Man Utd 1-3 Crystal Palace: The Red Devils begin the new season with a defeat at home to the Eagles

Manchester United begin their 2020-21 Premier League season with a defeat at home to Crystal Palace, who were a unit defensively, composed in defending within their own half and were impressive on the counter against a very poor backline.

Given the lack of rest that the Red Devils have had from the previous campaign, as they reached the Europa League semi-finals before being eliminated by Sevilla, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men have not had the necessary rest and ideal pre-season football in order to return to normal fitness levels.

Looking into the game as a whole, the hosts were in full control when it came to dominating possession of the ball, achieving 75% possession, creating two big chances during the match and completing 230 passes in the attacking third. On the other hand, the hosts managed only 43 successful passes in the final third, and still went onto scoring three goals throughout the game.

The Eagles took the lead in the 7th minute of the game, through Andros Townsend, who had beaten Luke Shaw at the far post to meet onto Jeffrey Schlupp’s low cross, and put it past David De Gea and into the back of the net. In all honesty, there was not much action following Townsend’s goal, as United were sloppy and slow on the ball whilst Palace were quite comfortable within a low-block.

Crystal Palace were giving a huge opportunity to double their lead just half way through the second half, as Martin Atkinson pointed to the penalty spot after reviewing the footage of Victor Lindelof handling the ball in the box. Wilfried Zaha stepped up and calmly slotted the ball from the spot.

United were able to get a goal back through Donny Van de Beek, who able to convert his attempt on goal after coming on from the bench for Paul Pogba. However, it was too late to attempt a potential comeback, as Zaha was able to outdo Lindelof and place his shot into the corner away from De Gea. Following the 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace, Manchester United are currently in 15th place whilst Roy Hodgson’s men sit comfortably in 5th place, winning their first two games of the season.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s first league fixture of the campaign…

Victor Lindelof continually proves to be a defensive liability

For sure, he wasn’t the only individual that was struggling and was absolutely poor from start to end, but it was the defensive mistakes produced by Victor Lindelof that had resulted in Crystal Palace walking away from Old Trafford with the three points. The Swedish international has shown time and time again, that he is unable to deal with one on one situations with a forward or a winger, as the latter are able to dribble, power and stride past the centre-back without any serious issues.

Lindelof has had this rising problem since he had moved to the Premier League a few years ago, and it’s a concerning weakness that has allowed the opposition to specifically target him on the counter-attack. Given the current situation that is presented to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was to drop Lindelof to the bench anytime soon and replace him with Eric Bailly, who is more dominant and complete, but is battling his own issues in terms of injuries and full fitness.

Nemanja Matic’s absence was costly for the team on and off the ball

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded a three-man midfield of Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, which was lacking the much-needed balance in front of the defence and the ability to win the ball high up the pitch. Without Nemanja Matic, who had returned to training only on Monday and was not prepared to play on Saturday at Old Trafford, the side had great difficulties at protecting the inconsistent backline, being fluid on the ball and remaining calm under pressure.

The 32-year-old may no longer be at his best or have the legs to cover enough area of the pitch, however, his invaluable experience and the balance and composure he brings to the midfield is second to none. Unfortunately, for the manager and the club, they do not have a similar player to Matic, which does mean that they will have to rely heavily on him once again this season.

The lack of business for Manchester United is starting to slowly hurt them

Manchester United have only made one signing so far this window, in Donny Van de Beek, which is not good enough when you are trying to finish in the top four in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Not only that, but the board have failed to deliver a left-back and a much needed right-winger, two areas that needed addressing urgently and have not been done so in recent years, resulting in the side’s lack of development and progress as a whole.

The likes of Everton, Spurs and Wolves have been very proactive in the window, and it would not be a total surprise to see either of these three teams finish above the Red Devils in the Premier League. Unless Ed Woodward, the Glazers and the other key individuals within the board make some drastic signings in the final weeks of the transfer window, it will be very difficult for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United to finish in the top four again, looking at the serious competition around them.

Manchester United 2020-21 season preview

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going into his second full season as the manager of Manchester United, the pressure will be on him to deliver another top four finish whilst aiming for success in the domestic cup competitions. Given that rivals Liverpool and Manchester City are levels ahead of the rest of the teams in the Premier League, it is impossible for the Red Devils to mount a title challenge with the current squad, unless they decide to go all out in the remainder of the summer window.

