Best 11 Players in the Premier League: Matchday 22

It was another very interesting weekend of action in the Premier League which saw Liverpool win again and Manchester City finally move into 2nd place after Leicester were beaten. City striker Sergio Aguero made history, what did he do? Read below. And 4th place could be a battle between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Here are the best performing players, did you have any of them?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alisson -Liverpool 

A few goalkeepers got 7 pts which is usually the maximum for matchdays for goalkeepers but our nod goes to Alisson. The reason being is that Liverpool were away to Tottenham- a repeat of last year’s Champions League final and Jose Mourinho was determined to set up his team to beat the Reds. But yet again Liverpool won and kept a clean sheet. Alisson’s 6th of the season and he is in 2nd place in the rankings with 40 points.

Defender: Lucas Digne- Everton

Lucas Digne picked up 7 points as he helped Everton keep a clean sheet as they beat Brighton 1-0 and assisted in Everton’s goal scored by Richarlison for an all round performance. Digne costs 5.5m and has acquired an impressive 20 points so far this season.

Defender: Craig Dawson- Watford

Watford won again, this time beating Bournemouth 3-0. Craig Dawson held his nerve and was part of a defence that kept another clean sheet. He is valued at just 2m and scored some rare points this past weekend.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold- Liverpool

It was another 5 points for the brilliant player. Liverpool’s back four all got the same with 5, but Alexander-Arnold ran more and just seemed to make crunch tackles at the right time, he must be worth a small fortune. In fantasy rankings terms he could be yours for just 7m. He is currently the best defender in the rankings.

Defender: Enda Stevens- Sheffield United

Sheffield United got a 1-0 victory over West Ham, so Enda Stevens kept a clean sheet his 8th of the season as the Blades kept in the top half, looking for a European finish. It was an assured performance from Stevens. He is valued at just 1m and has 37 points already and is one of the best bargains to be had.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez got a massive 10 points at the weekend as he scored a brace for Manchester City and then assisted Sergio Aguero for his hat trick. It was a fantastic performance from the City man. He currently has 52 pts and is valued at 9.5m.

Midfielder: Roberto Firmino- Liverpool

If Liverpool do indeed win the title a lot of it will come down to this wonderful Brazilian- Roberto Firmino. He is in the right place at the right time, scores goals and is just deadly. He earned 6pts as he scored the winner v Tottenham in a very tight game.

Midfielder: Jorginho Frello- Chelsea

Jorginho earned 6pts as Chelsea cruised to a much needed 3-0 win over Burnley at home. Jorginho opened the scoring through a penalty and that set the way for the Blues onto victory. He has earned 16pts and can be yours for 7.5m.

Midfielder: Roberto Pereyra- Watford

As Watford continue to shine and move out of the relegation zone, some of their players are leading that cause and one of them is Roberto Pereyra. The player only came on with 8 minutes of the match to go and scored Watford’s 3rd goal. He earned 6 pts.

Striker: Marcus Rashford- Manchester United

Rashford scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season as Manchester United made light work of Norwich to beat them 4-0. The player has amassed 58 pts in total this season and would cost 7m. He earned 8 pts this week alone.

Striker: Sergio Aguero- Manchester City

So both Manchester teams take up the strikers rankings but there was something very special about Manchester City’s. Sergio Aguero scored a hat trick as Manchester City slaughtered Aston Villa 6-1. The player the broke Alan Shearer’s hat trick record, he now has 12. And in the process he became the best foreign goalscorer ever in the Premier League with 176 goals, surpassing Thierry Henry. Aguero has 13 goals and and earned a whopping 16 pts. He is valued at 14m.

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Man Utd 4-0 Norwich: The Red Devils pick up their first win of 2020 as the Canaries continue to struggle

With Leicester City dropping points in their respective game whilst Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool go head-to-head with one another on Saturday evening in gameweek 22, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways as they faced a Norwich side that currently sit at the bottom of the league and have not win a league game since November.

Going into the afternoon game at Old Trafford, Solskjaer would have anticipated a couple of goals as well as a simple win, despite the side facing a number of problems when it comes to breaking down the mid-table teams. On the other hand, for Daniel Farke, even taking a point away from Old Trafford would have been more than enough, as the Canaries sit rock bottom in the Premier League.

Overall, looking at the game from the first second till the final whistle, the hosts had full control and dominated on and off the ball, going onto creating four big chances, completing six shots on target and most importantly, scoring four goals in a single league match after a long time. Meanwhile, the visitors did not have much good moments at all and would have preferred the match to be over as soon as possible, as they did not have the quality in each department to pick up a result today.

