In Europe Manchester United are bullish and brilliant but in the Premier League they have lost direction

The difference seemingly can’t be measured when Manchester United play in Europe and then switch to domestic football. Here we have a club whose form this season in the Premier League has been amongst the best, but United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keep having their dips in form.

Every team of course has form problems and can go on an average to bad run, the problem with Manchester United is that it seems to hang around longer. The flipside to this is that they can pull out 5-6 game winning runs. But in this moment it feels as though the Red Devils have lost some direction in the Premier League.

Perhaps this is down too the fact that their city rivals Manchester City have shot away from the rest of the league and are now 14 points in the lead over United who are in 2nd place. It seems as if United have given up the chase and let’s face it they will not claw those points back now. However at the same time any United fan and anyone associated with the club would love to see them finish 2nd if being champions was always going to be too much for them to achieve this season.

The truth is, at this point, United will have a challenge on their hands to finish in the top four. Currently they are in 2nd and have 51 points and the gap to 5th where Liverpool currently are is 8 points. The Reds have a game in hand and those points could be reduced in midweek.

Manchester United have won just once in their last 5 games and have earned just 15 points from their last 30. With their standing that just isn’t good enough. Leicester could be poised to take 2nd place from United too and they have a chasing pack of West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham to contend with. Jose Mourinho’s side do not look a threat at present being 12 points behind United but they have 2 games in hand and all could change rather quickly if teams find more consistency.

In drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace, United also have gone their last 2 games without a goal and when one looks at their strike force including Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani one would expect better. After all Palace were not fighting for anything when the clubs met this week.

United fans will know this form isn’t just a blip, not under Solskjaer who has had a good 5 dips of form since becoming manager of the club, those dips have stretched out for two months at a time. And that form would have cost Solskjaer his job at many clubs especially a club like Chelsea which Frank Lampard found out just a few weeks ago.

So in the Europa League when United were pitted against Spanish side Real Sociedad it was thought that the club were going to struggle and could get knocked out of the competition. Sociedad had led La Liga this season for several weeks and had taken points from the bigger teams. In Portu Sociedad have their own Bruno Fernandes, a versatile attacking midfielder who also scores plenty of goals. Just last weekend his goal helped the club to take 2 points from Real Madrid away from home as that match finished 1-1. In short Sociedad are a very good side. And yet Manchester United in poor form beat Sociedad 4-0 and knocked them out of the Europa League.

It feels as if United have that fire in the belly and man for man one could say that United have the better team than Sociedad, but one would also have to agree that they thought this match up would have been very close and not settled with such a large score. In Europe in this cup competition under Solskjaer United seem to have found their footing, their place where everything clicks and they should be among the favourites to go on and win the competition.

The players seem more focused in Europe and there is a goal to reach, and perhaps domestically United understand that they need an extra push to stay in the top 4 but apart from that not much can be achieved now, but in Europe and also the FA Cup the fire in the belly remains.

United will play Milan in the quarter finals of the Europa League and should be content in the fact that this isn’t the Milan of 15 years ago. Milan are a good side of course but United over two legs, one would think, would have too much for the Italians.

But Solskjaer needs to be mindful this his side do not lose focus in the Premier League, it is a tough and competitive league that takes no prisoners. If you start to lag and stop winning you will be punished and United are not certain for a top four place. They would be foolish to put all of their eggs in one basket and go for the Europa, they need to maintain some desire to pick up points in the Premier League also.

The next few months will reveal the story more and Solskjaer will be well aware that his job despite an overall good season is far from safe.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Manchester United 3-3 Everton

Was this the weekend when Manchester United were found out? The club were never expected to challenge for the Premier League title this season and it’s incredible to think of how well United have done when just 3 months ago manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job was genuinely under threat.

