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.

Facts are facts Manchester City have been poor this season

Manchester City lost to rivals Manchester United 2-0 yesterday in the infamous Manchester derby as they came up short once again this season.

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the Manchester United manager has seen his side knocked out of the Carabao Cup against City, although they did win the second leg, but he has now done the league double over Pep Guardiola and the current champions.

For bragging rights between the two teams, that will reside in the red half of Manchester and whilst Solskjaer and United will be praised for their upturn in performance and form can the same be said for City?

City’s season really seemed to collapse around November when everyone was admitting and seeing that Liverpool were going to win the league, the Reds after the disappointment of last season had more hunger, passion and commitment, the gulf between them and any other club but including even City was huge, there was always going to be just one winner, and everyone knew it even if some tried to pretend that the title race was still on, it really wasn’t.

What came to light was quick and that was after conquering the league and winning it two times in a row Guardiola set in motion the objective for the team to win the Champions League, which would be the clubs first ever win, and with time running out on his contract Guardiola knows it could be this season or never. It’s why City went to the Bernabeu and put in such a professional performance to come out of the game leading 2-1 going into the 2nd leg at home. City had just beaten a team who had won the competition four times in the last decade including three in a row, this was a huge statement. Could you think of an equal huge statement City have made in the Premier League this season?

Liverpool have blown everyone away domestically and let’s not pretend that even if City were much stronger Liverpool would be winning the league. But seeing a gap of 25 points, which could be 22 if City win their game in hand is simply embarrassing. City as champions, with the money they have spent on players, their infrastructure and having one of the best managers in the world should not be almost a quarter of 100 points behind Liverpool, and we’re not even at the end of the season.

Of course City are in 2nd place where they will most likely finish and have just won the Carabao Cup, for almost any other team this is a huge success and would be amongst their best ever seasons. When you’re City winning the 2nd domestic cup and being so far behind in the league isn’t going to cut it, no matter how harsh that sounds, it simply isn’t.

City have gone backwards this season, and even if they won every game from now on they would finish with 87 points, last season it was 98 and the season before it was 100. Indeed City are on a par to finish with the same points as they did (78) in Guardiola’s first season with the club. This all confirms that the Citizens have gone 1 step forward this season but two back.

City have lost 7 games this season and that’s more than they lost in the previous two seasons combined. There is no question that this season up until now has been disappointing for the club. You can finish 2nd and lose, but this has been a major step down for them. It is obvious that only seeing the sight of the Champions League trophy gleaming back towards them when they lift it aloft will be the only redemption for the club this season.

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Man Utd 2-0 Man City: The Reds complete the league double over the Citizens as they continue to push for a top four finish

After dropping points away to Everton in their last league game, Manchester United’s intention were the three points only in their next fixture, which was against no one else but their local rivals in Manchester City at Old Trafford. They went on to achieve the victory with conviction, as the team managed to do the league double over the Citizens for the first time since the 2009/10 season.

Due to Chelsea and Sheffield United winning their respective games whilst Leicester City face Aston Villa on Monday night, it was a must win game for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men, who were quite confident going into the game as Pep Guardiola’s key man in Kevin De Bruyne was unavailable to play because of a shoulder injury. And without the Belgian international, Man City were still able to dominate possession, but did not have the cutting edge of quality to create the key chances.

The visitors, as expected, were in full control of the game from the first second of the game to the final whistle, as they went on to achieve 73% possession of the ball and just under 150 passes in the attack third compared to United’s 50 successful passes in the final third. However, it was the hosts that made the key moments count, as the crucial goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay were more than enough for the side to pick up much needed victory to go back into fifth-place.

At the end of the day, the noisy neighbours simply did not have much to play for in the league and did not bring their A Game to a fixture they have dominated on so many occasions over the past three to five seasons. On the other hand, the Red Devils had the motivation of the manager and most importantly the whole of Old Trafford behind them, to proceed onto winning the game.

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

The back-three/five setup is proving to be the perfect plan for the Red Devils

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not had a regular system or style of play in place that has been consistently successful and effective at the same time. However, the back-three/five setup fits the current squad of players like a glove, as it allows the team to totally nullify the opposition’s attack before going onto producing a few attacks of their own. The perfect example was honestly from today’s game, as City had managed to create one chance and complete just seven shots throughout the whole game.