The previous campaign resulted in the side finishing in third place as well as reaching the FA Cup semi-final, Carabao Cup semi-final and the Europa League semi-final. However, looking at the present and current circumstance, it is highly unlikely for Manchester United to surpass the progress they have made last season, as they have only signed one player so far this summer window whilst the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Wolves have been quite proactive and positive off the pitch.

It is now time to look at what the 2020-21 season has in store for Manchester United…

The new addition – linked players

Unlike the previous summer transfer window, the signings completed by both Manchester United and Solskjaer have not been appealing at all, which has resulted in a lot of discontent and frustration between the United fanbase. The team are in need of two to three players to upgrade the starting line-up as well another two players for the bench, in order for them to compete for the league title.

The Red Devils have so far brought the one signing in Donny Van de Beek, who has come from Eredivisie side Ajax, for a fee of around £35million to £40million. With a couple of weeks remaining until the transfer window comes to an end, Solskjaer will be hoping that the United board, especially Ed Woodward, are more than capable of delivering two more players for him.

The two players are looking likely to be Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Real Madrid’s Sergio Reguilon, who have actually been linked with a move to Old Trafford throughout the summer. Thiago Alcantara has been linked with the club too, but it does not seem like the club will buy two midfielders in one window.

Focusing further on Van de Beek, he is the ideal backup player to have for both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, as Solskjaer will need to rotate and keep the squad fit in between the league fixtures, the Champions League matches as well as the domestic cup competitions. On the other hand, the Dutch midfielder may be expected to be a regular starter, with the reports rising around the club that Solskjaer will be looking into ways of playing a midfield three of Bruno, Pogba and Van de Beek.

Key player

By now, it should be no secret that Manchester United’s key player happens to be Bruno Fernandes. Since the Portuguese international moved to Old Trafford in January, he has single-handedly transformed the side’s mentality and style of play, which has helped all parties in many ways.

In 14 Premier League appearances, the 26-year-old playmaker went on to produce eight goals and seven assists, resulting in the side to make a monumental comeback into the top four position and finish in 3rd place. Without Bruno Fernandes and his much needed contributions, it can comfortably be said that the team would have finished outside of the top four, around fifth place and seventh place.

Who should be sold?

At this moment of time, the ideal individuals that should be sold are the likes of Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, three centre-backs that are not in the long-term plans of the club and the manager. Not only that, but they would be seen as players that are far down the pecking order, with the main defenders actually being Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe.

Manchester United’s strongest XI

With the current squad members, here is Manchester United’s strongest XI for the new season –

David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial.

Premier League prediction

When looking at how strong Liverpool and Manchester City currently are, as well as how Chelsea have incredibly backed Frank Lampard so far this summer window, the best that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United can aim for is a top-four finish. Although, the critics expect the Red Devils to be aiming for trophies every season, which they should be doing so, performing consistently and at a higher level in the Premier League is more crucial, as the side have not finished in the top four in back-to-back seasons since the last two campaigns under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Premier League – 4th place

Champions League prediction

United’s current squad would suit them better in the Champions League rather than in the Premier League, where they can overcome the opposition over one game or two legs instead of the 19 English teams they will have to face home and away. With the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Greenwood Martial, Rashford and Pogba available for Solskjaer, it should not be a problem for both the club and manager to succeed the group stages and reach the Quarter-finals of the European competition.

Champions League – Quarter final

Is David De Gea’s time now up at Manchester United as the club’s number one goalkeeper?

He has been Manchester United’s number one goalkeeper for a number of years and is seen as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, but David De Gea is no longer at his best and is regarded as a player who still has that one big error in him. For sure, he has saved the team on a regular basis during the side’s horrible decline, though, he is simply not doing enough at this moment of time.

Over the last two seasons, the Spaniard has conceded seven huge mistakes that has led directly to a goal in the league, which is the same amount as Bernd Leno, and one less than both Jordan Pickford and Martin Dubravka have conceded, who are nowhere near the level or quality of the 29-year-old.

De Gea’s unfortunate downfall had began at around the 2018 World Cup, where his individual mistakes and lack of leadership in his own penalty box had cost him severely and most importantly for his country, as they were kicked out of competition in the Round of 16 by Russia. Including all the penalties he faced, he only managed to save one of the 11 shots he faced on target. Not only that, Kepa Arrizabalaga is now preferred over him by the national coach Luis Enrique, as the former’s passing ability is superior and more suitable to Spain’s style of play when compared to the latter.

Focusing back to De Gea and his situation at Old Trafford, there are a lot of mixed feelings and opinions on the 29-year-old between the Manchester United supporters, as some will believe he is the most overprotected player at the club whilst others will feel he still one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe but is being constantly let down by the inconsistent defenders in front of him.