But this was a game for the Red Devils in which they were expected to win. Edinson Cavani was expected to score because the super Uruguyan had done so on two occasions against Everton this season, once in the Carabao Cup to knock Carlo Ancelotti’s team out of the competition and once in the league where United, playing at Goodison Park won the game 3-1. Cavani scored on the break which killed that encounter off.

Cavani as it turned out did not let anyone down as he opened the scoring. At that point it felt fairy predictable that United who have shown moments of great form this season would go on and win the game.

But this match would end up being a game of two halves. And it was all red in the first. United scoring early sensed that Everton were there for the taking. Although one should remember that the Toffeemen have played much better away from home and picked up more points on the road this season. Still it was only United creating all of the chances and they had several moments to double their lead. Everton did not have a shot on target in the first half and when Aaron Wan-Bissaka set up Bruno Fernandes to make it 2-0, surely there was no coming back from this point?

Everton previously and infamously did come back against United when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of the club, from 4-2 down they drew 4-4. But coming back at Old Trafford was in Ferguson’s era as rare as hen’s teeth. At half time Everton looked doomed. And then suddenly just 4 minutes into the 2nd half it was 2-1. Abdoulaye Doucoure was the goal scorer and it has come moments after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had almost pulled a goal back for the visitors, but he would have his moment later in the game.

For Doucoure the new signing this season it was a special moment, not in the goal itself which was from a rebound in the box but Doucoure doesn’t score many goals and he knew right away that his side were back in this game.

The game seemed to have swung in Everton’s favour and the underdogs for this duel came out fighting and within less than 10 minutes of Doucoure’s goal it was 2-2. And it was Doucoure again who used his magic setting up James Rodriguez who slotted nicely past the keeper. In just 13 minutes of the re start Everton were back on level terms.

The game was end to end now and it was certainly up for grabs, but it would be United taking the lead once more. A Luke Shaw freekick found the head of Scott McTominay who directed the ball home from about 6 yards out. McTominay has been in brilliant form lately and the script looked all set up for him to be the winning goal hero.

As time was running out Lucas Digne hit the post for Everton and the game looked like a huge 3 points for United. But football usually surprises with a few twists and there would be another one for United. Calvert-Lewin prodded home in the area as the ball ran through and United could not quite believe that they had conceded so late, literally the last kick of the game. As expected Everton were ecstatic. The game had ended in a draw but for Everton it had felt like victory.

In league terms it was a blow for United who fell 5 points behind league leaders Manchester City but are still in 2nd place. The problem for United is that City also have a game in hand. Everton are in 7th place but the club have 2 games in hand over most of the teams above them and in theory could go 4th with victories in those games.

Manchester United: man of the match: Bruno Fernandes

What an incredible player Bruno Fernandes has been this season. He scored a world class goal to make it 2-0 to United and that was his 13th goal of the season. In the fantasy rankings he already has 80 points and out of the major leagues in Europe he would be ranked 2nd.

Everton: man of match: Abdoulaye Doucoure

Doucoure ran the show for Everton in the early stages of the 2nd half to bring his club back into a match they thought they had lost. Not only did he score a goal but he also assisted in another. Doucoure has been involved in 5 goals this season in the league and has earned 17 points so far.

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Man Utd: How have the late-summer signings done so far at Old Trafford?

Manchester United aren’t expected to be highly active during the January transfer window, despite the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could desperately do with one or two new faces at Old Trafford.

Given the recent reports from the English press, the Red Devils are looking to offload the likes of Daniel James, Phil Jones and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, whilst there are mild rumours of a potential signing Moises Caicedo, who is a 19-year-old defensive-midfielder that plays for Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle and has been recommended to the club by ex-player Antonio Valencia.

As there is still a number of defensive deadwood remaining in the squad, it would not be a surprise to see the club sell some individuals before they decide to buy anyone. In the meantime, putting the possible ins and outs to a side of the January transfer window, it’s time to look at the players that came into the club at the start of the season and analyse on how well they are doing so far.