And when United had their time and space on the ball, they were able to counter attack through the likes of Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James, who were offering the perfect mixture of creativity, movement and burst of pace on and off the ball. Meanwhile in midfield, Fred and Nemanja Matic did more than enough to cover the middle of the pitch, two individuals who have the aggression and intelligence to protect the backline whilst help the team to push high up the pitch.

Solskjaer’s record against the top-six teams continues to grow and flourish

For sure, after doing the league double over Chelsea and now over Man City, the talks about Solskjaer’s incredible record in the big games will continue to increase, as he has played the top-six teams on 12 occasions in all competition so far this season, having won seven times, drawn twice and lost three times. This is actually quite a positive record for a young manager who does not have the greatest of squads and is still missing the key individuals in Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.

As long as he is able to do the double over Jose Mourinho’s Spurs next week as well as pick up maximum points in the remaining league games, to help the side qualify for next year’s Champions League football, he may end up managing the club for another couple of years, despite the recent rumours of Max Allegri or Mauricio Pochettino taking over as manager. And if he does end up doing the unthinkable, the board will have no choice but to back him up in the summer, which could lead to a potential charge for the league title along with possible success in the domestic competition.

The complete performance from the likes of Bruno, Martial and Wan-Bissaka

The whole United starting line-up played intelligently and superbly from start till end, even the likes of Eric Bailly, Scott McTominay and Odion Ighalo had put on quite the perfect cameo from the bench towards the last 15 to 20 minutes of the game. However, the key individuals that stood out the most were none other than Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes, three important players that are pure specialists in their expertise and are truly indispensable from the first XI.

Wan-Bissaka, who has been the side’s player of the season just after Fred, has got the whole right flank on lockdown time and time again, as he successfully kept Raheem Sterling in his pocket for the third time this campaign. Bruno Fernandes, since arriving to United in January, has completely transformed the team around and has helped to bring the best out of a number of players. Finally on Martial; he has had a lot of unnecessary criticism towards him in recent weeks, but his performance as well as his key goal to give his team the lead should be enough to see him getting back to his best.

Should Harry Kane Leave Tottenham Hotspur This Summer?

Harry Kane might still currently be injured, but his return is being routinely monitored by those in England where members of staff will be hoping that the centre forward will be fit enough for this summer’s European Championship.

Kane, who turns 27 in July, has a few months to decide what the rest of his career will potentially look like. While no one can deny that, individually, he is one of the world’s best centre forwards, it can be argued that without any trophies to his name, his position in world football – especially for when he retires – can quickly drop down the pecking order.

The England international’s numbers speak for themselves year-on-year, with this season finding the back of the net 17 times in 25 appearances in all competitions (the Premier League and Champions League) accompanied by two assists.

His overall goals tally for the Three Lions is also mightily impressive: 32 in 45 fixtures. It is no wonder why he is the captain of the men’s national team when leading from the front and by example.

Speculation has followed Kane around for a number of years about switching allegiances, especially when his contract was under £100,000 per-week. Now earning up to £200,000 per-week including bonuses, Kane’s contract worth is now only possible for a number of clubs in world football.

In the same way it has followed Steven Gerrard around, not winning a Premier League title for a player of Kane’s quality will mark an asterisk on his name when comparing the centre forward to former and future greats. Kane needs trophies to his name, and although football is a team sport, they hold weight to the individual.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and many others in Europe’s top leagues, including Real Madrid, would be interesting in acquiring Kane to bolster their attacks, but he needs to take this leap of faith sooner rather than later.

At 27, Kane is in his prime and still at the forefront of his powers. But with his injury history, it would be no surprise to see the Englishman start slowing down at the turn of 30 and time spent on the sidelines is more of a regularity.

The England captain needs to make a considerate and clever approach in how to tackle this summer’s transfer window, especially if he is back and firing in goals for fun during the Euros – his stock will only increase and, in turn, list of suitors grow.

With Kane being a reliable goal-scorer in the Premier League, he is able to be held in an elite club of those who have consistently found the back of the net throughout Europe. With that being said, Tottenham are likely to hold out for near £100 million, if not more, especially given his contract runs until 2024.

There will be a queue of clubs ready for Kane’s decision should he seriously consider leaving the club that gave him his break, but now, turning 27 this summer, might be the time where he says goodbye and starts to act within his own interest.

