Everton 4-0 Man Utd: Top four hopes are definitely over for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men

Everton

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a big chance to go into top four for the first time in recent months, with their next fixture being against Everton, a side that are in the top half of the table and have produced several huge results against the league’s top-six this term at home.

Marco Silva’s side started the game on all fronts, as they enjoyed majority of the possession in the first half and were causing a number of problems in United’s own half. It only took the hosts 13 minutes to take the lead, which started off from a long throw-in from Lucas Digne, which was touched on by Dominic Calvert-Lewin before Richarlison volleyed the ball into the back of the net.

Everton doubled their lead through a counter attack just before the half an hour mark, which was via a well-taken shot by Gylfi Sigurdsson which somehow caught David De Gea off guard. On the other hand, the visitors were unable to do anything in the first half, as they allowed the hosts to play the ball around with flair and freedom whilst reaching the half-time break with no shots completed on target at all.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as Everton were not even trying to pile on the pressure and still managed to score another two goals through Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott. As a whole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United will now see this season as a finished one, with no trophies to play for as well as the hopes of finishing in the top four being over.

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

Lack of defensive composure from the team

United were all over the place from start till end, especially on the defensive side of the game, where they allowed Everton complete 15 shots, with eight of them being on target. Over the last couple of weeks, it has been more than clear that the side cannot soak up the pressure and defend for majority of the game, yet they still decide to sit very deep rather than making the opposition work on and off the ball.

Like many managers and players have said in the past, the best form of defence is to attack, meaning the more you play in the opponent’s half and the more you attack the ball in that side of the pitch, the less defensive duties you will have to worry about. If United were able to use this saying and put it into serious play, they would have a better chance of winning league matches constantly whilst being defensively sound.

No urgency or desire to dominate and retrieve possession

With the recent statistics stating the hosts ran 8kms more than the visitors, it really sums up the game as a whole of which side were more desperate and hungry for the three points and which one were not. On top of that, Tottenham Hotspur’s defeat against Man City yesterday and Arsenal losing to Crystal Palace today, will inflict more frustration and pain into United’s missed and wasted chance of going into the top four.

For sure, the Red Devils have had the chances here and there to return into the top four over the last couple of weeks, but it cannot be possible to complete without dominating possession properly and creating constant chances. The side looked like they became a high pressing team in Ole’s first few games in charge; however, they have now referred to a defensive or a park the bus method that was once deployed under Jose Mourinho, who was crucified by literally everyone for this specific style of play.

Manchester United need to act quickly and prepare for the summer window

With how the season has panned out so far and the fact that the club have gone through another campaign trophy-less, Manchester United need to get their act together and prepare themselves for a make or break summer transfer window. If they fail to buy and sell the correct players, they may not go on to compete in any competitions effectively for the next two to three years whilst also possibly losing their main stars.

Overall, the club have wasted a lot of money and have not planned well in each of the summer windows they have gone through since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, if they manage to spend aggressively and miss out on the areas that badly need strengthening, they will start to fall down the pecking in the Premier League. Something they are currently facing, and could fall even further below both Arsenal and Chelsea, two football clubs who have been facing their own problems in recent months.

Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL games

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After all the midweek Champions League drama, it’s a return to English Premier League action this weekend with all 20 teams involved.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation for another EPL fantasy football round.

Manchester City v Spurs

Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva, B. Silva, Aguero, Sterling

Spurs XI: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Winks, Wanyama, Alli, Eriksen, Moura, Son Continue reading

EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 35

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The English Premier League only has a few weeks left and there is clearly a reason why football fans regard the league as the most exciting and competitive. That is because the league title is the closest of all the European major leagues and will most likely go down to the wire between Liverpool and Manchester City.

There are 2 Champions League places to take care of as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham do battle to secure a top 4 place. And Cardiff have given themselves a chance by beating Brighton in midweek- all is to play for as we enter another weekend of Premier League football which should be enthralling and fascinating.

