Red Devils and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can now aim for a top four finish

At the beginning of December, the former manager in Jose Mourinho had publicly stated that it would be a miracle for the team to get into the top four as they sat 10 to 12 points behind the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea. Ten weeks later, under the managerial of interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United are just about sat in fourth-place and are also 14 points off the league leaders.

The race for the last spot in the top four will go down till the end of the season, where the full focus will be on Arsenal, Chelsea and United on a weekly basis. Also, if Tottenham do drop points in the upcoming matches, they could also fall into the race where third place and fourth place is up for grabs. In the end, if Solskjaer somehow leads Manchester United to a top four finish, he will surely get the job permanently.

Three January signings to keep a close eye on within the Premier League

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With the January transfer window coming to an end, it will surely not be one for the Premier League experts and pundits to constantly talk about, especially when you see that only most of the teams in the bottom half of the league brought two or more players compared to the sides in the top half.

The main loan deals in Denis Suarez to Arsenal, Youri Tielemans to Leicester City and the deadline-day move of Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi to Crystal Palace stole most of the headlines within the English media. However, there were a couple of moves that have gone completely off the radar, which will allow the players to adapt to life in English football before kicking off at their new club.

With no further ado, it is time to look at the three January additions to importantly look out for…

Gonzalo Higuain (Chelsea)

After scoring a brace in his first Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, Gonzalo Higuain will have won over majority of the Chelsea supporters as they regain their position in the top four once again. Although some will feel that it is only one good performance and against a poor Huddersfield side, his movement on and off the ball was top notch as well as his clever linkup play with Eden Hazard.

Remembering Maurizio Sarri’s men are still in the Europa League and the FA Cup, having a striker like the former Napoli and Real Madrid forward is the perfect option to have, given that Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have been unconvincing over the last couple of months. In the end, if Higuain exceeds all expectations, he could become Sarri’s main number nine for the next few years.

Miguel Almiron (Newcastle United)

As Newcastle United are sitting uncomfortably above the relegation zone by two points, they will be more than happy with the arrivals of central-midfielder Miguel Almiron and left-back Antonio Barreca on a loan deal. Focusing more on the newest club-record signing, he was closely linked with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before his move to St James Park was official.

During his two incredible seasons at Atlanta United in the MLS, Almiron showed the capability and intelligence to play in any of the areas within midfield, from the number ten role behind the centre-forward to either flanks. Not only that, the Paraguayan international has proven himself to be useful in terms of retrieving the ball for his side, through his work rate and ability to press when required.

Samir Nasri (West Ham United)

Samir Nasri is no stranger when it comes to English football, having already spent three seasons at Arsenal before going on to play for Manchester City for five years. Although he had tried to revive his career with a loan move to Sevilla and then a permanent transfer to Turkish side Antalyaspor, things went from bad to worse, as he received an 18-month ban from the UEFA for doping illegally.

However, he has received a second chance in his professional career and at West Ham United, where he will be looking to play regularly and hope to become one of Manuel Pellegrini’s important starters within the line-up. Despite the fact that he is currently on the sidelines with a minor knock and is expected to return next week, he will aim to see out the remainder of the season on a high note, and then see if the Hammers are willing to offer him a two or three-year contract deal.

Kalidou Koulibaly: One of the classiest centre-backs in Serie A

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After completing his £6.5million move from Genk to Napoli in the summer of 2014, Kalidou Koulibaly has gone on to forming an incredible reputation about himself as one of the best centre-backs in Italy and Europe. And it’s only taken the Senegal defender a couple of years or so to achieve this delightful result.

The 27-year-old is now reportedly being linked with a move to a few Premier League sides in Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, with the expected price tag being a figure around £100million. However, the local and reliable reports in Naples suggest that the defender is very happy in Serie A at the moment.

Former AC Milan player and Croatia midfielder, Zvonimir Boban, was full of praises towards the rise of Koulibaly within his early years at the club. “For me, he’s among the best in the world and he can still improve,” the Sky Italia pundit had revealed. “He’s matured in everything; character, technique, he now comes out with the ball in such an impeccable way and is always physically dominant.”

Meanwhile, Italian football expert James Horncastle a few seasons ago, called him the new Lillian Thuram due to his aesthetically pleasing style of play and attitude on and off the pitch. The 1990s footballing legend, was the one and only idol and role model for Koulibaly, especially during his days as a youngster and that he has always wanted to achieve a similar career path to the French international since then.