The former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper was once upon a time, seen as an influential individual that can help the team by saving the Red Devils 10 to 12 points a season. However, when you look back at the nine seasons David De Gea has had at Old Trafford, you could argue that he has had three to four top notch campaigns in goal, while the rest of the time, he has been poor and unconvincing.

Now, he is facing a lot of high pressure and he is not the type of football player to overcome big expectations, as both Dean Henderson and Sergio Romero are waiting patiently to try and become United’s number one goalkeeper. Solskjaer has been calm regarding to the goalkeeping situation and is expected to give the Spaniard his final chance, who will have to up his game to make it count.

Dean Henderson had spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Sheffield United, where he proved to be an important and consistent player for the Blades, who went on to finishing in 9th place under Chris Wilder. The Old Trafford faithful and their opinions on the 23-year-old is straight down the middle, as half of them feel he is in need of more Premier League experience before he become a regular starter at Manchester United, whilst the other half believe that he is ready to takeover from De Gea.

Overall, the goalkeeping dilemma is a win-win situation for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as they will either experience one of the following; a short term revival from David De Gea or Dean Henderson stepping up to the big occasion and becoming the club’s number one goalkeeper for the next five to ten years. In the end, the club will not be required to spend any time in the transfer market for a goalkeeper, and can focus on the other areas, such as the defence or midfield.

Manchester United: Three key departments that need to be addressed this summer window

After recently being eliminated from the Europa League Semi-finals due to a defeat against La Liga side, Sevilla, Manchester United’s 2019-20 season comes to an end, where they finished 3rd in the Premier League. And in terms of the other competitions, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have reached the Semi-finals of the Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, but have failed to show the required quality and crucial mentality to go onto reaching the final and end the season with some silverware.

When looking at the quality of the squad, it can quite comfortably be said that the Red Devils are in need of four to five players before they can think about challenging with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title. Of course, the money may not be there for the club to aggressively spend because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, where all football clubs have suffered with financial losses, but it should not be seen as an excuse to have a limited budget.

However, with the amount of money that Manchester United earn through TV rights and for achieving Champions League football along with the millions and millions of pounds that the owners have in their pockets, there should be no issues or problems in spending at least £150million this summer. If they go on to do so, the team will be able to at least aim to finish in the top four in back-to-back seasons, something that has actually not been completed since the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

With no further ado, here are the three important areas that United need to address this summer..

Left-back

Since Luke Shaw has been on the sidelines with an ankle injury since the 1-1 stalemate at home to Southampton, the manager has had to settle with the likes of Brandon Williams and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who have not been able to show their potential or capability in the remaining games of the Premier League and Europa League. Some would argue that had Shaw been available for such fixtures, United would have possibly made it to the finals of the FA Cup as well as the Europa League.

Shaw has had his injury issues from time to time, but his absence has limited the side’s attack and productivity from the left-flank, as Marcus Rashford’s performances instantly dropped without his fellow countrymen in the team. On that note, it would make sense if Solskjaer was to send out Brandon Williams on loan whilst bringing in an experience left-back, who could provide competition or prove to be a reliable backup to Luke Shaw.

Left-back suggestions; Alex Telles, Alex Grimaldo, Lucas Digne.

Centre-midfield

Despite Nemanja Matic experiencing a small revival in the second half of the Premier League 19/20 season, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United are still in need of an aggressive and consistent central midfielder. With Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba taking two of three spots in midfield, the side are in need of a number six or eight who can offer the much needed balance in the middle of the park, which had shown to be a rising issue in the final weeks of the league campaign.

Given that United will be taking part in the Premier League, Champions League and the domestic cup competitions, it is more than vital for the team to have enough quality and depth within the midfield department, something they have not had in a really long time. However, with only Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay available to take the third place in a three-man midfield, it is not enough to finish in the top four, let alone challenge for the Premier League or Champions League.

Centre-midfield suggestions; Boubakary Soumare, Marcelo Brozovic, Thomas Partey.

Right-wing

The final and most important area in the front three is all that remains now, the spot out on the right wing, which has been taken well in recent months by Mason Greenwood. However, the 18-year-old’s main position is as a number nine and it is too much to ask from him to be a creator and a direct winger, especially when United’s attack is predictable and one dimensional at the moment. Not only that, but with Luke Shaw on the sidelines, the side’s current fullbacks are Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who do not offer enough creativity and technicality in the attacking phase.