Manchester City v Tottenham

Just where do we start after the teams played out an incredible Champions League 2nd leg quarter final where City won 4-3 on the night but went out on the away goals rule. City need to win this game or that could be the title over too. They will be utterly determined to win this game at home now. Watch out for Raheem Sterling who was denied a hat trick because of VAR, a system not used in the Premier League yet. Manchester City to beat Tottenham

Bournemouth v Fulham

Fulham got a terrific victory over Everton last weekend even though they are down, but their away form is very poor. Eddie Howe’s side are safe and beat Brighton 5-0 in their last match. Callum Wilson could be the difference between the sides, but this should be a close game. Draw

Huddersfield v Watford

More than likely Watford’s mindset will be preparing for the FA Cup final even if it is still a month away. They will be without influential player Troy Deeney who was sent off in the defeat against Arsenal. Huddersfield are relegated and have little to play for, except for home pride and we could see a surprise result here. Huddersfield to beat Watford

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham have been in poor form but the players put in a great shift against Manchester United at Old Trafford and if they can take something from that game even though they lost they could do well here. Felipe Anderson played very well. Leicester have been strong under Brendan Rodgers but lost their last game at home to Newcastle where they didn’t turn up. West Ham to beat Leicester

Wolves v Brighton

Wolves have been excellent this season but they have just 1 win in their past four games. However at home against a poor form side like Brighton this should be 3 points and they could be back in the hunt for a 7th place finish. Brighton continue to be poor in 2019 and could now face a relegation dog fight. Wolves to beat Brighton

Newcastle v Southampton

The Magpies pulled off a great result last weekend going to Leicester and getting a 1-0 win and playing well. Southampton have just 1 win in their past four games and this is their furthest trip in league fixtures. We will opt for the home win here in a game where we could see plenty of goals. Newcastle to beat Southampton

Everton v Manchester United

Since the beginning of March Everton have found form and Marco Silva’s job has been saved. But they put in a toothless display against Fulham last weekend and lost. Back at home where they beat Arsenal and Chelsea recently they can give United a game. United have been in average form and were knocked out in the Champions League against Barcelona, but remain a danger as they hunt for a top 4 finish. Could Everton’s Richarlison be the difference? Draw

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Arsenal should have few problems against Palace and get all three points. The Gunners have been one of the best teams in the league at home and have lost here just once back on the opening day of the season. Palace are safe and have little to play for. Pierre Emerick- Aubameyang is in great form and will relish this game. Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace

Cardiff v Liverpool

Cardiff got a massive victory over Brighton in midweek to give themselves a chance for survival. But they must keep winning. The problem is they are facing Liverpool and this will be a difficult match. Liverpool just keep on collecting the points, and whilst this will be  a difficult game for the Reds they should have enough quality up front to hurt the home team. Liverpool to beat Cardiff

Chelsea v Burnley

Chelsea still have a great chance to finish in the top four, the problem is that their direct rivals have 5 games to play while they have 4. That means that every game counts but winning at least at home is essential. Eden Hazard is looking the business as he possibly wraps up his career with the Blues. Burnley are in excellent form with 3 wins from their last 3 games but have lost 9 times on the road this season. Chelsea to beat Burnley

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Man Utd 2-1 West Ham: Another unconvincing win at Old Trafford

Pogs

With fixtures against the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City coming up over the next couple of weeks, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had to win their next fixture, being against West Ham at home, a side that have won four league games away from home this season.

As Liverpool take on fourth-place Chelsea in the Sunday afternoon fixture whilst Arsenal face a tricky away day at Watford on Monday evening, it was crucial for the Red Devils to win whilst put in a dominant display on both sides of the pitch, something they haven’t done in quite a long time at Old Trafford.

United were all over the shop, with no defensive composure whilst lacking the required balance in midfield and inconsistent play up in attack. On the other hand, Manuel Pellegrini’s men were causing havoc from start till end, through the likes of Arthur Masuaku, Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio.

As a whole, the hosts were able to get the two goals through Paul Pogba, who managed to score from the penalty spot in each halves of the game. Meanwhile, the visitors levelled up in the first couple of minutes in the second half, where Anderson’s goal came through United’s defensive mistakes.

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

United’s defensive problems continue to increase week by week

Looking at the teams currently in the top four spots and then seeing United lingering around in either fifth or sixth place, it has to be considered that the goals conceded and goal difference will play a huge part in who ends up playing in the Champions League next season. At the moment, United unsurprisingly have the worst, conceding on 44 occasions in 33 Premier League games.