Born in Saint-Die-des-Vosges, he started his senior footballing career off at French side Metz, where he spent two years within the Ligue 2 division before moving abroad to Belgium to play in the Belgian Pro League. At the time, he took part in playing for the U20 France national team and made 11 appearances at that level as he was educated and raised in the North East of France.

At Genk, the young defender was given the chance to prove himself at a club that are well known for their history of scouting and developing talented players before they are sold off to bigger teams. This was the unbelievable result for the previous individuals in Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne and Christian Benteke, with Koulibaly going on to join this list of players after he had joined Napoli in 2014.

Koulibaly’s dreams came true during the 2014-15 campaign as he achieved just over 25 league appearances in his debut season for Napoli. However, manager Rafael Benitez experienced an unexpected outcome with his team being defensively awful despite improving on the other side of the pitch by being clinical and ruthless on the counter-attack. Due to the side’s lack of organisation and communication in defence, it took the raw centre-back quite some time for him to settle into the team.

One year on, everything was much different for Napoli, with the club making a managerial change of replacing Benitez with Maurizio Sarri, someone who made sure that Koulibaly was in the starting line-up on a weekly basis. He only missed five league games throughout that campaign as Napoli mounted a competitive challenge to Juventus. On top of that, he finished the season as one of the most improved players within the top five leagues of Europe, which allowed him to gain more awareness as a defender.

Throughout the 2016-17 season as a while, Koulibaly completed the fourth most short passes whilst compared to all defenders in Serie A despite making fewer appearances than the likes of Davide Astori, Matias Silvestre and team-mate Elseid Hysaj. Given the entertaining and fascinating style of play that Napoli used to represent under Sarri, this is surely an incredible statistic as there is no margin for error, otherwise the opposition can pounce on highline and score constantly from the counter-attack.

Now, in 2019 and playing under Carlo Ancelotti, he still remains as Napoli’s best defender as well as one of the best centre-backs within the league. Although the change of formation and the slight change of the system when the side act on and off the ball, the Senegalese international amazingly completes his day to day job whilst constantly covering the left-back area when Mario Rui or Faouzi Ghoulam are out of position.

Standing at six foot five inches tall, Koulibaly is known for his physical attribute as well as his imposing height to win aerial duels on both sides of the pitch. After the arrival of Sarri, the rise of ‘K2’ was taken to the next level as his positioning and excellent passing with both feet got better and better. Also, he now sticks very close to his opponent rather than leaving them completely free for most of the game which prevents him from being forced into making a foul and receiving a booking.

In the meantime for his country, the 27-year-old was given his debut for Senegal during his second season as a Napoli player. Making his first appearance in a 2-0 victory over Namibia in an African Cup of Nation qualifier in September 2015, he has gone on to achieving just over 30 caps for his national team. Just a few days before he made his debut, Koulibaly switched federations and decided to leave France for the Senegal national football team. At the end of 2016, he received an individual honour of making it into the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Team of the Year award.

Whether he stays at Napoli for the rest of his career is another question, however, it would not be a surprise if the Senegalese one day ends up playing for either Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid. No matter what is in store for Koulibaly from now till the end of his time as a footballer, he will definitely be seen as one of the most complete centre-backs in this era.

Manchester United 2-2 Burnley: The winning run comes to an end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Manchester United had a big chance to extend their run of winning matches to eight league games, with their next fixture being at home to Burnley, a side that have managed to go on their own winning run in recent weeks. With the side being only a few points behind the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, it was important for the Red Devils to pick up the three points and in a secure manner.

Overall, United experienced one of those nights where nothing was going well for them in the final third of the pitch and they were struggling to create constant clear-cut chances. However, the home side unsurprisingly fell asleep on a few typical occasions, which allowed the visitors to pounce on the lack of concentration from the defenders to score twice in the second half through Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.