United struggled for small period in the beginning to get to the final third of the pitch and to get past the opposition’s defence. However, they managed to get their first goal of the game just before the 30 minute mark, as Juan Mata came into the middle from the right flank before crossing the ball into the far corner of the post, which was connected by a composed volley from Marcus Rashford.

The side continued to control the game, with some good passage of play through the middle as well as out on the flanks, but did not show the ideal urgency to look for the crucial second goal, in order to put the game to bed before half-time. With just a few moments till the end of the first half, the away side managed to complete their first shot on target through Todd Cantwell, who attempted to pass the ball into the far corner of the net, but his shot was well pushed away by David De Gea.

Following the half-time break, United were on the front foot once again and it did not take them long to get another goal, as they were awarded a penalty, with Rashford stepping up to take it and scoring his second goal of the game and his 14th league goal of the season. The side went on to get to get the third goal in quick succession, as a short corner from the right side was then crossed perfectly by Mata, which was met by the head of Anthony Martial and into the corner of the net.

United’s youngsters continued to show their quality and are become quite the fans favourite, as Brandon Williams had a really great performance in the left-back role and should have ended the match with a goal, whilst Mason Greenwood came on from the bench in the 71st minute and went onto scoring a couple of minutes later with a fine finish to send it past Tim Krul and into the goal.

In the end, the result helps Manchester United to go back to fifth-place on 34 points, being just five points away from fourth-place Chelsea. Meanwhile, Daniel Farke’s Norwich City sit uncomfortably at the bottom of the league on 14 points, as they have only won three league games in 22 matches.

Here are the four valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league game…

Marcus Rashford continues to show his world class quality

It was an amazing day for Marcus Rashford to remember, as he reached his 200 appearance for Manchester United and capped his day off at Old Trafford with a brace and an impressive showing on and off the ball. Given that he is still only 22-years-old, the best is yet to come from him and he is a few years away from his actual peak, making his ongoing development to be seen as a beautiful sight, as the critics and his doubters are starting to look silly as he is proving them all wrong.

It’s only early January at the moment, but he is currently on 14 league goals and is already past his best league tally in a single season, and he could continue to go on to scoring 25 league goals and 40-45 goals in all competitions as long as he stays fit and remains in good condition. With both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku leaving the club in the summer, Rashford has stepped up massively and is more or less showing that he is the clinical forward that the club and manager desperately needs.

Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic produced a fine performance from their good old days

Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic are two experienced individuals who are clearly past their best and do not have the legs to complete consistent displays on a regular basis. However, the duo put up quite the performance against Norwich, with Matic providing the much needed security ahead of the backline and helping the team to recycle the ball effectively in the opposition’s half of the pitch.

And on the attacking side of the match, Mata was able to complete two assists, 82 touches on the ball and a successful pass completion rate of 90.1%, as the Spaniard produced the perfect performance from the number ten role, despite his movement out onto the flanks. As a whole, it was delightful to see Mata and Matic complete a throwback of a display from their good old days.

The Old Trafford faithful have had enough, as they called out on The Glazers and Ed Woodward

As the fixture was game, set and match by the hour mark or so, the home supporters around Old Trafford were united and stood up together to sing out their thoughts and feelings towards the Glazers and Ed Woodward. With the club failing to implement a title challenge in the Premier League or in the Champions League over the last five to six years, the United fans have simply had enough.

Most importantly, they did not show any anger or negativity towards Solskjaer, as in recent years, the United supporters would have preferred to blame the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, who had failed to live up to the club’s expectations and standards. It may not make much difference that the chants were sang out loud for one game, but if it starts to happen on a more daily basis, it will surely be seen as sending a powerful message to the main people in charge.

Is racism growing in the Premier League?

Many people would call the Premier League the best in the world but the league has been hit hard this season and in recent weeks for racist chanting amongst a minority of fans who have spoiled great occasions and overshadowed matches.

In truth it was thought that before the season started that racist chanting was resigned to Eastern European countries and in Serie A in Italy they have also had their fair share with ex Premier League player Mario Balotelli facing the brunt of so called fans’ actions. But it is easy to point at other countries and other fans, less easy to admit that there is a much bigger problem in England and the Premier League than there was first thought.

There have been countless incidents this season and it really does feel that sadly racism is growing in the league. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba was subjected to racism earlier in the season for missing a penalty. Marcus Rashford then came to his defence and he was subjected to the same vile chants. Again at Manchester United a fan had to be ejected for his actions in the massive game against Liverpool seen by millions of people around the world.