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Everton 1-1 Man Utd: Solskjaer’s men fail to take the advantage as they pick up a point at Goodison Park

After seeing both Leicester City and Chelsea drop crucial points in their respective games as well as sixth-place Tottenham Hotspur going head-to-head with eight-place Wolves on Sunday afternoon, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had the potential of taking the advantage, which was dependent on if they could go away to Goodison Park and pick up the three points against Everton.

Looking at the match as a whole, the visitors had dominated possession but were missing the cutting edge in the final third of the pitch, which could not be provided as the likes of Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood were closely marked by the Everton defence. On the other hand, the host went onto complete more shots and actually created three big chances, but the opportunities were not taken, and David De Gea did more than enough to bounce back from his error early in the game.

It took just three minutes for Everton to take the lead, as De Gea thought he had enough space and time on the ball to clear it away, and when he did so, the ball was kicked right onto Dominic Calvert-Lewin and into the back of the net. This was the Spaniard’s seventh error that led to a direct goal since the start of last season, making him the joint-most with Bernd Leno and Martin Dubravka.

Although it took them ten minutes to regroup and sort out the organisation within midfield, United went onto dominate the rest of the first half as they were superbly shifting the play from side to side and playing at a high tempo. And because of their pressing high up the play, they caught Everton out in the right moment where they were playing the ball out from the back, which allowed Bruno Fernandes to pick up the ball and fire his low shot past Jordan Pickford to get the needed equaliser.

The second half was one-sided, with the hosts edging out the control in possession and were attacking the United defence on all fronts, especially with players such as Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof on a yellow card. The Toffees huge and final chance came in the last moments of the game, where Calvert-Lewin’s attempt took a slight deflection off Maguire’s before reaching the corner of the net, but the Video Assistance Referee ruled the goal out eventually as Gylfi Sigurdsson was in an offside position and was apparently obstructing the goalkeeper’s view from the play.

In the end, United failed to make things count when it mattered the most, whilst Everton will be disappointed that they only picked up a point and the winning goal was unfortunately ruled out in the dying seconds of the match. The Red Devils remain in fifth-place, still three points behind Chelsea, as Carlo Ancelotti’s men sit in eleventh-place just below Arsenal due to goal difference.

With no further ado, here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league game…

United’s defensive issues continue as De Gea and Lindelof fail to perform

For sure, United are undefeated in all competitions and have completed six clean sheets since the disastrous loss to Burnley back in January, but the fact still remains that the side’s backline is not good enough to guide the team to a top four finish or help them to challenge for the Europa League trophy. Despite bolstering this department up with the arrivals of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, the side are conceding way too many chances and most importantly, a lot of cheap goals.

The weakness within the backline happens to be both David De Gea and Victor Lindelof, two individuals who have not shown the consistency and quality that shows they are good enough to play week in and out. With their lack of concentration and incapability to be intelligent in the key moments, they are seriously preventing the team from progressing as a whole.

The main solution to this would be to replace Lindelof with Eric Bailly, who has returned to full fitness recently and is seen as the best centre-back in the squad, and in with De Gea, his place in the team will be under huge amount of pressure once Dean Henderson returns to the club in the summer, who is having a superb season at Sheffield United.

Bruno Fernandes continue to show his quality and comes up with the goods

Since arriving to Manchester United on the final days of the January window, Bruno Fernandes has gone to be a huge influence for the side, on and off the ball, as he continues to show his incredible quality time and time again. With two goals and two assists in four league appearances, he is proving to be the heartbeat of the team and the one to get the best out of his teammates, which is exactly the type of player that the Red Devils have been missing for the last couple of years, in all honesty.

The 25-year-old was working his magic in a number of different areas today, whether it was in the number ten role, the deep midfield position centrally or on the left flank, he was making a statement that he is not a limited player and he has a lot in his locker to offer to the team. United seriously have a phenomenal  player who is more than capable of being placed into the category of world class players or just below it, especially if he helps them to somehow reach Champions League football, but it’s up to the manager and the squad to look after him and also get the best out of him.

The Red Devils have a number of huge games coming up in the month of March

Derby, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield United and the Europa League tie against Austrian side LASK. There are six huge games for both Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the month of March, which will play a crucial part towards the final third of the season and if the club’s season is a successful one or not. As things stand, the campaign will go down as a failure, due to no Champions League football next season and no success in any of the other competition, and this will lead to a difficult summer window of not being able to attract the much required players.

