FA Cup Game of the Week: Manchester United 3-2 Liverpool

With the Premier League taking a break at the weekend for the FA Cup, we instead picked out an all Premier League fixture and it doesn’t get bigger than Liverpool and Manchester United.

The two teams recently played each other in the Premier League which made our game of the weekend. It was a tense nail biting affair which ended 0-0 and the points were shared. This cup game though lived up to the traditional English cup games, end to end football and plenty of chances. In the end there was 5 goals and it was exciting knowing that one of these huge teams who could win the FA Cup were about to go out. This is because the replay has been scratched out of the competition now. This match didn’t need one though.

Liverpool who had been under criticism for their lack of goals lately took the lead through Mohamed Salah would have been relived to have got back to scoring goals again. He took a good pass and scored as early as the 18th minute.

However just 8 minutes later Manchester United were on level terms as Mason Greenwood equalised. Marcus Rashford set him up with a pass that opened up a make shift Liverpool defence and it was 1-1. Game on.

The half ended all square but within 3 minutes of the restart Manchester United were 2-1 up through Rashford and it was a great goal. Greenwood who had scored their first returned the favour to set up Rashford who smashed the goal home with a low shot, if only the fans had been allowed to witness it in the stadium they would have been rather happy. Coming back from a goal down against your bitter enemy would have been sweet indeed.

Just past the hour mark in a very exciting game it was that man Salah again who made it 2-2 with a low shooting effort that went past all of the defenders. Even though Liverpool would go on to lose the game for Salah’s confidence to score 2 goals against the current Premier League leaders shouldn’t go unnoticed and he will be a shoe in one would think to score in Liverpool’s next league game.

The game would be won though by one of the best foreign transfers in the past decade. Bruno Fernandes was the hero and not for the first time since he’s arrived at Manchester United and scored a brilliant free kick in a game that, at times, felt Hollywood scripted.

Manchester United to go with their brilliant league form march on. As for Liverpool though they have no wins in their last five competitive games and this is worrying times for Jurgen Klopp and his team, who look like they could blow the league title too. Is it possible that after dominating so many competitions in the past 18 months that Liverpool win no silverware this season?

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Who have been the best players from Manchester United and Manchester City this season?

With just 1 Premier League game this past weekend because of the FA Cup in England we will take a look at the top two teams as the Premier League stands. What a season it has been so far as both Manchester teams occupy 1st and 2nd place. It is like the beginning of the 2010s again when City became a genuine rival to United.

In truth whilst Manchester City were expected to challenge for Liverpool’s title this season Manchester United were not. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was actually under pressure to keep his job in October when United lost 6-1 at home to Tottenham but that’s history now as United lead the table with 40 points. City are in 2nd on 38 but have a game extra to play. United have pulled out a six point gap to Liverpool with the same games played.

We take a look then at the top 3 performing players for each side, the ones who have made the ultimate difference this season. You can check out the players stats on the links provided and see if you have any of the players below in your team.

Manchester United: Top 3 performing fantasy football players

1. Bruno Fernandes 64pts

What a player Bruno Fernandes has been. Surely he is Manchester United’s best signing since Cristiano Ronaldo? Fernandes has scored important goals for the club and really stood up when it has mattered. Already this season he has bagged 11 goals and assisted in a further seven. And he has been a steal at just 8.5m. If United win the league this season make no mistake most of it will be down to this Portuguese superstar.

2. Marcus Rashford 35pts

Marcus Rashford has big boots to fill being one of the strikers at Manchester United. This season he has earned 35 points so far and has scored seven goals and assisted in another five. Rashford always seems to pop up at the right moments. It’s true that he needs more consistency to his game but he is so young and will get even better as the seasons go on.

3. Scott McTominay 22pts

Manchester United’s 3rd best player so far might be a surprise in Scott McTominay. Former manager Jose Mourinho heaped praise on him and the midfielder seems in his element this season which is arguably his best in a United shirt. He’s scored 2 goals and helped back track and keep six clean sheets so far. He could be doing with more assists and as we reach the half way stage of the season he only has 1 to his name. But he’s another youngster who will gain even more experience and become more complete.

Manchester City: Top 3 performing fantasy football players

1. Ederson Moraes  59pts

For Manchester City this season it is all about defence rather than attack. Haven’t you noticed that the club are not scoring many goals for their standard? Thus it is no surprise to see Ederson as the clubs best player in goal this season. No goalkeeper in the Premier League has kept more clean sheets so far this season as City’s keeper who has 10 so far. His value is 9m which is a great return considering he has 59 points already.