Throughout the campaign, the side have had constant problems defensively, where both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to identify the solution as well as find out the best backline to place on a regular basis. And if it wasn’t for David De Gea’s brilliant saves, Manchester United would have conceded the same amount of goals as Brighton and West Ham by now.

West Ham were unlucky to leave Manchester without a draw or a win

The West Ham players along with Manuel Pellegrini will have felt hard done by once the final whistle had arrived, given that Felipe Anderson’s goal in the early minutes of the game was harshly ruled out for offside, whilst United were given two penalties to pick up the three much needed points. Luckily enough, the Hammers are not in a relegation battle, or they would have definitely complained about the decisions made by the referee and the linesman’s to the FA (Football Association) straightaway.

Despite conceding two goals, the visitors played well for majority of the game, where they were dominating possession and were playing with flair through the middle as well as down the flanks. When you come to Old Trafford and attempt 18 shots with four of them being on target, which was the same as what the hosts had managed, you can definitely leave with your heads held high even if no points were picked up.

Fred and Paul Pogba together dragged the side to the crucial three points  

For sure, there were not many positives at all to take from the game, but the chemistry and understanding that Fred and Paul Pogba have started to gain between one another is allowing the midfield to dictate and dominate the match to another level. With both players having the ability to drop deep when required and the intelligence to command for the ball regularly, United’s midfield looks more energetic and as a possession-based team when the duo are working their magic.

The renaissance of Fred has been more than helpful to all parties, where he had some concerning issues at adjusting life to the Premier League and showing his quality on and off the ball, but he is now doing enough to prove why he deserves to play as a regular starter. As Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic look to be out for another two to three weeks with an injury, it may give the Brazilian international the perfect amount of time to show what he is capable of to his critics and to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself.

Manchester United v Barcelona – Who were the best performers for the Red Devils

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Going into the match, majority of the Old Trafford faithful would have seen this as an intense fixture against Barcelona, but also as a bonus one, given the monumental comeback they produced versus Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round. Meanwhile, the La Liga champions were looking to make a potential statement, as they aim to achieve their sixth Champions League trophy in club history.

The 1-0 victory to the Spanish giants much sums up the match, where the hosts were unable to create chances and failed to complete a shot on target whilst the visitors were comfortable with the away goal and did not push badly for the second to take back to Camp Nou. On the other hand, the Red Devils were just about consistent defensively, but were not able to break down the opposition’s defence and were only allowed to create a few half chances from Barcelona’s sloppiness on the ball.

With United having a bit downfall over the last couple of weeks or so, including an unconvincing victory over Watford and a defeat Wolves away, it was more than important that the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were able to put on a hard work of a performance. Despite being the underdogs and having little squad depth, there were no excuses for the players to not put on a complete display.

Now, it’s time to take a look at United’s best performers against Barcelona back on Wednesday…

Fred

Since joining Manchester United last summer for just over £50million, Fred has had some minor issues in adjusting life to the Premier League and doing enough to show he deserves to play as a regular starter.

However, over the last couple of weeks he has began to show his quality, especially in the Champions League, where he started off with playing a crucial role in the second leg against Paris Saint-Germain to now proving he is a midfielder that is active and energetic player against Barcelona.

The Brazilian international was a really busy player in the middle of the pitch, completing 64 passes at a successful rate of 86.5%, winning five of the attempted nine duels and dribbling past two players whilst in possession of the ball. With Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic out with injures problems, it is more than fair to say that Fred had quite a good match from the start till the final whistle.

Scott McTominay

Just like Fred, Scott McTominay was another midfielder that was able to put in a good shift on both sides of the pitch and was able to keep his head up high despite the defeat. Thanks to his aerial presence and willingness to press when required, both Arthur and Sergio Busquets were unable to dictate and dominate the match to the highest level like they normally do so.

As Matic is starting to lose his legs and is suffering a massive decline throughout the season, McTominay could potentially be the long-term defensive-midfielder that the club has been looking for in recent seasons. And if not, he could be utilised as a squad player, to play in games that may need his drive and work rate, something that Darren Fletcher used to do under Sir Alex Ferguson.