However, everything can turn around in a matter of matches, as the side are three points behind Chelsea, who have only won two league games this year and have a few difficult games coming up in the league. And in the Europa League, the team look to have a straightforward tie and could have a simple route to the final if the other results in the competition go their way and if they receive some luck in the draws. And not only that, Paul Pogba has returned to regular training and Marcus Rashford could potentially be back in April, two great players who are game changers and winners.

Man Utd 3-0 Watford: The Reds Devils move up to fifth place as Bruno Fernandes shines once again

After seeing the likes of Leicester City, Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur drop crucial points on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United went on to beat Nigel Pearson’s Watford in what was quite the comfortable and straightforward victory at Old Trafford on a Sunday afternoon.

Ahead of the game, the main thoughts on a United point of view was if they can taken the advantage for once from the results of the other teams above them, as they have failed to do so on many occasions throughout the season and it is why they are currently not in the top four positions. Meanwhile, for Watford, who still remain in the relegation zone and just a point away from safety, the questions were if they could pull off an upset against a big side or would their poor run continue.

Looking at it as a whole, the hosts had unsurprisingly dominated possession from start to end, along with creating a couple of clear-cut chances and completing just under 10 shots on target. Although it took the side some time to get into the game, with the visitors pressing high up the pitch and causing a number of problems, they were able to play on the front foot after the half hour period.

With the crucial goals coming from the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, the side were able to work on their inconsistent home form and show to the neutral supporters that the race for a top four finish is not over anytime soon. And the side should have had a fourth goal here and there, but Daniel James was sadly not convincing enough in front of goal.

On the other hand, the Hornets posed a decent threat through a few set pieces and on the counter-attack, with a goal from Troy Deeney being harshly ruled out due to an apparent handball from Craig Dawson. Watford will want to work on their performances and decision making in the final third of the pitch, as they did not create a single chance and ended the game with just four shots completed.

In the end, United made the advantage count and picked up the much needed win, allowing them to move above Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United into fifth place. And for Nigel Pearson’s Watford, there will be a huge amount of concerns and fears on what is in store for them for the rest of the season, as they still need to face the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal.

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

Bruno Fernandes completes another perfect performance

Completing one goal and one assist in his third league game for Manchester United, it just feels like Bruno Fernandes has been playing in the Premier League and at Old Trafford for a number of years. Once again, he has shown the capability that he can play in many areas and is able to be seen as the heartbeat of the side’s attack, as he continues to show his intelligence and class on and off the ball.

As long as the movement and pace are up there in the final third of the pitch, he is able to create the clear-cut chances that the likes of Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood are always looking for. With Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba still remaining on the sidelines and are not expected to return from injury anytime soon, Solskjaer along with the squad are blessed with an individual that they can depend and rely on, who is able to create something out of nothing and is also quite a vocal leader.

The Red Devils produce the ideal result and performance after a long time

It’s been a long time since United have been able to match the three points along with a convincing performance and a number of goals. The last time they completed that, was against Norwich in the second week of January, which still feels like a long time ago for a side that wants to reach Champions League football and start challenging for the league title once again. Despite the lack of quality and squad depth, the team are making small steps of progress, whether it can be seen or not.

Having won back-to-back league games for the third time this campaign, the side’s consistency and effectiveness on both sides of the pitch is starting to show its rewards, as they once looked close to finishing in the middle of the league but are now a couple of points behind fourth-place Chelsea. With the side yet to reach their peak and are still missing a few key individuals within the line-up, who knows what the squad are capable of achieving if they all have the same winning mindset.

Can Solskjaer do the unthinkable and guide the team to a top four finish?

For sure, the side’s chances of finishing in the top four does look slim, especially when you consider the difficult run of games United still have and how they are also busy with the Europa League fixtures. However, if the results in the remaining league matches go in their favour and they are able to pick up maximum points from now till the end, anything can really happen in the Premier League.

The victory against Watford makes it their 11th league win of the season, with only the four teams above United that have won more games than them so far this campaign. And given the situation that the noisy neighbours Manchester City have found themselves in with the UEFA, with them receiving a two-year ban from Champions League football, it could potentially mean that if Solskjaer’s Manchester United were to finish in fifth-place, they could actually qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Premier League Predictions: Week 27

Whilst Liverpool will win the league this season all of the attention has turned to European places. Any of five different teams could finish 4th and there are some mouth watering games coming up at the weekend, including Chelsea v Tottenham. Below are our predictions for the games this weekend.