So, bringing in a right-winger is absolutely crucial for United, as both Marcus Rashford and Greenwood are regarded as two wide forwards rather than actual and natural wingers, which leads to the side’s key chances being created through the middle by Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. If the Red Devils were to bring in an individual such as Jadon Sancho or Ousmane Dembele, Solskajer would be in possession of a front three that are capable of literally creating and scoring at any time.

Right-wing suggestions; Jadon Sancho, Ousmane Dembele, Ismaila Sarr.

Manchester United: Three Sevilla players to look out for ahead of the Europa League semi-final

As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United take on Sevilla Football Club in the Europa League Semi-final on Sunday evening, majority of neutral football supporters feel the fixture will be closer than many think with both teams previously playing one another in the Champions League in 2018.

For now, we return back to 13th March 2018, a Champions League night at Old Trafford, where Sevilla pulled off a huge shocker against a Manchester United side which was managed by Jose Mourinho. The disappointing result was the beginning of the end for the former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach, as a large number of the Old Trafford faithful had began to turn on the manager.

Following the 0-0 draw in the first leg at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium, it was crucial for the Red Devils to hit the ground running and be on the attacking front, however, the team and most importantly the manager, had underestimated Vicenzo Montella’s Sevilla as Wissam Ben Yedder came on from the bench to score two monumental goals to help his side quality for the next round.

Focusing back onto the Europa League semi-final, both teams will be expected to give it their all, as United are looking to achieve their second Europa League trophy in history, whilst Sevilla already have five Europa League trophies to their name and will want to have the sixth as soon as possible.

Now, with no further ado, here are the three Sevilla players for United to look out for…

Ever Banega – Central midfielder

Regarded as the key creator in midfield and the most important player in the team, Ever Banega is a unique individual and is someone that is highly dependent on by Sevilla and Julen Lopetegui. In his recent match against Wolves, the Argentine international managed to achieve the following; 139 touches, 103 successful pass with 63 of them being forward passes, three chances created and one assist. By looking at these statistics only, it shows how much of a complete midfielder he actually is.

Given that Sevilla’s main issue tends to be in the type of chances they create and the end product, Banega will have to do his job effectively and at a high level, where he breaks the lines with his passes and how he is incredibly good at dictating the flow of possession. Not only that, he has shown in the past of how good he is with set-pieces, whether it’s from a free-kick or a corner into the box.

Sergio Reguilon – Left Back

Continuing on from Sevilla’s lack of creativity and end product, left-back Sergio Reguilon will hope to continue his fine performances down the left flank, as he poses with a huge amount of stamina, movement on and off the ball as well as the ideal dribbling from a full-back. Due to his rise in reputation and personal ability in recent months, the Sevilla loanee from Real Madrid has gained the attention of the likes of Chelsea and Everton whilst Sevilla would like to keep him permanently.

With Reguilon linking up and playing close to Lucas Ocampos, Mason Greenwood will have to ensure his work rate and assistance to help Aaron Wan-Bissaka is second to none, otherwise, Sevilla will certainly take advantage of the two-on-one phase down the left flank. Although the La Liga side’s main attack comes down both flanks at a fairly even amount, the left side will be put to a test more than the right, as both Jesus Navas and Suso have previously shown their quality down the right from time to time.

Lucas Ocampos – Left winger

Julen Lopetegui has a number of good attacking options at his disposal, however, it does seem like he will stick to the front three of Suso, Lucas Ocampos and Youssef En-Nesyri, who have played in the recent fixtures in the Europa League against Wolves and Roma. And if that is the case, United’s defence and especially Aaron Wan-Bissaka, will have to keep their eyes out for Ocampos, who is capable of producing something out of nothing.

The Argentine international has been scoring left, right and centre this season, with 17 goals to his name in all competition, his best tally so far his in professional footballing career. Despite his unconvincing time in Italy and France, the 26-year-old is finally looking to be at his best in Sevilla, where he is able to express himself within a possession-based team. With his quick passing, intelligent movement and silky dribbling, he will definitely be the one to watch out for later tonight.

Manchester United: Three FC Copenhagen players to look out for ahead of the UEL Quarter-final

As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United take on FC Copenhagen in the Quarter-final of the Europa League on Monday evening, majority of neutral football fans as well as the Manchester United supporters will want to know more information about Stale Sobakken’s rising side.

In their recent victory over Istanbul Basaksehir, the 13th time Danish Superliga champions were proving to be effective on and off the ball, as they went on to score three goals, create three big chances and complete six shots on target, despite allowing the opposition to dominate possession.

