What next for Manchester United and Odion Ighalo?

Transfer policy at Manchester United has been something of a sour point for many fans over recent years, although the winter transfer window did see the club redeem themselves somewhat.

The capture of Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes was well received by supporters, while the player has also made an instant impact with his impressive displays. Meanwhile, the loan arrival of Odion Ighalo did raise more than a few eyebrows initially, although his displays have shown that, if United decide to make the deal permanent, he will continue to repay their faith in his attacking abilities.

Perhaps the signing of Ighalo can provide the Old Trafford hierarchy with a clear example of what they should be looking for. Players who offer the right mix of genuine desire to pull on the famous red jersey, alongside the talent and skill to provide exactly what the manager requires of them. Players who understand what it means to represent Manchester United.

Today, many avid fans are turning to digital representations to keep them entertained, playing video games such as Football Manager and FIFA. Such games have sparked renewed interest in eSports, with online gaming sites and bookmakers such as ComeOn Casino offering odds on the digital versions of teams like Manchester United in action. So, while we might not get to see Ighalo in action for a while, fans can keep their eyes peeled for any digital Man U matches coming their way.

There’s certainly no doubt that Ighalo will have had his stats updated on FIFA20, along with his facial image in the game and his customary goal celebration, which hasn’t changed over the last decade.

Deeply religious, Ighalo has always regarded scoring goals as his opportunity to give thanks to God. That’s why he’s kept the same celebration of running to the corner flag, hands in the air and looking to the sky. No matter where this journeyman striker has scored his goals, this has been a constant and considering where he was just a decade ago, Ighalo will always feel grateful.

Interestingly, back in 2010 life was completely different for Ighalo. Ten years ago he was playing for Granada CF in the Segunda B, the third tier of Spanish football. During his five seasons with the club, while never the most prolific of strikers, Ighalo is still regarded as a legend amongst their fans. He had a knack for scoring some of their most important goals, including one that secured promotion back to LaLiga for the first time in 35 years.

During his time in LaLiga with Granada, it’s fair to say that Ighalo wasn’t utilised as well as he could have been, as various managers came and went. He never complained, kept working hard and always sported his trademark smile. Patience and perseverance were eventually rewarded with a switch to Watford, with Ighalo quickly finding his feet in English football.

One of the key players who helped Watford return to the Premier League, the goals kept flowing for Ighalo with the Hornets buzzing amongst the English elite. His form was attracting attention far and wide, including Manchester United according to rumours at the time. Nevertheless, the next leg of a journeyman career took Ighalo to China, where he continued to shine with Changchun Yatai and Shanghai Shenhua.

More out of necessity with Marcus Rashford injured and a lack of alternatives in the January transfer window of 2020, United eventually made their move for Ighalo. He didn’t need to be convinced, didn’t need to think about it, and he was prepared to accept whatever role that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had in mind. This was the opportunity of a lifetime and for the 30-year-old, possibly the last chance to realise his dream of playing for the Red Devils.

Ighalo hasn’t wasted his opportunity. While his Premier League appearances have been fleeting, typically appearing from the bench, his cup appearances have been spectacular. 2 goals in 1 FA Cup appearance, 2 goals and 1 assist in 3 Europa League appearances. The last outing for Ighalo in the continental competition also produced an absolutely stunning strike, which has left United fans drooling for more from their new attacking idol.

Amidst talk of negotiations for a permanent switch from Shanghai Shenhua, there’ll be no difficulties presented by Ighalo. All that remains is for United to agree terms with the Chinese club, with the Nigerian international certainly deserving of the opportunity to stay put at Old Trafford.

6 classic Chelsea vs Tottenham games from the Premier League era

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham (May 2016)

Although they were not involved, this was one of the most famous games in Leicester City’s history. Tottenham’s failure to win at Stamford Bridge handed the Premier League title to Claudio Ranieri’s men, many of whom were gathered at Jamie Vardy’s house to watch the action unfold.

Spurs stormed into a 2-0 lead but then lost their heads to an extent in the second half, with nine of their players ending the night in the referee’s notebook. A superb Eden Hazard strike ended their title dreams late on.

Tottenham 5-3 Chelsea (January 2015)

A Harry Kane-inspired Tottenham gave Chelsea their toughest game of the season on New Year’s Day 2015. Kane scored twice to take his tally for the season to 17, with Danny Rose, Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli also getting on the scoresheet for Mauricio Pochettino’s charges.

Chelsea had been an entertaining attacking force in the first half of the campaign, but this defeat persuaded Jose Mourinho to shut up shop for the run-in.

Tottenham 2-0 Chelsea (January 2017)

Chelsea had won 13 games in a row prior to their visit to White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day, only for Spurs to stop them in their tracks. Dele Alli scored twice, both of them headers, to give the hosts victory.

Spurs were arguably the best team in the country for a while after this game, but the eventual runners-up finished seven points behind Antonio Conte’s champions – the same margin that separated them after this encounter.