With no further ado, here is the review of each individual that have arrived at Old Trafford…

Alex Telles

It took quite some time for Alex Telles to receive his first appearance and actually get going for Manchester United, as he was returning to full fitness since the last time he had played for previous club FC Porto in the Portuguese league. Even after his debut against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, which he performed at a top level as a left wing-back, the Brazilian was unable to play further as he was tested positive for COVID-19 whilst being away on international break.

Even though he was out on the sidelines for a couple of United games, Telles has been able to provide the ideal competition to regular starter Luke Shaw, who has taken his performances and contribution on both sides of the pitch to a whole new level this campaign. Not only that, but he has also produced quite a few good personal displays against the likes of West Brom, Southampton, West Ham and Sheffield United, with the best is yet to come from the 28-year-old left-back.

Rating: 7/10

Donny van de Beek

With only 253 minutes of Premier League football under his belt, eight out of his ten league appearances coming in the latter stages of the game from the bench, it’s not been the dream start for Donny van de Beek and his new adventure at Old Trafford. As the number ten position is covered by the key player in Bruno Fernandes, it is unlikely that the former Ajax midfielder is expected to get game time, but he may be kindly rotated into the team with the EFL and FA Cup fixtures coming up.

It is difficult to review how the Dutchman is doing for Manchester United, as he has not been given enough minutes to prove himself to everyone, and most importantly to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, with the Red Devils remaining in the cup competitions, along with the return of Europa League next month and their pursuit of finishing as high as possible in the Premier League, it can easily be stated that van de Beek will feature more from now till the end of the current season.

Rating: 5/10

Edinson Cavani

In 300 minutes of league football and in his first season in England, Edinson Cavani has notched three goals and two assists, which is the type of influence one would expect from a world class striker that has proven himself in France and Italy for the last 12 years. His best performance so far was away at Southampton, where he came on at half-time as the team were down by two goals, and his two goals and assist for Bruno Fernandes’ goal allowed the team to make a magical comeback.

On top of that, the Uruguayan forward can be the perfect individual for the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to learn from, as his movement off the ball and ruthlessness in front of goal is what they need. If Cavani can end the season with helping the players in his department and assist the team to win a trophy or two, he will surely be considered as a top notch signing.

Rating: 8.5/10

Premier League Game of the Week: Leicester 2-2 Manchester United

For entertainment you can go to Las Vegas but at the weekend the King Power Stadium would run the city of sin very close. Leicester and Manchester United shared the points and the goals in a game blessed by attacking football which eventually ended 2-2.

For Manchester United their incredible away start to the season ended where they had won their previous six games in a row. United had taken the lead twice in the game only to be pegged back. But on the face of it getting a draw away to Leicester shouldn’t be seen as a bad result but United would have left the game thinking that they had just lose 2 points and gained one.

It was a game borne out of brilliant skill and a swashbuckling never say die attitude and it felt like a very English game of football. There were only 10 goal attempts overall, 5 for each side, so we have seen better games in that respect this season but this was still an intriguing duel that you couldn’t keep your eyes off of.

A cross into the area started the scoring, and a quite brilliant assist from Bruno Fernandes getting his toe to the ball which caught out Leicester’s defenders and pinged it to an unmarked Marcus Rashford set the striker up for an easy opportunity that he wasn’t going to miss and United led the game.

Manchester United’s lead would only last eight minutes though as Harvey Barnes expose De Gea in goal and lashed a beautiful shot thundering into the net from the edge of the area.

In the second half Antony Martial’s goal was ruled offside by VAR and then everything changed once Edinson Cavani was introduced in the 75th minute. It took the attacker just four minutes to set up United’s 2nd goal after his assist to Fernandes who scored his 10th goal of the season. But soon after it was 2-2 as Jamie Vardy came to the rescue and scored a rather simple goal that De Gea and United’s defence must have been concerned about.