Majority of the supporters thought the game was done and dusted, though, the introduction of Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard turned the momentum around as they began to play the ball at a high tempo and with attacking intent. United first pulled a goal back through a Paul Pogba penalty, and then minutes later, achieved the equaliser as Victor Lindelof scored his first goal for the football club.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

United’s toughest battle yet at home

It is probably straightforward to say that the Burnley fixture has been Solskjaer’s biggest test so far this season, not due to the end outcome, purely because of the fact that Sean Dyche’s men were defending in their own half for majority of the match. Due to the opposition’s setup, it forced United to play in an uncomfortable way that led them to managing zero shots on target in the first half.

Not only that, Tom Heaton was having one of his best games, or else, the hosts would have easily scored a further two or three goals on another day. Since the arrival of the interim coach, United have played the likes of Burnley, Brighton, Bournemouth and Huddersfield at Old Trafford, which does mean that this stalemate has to be seen as a wakeup call for the manager and the players before the big fixtures kick in.

Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were missed badly

Ole made a couple of changes and they were pretty much required, especially to make sure that the squad as a whole, received enough game time ahead of the make or break February fixtures. Against Burnley, the likes of Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Phil Jones and Romelu Lukaku were brought into the line-up, but none of them showed a single reason to why they deserve to remain in the starting XI in the long run.

On a serious note, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial were badly missed, two individuals that have the pure ability and the quality to make the side simply tick in midfield and attack. When both players are not in the team, the side’s pressing off the ball is inconsistent and unorganised, whilst the side’s way of utilising possession is ineffective and really slow without the two main duo.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot to learn from his first league draw

Although the hosts dominated possession and created most of their best chances in the second half, they did not do enough in taking their shots and it led the visitors to grow in confidence as they took their limited chances on the counter-attack. By the 81st minute, Burnley seemingly had the three points secured and all they had to, was continue to defend in their own half for the final ten minutes of the game or so.

In the end, the comeback to come from 2-0 down to 2-2 will be seen as a huge positive turnaround, but it is still two points dropped and the chances of finishing in the top four slightly decreases. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to improve his in-game management as well as his ability to quickly react to any rising issues, whether it’s the side failing to take their chances, or the opposition posing more threat towards the final stages of the game and are coming really close to scoring.

Which Manchester United players should be offloaded once the season is over

<> on February 24, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

By now, the board and Ed Woodward will have analysed which players will be part of the club’s long-term plans, and which individuals they feel that don’t have a future at all at Manchester United. And although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is only the interim coach at this moment of time, the hierarchy will surely be asking for his comments and vital opinions on who should be kept at the club at all costs.

On the other hand, some of the players who are used as a squad rotation will be given a few more chances to prove themselves before the current season is over. The Red Devils don’t have too much deadweight to carry like they used to a couple of years ago, however, there are some players that have been at the club for far too long or are simply not good enough for Premier League football.

Looking at the first team line-up as well as the squad depth as a whole, it can be easily stated that the club are in need of four to five new additions before they can mount a serious challenge in all competitions. And in order to achieve this, they will have intelligently sell a number of players during the summer transfer window, before they can go on to bringing anyone over to Old Trafford.

It’s time to look at the players that should be offloaded in the summer…

Antonio Valencia

Although a lot of the focus is on either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones as the main weakness within the backline, not much has been mentioned or stated about the right-back Antonio Valencia. Despite being a natural winger in his peak years in the Premier League, he has shown to be a player that can just about defend his area whilst his attacking and crossing ability has become non-existent over the last number of seasons.

With his contract coming to an end in the summer, it would be ideal for the club to let him go on a free transfer or give him a contract and then sell him off for a small amount of money. In the end, as long as he is far and far away from the club before the next footballing season, then shall Manchester United’s defence be able to move forward as a whole on both sides of the pitch. Without a doubt.

Juan Mata

Juan Mata has been in the Premier League for a really long time, and the only shame is that he spent most of his time in England as a right-winger rather than in his favourite position in the number ten role. The former Chelsea and Valencia player has never failed to come up with the assists and goals when it was much needed, though, he has been unable to produce the numbers on a regular basis.

As a whole, he simply does not have the pace or the physical ability to start as a winger, which dents United’s chances of producing successful counter-attacks. If the board and Ed Woodward are clever, they aggressively sell the attacking midfielder as he still has value and can become a superstar at a lower club, and it allows them to recover a fair amount they once spent on Juan Mata in 2014.