There is a former Manchester United player that plays for the opposition team in Guillermo Varela, who was given his Premier League and Europa League debut under Louis Van Gaal. Unfortunately for the right-back, he did not show the potential on both sides of the pitch to be a long-term player at Old Trafford. Due to this, he was sent out on loan to Real Madrid Castilla and Eintracht Frankfurt for the next two seasons, before retuning permanently to Penarol, his boyhood club back in Uruguay.

Now, with no further ado, here are the three Copenhagen players for United to look out for…

Jonas Wind – Centre forward

After producing the goods in the last round of the Europa League knockout stages, scoring a powerful header from a cross perfectly made by Varela and a well-taken goal from the penalty spot, Jonas Wind is now being regarded as one of the best up and coming talents in Danish football. The 21-year-old had a bright start to the 2019/2020 league campaign, notching five goals and two assists in six appearances, but his season unfortunately came to an end as he suffered a severe knee injury.

However, given the situation of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the return of Europa League football after being on hold for a few months, Wind has been able to return back to full fitness and is now guiding Copenhagen into the advanced areas of the competition like never before. With his athleticism, link-up play and final third instincts standing out, United’s centre-backs and Nemanja Matic will have to remain at full focus from start to end, as Wind will make any small chance count.

Pep Biel – Right winger

With Luke Shaw currently on the sidelines, the whole expectations are on the shoulders of young Brandon Williams, who is yet to show that he has the potential and natural ability to prove to Solskjaer he can make the left-back position his very own. On that note, Pep Biel may have an interesting match ahead of himself, if his team-mates can get him on the ball on the counter-attack, as Williams can easily get caught high up the pitch and he does not have the pace to always get back.

The main duo in attack tend to be Jonas Wind and Rasmus Falk, but given that the pair were performing at a high level recently and are analysed well by the United’s analysis department by now, it would mean that Biel has the important opportunity to step up and show his qualities for Stale Sobakken’s side. The Spaniard became the club’s most expensive signing last summer, and the Copenhagen supporters will be hoping that he can make their Monday night complete with a victory.

Zeca – Centre midfield

As the main battle between both sides will be in the middle of the pitch, Copenhagen’s captain, Zeca, will be looking to guide his team through his leadership as well as his ability to have the team ticking from defence to attack and also, making the relevant and required interceptions and tackles. The 31-year-old ended the Danish Superliga 2019/20 season as the club’s Player of the Year, with the Lisbon-born Greek international being regarded as a fans favourite and a well-respected individual.

Zeca will be expected to defend more than recycle the ball and attack on Monday evening, as Manchester United will be the ones to dominate possession, and they are quite consistent at keeping the ball in the opposition area for majority of the game. Not only that, Zeca and his partner in midfield, Robert Mudrazija, have a massive task ahead of themselves, as they will have to bring their A game in order to nullify a midfield that contains both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.

 

Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United: Solskjaer and his men pull through on the final day to achieve Champions League football

On the final day of the 2019/20 Premier League season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had to avoid a defeat at all costs in order to receive Champions League football for next season, as they took on a Leicester City side that were missing a number of key players from the starting XI.

With the likes of Ben Chilwell, Caglar Soyuncu, James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira unavailable for the Foxes, Brendan Rodger’s men had a huge task ahead of themselves on Sunday afternoon, as they left themselves in a difficult position since the season restarted, winning just two games out of eight.

Looking into the game as a whole, the visitors had the edge when it came to dominating possession of the ball and making full use of it, achieving 55% possession, creating two big chances during the match and completing 95 passes in the attacking third. On the other hand, the hosts managed 68 successful passes in the final third, given that it took them till the hour mark to gain momentum.

In all honesty, there was hardly any action in the first half or much urgency from either side to go on to taking the lead, with both teams ensuring that there was no room for any mistakes. Following the half-time break, the game was taken up a notch by both Leicester City and Manchester United, as they had realised that Chelsea were beating Wolves and were not showing any signs of weaknesses.

From there onwards, Leicester were causing problems to the United defence but were not testing the goalkeeper at all. The visitors were able to make the breakthrough at 70th minute, as the host were caught out at playing from the back, which led to them giving a penalty away. Bruno Fernandes calmly stepped up to take it and sent Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way to give his team the lead.