In the end whilst United held the technical skill cards Leicester had the back bone not to give up and a draw seemed like a fair result.

These two teams, for some will be the pretenders to Liverpool’s title this season but both have shown they have a lot of quality and are able to put points and wins together. It would be no surprise this season if both clubs finished in the top 4.

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Edinson Cavani: From pure brilliance with Manchester United to FA enquiry in 3 hours

The irony cannot be lost on anyone at Manchester United that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has, up until now, refused to start new signing Edinson Cavani in any of Manchester United’s league games so far.

Solskjaer himself known as the baby assassin for his uncanny brilliance to be in the right place at the right time equalled by his boyish looks which at 47 he still retains, is there to make the decisions. But Solskjaer was also known as the super sub. There were countless times Sir Alex Ferguson called on him from the bench to save the day, the most famous of course in the 1999 Champions League final when the Norwegian came on with 9 minutes remaining and scored the winning goal.

This season Solskjaer, gone from super sub to manager at Manchester United is channelling the great Ferguson. Cavani at 33 has been involved in 5 of United’s nine games so far and has been involved in four goals already, scoring three times and assisting in another. While Cavani scored his debut goal against Everton at Goodison Park for the Red Devils at the beginning of November the Uruguayan ‘arrived’ in the Premier League for good and bad this weekend. First let’s concentrate on the good.

Cavani replaced Mason Greenwood on the 46th minute. It wasn’t that Greenwood was having a terrible game, but Solskjaer made the decision at 2-0 down to replace inexperience, (Greenwood being 19) with Cavani. Though Greenwood may have been livid with the timing, he would have to accept that Solskjaer made the right choice at the final whistle. And Cavani’s impact was almost immediate.

It took Cavani 13 minutes to get into the game and set up Bruno Fernandes for his seventh goal of the season. The Portuguese wonder is far and away United’s best player this season in the fantasy rankings and has earned 34 points overall, 19 more than second placed Marcus Rashford. Cavani on the wing on the right hand side and with all the time in the world passed the ball into the centre right to Fernandes feet and the midfielder had no chance.

But it was the way in how Cavani took the ball. He didn’t seem urgent with his club 2-0 down, he was just professional. Solskjaer’s faith was being paid off. If Solskajer produced a wry smile at that he may want to have adopted the Uruguayan when his header equalised the game with a quarter of an hour to go.

A cross came in and Fred struck the ball, which deflected from a Southampton player and it was the pure super quick reaction of Cavani, the menacing of all strikers, throwing back the years, unravelling the swashbuckling comebacks which are in fact deeply ingrained in the side that he is playing for. Southampton looked mentally finished, in a game they were cruising, 1,800 seconds from victory and now it was being snatched away from them. It may have been 2-2 with fifteen minutes to go but one could sense that United were going to go on to win it.

And yet the time ticked by with chances for both clubs, United could smell blood and most importantly three points, Southampton once in a state of victors were simply happy to get a point at this stage. But it would be a stage set up for Cavani. At the death Rashford swung a ball in and Cavani channelling another player of yesteryear in Jurgen Klinsmann sliced the ball in with his head with all the professional pomp you would expect of a player who has worked so tirelessly playing for some of the biggest teams in Europe over the years. It was 3-2, he slid on his knees and the game was over. Manchester United have won their third game in a row and moved up to 9th place.

With two goals and an assist it had been a perfect day for Cavani, even some fans who may have doubted him signing for United in what is supposed to be his twilight years could hardly deny the sheer quality that he brought to the team in this match. He won United a duel destined for defeat and Cavani could feel happy about himself. That was until a Twitter post and a few hours later.

A follower on twitter who is now believed to know Cavani congratulated the striker on his performance. Cavani replied with “gracias negrito”! And that is when the FA launched their enquiry. The translation is tricky because we are talking about different meanings for different cultures but it roughly would translate to thanks black. One can only presume the original post came from a black person.