Chelsea 4-3 Tottenham (February 1994)

A seven-goal thriller in the 1994/94 season ended in Chelsea’s favour, although both teams endured underwhelming campaigns. Spurs led 2-0 inside the first quarter thanks to goals from Steve Sedgley and Jason Dozzell, but it was Chelsea who led 3-2 at half-time through Mal Donaghy, Mark Stein and John Spencer.

Andy Gray restored parity for Tottenham in the second half, but Stein was the hero after holding his nerve from the penalty spot in the 89th minute.

Tottenham 4-4 Chelsea (March 2008)

A pulsating clash in north London ended with the capital clubs each earning a share of the spoils. Chelsea led 2-1 at half-time after goals from Didier Drogba and Michael Essien either side of Jonathan Woodgate’s effort, and then extended their advantage further when Joe Cole found the net early in the second half.

Tottenham fought back, though, with Dimitar Berbatov and Tom Huddlestone drawing them level. Cole then grabbed his second of the day to put Chelsea ahead once more, only for Robbie Keane to grab a dramatic equaliser in the 88th minute.

Tottenham 2-3 Chelsea (September 2001)

Chelsea left it late before sinking Spurs in this 2001 encounter, with Marcel Desailly’s header earning them maximum points at the death. Tottenham thought they had salvaged a draw through Teddy Sheringham, but Chelsea refused to give in and found the time to strike for the third time that afternoon.

Claudio Ranieri’s side would go on to finish sixth, three places higher than a Tottenham team managed by Glenn Hoddle, who beat the Blues in a two-legged League Cup semi-final in January.

This weekend’s Premier League lineups – Spurs and Manchester City face-off in London

Here’s a quick look at all the upcoming games and the predicted lineups for each team, to help you with your EPL fantasy picks.

Leicester City Vs Chelsea

Leicester XI: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Perez, Praet, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy

Chelsea XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Tomori, Rudiger, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Willian, Batshuayi, Hudson-Odoi Continue reading

What next for Arteta and Arsenal?

The latest three consecutive draws have just cemented that feeling of ‘meh’ around Arsenal’s 2019/20 season.

Having finished fifth – just one point off a Champions League spot in last season’s Premier League – many Gunners fans could be forgiven for having some optimism going into the current campaign. However, an early-season 3-1 defeat at Anfield seemed to just throw a spanner in the works for then-manager Unai Emery.

Continue reading

What a season for Chris Wilder’s Blades

I don’t think I was alone in thinking that Sheffield United would struggle in their first season back in the Premier League (PL). I believed The Blades were set to endure a very tough relegation battle, ultimately ending with the Steel City side dropping back to the Championship. How wrong I was.

Chris Wilder’s side has been the surprise package of the 2019/20 campaign to-date. Not even the most optimistic Blades fan would have dared to believe this team could be as high as sixth in the table at this stage.

Continue reading

Premier League lineups – the likely starting elevens for all teams this weekend

Here’s a quick look at all the upcoming games and the predicted lineups for each team, to help you with your EPL fantasy picks.

Watford Vs Spurs

Watford XI: Foster, Mariappa, Dawson, Cathcart, Masina, Chalobah, Capoue, Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu, Deeney

Spurs XI: Gazzaniga, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Tanganga, Aurier, Alli, Winks, Lo Celso, Sessegnon, Moura, Son Continue reading

Can Leicester City finish above Manchester City this season?

Just last month, all the focus seemed to be on whether Leicester and Manchester City could hang onto the coattails of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the title race.

Fast forward to the present day and it seems much has changed. Thanks to a Boxing Day defeat at home to Liverpool – and the manner of how The Reds dominated in that 4-0 thrashing – The Foxes’ focus now must be on keeping their place in the Premier League’s top four.

Continue reading

Premier League lineups – will this be how the top teams line out this weekend?

Aside

Here’s a quick look at all the upcoming games and the predicted lineups for each team, to help you with your EPL fantasy picks.

Sheffield United Vs West Ham United

Sheffield United XI: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McGoldrick, Mousset

West Ham XI: Fabianksi, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Fornals, Anderson, Haller Continue reading

New Year 2012: A weekend of shocks in the Premier League

There must have been something in the air over New Year’s weekend in 2011/12, with the four teams occupying the Champions League qualification spots all failing to emerge victorious in the Premier League. Yet whereas third-placed Tottenham Hotspur at least managed a draw against Swansea City, each of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City were unable to even pick up a point…

Continue reading

Christmas Cracker: Remembering Chelsea 4-4 Aston Villa, the best Boxing Day game ever

Boxing Day is a time for leftover turkey, sales at the shops and wild football matches. The wacky round of post-Christmas fixtures in 1963 has gone down in legend, with the division’s 20 teams sharing an astonishing 66 goals – a ludicrous tally which led to much questioning about just how many pigs in blankets the league’s defenders had demolished the day before.

Continue reading