2. John Stones 48pts

Could this be John Stones most complete season of his career? He can defend, set up goals and score them and has really taken advantage of the situation at City with injuries and departures building up to state his case with manager Pep Guardiola. Stones has helped to keep 8 clean sheets and scored twice in the league so far. But it is his overall command of the game which has impressed this season and he looks utterly confident in the back four set up.

3. Ruben Dias 47pts

Ruben Dias has been of Manchester City’s best signings under Pep Guardiola, how they needed a player like him to come in and play like he has been at the club for several seasons. Dias has 47 points already and has helped to keep 10 clean sheets for the club. He has partnered up well with Stones at the back to underline that City whilst being a danger up front have had to adapt and focus on defence this season if they want to recapture back their league title.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United

The biggest fixture in England was played at the weekend and this match against two teams who have won 39 league titles between them was always going to generate all of the attention, the world over and not just in England. That it ended 0-0 shouldn’t deter from the hype around the game and what it currently means for the league title.

You couldn’t have had a better build up to Liverpool vs Manchester United. Liverpool who haven’t lost a home game in 2 years in the league and, who currently have the best home record this season up against the team who have the best away record this season.

No one could have expected it but Manchester United are unbeaten away and we are almost at the half way stage of the season. They are also top of the league and Liverpool could have bounced back to the top with a victory. In the end it felt as though both teams wanted to keep their fantastic records in check and it wasn’t the most exciting game to watch.

The real surprise for Liverpool was having two midfielders starting in defence. When we will ever see captain Jordan Henderson in central defence again? But somehow he looked assured and for the most part Manchester United were contained.

It was a game of two halves where Liverpool threatened in the first, controlling the pace of the game without really giving United much food for thought. But the way Liverpool were bossing the ball about it seemed like it would be a long afternoon for United.

In the 2nd half though that wasn’t the case and United started to find their groove through the brilliant Bruno Fernandes. His shot from a Luke Shaw assist made Alisson work hard in goal. Indeed Shaw had a terrific game and was all over the pitch and very inspired.

Paul Pogba had another chance after Fernandes but shot the ball at Alisson. This could have been quite a turning point in the Frenchman’s season, the player who scored the winner in Manchester United’s last game against Burnley could have been the hero again. Pogba has had a difficult season at the club and this could have gone some way to redeeming that.

Perhaps the game was telling that Liverpool had 14 attempts on goal but only 3 shots on target, indeed United had one shot on target more and not many teams over the past 2 years have had that at Anfield.

In the end it was a good result by Manchester United getting a point away from home and a disappointing one for Liverpool dropping another two at home. There must be some concern that Liverpool’s most dangerous strikers have gone quiet of late in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

It should say everything about the game that the players who picked up the most points were the goalkeepers. Both Alisson and David de Gea picked up 7 points each for their clean sheets.

Liverpool can still win the league and they remain the danger but th drop off from last season is quite evident and one has to wonder if fatigue has caught up with Jurgen Klopp’s team?

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 18

Manchester United remains in 1st position after they drew 0-0 with Liverpool in the big game at the weekend in the Premier League. The current champions have fallen down to 4th place but there is only a 3 point gap to first.

Manchester City’s impressive form has continued and they are in 2nd place and Leicester remain in the mix in 3rd place. There were also good wins for both Chelsea and Tottenham which keeps their distant title hopes alive.

Let’s take a look below to see which 11 players have made the team of the week in the formation of a 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: David de Gea- Manchester United 7pts

This was a huge game for David de Gea as Manchester United went to Liverpool and got a 0-0 draw. The goalkeeper did well on several occasions to keep Liverpool out and that is his sixth clean sheet of the season.

Defender: John Stones- Manchester City 13pts

John Stones was the player of the week as he earned 13 points over the weekend. The defender scored not one but 2 goals as Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 4-0 and earned even more points by keeping a clean sheet. A perfect game for Stones.

Defender: Luke Shaw- Manchester United 5pts

Luke Shaw was everywhere in the vital game Manchester United played against Liverpool. He put in a superb and commanding role and Shaw earned 5 points and now has 13 in total. His value is 6m.

Defender: Ruben Dias- Manchester City 5pts

Ruben Dias is turning out to be one of the finds of this season and he kept his 9th clean sheet of the season as Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 4-0. Dias now has 42 points overall.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool 5pts

Robertson had to remain alert as Liverpool kept their unbeaten record at home playing against the team now in 1st place in Manchester United. Robertson is Liverpool’s best defender in the fantasy points and has 34 overall and his value is 8.5m.