As a whole, the youngster has come up with a number of bright performances this season and the one against Barcelona will be added to his collection. Being a player that came through the youth academy over the last couple of years or so, McTominay will definitely be backed by the Old Trafford faithful to have a good career at the club, whether he goes on to prove that he is good enough to be a regular starter or not.

Victor Lindelof

He may not be seen as the type of centre-back that will constantly go head to head or into a physical battle with the opposition’s forwards, but Victor Lindelof has shown his pure quality on the ball as well as his leadership ability to guide the his team-mates in defence and midfield. Once he commits to being more dominant and aggressive, he will be regarded as the club’s best defender for sure.

During the Barcelona fixture on Wednesday, the 24-year-old Swede had a busy night down the right at Old Trafford, as he was playing along Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw in what looked like a back-three formation with Ashley Young and Diogo Dalot as the wing-backs. Due to this setup, the side were able to have enough protection defensively whilst intending to counter down the flanks.

Lindelof went on to complete two interceptions, three clearances, two successful duels whilst completing 33 passes at a success rate of 84.6%, evidently proving he had a lot of work to complete on and off the ball. Had Barcelona pushed for a second goal in the second half of the match, a full review would have been provided on if Lindelof is defensively composed to be a world class defender.

Paul Pogba move to Real Madrid unlikely

Paul Pogba

Real Madrid are a club who constantly generate headlines and fill newspaper inches with the seemingly never-ending transfer speculation surrounding the club. That is now more intense than ever with widespread reports that the club will be undergoing an overhaul of their playing squad this summer following on from a trophyless season.

Deals have already been tied up for FC Porto defender Eder Militao and Santos forward Rodrygo Goes, while there have been widespread reports that there is ‘near total agreement’ for Chelsea forward Eden Hazard. But the ongoing links, mainly emanating from the Spanish and French press, that Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is also on his way to Madrid appear somewhat fanciful. Continue reading

Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL action

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Starting on Friday night, the English Premier League has a full schedule of games over this coming weekend.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation for another EPL fantasy football round.

Leicester City v Newcastle United

Leicester XI: Schmeichel, Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison, Gray, Vardy, Barnes

Newcastle XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Perez, Hayden, Ki, Almiron, Rondon Continue reading

EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 34

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The top 4 teams all won in their last games and nobody can quite tell who has the advantage in for the Premier League title. Liverpool are 2 points clear of Manchester City and yet City have a game in hand, but that match is against rivals Manchester United away from home. Chelsea have made a splash back into the top 3, so again there is all to play for as the excitement reaches fever pitch.

Below we take a look at how the results could work out for this weekend and give our predictions.

Leicester v Newcastle

Leicester would be 3rd in the league based on recent form and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers has been an inspired choice, the Foxes have won their last 4 games in a row. Newcastle have been poor on the road with just 2 points won from their last 15. Leicester to beat Newcastle

Tottenham v Huddersfield

Tottenham have Manchester City and the Champions League 2nd leg on their mind but they must focus for this game. Back at home they should win comfortably. Harry Kane is out but Son will relish this moment and could score a few. Tottenham to beat Huddersfield

Brighton v Bournemouth

Both teams come into this match with the same form and Brighton are still not safe. However a win would be massive for the club and they are at home. Callum Wilson will be a danger for the home side though and Eddie Howe’s team could add more misery to Brighton’s season. Bournemouth to beat Brighton

Burnley v Cardiff

Burnley are almost safe but this win would more or less assure that. Sean Dyche’s team have won back to back games and have found form. Cardiff keep losing and have lost 4 games in their last 5. They need to win this game to have any chance of staying up, but it will be difficult for them. Burnley to beat Cardiff

Fulham v Everton

An interesting statistic for Everton is that they have won 3 games in  a row coming into this match and all 3 have been against London teams- they can make it 4 against Fulham who have already been relegated. Everton’s Richarlison may just relish the chance to play against Fulham’s defence which has conceded 76 goals this season. Everton to beat Fulham

Southampton v Wolves

This game has the potential of being very exciting and the way the two teams play there could well be a lot of goals. Wolves have been good this season but have no away wins in their last 4. This is set to be a very close game. Draw

Manchester United v West Ham

Manchester United had a bruising Champions League defeat to Barcelona and that may have fatigued some of the players. But they will be the favourites to beat West Ham, whose form and leaky defence has let them down in recent weeks. United should cruise to a win and Marcus Rashford could show no mercy. Manchester United to beat West Ham