The Foxes continued to pile on the pressure and go all out for a top four finish in the final 15 minutes of the game, however, the Red Devils’ managed to seal the victory late in added time, through substitute Jesse Lingard, who managed to caught Schmeichel off guard before kicking the ball into an empty net. In the end, United finished in third place on 66 points, just above Chelsea on goal difference, whilst Leicester City remain in fifth place and have to settle for Europa League football.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s final league fixture of the campaign…

Champions League football is now officially confirmed for next season

After the side’s recent drop off in terms of results and performances, it did not look like the Red Devils had it in them to pull through on the final of the day season. With stalemates at Old Trafford to Southampton and West Ham as well as the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, majority of the Manchester United supporters were expecting the team to typically crumble under pressure.

However, that was not the case today, as they were able to keep the likes of Jamie Vardy, Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez very quiet whilst having the capability to work on a few good phases themselves in midfield and attack. With Champions League football now confirmed for next season for Manchester United, the club will be able to make progressive moves financially and sportingly.

The only way is up for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his exciting long-term project

It’s been quite the first full season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United, who will be more than happy with a 3rd place finish as well as the opportunity to still compete in the Europa League competition next month. Given the ups and downs, the injury issues alongside the lack of squad depth, Solskjaer has done a good job in removing the deadwood and helping the football club to move into the right direction once again, something that Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho had actually failed to do.

Solskjaer has put the club and the players ahead of himself, and the immense work he has put in is now starting to pay off, as there is a cheerful and encouraging environment on and off the pitch, where the players are playing attractive and intelligent football whilst picking up the much needed results. The critics and the Ole haters have been totally silenced, as United’s unbeaten run since the end of January has allowed the team to do the unthinkable and push for a late top four finish.

Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial have played a crucial role since the restart

A lot of the focus has been on the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood since the Premier League has restarted, though, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes have been the deadly duo that has allowed the team to finish in the top four with their chances. Despite Chelsea and Leicester City’s lack of consistency, Bruno and Martial have been the two key individuals to be the constant threat for Solskjaer’s side, as their movement and creativity has been second to none.

Bruno’s ability to score from the penalty spot has to be appreciated, especially when you have to remember the fact that both Rashford and Pogba had missed a couple of penalties at the start of the season, which could have helped the side to confidently finish in third place. Not only that, Martial’s playmaking quality and clinical instincts are now starting to be well-recognised, particularly by those who thought he was not good enough to lead the line and become United’s main number nine.

Manchester United 1-1 West Ham: The Red Devils are a point away from Champions League football

Following the recent defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals, Manchester United would have hoped to return back to winning ways and usual standards as they took an in-form West Ham side, who are three points above the relegation zone. However, that was not the case, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were unable to cause severe problems to a well organised David Moyes team.

Going into the game, the Red Devils were looking for nothing but the much needed three points, especially after Leicester City had lost to Tottenham Hotspur on the weekend whilst Chelsea face a difficult trip away to Liverpool. On the other hand, the Hammers main focus was to ensure they do not lose the fixture by a large number of goals, should they feel the force of United’s rapid attack.

Looking at the match as a whole, the hosts had just about dominated the possession of the game as many had expected, as they went on to achieve 57% possession of the ball and 192 passes in the attacking third compared to West Ham’s 85 successful passes in the final third area. Nonetheless, it was actually the away side that had shown to be more effective on and off the ball, in all honesty.

West Ham took the lead just before the half-time break, through Michail Antonio, who had very little to work with, but had the opportunity to give his team the lead from the penalty spot, which he calmly slotted down the middle of the goal. However, the visitor’s goal was cancelled out straightaway after the break, as Mason Greenwood worked a nice one-two phase with Anthony Martial near the penalty area, before lashing the ball low and into the corner of the net.

In the end, there was not many clear-cut chances for either side, to go on to taking the full three points and moving higher up the table. The 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening leaves Manchester United currently in 3rd place, whilst West Ham recent rise has taken them to 15th place.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Solskjaer’s lack of in-game management has to be questioned

Majority of the focus will be on Paul Pogba giving the penalty away, the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic performing poorly, or the lack of attacking contribution coming from the full-backs. However, the questions has to be raised on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lack of in-game management, as he more or less cost his team two crucial points in a must-win game.

As majority of the starting line-up had looked fatigued, Solskjaer had failed to bring on individuals such as Daniel James, Diogo Dalot and Fred, who potentially could have provided the energy and positivity the team was missing throughout the match. Not only that, he made just two out of five changes during the game, with a full-back coming on for another full back and a forward for a winger, evidently showing that Solskjaer did not actually go all out for the much needed victory.