To their credit the FA have a zero tolerance attitude to racism unlike some countries and crack down heavy on it. At the same time no one can suggest that Cavani is a racist, far from it in fact. This doesn’t feel like racial slurring but more about not being educated in English culture as to phrases which simply cannot be accepted in England anymore. For that it is hard to accuse Cavani, who has only been in the country for a few months, he is adapting and the last thing on his mind would have been this. For foreign footballers making the switch to England it is football, football and language probably in that order.

However it is good that the FA have made an enquiry and Cavani has apologised. He may well not fully understand why, but he has made the right decision. Now it is time for the FA to act accordingly. Normally something of this nature can invoke a two to three game ban. However maybe the FA need to think outside the box for this case.

Wouldn’t it be better if they set up an education type of program for foreign players coming to play in the Premier League? Again this isn’t about accusing anyone of racism and hate but more about educating players in the different culture in which they are now playing. It would be refreshing to see the FA act on this and make it count, rather than to see Cavani handed a 3 game ban, hamper his own team and have no lessons learned for the future.

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Man Utd: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men complete a vintage comeback away at Southampton

Ahead of gameweek ten, one of the key fixtures of the weekend was between Ralph Hassenhuttl’s Southampton and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, with the former being on top notch form so far this season whilst the latter have been inconsistent on both sides of the pitch.

Going into the game, both teams were missing some key players as the Saints were without the goal-scoring machine in Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond, meanwhile, the Red Devils were missing the presence of Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba. Putting the list of injuries to aside, the two sides were still able to play to the best of their ability and managed to create a number of chances.

Looking at the fixture as a whole, the Red Devils edged it out in possession and completed just under 100 passes in the final third of the pitch, proving to be quick and effective on the ball and especially on the counter-attack. Though, for Southampton, they were unable to produce a single big chance throughout the whole game and were only able to achieve 41 passes in the attacking third.

Overall, the three points for the visitors, allow Manchester United to move into the top half of the league table and into eight place. On the other hand, Southampton remain in fifth place, but could drop down a spot, should either Aston Villa or West Ham win their fixture on Monday night.

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

Manchester United’s issues in defending set-pieces continue

Manchester United have conceded 16 goals in nine league games so far this season, with a large number of the goals being conceded very easily and softly by the side’s backline. Both of Southampton’s goals today could have been avoidable, especially the first one, where Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic were marking the area/zone whilst Marcus Rashford was left to mark Jan Bednarek, who had rose above the attacker and headed the ball back into the net.

And with Southampton’s second goal of the afternoon, it was an unnecessary foul from Fred that led to a free-kick in a dangerous area, just outside of the penalty box. James Ward-Prowse went on to take the free-kick and place it into the corner of the net, as he always does, leaving David De Gea with no chance of preventing the goal. As United’s goal difference currently stands on zero, they will have to improve on it instantly, in order to increase their chances of finishing in the top four.

Edinson Cavani comes on from the bench with the perfect influence

The Red Devils felt hopeless and majority of the players’ heads had dropped totally by the half-time break, as they typically failed to take their chances whilst Southampton proved to be ruthless through the set-piece routine. However, on came Edinson Cavani just after the half-time break, who completely changed the game around with his defensive work rate, movement on and off the ball as well as his immaculate ability to linkup with teammates from time to time.

The Uruguayan international achieved two goals and one assist from the bench, which is more than incredible for a player that was written off early in the start of the season and was regarded as another Alexis Sancez or Radamel Falcao, who had previously flopped during their time at Old Trafford. With his valuable experience and hunger for goals and success, the 33-year-old will certainly be playing a crucial for the team in the Premier League and in the Champions League.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have found the right balance in the midfield area

It’s been just under two months since the embarrassing 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur, and it seems like both Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been able to turn a new page and resume normal service in the Premier League. Since then, the team have proceeded to defend aggressively, score more frequently and continue to grind out the victories.