In the Manchester derby a fan had to be arrested after his actions towards certain players and the game had to be stopped as a consequence. Most recently in the Tottenham and Chelsea London derby clash the game had to be interrupted no less than three times to remind fans to stop alledged monkey chanting. Some of these seemed to be aimed at Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger although police later said that there was no evidence of an attack on the player. Stlll if true there were plenty of unsavoury moments.

The Premier League has been excellent in leading the charge to kick racism out of the game. A hint of it and actions have been taken and other leagues can still learn from this zero tolerance attitude. But it is still a worry that some fans turn up to the game not to watch it but to vent their hate for another player based on the colour of their skin.

The Premier League has issued statements and will enforce bans and this is very good and the right steps to make. But this season has clearly been a step back into a time that no one wants to remember and a big wake up call that the Premier League has a huge racism issue that perhaps the people running the league did not think was the case before.

The good news is that punishments are being handed out which normally means an arrest and being banned from football for life. But one senses that more education is needed on the topic, it is just sad that we are still talking about divides amongst people in 2020.

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Man Utd vs Everton; three key battles to look out for ahead Sunday’s game at Old Trafford

Ahead of gameweek 17, Manchester United sit in fifth-place and five points away from the top four positions as they take on an Everton side that are looking to turnaround their season with a new coach in Duncan Ferguson. With only seven points separating one side from another, it does sum up how the Premier League has been incredibly competitive and unpredictable so far this season.

For sure, both sides will be playing with a lot energy, movement as well as with pace, as the attacking option that the hosts and visitors have are capable of deciding the outcome of the fixture. The Red Devils will be looking to improve their record at Old Trafford, having picked up 15 points out of a potential 24, whilst the Toffees have won only one game away from home in eight attempts.

It’s time to look at the three vital battles that could help to decide the fate of this fixture and remember to check online sports betting in the US for guidelines on soccer betting and to find legal & licensed sportsbooks.

Marcus Rashford vs Djibril Sidibe

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford just happens to be one of the most inform players and one of the top goal-scorers within the Premier League so far this season, as he continues to pose a dangerous threat from the left flank through his burst of pace and incredible movement. Despite the departure of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku with no replacements coming in, the 22-year-old is proving a lot of his critics wrong by showing that the club and the manager can depend on him.

Rashford will be in for a close and tight encounter with Djibril Sidibe, who his currently on loan from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco and has become a regular starter for Everton in recent weeks. Given that Seamus Coleman is a huge doubt for the game at Old Trafford, there’s no doubt that the Frenchman will keep his place in the team and attempt to stamp his presence on both sides of the pitch.

Richarlison vs Harry Maguire

It’s no secret that Everton’s most deadly and influential player in the final third of the pitch is none other than Richarlison at the moment, an individual who may not be clinical and consistent against the mid-table teams but will always put on a convincing performance against the big sides. With his ability to take on two to three players with ease whilst being an aggressive predator in the box, he has the capability of hurting United on the counter or by winning the second balls in the key areas.

Richarlison has the intelligence and versatility to play on either flank or through the middle, and will be coming up against no one else but Harry Maguire, who has started to show his actual quality for the team when required and is also proving himself to be one of the main leaders within the squad. With United’s defence still conceding a few cheap goals here and there, Maguire will be hoping that they can become more stable and solid, as well as work on completing clean sheets regular basis.

Scott McTominay vs Gylfi Sigurdsson

Given the lack of quality midfield options that Solskjaer has available, as well as Paul Pogba still being on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, it means that Scott McTominay has to step up once again and be the main man for the midfield and for the team. Looking at the performances he has produced and how he commands the team around him from the middle of the pitch, he has surely been one of the United’s best players so far this season, especially given the lack of quality the team actually has.

Meanwhile for Everton, Gylfi Sigurdsson has started to play a deeper role and could be utilised in the central midfield position within Duncan Ferguson’s 4-4-2 setup, which may suit him well as he is known for his types of passing and his ability to feed the ball into the attackers. The 30-year-old has been seen as a number ten type of player throughout his time at Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City, but with Everton’s ongoing midfield injuries, he will have to play in a role he may not be totally comfortable in, considering the defensive duties and the amount of distance he will have to cover.

Manchester United remind the Premier League who were kings for 20 years

Let’s not walk around the situation this has been a hideous and largely terrible six years for Manchester United a club so used to picking up trophies and being England’s if not Europe’s best team. Those days look long gone but in the past few weeks the Red Devils have shown hints of their qualities which will always be festering in the clubs DNA.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started life at Old Trafford in such terrific form that he was soon given a full time contract and it was at that precise moment that United collapsed. The club couldn’t buy a win at the tail end of last season and that poor form has dogged them into this one. And yet there has been flashes that United do, in fact, have a quality team in them, it’s just been Solskjaer’s job to try and find it.