United should look no further for a defensive-midfielder than Declan Rice

Since signing a contract extension with the club in recent weeks, Nemanja Matic’s performances have instantly dropped to a level where he is taking too many touches on the ball, and is committing constant fouls in dangerous areas, just outside of the penalty box. Given that he is 31-years-old and is currently on his last legs, he is one player that should not be dependent on to perform at a high level and on a regular basis, leaving Solskjaer in an issue where he needs a new defensive-midfielder.

On that basis, the manager and the club do not need to look any further for a potential defensive-midfield signing other than Declan Rice, who has played a pivotal role in helping West Ham stay above the relegation zone and is proving to become more of a complete midfielder since the Premier League season has restarted. From his consistent tackles and interceptions to his types and range of passing, he seems to be the perfect player to provide solidity and balance to the midfield.

The Red Devils have a huge final on the last day of the season

With how the fixtures have resulted on Wednesday evening, it leaves Manchester United in third place and just above fourth-place Chelsea on goal difference, whilst Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City remain in fifth position. And on the final day of the Premier League season, Chelsea face a tough match at home to Wolves whilst Solskjaer’s men have a difficult away trip to King Power Stadium.

On Sunday afternoon, it will be all or nothing for the likes of Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United, where all three teams will have to be at their very best, in order to play in the Champions League next season. The Red Devils and Solskjaer have worked a huge miracle to turnaround the race for a top four finish, as they were 14 points behind Leicester and 5 points behind Chelsea at the start of the year, but all that matters now, is the huge final fixture on the last day of the campaign.

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United: The Red Devils pick up the victory in an unconvincing manner

Following the side’s 2-2 stalemate on Monday night at Old Trafford against Southampton, Manchester United had to ensure they picked up the much needed victory away at Crystal Palace, to keep their top four hopes alive after Chelsea and Leicester City had won their respective games.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men went on to exactly do that, despite the unconvincing and sloppy performances from many of the individuals. At the end of the day, at this late stage of the season, all that counts is the results that the team achieve as a whole rather than any inconsistent displays.

Overall, the visitors dominated the game for majority of the match and were the ones who were the most effective on the attacking side of the game, as they went on to achieve 60% possession of the ball and 121 passes in the attacking third compared to Crystal Palace’s 93 successful passes in the final third. However, the host enjoyed a small period of possession from time to time, but were lacking the required creativity and end product to go on to causing further problems for United.

In the end, United’s pure quality and individual class from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were able to guide the team to a victory, allow them to remain in fifth position, and most importantly on the same amount of points as Leicester and one point behind Chelsea. On the other hand, for the Eagles, they stay in 14th place and with enough comfort above the relegation zone.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league game…

Solskjaer’s front three continue to produce the goods

Ahead of the match, the questions and opinions were circulating around social media and between the pundits, on whether United’s attackers are able to sustain their quality and threat for the remainder of the season or not. Both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford went on to show their intelligence and sheer brilliance in front of goal, as they have each contributed to more than 20 Premier League goals this season through goals and assists, showing how much, they have improved.

The duo have been more than incredible this campaign, proving they a lot to offer to the team more than their end product, as the pair have shown enough movement, creativity and work rate on to keep the critics silence. If Martial and Rashford are able to show this consistency for another season or two, then they can settle themselves to be seen as one of the best players in the Premier League.

The Red Devils away form has improved in huge numbers

For sure, the fixtures at home and the games away to another team may not seem as a big difference to one another at the moment, given the current situation of the Corona Virus and the fact that football supporters are not able to attend the stadium to encourage and inspire their beloved club. However, it does not change the fact that United’s away form has had a massive turnaround, where they’ve been able to pick up 11 points out of 15 in their last five away games.

And just before the side’s last five away games, United were only able to pick up 15 points from 13 away games of this season, which is simply not good enough for a team that wants to finish in the top four let alone for a side that wants to challenge for the league title in the near future. The team now have the sixth best away form in the league, just behind the likes of Southampton and Wolves.

Top four still remains in the hands of Manchester United

After Chelsea and Leicester City had confidently beaten Norwich and Sheffield United, the pressure and tension had simply risen on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United, as nothing less than the three points against Crystal Palace would be acceptable. The Red Devils then went on to produce the goods and pick up the vital victory, even if the performance was too difficult for a neutral to see.

Now, moving forward to the current situation, United have to achieve two important wins in their final two games of the season, which is against West Ham at home and then to Leicester City away. Should the Foxes fail to beat Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, United can confidently finish in the top four by beating West Ham and picking up a point away at King Power stadium. Before then, Ole’s men face a trip to Wembley Stadium to meet Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Manchester United: Predicting the results of the final four games of the Premier League season

As we enter the final four games of the Premier League season, Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s Manchester United will be hoping that the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City drop points whilst they take maximum points from their remaining fixtures in order to finish in one of the top four positions.