For sure, the goals are still being conceded and the goal difference should be much better, but there is a huge feeling that the Red Devils are about to go on a good run and that is mainly down to the balance that has been found in the middle of the pitch. With the diamond formation which consists of Nemanja Matic as the holding midfielder, Donny Van de Beek and Fred as the number eights and Bruno Fernandes in the number ten role, both the club and manager have now found their mojo.

What Manchester United will be getting from Edinson Cavani

Edison Cavani’s illustrious career at the French capital came to an end in June when Paris St-Germain decided against extending his 7-year stay. While he had a great time there, his last season was blighted by injuries and the Uruguayan spend most of the time warming benches. It is no doubt that Cavani is a prolific striker, having netted more than 300 times for both club and country.

Nicknamed ‘El Matador,’ his last game for PSG was in March. This begs the question of whether Manchester United are getting a player at the tail end of his career, or will he turn out to be a shrewd bargain?

How Cavani’s final season at PSG unravelled

2019-20 will be a season to forget for the veteran player. His injury woes began with a hip injury he suffered in August 2019. This left him out of the game for almost 2 months. He would later suffer a groin injury in January 2020 that restricted him to just 7 appearances for the Paris-based club.

That season saw him score 4 goals and assist just 1. It was his worst return for PSG, having scored 35 goals and assisted 4 goals in his most prolific 2016-2017 season. In the 2018-19 season, he managed to bag 18 goals and provide 5 assists. His injury struggles meant he fell down the pecking order with coach Thomas Tuchel preferring a forward line of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Mauro Icardi.

His frustrations at a lack of playing time led to him rejecting an offer to extend his contract which would have allowed him to feature in the latter stages of the Champions League. His decision to sign for Manchester United means they are gambling on a player who has not been in action for 30 weeks. If you fancy your chances for Manchester United and Cavani, then you can place your bets on tested, trusted and reviewed sites at betboss.com.

How can he benefit Manchester United?

Cavani’s success or failure will depend on how the Manchester United manager uses him. United face a string of fixtures that are coming in thick and fast. While United boast of world-class strikers such as Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, and Antony Martial, Cavani provides another attacking dimension. He is more of a natural number 9 and will provide depth to the squad.

Cavani is also expected to benefit from the pace of Rashford and Martial and use his finishing instinct for full impact. Cavani may also give the manager options of altering formations should need to arise. While Cavani will be wearing the iconic number 7 jersey, fans may be forgiven for not being too optimistic with this new stellar signing. Other big names such as Angel di Maria, Falcao, and Alexis Sanchez have arrived at Old Trafford with a lot of fanfare but ended up being expensive flops. However, given he was a free transfer, United are hopeful they are making a sound investment decision.

PSG win 6 goal thriller against Lyon as brilliant Lille close in on 3rd place

A meeting between the two most successful sides in French football over the last 20 years was always going to garner the most attention and PSG and Lyon who have won 14 league titles between them in the last 17 league seasons didn’t let anyone down.

The game in Paris ended 4-2 to the league champions and whilst Lyon played their part they simply could not handle just how good PSG were. Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe had seemingly wrapped up the game early on as PSG went in at half time 2-0 up. In the first half they had dominated possession and allowed no shots on target for the visitors.

The game was, in effect, over just a few minutes into the second half when PSG went 3-0 up courtesy of a bizarre own goal scored by Fernando Marcel. It was bizarre in the fact that it was such a good clinical goal- had it been a PSG player we would have been talking about it for some time. The player was obviously devastated and sunk to the ground in disbelief, he knew the game was over.

But then a miracle almost happened as Lyon’s Martin Terrier and Moussa Dembele who has been so good for Lyon this season both scored in the space of 7 minutes and suddenly Lyon were back in the game it was 3-2 with half an hour still to play. But PSG showed quality as they took down the level of the game and controlled the pace. Finally with ten minutes to go Edinson Cavani scored for the home side to win the game 4-2 and it was an important redemption goal for the Uruguayan who has felt left out of the side and was so close to leaving in the January transfer window. PSG remain on top with 61 points and are 12 points clear of Marseille.