Crystal Palace v Manchester City

Crystal Palace remain the only club to beat Manchester City at The Etihad this season- can they do the double over them? City should have the quality to win but will also be tired after their Champions League game v Tottenham. But it is difficult not to see a response from Pep Guardiola’s side and Sergio Aguero will want to make up for his dismal display in the Champions League in midweek. Manchester City to beat Crystal Palace

Liverpool v Chelsea

Liverpool just keep winning games, and this match looks to be the teams real final test in their quest for the league title-their first since 1990. Chelsea are in good form but have beaten teams below them. Eden Hazard is being called a great player- it is in these games he must prove it. Liverpool to beat Chelsea

Watford v Arsenal

Watford will be in great spirits coming into this match having reached the FA Cup final and Troy Deeney has emerged as a genuine hero for the club. Arsenal lost their last away game 1-0 to Everton and could struggle here if the home side get a positive start. Draw

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How Barcelona will beat Man Utd

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They might be favourites to win the tie over two legs, but there’s no way that Barcelona will be taking Manchester United lightly, particularly at Old Trafford.

Playing at the Camp Nou for the second leg may seem to afford the Catalans an advantage of sorts, but Ernesto Valverde and his team will want to make that a formality.

In order to do so, they’ll need to take the game to the Red Devils and quieten the expected 75,000 crowd.

But just how are they going to manage it?

Continue reading

Manchester United have to be ruthless in the summer by selling their beloved old guard

Old Guard

Manchester United have without a doubt suffered a huge downfall over the last six years, where they have failed to challenge for the Champions League and Premier League effectively in that time. On top of that, the ongoing problems on and off the pitch have been clear for quite some time now, which could not be fixed or solved by the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

A lot of managers and players have come in throughout the last couple of seasons or so, however, not many of the deadwood individuals have actually been shipped out of the club since the departure and retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. From then till now, players such as Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones continue to play regularly for the team despite not being good enough.

Each one of the coaches have had their good and bad moments at Old Trafford, but have not been able to match the club’s style of play as well as produce the consistent results that you expect from a big club like Manchester United. Also, the same goes for the big signings that have come through, who have not been able to rally the side on or create the big moments that were badly needed.

Now, it’s time to focus back on the old guard and to why the board and Ed Woodward should be blamed for the situation the club are currently in at this moment of time. Many still remember the days of when Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young were the side’s main starters at full-back, two players who used to play as wingers week in and out but used in a position they are not experts in.

Thanks to the arrival of Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw being more injury-free this season, it has led Valencia to only play in the league on five occasions as he is expected to leave in the summer on a free transfer. Meanwhile, Young has been playing a lot this season either at left-back or right-back, where he is a defensive liability and is a huge burden in terms of progressing forward with the ball.

And in the heart of defence, both Jones and Smalling have played too many games than necessary in a United jersey, where they have committed constant mistakes whilst not showing enough intelligence and quality on the ball. Victor Lindelof has been at the club for nearly two seasons, and is already proving to be the side’s best defender, summing up the severe problems in defence.

Once upon a time, Jones and Smalling were brought into to be the long-term replacement for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, but have been unable to reach the top tier level that many of the football experts had predicted them to reach for both club and country. Fast forward the clock, the English duo have spent more than seven seasons at the club and are yet to show consistent displays.

Potentially, United may have to take a page out of Pep Guardiola’s book in his second campaign at Manchester City, where the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager got rid of individuals such as Aleksandar Kolarov, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta, players who were no longer crucial or useful enough despite spending a number of years at the Etihad stadium.

The club may feel they will miss out on the experience and leadership of the old guard, on the other hand, the hungry and younger player will strive on the opportunity of playing regular football and also in their natural position. Not only that, it will allow the side’s style of play to be more fluid and unpredictable, as it currently looks to be limited and lethargic through the middle and the flanks.

Overall, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that the hierarchy are bitterly seeing the rivals in Liverpool and Manchester City challenge for the league whilst United are sat in sixth-place and are attempting to finish in the top four to save their season. If the people in charge truly care about the club, they would be making their plans for the summer window, including on how to get rid of the deadwood.