Chelsea v Tottenham

Chelsea lost to Manchester United in their last game here and have been defeated at home 5 times. They did beat Tottenham in the reverse fixture and Tottenham do have an injury crisis. This could be a low scoring game where we expect Jose Mourinho on his emotional return to Stamford Bridge to come out as a winner. Tottenham to beat Chelsea

Burnley v Bournemouth

Burnley have gone unbeaten for the last 4 games and are in very good form. Bournemouth are in 16th and a loss here could spell disaster. The club have lost their last 4 games in a row away from home, and we think they could halt that run. Draw

Crystal Palace v Newcastle

Palace have no wins this year and have lost their last 3 games in a row. Newcastle did lose 4-0 to Arsenal last weekend but actually played some good football. Allan Saint-Maximin looked very quick and this will be a hard game for the home side as the Magpies look to push on. Newcastle to beat Crystal Palace

Sheffield United v Brighton

Brighton have lost 8 of their 13 away games and they face an uphill struggle to get anything from this game as the Blades look to advance on 4th place as best they can. Sheffield United to beat Brighton

Southampton v Aston Villa

The Saints have recovered well in recent months but they come into this game having lost 3 of their last 4. Aston Villa looked impressive against Tottenham and could give Southampton a real game here. Jack Grealish can run the show. Draw

Leicester v Manchester City

Leicester have been terrific this season but each time they have had to play the better teams they have failed, and we can see them losing this one. It should be very entertaining. Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy will both have a point to prove but a win here could see City get daylight to Leicester and move 7 points clear of them. Manchester City to beat Leicester

Manchester United v Watford

United have some key players out but Bruno Fernandes looks like he can step up in midfield. Also Anthony Martial has  a new lease of confidence as the main striker after Marcus Rashford’s injury. Watford have done quite well recently but should be no match for United here. Manchester United to beat Watford

Wolves v Norwich

Wolves will be the favourites but they are struggling to win games, with just one win in their past five. Norwich in bottom who look like they will go down, have little to lose now and are just trying to enjoy their football. They could spring a surprise. Norwich to beat Wolves

Arsenal v Everton

Arsenal had an excellent second half v Newcastle and that will inject confidence in the side. Everton haven’t looked better for a good 18 months and also unlike Arsenal didn’t have to play in the Europa League in midweek. Everton don’t do well at Arsenal but we can still see them going away here with a point. Watch out for Dani Cellabalos who could pose all sorts of problems with his pace against the away side. Draw

Liverpool v West Ham

Liverpool are 22 points ahead they will win the league but the objective is remaining unbeaten too. They should win this game with ease but may have to work very hard at it as West Ham will play very defensively and try and make life hard. There is just too much quality in this Reds side though and Mohamed Salah loves playing against West Ham who could well be relegated this season. Liverpool to beat West Ham

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Premier League: Fantasy Weekend Picks: Matchday 27

Based on fixtures coming up this weekend and players form let’s take a close look at the players that could make a difference this weekend in the Premier League.

Formation:4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alisson-Liverpool

Alisson has been superb as expected this season and he has conceded just 1 goal in his last five games. Liverpool will play West Ham to wrap up another weekend of Premier League football on the Monday night, and this could be perfect for Alisson to keep yet another clean sheet.

Defender: Harry Maguire- Manchester United

Harry Maguire got a lot of stick this week as pretty much everyone thought he should have been sent off v Chelsea. But he wasn’t and he went on to score the winning goal. United kept a clean sheet, and this bit of luck may just spur the player on to do well again. United will face 19th placed Watford at home and will be the favourites to do well.

Defender: Eric Bailly- Manchester United

In keeping with United it is good to see Bailly back after injury and he has  immediately helped keep a clean sheet on his return. It may be worth going for the player again as he comes up against Watford at home. His value is 8m.

Defender: Enda Stevens- Sheffield United

Stevens has been one of Sheffield United’s best players and the great thing about choosing the player as he can be used in both defence and midfield. He has 41 points so far and has kept 9 clean sheets and United will be favourites at home to do well against Brighton.

Defender: Willy Boly- Wolves

Willy Boly has been on form and has 23 points so far and has been able to keep 5 clean sheets too. Wolves are in the mix and they will play the bottom club Norwich at home where you would think they can record a win and possibly a keep clean sheet to go with it.

Midfielder: Diogo Jota- Wolves

Diogo Jota can cause a lot of problems and with Wolves being at home to Norwich we expect him to be very lively. He has scored 3 goals this season and his value is 7.5m.