Marcos Rojo

It’s actually incredible to see that Marcos Rojo is still a Manchester United player, someone who is constantly on the sidelines with injury problems here and there whilst receiving a contract extension that he simply did not deserve. Believe it or not, the centre-back has made the same amount of appearances for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup and for Manchester United so far this season.

Unfortunately for the 28-year-old, he has failed to achieve the potential he once had when he joined the club and has time and time again, proved to be an ongoing liability in the back line whenever he starts. Given that he is out of his depth and is a player that would not be sorely missed once he leaves the club, United will then be able to bring in someone from the youth academy to develop.

Marouane Fellaini

Following the departure of Jose Mourinho and the short-term arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Marouane Fellaini has become one of the few players that does not fit the current coach’s style of play and has also been hit with a few unfortunate injury issues. Not only that, he has hardly been regarded as a player that represents Manchester United as a whole and what they proudly stand for.

For sure, he is not athletic, intelligent or proactive enough to be seen as a regular starter or even as an option from the bench, but he did come up with the vital goals for when the side needed him the most during the Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho era. Now, that the club are returning onto the right path, the attributes and services that Marouane Fellaini provides is no longer required at Old Trafford.

Matteo Darmian

Since completing his monumental move from Serie A to the Premier League in the summer of 2015, Matteo Darmian has shown his impressive versatility to play as a left-back, right-back and centre-back when required. On the other hand, he has failed to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League as well as the wingers that are filled with pace and trickery, which has led to him falling behind the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and now Diogo Dalot for the right-back position.

The Italian international has only completed five league appearances so far this season, seriously implying that he wasn’t in Jose Mourinho’s plans and he isn’t seen as a player to be utilised by Solskjaer himself. With Serie A clubs in Inter Milan, Juventus and Napoli reportedly being interested in the full-back, it would only make sense for the club and the player to part ways in the summer.

Three things that have improved since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

OGS

Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are currently on an amazing winning streak of eight games in all competitions, which puts them just three points behind the top four spots in the Premier League as well as a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup. It’s been the ideal comeback since the departure of Jose Mourinho, however, the second half of the season is now kicking off in full effect.

Since the managerial change, a lot of things have changed on and off the pitch, allowing the side to revive their style of play and a footballing campaign that had seemed to be apparently over and buried in the grave. Not only that, even the Old Trafford faithful are enjoying the rollercoaster of a ride they are on at the moment, as they are simply taking each game and fixture one small step at a time.

Here are three things we have learnt about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United…

Best way to defend is to constantly attack

United’s defence has constantly been the side’s main weakness throughout the season so far, where they have lacked solidity as a unit and have been relying on David De Gea to come up with the vital goods in goal as usual. However, they have now learnt to dominate possession once again and to calmly play the ball around the opposition’s half, minimising the amount of times they have to defend in their own half.

Thanks to Solskjaer’s positive mindset and his ability to install a winning mentality into the squad, the team are able to show to the opposition that football is played the Manchester United way or the highway. The recent statistics are surely backing up these opinionated comments, as the side have managed to achieve 22 goals and have conceded on only five occasions, showing huge improvement defensively.

The mood within the dressing room has massively turned around

Throughout the final couple of weeks or so under the reign of Mourinho, the manager had lost the faith of his key players in Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba whilst dividing and tearing the dressing room into pieces. Once this had become evident within a number of league matches, there was a huge feeling within the fanbase that he would be relieved of his duties before the matter affected the club in the long run.

Now, six weeks into Solskjaer’s time at the football club he adores the most, he has re-assured the squad and had advised to each single one of them, of the important role they will be playing for the side from now until the season comes to an end. The positive feelings and the high spirits speaks for itself on the pitch and during the training sessions, where all the individuals are better and stronger as a whole than ever before.

Pressing high up the pitch with intensity can lead to positive outcomes

Believe it or not, football has massively changed over the last five to ten years, and one of the main factors to this has been the high pressing system that is utilised by the best teams in Europe. Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City are the perfect examples to use, three well-known sides that play effectively within this method that allows them to advance well in all the competitions they take part in season by season.

Looking back at United, it is important for the side to press in numbers and to understand when to press, purely because it is crucial to not run around like hooligans and it is a must to control the stamina levels during the match. With the likes of Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford pressing with intensity, whether it’s down the flanks or through the middle, a lot of the side’s goals have been by forcing the opposition into making mistakes and pushing them out of their comfort zone.