Marseille did win at the weekend but they were quite disappointing at home against the bottom side Toulouse winning just 1-0 through a Dimitri Payet goal, Payet is on great form lately but Marseille had just 3 shots on target against a club who have conceded 49 goals this season and more was expected of them. Nonetheless a win is a win and it was actually a decent weekend for Marseille because Rennes in 3rd place could only draw 0-0 at home to Brest.

Rennes have put unnecessary pressure on themselves now to claim a top 3 place, they have no wins in their last 2 games and only 1 victory in their last four. The pressure was maximised because Lille won their 3rd straight game in a row to move within one point of Rennes. Lille beat Angers 2-0 away from home and the club have started to improve on the road after a nightmare start, in form Victor Osimhen opened the scoring for Lille who eased to a win.

Montpellier are in 5th after a 1-0 win over Bordeaux as Andy Delort scored his 9th goal of the season. The win was even more impressive for Montpellier as they played a large section of the game with 10 men after Solomon Sambia was sent off.

Strasbourg’s good form continued and they have now won 3 games from their last four to go into 6th place after they easily beat Reims 3-0, a direct rival for a European finish. The club got their revenge over Reims after the side had knocked them out of the Coupe de la Ligue at the quarter final stage with a penalty shoot out. Reims had zero shots on goal in the whole game and they have slipped to 10th place as a result.

Are Monaco recovering and starting to show what they can do under new coach Robert Moreno? Well the club did win their 2nd game in a row as they beat Amiens away from home 2-1. It was only Monaco’s 3rd win on the road and a first for Moreno away from home. However Monaco were heading for defeat, with just a few minutes left of the game Amiens were winning 1-0. But Ligue 1 top goalscorer Wissam Ben Yedder struck for the equaliser and then Islam Slimani became the hero of the day scoring in injury time. Cesc Fabregas had only been on the pitch for 4 minutes as he came off of the bench to assist in the winning goal. That moves the club up to 7th place.

Bordeaux moved to 8th after they beat Metz 2-1 away from home and the club have now gone their last 4 matches unbeaten. Remi Oudin a new signing from Reims got the winner for Bordeaux with just five minutes remaining to start his career with his new club in memorable style.

There is just 3 points between 8th and 5th and so much to play for in the league regarding European places. Marseille have taken a large step in the right direction to qualify for the Champions League and now have an 8 point lead over Rennes in 3rd place. PSG look like they have won the league, but will the upcoming Champions League games distract the team, if so it is only Marseille who have the smallest of chances of catching them. Watch this space as the league hots up with just 14 games and 42 points left to play for.

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Edinson Cavani’s exit at PSG must be handled with care and respect

Finally it has happened, one of football’s most open secrets is now confirmed; PSG striker Edinson Cavani wants to leave the club.

The Uruguayan told PSG sporting director Leonardo on the eve of the clubs Coupe de France game against Lorient, which PSG won 1-0, although Cavani could not play because of injury.

In truth Cavani has wanted out of PSG for a few seasons now and maybe we can mark the moment he wanted to leave when Neymar joined from Barcelona. It took only a few games for the two players to be at logger heads with one another when in one game Cavani infamously took the ball from Neymar’s hands when PSG were awarded a penalty. After the incident the players played it all down, but really no one was fooled.

Before Neymar came, Cavani was the shark in the Paris waters, and then the Brazilian made the world record transfer fee. To add more insult to misery PSG also bought the brilliant Kylian Mbappe, and all of a sudden youth was taking over old. Because of recent set backs with injuries Cavani has gone down the pecking order with manager Thomas Tuchel and has found it hard to reclaim his place.