Midfielder: Giovani Lo Celso – Tottenham

With injuries mounting up, Lo Celso could get a game when his club take on Chelsea. Spurs need a midfielder that can make the tricks and see the gaps and make a difference and Lo Celso could well do that. He can be brought in for 6m.

Midfielder: Dani Ceballos- Arsenal

Dani Ceballos has only had 8 starts but he is starting to gain the trust of his manager and was impressive in Arsenal’s last game when they beat Newcastle 4-0. The Gunners will take on Everton and his skills could make a difference in midfield. He has 2 assists from his limited time and is just 3.5m.

Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes- Manchester United

Fernandes is already making people think he is the right buy for United, he is early into his career with the club but is worth picking as he wants to impress every week especially with Paul Pogba on the sidelines.

Striker: Anthony Martial- Manchester United

With injuries for United Martial is getting that chance to shine and he scored against Chelsea in the clubs last game. Now at home v Watford the odds would look good for him to add to his 9 goal tally he has so far.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- Arsenal

Arsenal have struggled this season but Aubameyang keeps on scoring and being their star dust. Arsenal will be at home against Everton a team he likes to play against, and we could see him scoring again at the weekend. He has 15 goals so far and is 9m.

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Chelsea 0-2 Man Utd: The Red Devils walk away with the much needed three points as the Blues’ unconvincing home form continues

Ahead of gameweek 26, the main focus was the incoming battle between Chelsea and Manchester United, two clubs who used to go neck to neck with one another for the league title back in the early years of the 21st century, but are now challenging it out with one another for a top four position.

Going into the game, the main thoughts were purely on how both teams would react following the long winter break, as neither of the sides have entered into 2020 in winning spirits and have been failing to show consistency. A win for Frank Lampard’s men would have killed United’s chances of finishing in the top four whilst extending their gap in fourth place away from both Spurs and Sheffield United, meanwhile, the three points for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team would be a huge sigh of relief for himself and the players, who have been criticised by the English press in recent weeks.

Overall, if one was to see the actual match and compare it to the end result, you would be shocked with the amount of chances that the hosts had from the first second of the game until the final whistle, as they were unable to convert their attempts on goal into the back of net. And in the end, despite the two goals that were cancelled out in the second half, they had only completed one shot on goal in the whole game, which is not good enough for a top-four side that are playing at home.

On the other hand, United showed how clinical and effective they are in the big games, where they are able produce something out of nothing and are always posing a threat through Anthony Martial and Daniel James. Surprisingly for the visitors, both their goals had actually come from headers, which has not been the usual way of scoring for them, especially with their difficulties on set-pieces.

In the end, United picked up the much needed victory, allowing them to move up to seventh place and three points behind Chelsea, who have a tough run of fixtures that are coming up which includes facing the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Manchester City. The result at Stamford Bridge is what the Premier League supporters would have hoped for, as the race to finish in the top four will continue till the final day of the season whilst the challenge for the league title is already over.

With no further ado, here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league game…

Bruno Fernandes went on to complete quite a performance

Completing one assist, three key passes, 31 passes at a success rate of 79.5% and 54 touches on the ball, Bruno Fernandes had put on quite the performance in the number ten role, where he was also playing more as a false nine from time to time. With how quickly he has settled into English football, the chances of him being an expensive flop is really minimal as showed his intelligence on and off the ball as well as his immaculate positional awareness in what was his second game for United.

Looking at the understanding and chemistry he has formed with the likes of Fred, Daniel James and even Anthony Martial, there is no doubt that he can play a pivotal role in helping the side to finish the season on a high, as he is starting to show that he is the one to link the side’s attack from midfield. Once the individuals in Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay return from injury, the team will have the perfect balance in midfield, which will allow Bruno Fernandes to play at his absolute best.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has his setup and tactics spot on again in a big game

For sure, there are many valid questions and pure hesitation about Solskjaer’s shocking record and performances when it comes against the so-called lower teams. However, the results against the top-six sides continue to stay strong and does speak for itself, as Ole has now done the double over Chelsea, which has actually not been done by a Manchester United manager in a really long time.

Within the back-five setup, it helped the team to be more compact in their own half, especially with Luke Shaw being effective as the third centre-back and the fact that Eric Bailly’s return was more than ever needed, someone who is seen as the side’s best defender. And on top of that, the effort put in by the wing-backs up and down the flank as well as from Fred through the middle was second to none, as they were able to stretch the Chelsea defence and cause them several problems.