Midfielder: Raheem Sterling- Manchester City 6pts

Raheem Sterling scored his 5th goal of the season and his cracking goal helped Manchester City into 2nd place as they beat Crystal Palace 4-0 at home. Sterling now has 39 points overall and is City’s 2nd best midfielder in the fantasy rankings.

Midfielder: Neal Maupay- Brighton 6pts

Not many would have expected Brighton to keep a clean sheet and beat Leeds away from home but that’s what happened. Brighton won 1-0 and that was down to Neal Maupay’s goal. Maupay has seven goals so far and is valued at 3.5m.

Midfielder: Mason Mount- Chelsea 6pts

Despite Chelsea’s stars it was down to Mason Mount to grab the all important and only goal of the game as Chelsea beat Fulham away in the west London derby 1-0. With 24 points Mount has the most points of any Chelsea midfield in the fantasy rankings.

Midfielder: Ilkay Gundogan- Manchester City 6pts

Ilkay Gundogan is on form and scored a superb goal as City cruised to a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace and moved into 2nd place. They will be the favourites now to win the league. The midfielder has scored 4 goals this season.

Striker: Harry Kane- Tottenham 4pts

Tottenham beat Sheffield United 3-1 away from home and Harry Kane scored the 2nd goal which seemed to give Tottenham more control in the game. Kane has now scored 12 goals and has been involved in 11 assists in a remarkable season so far for him.

Striker: David McGoldrick- Sheffield United 4pts

As far as strikers were concerned this wasn’t the week for many to score points. Sheffield United lost at home 3-1 to Tottenham but David McGoldrick did give the Blades a little hope when he pulled the game back to 2-1 for a brief moment. In a tough season for the club McGoldrick has scored 5 goals.

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Is Chelsea’s Timo Werner the biggest flop in the Premier League?

When Chelsea announced they had signed Timo Werner last summer eyebrows were raised and there were a few gasps. They were gasps of excitement such was the quality in Werner, a German international who scored goals on a frequent rate. His signing felt alongside Chelsea’s other high profile purchases the final piece in the jigsaw.

But 4 months on after the delayed start to the Premier League due to the Coronavirus pandemic there can be little doubt that Werner has underwhelmed.

He looks like a shadow of the player that scored 34 goals in all competitions for RB Leipzig and helped take the club to the semi-finals of last seasons Champions League. Last season was his personal best by a country mile and one would have thought that he would have simply have built on that.

True his manager Frank Lampard hasn’t always played Werner in his preferred central role as a striker and has experimented with his positions given that the club have a whole host of strikers up front including the young and talented Callum Hudson-Odoi. But coming from the Bundesliga one would have thought with his extra experience that Werner would have started the campaign better.

So far this season Werner has scored 4 league goals from 17 games and 9 in all competitions. He is on course to score about 10 league goals this season about half of what one would have expected from him.

Werner has assisted in another 4 goals in the league games and has therefore been involved in 8 of Chelsea’s goals this season. The Blues have scored 32 so far so Werner has been involved in 25% of the clubs total goals. That isn’t a terrible figure at all and yet there is a huge question mark over Werner this season.

Doubts remain because we were sold an idea that Chelsea were signing a world class player who was going to get even better and he hasn’t really turned up in the big games as yet, he hasn’t been the one to make the difference and he can go quiet.

So why isn’t Werner producing the goods? Part of the problem isn’t with him but with Lampard who prefers to play him more as a winger coming into play. This clearly isn’t working out and time and again we have seen Werner with some pace coming off the wing looking at his options and then being afraid to shoot. It does feel that Lampard is favouring the English duo of Tammy Abraham and Hudson-Odoi.

Werner is still only 24 and a new league and culture is a big thing. However world class players usually adapt much quicker. Though there have been examples of players taking their time, look at Dennis Bergkamp for example who had a poor start at Arsenal but now has his statue in front of the stadium and is regarded as one of Arsenal’s greatest ever players.

Werner’s best years are yet to come but he needs to impose himself on games more especially the bigger ones that count. Whilst question marks are out on just how good he is, there is no doubt that he has the potential to be one of the Premier League’s great players. For now he needs some time, but he will be itching to be put up front in a central role, the question remains will Lampard yield to his request and free up the German international?

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FA Cup Game of the Round: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United

The FA Cup took over from the Premier League for the last week as the 3rd round kicked off and that meant that Premier League clubs could partake. There were not many all Premier League clashes to take place but the one that did stand out was Arsenal v Newcastle United.