The Red Devils had a really poor period when looking at the side’s results from the first half of the campaign, given that they were sitting in eight-place and four points behind fourth-place Chelsea, whilst key man Paul Pogba was expected to be on the sidelines for majority of the season leaving everything to be done by the likes of Anthony Martial, Daniel James, Fred and Marcus Rashford.

Even then, United were still not good enough, as they had only won seven league games at the half-mark of the campaign, as well as scoring just 30 goals and conceding 23 goals in 19 games. However, they were in luck, as the teams above and below them were unable to remain consistent and dominant, to allow them to have a gap of a couple of points or more ahead of Manchester United.

On the other hand, the club’s fortune has fully turnaround following the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in the January transfer window, who has managed to be an instant impact and has helped Solskjaer’s men to go on to be unbeaten from his first appearance for United up until now. And because of his contributions, the side are a point away from fourth-place Leicester City, in the FA Cup Semi-finals and are in the Europa League, which can be used as a backup option for Champions League football.

Before looking into United’s remaining fixtures of the season, it’s time to have a quite look at Chelsea and Leicester City and who they have left, as the Blues are yet to face Norwich, Liverpool and Wolves. On the other hand, the Foxes, have the likes of Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United to play, teams that are still looking to finish high up the league table.

With no further ado, it’s time to predict the results of United’s final four league fixtures…

Southampton (H)

Arguably the toughest game of United’s remaining fixtures, Southampton will certainly be no pushovers when they come to Old Trafford on Monday night, as they have the fifth best away form in the league, achieving eight victories and collecting 27 points out of a potential 51. With how they are playing under Ralph Hasenhuttl and his pressing system, the side have been able to reap their rewards, from creating chances due to the opposition’s mistakes to conceding as less as possible.

If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are to successfully accomplish the full three points, they will have to be on top of their game and the opposition, who will not be afraid to play with a narrow high line and attempt to force United’s defence and midfield to lose the ball and push them into making errors. In the end, United’s home form has been more than consistent, and the quality of Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba will be too much for the Saints to handle.

Prediction: 2-1 victory to Manchester United.

Crystal Palace (A)

Although the match against struggling Crystal Palace should be straightforward, it will take place two days ahead of United’s FA Cup semi final fixture against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, which will leave Solskjaer in a mixture of thoughts on whether to rest the key players and rotate around or not. Roy Hodgson’s side have had a poor run of results since the Premier League season has restated, as they have only won one of their last six fixtures in the league, scoring four goals and conceding 13.

Nevertheless, even if the likes of Daniel James, Fred and Scott McTominay were to start ahead of United’s key players in the starting line-up, the team would still have enough individual quality and key moments within the side to overcome the Eagles. If the Red Devils are able to complete the victory over Crystal Palace, the team would look dead on to finish in the top four positions.

Prediction: 2-0 victory to Manchester United.

West Ham (H)

As David Moyes’ West Ham sit just above the relegation zone by three points, the side will certainly consider the final three games of the season as three monumental finals, given that it would be seen as a huge surprise if they were to get relegated with the amount of quality they have midfield and attack. And when looking at their away form, the Hammers have been growing quietly into picking up the much needed points, following their dominant win over Norwich and draw at Newcastle.

However, they will have to come up with something special in order to walk away from Old Trafford with something, as the Red Devils have the fourth best home record and second best defence in the league as things currently stand. With the work ethic and mentality being at an all-time high for Solskjaer and his men, we should expect a ruthless and complete performance and result from them.

Prediction: 3-0 victory to Manchester United.

Leicester City (A)

With Ricardo Pereira still on the sidelines, Caglar Soyuncu suspended for Leicester City’s final three games of the season as well as Ben Chilwell and James Maddison missing a few of the side’s crucial games in recent weeks, Brendan Rodgers’ men are in deep trouble of losing their spot in next year’s Champions League football after being in the top four positions for majority of the current season.

On the other hand, the results from the fixtures ahead of this game could complete the table on who will finish in the top four and who will not, as United’s remaining games look to be straightforward when comparing it to both Chelsea and Leicester City. In the end, both teams will be at each other and it could be seen as a match that will be end-to-end, depending on the potential circumstances.

Prediction: 2-2 draw between Leicester City and Manchester United.