VAR intervened on a few occasions with nearly all the correct calls

There has been a huge debate about whether the VAR system is actually useful or not, since the start of the footballing season up until now. Despite many decisions going against and for a club, it has to be seen as a fact, that nearly all the outcomes produced by this method have turned out to be correct. It may take a couple of minutes or so to review an event, which could unsettle the players and the supporters, but as long as the decisions are right, there should be no arguments at all.

Besides the outcome of the kickout from Harry Maguire on Michy Batshuayi, which could be analysed and reviewed in a number of ways, with no red card shown following the incident, the rest of the decisions made by the officials was spot on, including the moment where they had to cancel Kurt Zouma’s goal due to a foul in the build-up and Olivier Giroud’s goal because he was marginally offside. Although VAR is not a smooth and straightforward process at this moment of time, but it definitely will be soon or later, when the Football Association will go over how the method is used once the season comes to an end, and think of ideas on how to improve how it is implemented.

Chelsea vs Man Utd: The three key battles for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men to look out for ahead of the Monday night fixture at Stamford Bridge

Ahead of gameweek 26, Manchester United shockingly sit in ninth-place and six points away from the top four positions, as they take on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge on Monday night. Given that there are only two league wins that separate both teams from one another, it does show the how competitive as well as how inconsistent the Premier League has been this campaign.

There are no doubts that both sides will be showing their energy and work rate on and off the ball along with the intention of securing the three points to help their side move a step forward to playing Champions League football next season. A top four finish for both teams would help them target the world class players in the summer window, in order for them to become title contenders.

Most importantly, this would be the perfect opportunity for the Red Devils to mark their stamp and also turn their away form around, having only won three games away from Old Trafford and have picked up just the 12 points out of a potential 36, whilst Chelsea’s record at home has been quite on and off with nine other teams having a better home record than them.

It’s time to look at the three key battles that can decide the outcome of this fixture…

Daniel James vs Cesar Azpilicueta

With Marcus Rashford on the sidelines for a couple of months along with Anthony Martial being really off form for the last month or so, the main attention and focus on the go-to-man will look to be Daniel James, who is always a handful with his incredible burst of pace and movement in the final third of the pitch. He may lack the final quality when needed the most, but there is a huge certainty that he will be the dangerman out on the flanks and mainly when he cuts through into the middle.

James will be in for a skin-tight and a difficult clash with Cesar Azpilicueta, who is now being utilised as a left-back due to the rise of youngster Reece James in the right-back position. The Spaniard is known to be one of the most complete defenders within the league, having played as a centre back, left back and right back throughout the last couple of years. Given his experience and exceptional positioning defensively, it would be no surprise to see him keeping Daniel James in his back pocket.

Tammy Abraham vs Harry Maguire

Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham is having quite the season and especially in his first full campaign as a regular starter, as he has played on loan for the likes of Aston Villa, Swansea City and Bristol City in recent years, in order for him to gain the intelligence and understanding before he plays in the top flight of English football. And now he is on double figures in league goals, notching 13 in 24 league appearances, with only six players in the Premier League that have more goals than the 22-year-old.

Abraham has the capability to play as a target man and also as a poacher, when you consider his aerial ability as well as how he is in the right place at the right time, and he will be up against none other than Harry Maguire, who is starting to be seen as Manchester United’s best centre-back. Despite his poor performances and lack of consistency towards the end of last year, he has than more than enough to turn his form around, as the side have conceded only six goals in 10 games in all competition.

Bruno Fernandes vs Jorginho

When you see the lack of options that Solskjaer has within midfield, remembering that Paul Pogba is still a few weeks away from returning and Scott McTominay has just returned to regular training, It will mean that Bruno Fernandes will have to guide the team and show in a big match that he is the real deal. After a bright display against Wolves at home, there should not be many worries for the Red Devils of if he will be a flop or can he handle the intensity and physicality of English football.

On the other hand, for Chelsea, Jorginho will be the individual to keep an eye out for, someone who dictates the play deep in his own half and is able to pull out the much needed passes to the his teammates on the flanks and through the middle. The Italian deep-lying playmaker has been proving his critics and the English media wrong since moving from Serie A to the Premier League, as he has shown the class and composure in playing as the deepest player in the midfield trio, which is not a straightforward job for a player like him who lacks the required physicality and acceleration or pace.