Even though both teams did make some changes, many players who ply their trade every week in the Premier League still played. Arsenal won the game 2-0 after an epic battle and the result would have given the Gunners a major confidence boost. Including their good league form Arsenal have now won the last 4 competitive games in a row.

Arsenal were the favourites going into the match and being at home only underlined that status and the Gunners who started with a strong team including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front started better than the Magpies.

Indeed the first half was dominated by the Gunners who found seven good chances and 3 shots on target. Steve Bruce’s team were under pressure from the first whistle and managed zero shots on target in the first 45 minutes which summed up their game and tactics.

Newcastle woke up in the second half and created more chances but this continued to be Arsenal’s to lose and they really should have scored within the 90 minutes. With the game locked at 0-0 we went into extra time as the new rules state no replays at least for this season- however it is something we should expect to be the norm from now.

The game plan looked simple enough for Newcastle who had been the inferior team but had held on to a 0-0, they were going for the penalty shoot-out and riding their luck. And everything was going to plan for the visitors until the 19th minute of extra time when Arsenal finally broke the dead lock.

Of all the players to give the Gunners the lead it came down to youngster Emile Smith-Rowe who scored after being set up by Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette has been in super form for Mikel Arteta’s side of late.

The goal came so late it seemed to demolish any plans Newcastle had of a penalty shoot-out and the final nail in the coffin was provided by Aubameyang 3 mins from the end. The striker who has been desperately lacking form latched on to an assist from Kieran Tierney to grab the winning goal and hopefully for him to reinstall some much needed confidence.

The win seemed more important for Arsenal who need to keep up their winning momentum and good form. As for Newcastle they need to get back to winning ways but they still look too good to get involved in a relegation battle. In this season and the way it has been going not having to play the extra cup games could benefit Newcastle and so they can fully concentrate on trying to finish as high as they can in the Premier League.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City

Manchester City are back and against Chelsea they went back to 2019 producing some glittering football that made the club under Pep Guardiola the envy of so many other European teams.

City beat Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge and the result felt like a statement. With Liverpool losing 1-0 at Southampton the Premier League title has been blown wide open and if City win their 2 games in hand over the Reds they would go past them, this is in stark contrast six weeks ago when it looked like City were going through the motions- well they have improved and they started in sixth gear against a stunned Chelsea side.

In 16 first half minutes Chelsea were left shell shocked as Manchester City scored 3 goals. The opener came from Ilkay Gundogan after Phil Foden set him up Gundogan still had a lot to do on the edge of the box, a neat flick behind his body set him up to score a brilliant goal and put the visitors in the lead.

A few minutes later Phil Foden made it 2-0 with a simple tap in and Chelsea were in real trouble and had no fans to help them on. A blistering City counter attack set up the third goal with the ball eventually falling to Kevin De Bruyne surely the player of the match and he scored a rather simple goal in the end. For a game that was built up so much, it was in effect a closed contest by the first half.

It was also a first half that saw Chelsea have just 1 shot on target and even though the clubs shared possession City managed 4 shots on target. In the second half the game could have gone either way; City to add more goals, or City to take their feet off the pedals and the visitors slowed down their game.

It didn’t matter Chelsea played punch drunk and only managed 1 shot on target in the 2nd half even though they did pull a goal back. But there was virtually no threat or danger from the home side whose consolation goal didn’t come until injury time. Callum Hudson-Odoi scored the goal for Chelsea another tap in, and in all fairness this was a game of tap in goals.

Whilst the goal did nothing for Chelsea on a personal note Hudson-Odoi would have been happy to score after his recent injury lay off and he will be hoping that he can start firing in the goals again.

The defeat leaves Chelsea in 9th place with 26 points, and they are seven behind Liverpool and three points from a top 4 place. It isn’t the end of the line for the club, but at the same time they are going through poor form. The Premier League takes a week’s break now and Chelsea’s next game will be against Fulham away from home. On paper it looks like 3 points but that is a local derby and anything can happen in those games.

As for Manchester City they have won 3 games in a row now and look like a team with a purpose. Their next game is at home to Brighton and few will be going against Pep Guardiola’s team in that game.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 16

Liverpool are still in charge of the Premier League in 1st place but Manchester United have surprised everyone and they are 2nd on the same points as Liverpool with just goal difference separating the two clubs.

The inform teams are Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal look to have recovered from their disappointing start and have won their last 3 games in a row.

It’s a new year so let’s take a look at the team of the week in the Premier League.

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno- Arsenal 7pts

Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0 and Leno was very assured in goal to keep a clean sheet away from home. Despite a difficult season Leno has now kept 5 clean sheets for the season so far.