The problem is that Cavani now must displace what is being quickly known as the ‘fantastic four’. That is Neymar, Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria. Cavani sees no way out and simply wants to leave the club now. At the end of the day Cavani had done fantastic for PSG and has scored 198 goals in all competitions from 292 games. He is just two goals away from the magic 200. But if he gets his wish and is sold before the window on January 31st then he won’t make it.

At 32 Cavani still has another good couple of seasons in him if he stays fit and the rumours are that Atletico Madrid want him. Frank Lampard at Chelsea has also shown interest. Perhaps though Cavani’s future lies at Manchester United who have just lost the services of striker Marcus Rashford for at least the next two months.

What PSG do not want is Cavani’s inevitable exit to end with a bad taste in the mouth, after all the player should go down as a legend with the club having spent 7 seasons with the club. No body wants this to drag on and start to become controversial and it seems clear that the best result here would be to let Cavani leave the club. PSG do not need him now with the embarrassment of riches they have up front.

The question remains what will be Cavani’s next adventure and where will it take him?

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PSG’s rout of Marseille confirms Ligue 1 as a one team league

The beginning of the season in France’s Ligue 1 just felt different. It may have been because the champions every year except in 2017 since 2012, PSG had suffered through transfer speculation all summer about Neymar. It looked as if the Brazilian was certain to leave, he wanted to, and yet a proposed deal to Barcelona or Real Madrid fell through and Neymar and PSG were stuck with one another, not that PSG ever wanted Neymar to leave in the first place.

Then there was the beginning of the season, PSG had a poor pre-season and then lost a couple of early games. Losing at this stage of the season just didn’t feel normal at all. When the club then lost 2-0 at home against Reims that was simply seen as a shock, this PSG weren’t supposed to lose in Paris, and if they did then it would happen in April with the season long over not in September.

On top of PSG’s league problems was their attacking front three, when on form look like the deadliest in Europe. Edinson Cavani a veteran now also looked like he would be leaving in the summer but he couldn’t find a good deal. But he has spent most of the opening campaign injured. Neymar also started the season injured, then came back and duly earned 9 points for the club in four games, his goals in single goal games won games and won over the fans, even the ultras who had warned Neymar that it would take a long time to win their trust back. Think of Neymar what you will, he is a world class player and a summer of discontent has not changed that fact.

However on recent international duty Neymar was injured and the forward is not expected back until after the November international break. So attentions turned to Kylian Mbappe the outstanding French forward but he has also missed key games through injury. He is back now and has simply continued scoring goals, it is amazing to think that Mbappe is just 20 years old. Mbappe has scored 8 goals in all competitions this season totalling 9 games. And for PSG overall he has scored 68 goals in 96 appearances that is simply fantastic.

So with PSG having a stop/start beginning to their season one could think that even if they win the league it would be much more competitive than it has been in recent years, not so. PSG might have lost 2 games already seen this but just thank the big man upstairs that they have because they are winning their other games and destroying others. This includes smashing Marseille 4-0 at the weekend with two goals each for Mbappe and Mauro Icardi. Make no mistake that PSG coach Thomas Tuchel was on the money bringing in quality like Icardi to PSG when their strikers were getting injured.

So after 11 games PSG have 27 points from a maximum of 33 and in fact that’s very impressive so impressive that the other clubs simply cannot keep up with them. Nantes are the surprise team in 2nd place but they have lost their last two games and are 8 points behind PSG. Last December it was clear that only PSG would win the league and that looks like easily being the case again.

One of the main problems is that Lille who finished as runners up last season sold a couple of their best players and Lyon started the season with Sylvinho in charge only to sack him after a few months. Lyon will improve after a shocking start to the season but they are already 14 points behind PSG as a consequence.

The French league has a lot to like about it, and sometimes fans of other leagues don’t see this. But there is one glaring problem, we already know who will be the league champions with 27 more games left to play and that can’t be good for anyone.

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