A more testing board would have sacked the Norwegian a couple of months ago to be fair and replaced him with Massimiliano Allegri who is currently without a job. But Allegri has stated that he doesn’t want to return to football until next summer. But maybe then after United’s recent up turn there is a case in keeping your manager and not sacking them at the hint that is everything is going downwards. Of course this stance can’t work every time but it is a thought.

Manchester United have had some difficult fixtures recently and it looks evident that these players are at their best when they are motivated by the bigger and stronger teams in the Premier League. Look at the evidence. United are the only team in England to take points from Liverpool this season as the two teams drew 1-1 at Old Trafford. United beat 2nd placed Leicester. They beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham 2-1 a week ago and then followed that up by beating the champions Manchester City by the same score line at the Etihad. It has been a fantastic few weeks for the club who are unbeaten in their last five matches.

This form has taken United up to 5th place and they are just 5 points behind Chelsea for a top four place. The club are scoring goals too and have 12 in those matches and there is a positive vibe around the club. Marcus Rashford genuinely looks like he has stepped up a level and looks world class. Daniel James is super quick and Jesse Lingard is doing a terrific job of late. It is all clicking for United.

One suspects though that it will be in the other games when United will be judged more, when they have to travel away to teams that are around them and in the bottom half of the league. Win those and get some consistency and then we can start talking about the return of this famous club. For now they remain a threat to the top 4 and Solskjaer looks like he has saved his job.

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Man City 1-2 Man Utd: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer comes away with the three points in the Manchester derby as Pep Guardiola’s title challenge has been hit with a massive blow

Going into gameweek 16, there was simply no game that was bigger than the Manchester derby, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United travelled to the Eithad Stadium to take on Pep Guardiola’s men, who had to ensure they go on a winning run to try and catch up to league leaders Liverpool. However, not many would have predicted the match to go down the way it actually did.

Before the match had taken place, Guardiola would have obviously aimed for the three points and also a dominant performance, in order to show to first-place Liverpool that they may be 14 points ahead but they will be ready to pounce on their mistakes. Meanwhile, Solskjaer was looking to replicate the showing and the result they recently produced against Tottenham Hotspur, in order to show some key consistency in the big games and to keep their hopes for a top-four finish alive.

As a whole, the hosts had unsurprisingly dominated most of the possession and were able to attempt more than 20 shots throughout the whole game. On the other hand, the visitors had the pace and the movement to be dangerous in transition, through the likes of Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, who were top notch on both sides of the pitch, on and off the ball.

United began on the front foot, as they were able to force City into making constant errors, which led them to test goalkeeper Ederson on more than one occasion within the first five to ten minutes of the game. It didn’t take long for the Reds to get their breakthrough, as Rashford was fouled in the penalty box by Bernardo Silva and went on to scoring his 10th league goal from the penalty spot.

A couple of minutes after taking the lead, Solskjaer’s young boys were able to get their second goal of the game through Anthony Martial, who linked up well with Daniel James before striking the ball with his weak foot into the front post and just past Ederson. Despite having the 2-0 lead up till the half-time break, some of the Red Devils would have wanted a further goal or two to extend their lead, as City are capable of turn anything around given their quality in the team and on the bench.

Following the half-time break, City continued to dominate possession of the ball and especially in the United’s half of the pitch, but were missing the cutting edging in the final of the third pitch, something they could have done with if their main goal-scorer in Sergio Aguero was not injured. Though, it was the brilliance of David De Gea and Aaron Wan-Bissaka that kept City’s midfield and attack at a minimum, who were continuing to pile the pressure on the visitors minute after minute.

The Citizens managed to get a goal back late in the game, where Riyaz Mahrez’s corner was met by the head of Nicolas Otamendi and into the back of the net, making sure that the last couple of minutes and the additional time would be full of nerves for both sets of supporters. However, Manchester United remained composed and held onto the lead and the important victory, taking them up to fifth-place whilst Man City remain in third-place and their title hopes are now shattered.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

The summer signings show their quality in the derby

A lot has been mentioned about the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Harry Maguire, in terms of how much they were brought for over the summer window and if they are showing that they are worth every penny. They’ve had their good moments as well as their bad moments so far this season, though, they stepped up when the side and the supporters needed them the most, and will now be backed by the true fans of the club for the rest of the season and for years to come.