Defender: Toby Alderweireld- Tottenham 9pts

Toby Alderweireld had a very memorable last for Tottenham as they cruised past Leeds. Not only was he part of a defence that kept a clean sheet but he also scored the third goal which killed off the game.

Defender: Kieran Tierney- Arsenal 11pts

Kieran Tierney earned a huge 11 points for Arsenal which brings his total to 21 points for the season. Along with keeping a clean sheet he also scored the opening goal as Arsenal thrashed West Bromwich Albion and then assisted in another, for his best performance of the season.

Defender: Rob Holding- Arsenal 7pts

Rob Holding kept a clean sheet as Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0 and also made the assist for the Gunners first goal of the game. Holding has helped to keep 5 clean sheets this season and is valued at 6.5m.

Defender: Jeffrey Schlupp- Crystal Palace 9pts

It was a great week for defenders in the league and Jeffrey Schlupp helped Crystal Palace to beat Sheffield United 2-0 and scored a goal, that was Schlupp’s 2nd goal of the campaign

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne- Manchester City 6pts

Kevin De Bruyne put in an important and superb display as Manchester City beat Chelsea away from home 3-1. De Bruyne scored and assisted in a goal. The midfielder now has 37 points overall and has been involved in 11 goals for City.

Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes- Manchester United 4pts

Bruno Fernandes has now scored 11 goals this season and he got the winner via a penalty as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1 in a crunch game at the weekend.

Midfielder: James Maddison -Leicester 4pts

Alongside Jamie Vardy, James Maddison has been such an important player for Leicester this season and he earned another 4 points as he scored his 5th goal of the season and now has 27 points overall for the Foxes. Leicester beat Newcastle 2-1 in their latest game.

Midfielder: Neal Maupay- Brighton 4pts

Neal Maupay has impressed over the past few weeks and he scored Brighton’s 2nd goal as the Seagulls came back from 3-1 down against Wolves to draw the game 3-3 in a thrilling spectacle.

Striker: Alexandre Lacazette- Arsenal 8pts

It has not been a vintage season so far for Arsenal’s strikers but Alexandre Lacazette was the hero at the weekend as he scored 2 goals in 4 second half minutes to win the game for the Gunners as they beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0. Lacazette has scored seven goals so far and has 26 points this season for the club.

Striker: Phil Foden- Manchester City 6pts

Phil Foden will be wondering why he doesn’t start every game because he is getting better and better and would be a regular for any other side. Phil Foden scored his third goal for the club and has 5 overall and his value is 7m, as he earned 6 points over the weekend when Manchester City beat Chelsea 3-1.

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Why the Premier League should shut down for 1 month because of the Coronavirus

There comes a time where we need to reflect in moments of danger and chaos and perhaps the Premier League needs to follow suit after a huge increase in Coronavirus cases this past week. Up to 18 players were diagnosed positive in the last few days and this follows on from over 30% of first team players who have had the virus, at what point do you stop playing?

The Coronavirus earlier in the year halted play in England for 3 months and yet really what has changed since then? True we have a better understanding of the virus and vaccines are now ready but they are being staggered out meaning that most of the country won’t actually have received the jab until much later next year.

Then we have the problem of a new variant. One does have to wonder why such a high profile sport like football hasn’t stopped at least for a month? Do club owners think it is alright for their players to get the virus? True we haven’t witnessed any serious illnesses from footballers or death which is a blessing, but scientists have talked at length of long covid and anyone can carry on to have symptoms and have damaged organs. Or are footballers simply immune to the dangers of the virus because they are fit and healthy?

In any regards it seems very careless to carry on. Of course any football fan wants football to carry on and having it stopped feels like the end of the world in some respects, but it is not just the players that have to be protected. For example what of the players families and friends, it just feels like the virus could spread even more.

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce is correct to suggest that football for now needs to stop. He made a very good point of his age. Allardyce is 66 and in the danger zone if he were to get the virus and he pointed out that players may be able to brush it off but less so older people, and managers of course fall into that group. If players are getting the virus, surely managers will follow. Of course it has happened already, look at West Ham’s David Moyes. Thankfully his case was mild but that doesn’t mean to say the next one will be.

It is a very unfortunate situation and one could well believe that the Premier League are throwing caution to the wind. What will it take for the FA to say a break is needed? It would make sense with the increased cases and the fact that vaccines are now being rolled out having at least a months break and having players self isolate seems to be the correct thing to do.

We all love football, but some things are simply more important at this time.

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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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