Starting off with Maguire, his reading of the game from the backline and his ability to lead the team has improved a lot in recent weeks, and he is no longer being out of position or getting dribbled past with ease. Focusing on Wan-Bissaka, he is able to complete the interceptions and tackles without any second thoughts, he is becoming a winger’s nightmare and had kept Sterling quiet for majority of the game. And onto Daniel James, he has proved a lot of the critics wrong, as he has shown he has more to offer than just his pace and movement, as his work rate and defensive duties are top notch.

Ole’s record in the big games continues to impress everyone

For sure, Solskjaer has had his problems in breaking down the mid-table teams and also picking up victories against them on a regular basis, but that comes down to the current squad quality and depth that is available to him. On the other hand, the side’s record in the big games under Ole has to be well appreciated, especially when they have beaten Spurs and Man City in the matter of days.

So far this season, the Red Devils are yet to suffer a loss to one of the big guns, having drawn against Arsenal and Liverpool whilst beating Chelsea, Man City and Spurs. If the side did not pick up 11 points out of a potential 15, they would have been far away from the top four positions and around the mid-table area, leaving their chances of playing in the Champions League next year very slim.

The Red Devils continue to show their effective counter-attacking football

On a lot of occasions over the last couple of months, United have proven to be more effective and dangerous when they are not dominating the possession and are focused on pouncing on the opposition’s mistakes and counter-attacking them with full effect. Given the side’s lack of creativity and with the absence of Paul Pogba, this style of play has improved them on both sides of the pitch.

When looking back at the first 15 minutes of the Manchester derby, all four of United’s attackers had good chances to score a goal for their side and make a name for themselves, but Ederson had other thoughts as he made a few good saved and kept his side in the game. Though, just from that period of the game, a lot of the United supporters would have understood the type of system that Solskjaer is attempting to successfully implement and he is just wanting them to have faith in him.

Man Utd 2-1 Spurs: Jose Mourinho takes no point back in his return to Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lives to fight for another day

With the Premier League midweek games truly kicking in once again ahead of a busy December schedule, the main focus was solely on the feisty and interesting fixture between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, where Jose Mourinho would be making a return to take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. A victory for either side would help them push towards the top four positions.

Going into the game, Mourinho would have mainly wanted the three points to get his side to at least fifth-place in the league, as well as to prove himself to the United board and Ed Woodward, who actually sacked him this time last year. Meanwhile, Solskjaer’s situation was a difficult one, as it looked like his days at the club are numbered and he was on borrowed time, so a win for him was required more than ever.

Overall, the host were more effective and productive with the ball despite not dominating the possession, and were able to get attempt and complete more shots on target. On the other hand, the visitors had some good periods with the ball in United’s half, but were lacking the cutting edge and the final third quality to break down the opposition.

United were on the front foot from the start, winning the key battle in midfield whilst using their pace and movement on the flanks through the likes of Daniel James and Marcus Rashford. Fortunately enough they took the lead through the latter and his high confidence of shooting from different angles, as his quick snap shot took Paulo Gazzaniga by surprise and went into the net.

The home side continued to pile on the pressure and were looking quite determined to doubled their lead, but did not find great success in getting past the Tottenham defence. Spurs managed to complete only two shots on target in the first half, with the most important one coming from Dele Alli in 39th minute of the game, where he created a moment of brilliance by beating both Ashley Young and Fred to the ball in the penalty box before calmly slotting it passed David De Gea.

After the half-time break, it didn’t take long for the Red Devils to take the lead again, as Rashford was fouled in the penalty box Moussa Sissoko and went to confidently taking the penalty to score his ninth league goal of the season. With most of the main action being covered by the hour mark, there wasn’t much to it in the final third of the game, as both sides became sloppy and poor on the ball.

In the end, Spurs were enjoying the fair share of the ball were could not do much about it, as United were being patient defensively and were looking for some moments to counter successfully. Though, the game came to an end with Solskjaer picking up the much needed victory and also doing a number on Mourinho, allowing United to move up to fifth-place as Spurs went down to eighth-place.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

Marcus Rashford is a man on a mission

Since the final days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford, no player has scored more goals for Manchester United than Marcus Rashford (57), which is more than impressive from the 22-year-old who was only given his official debut two years after Sir Alex had went into retirement. And both his goals were well-taken last night, with one being from a tight angle and the other from the spot.

The questions were raised about the key chances he has missed this term and his ability to be a clinical goal-scorer, which he is now proving to the critics and to those who doubted him, as he has bagged nine goals and four assists in 14 league games. Given the lack of attacking options and depth within the department, Rashford will be heavy relied on from now till the end of the campaign.

The midfield duo Fred and Scott McTominay continues to impress

When looking at Tottenham’s midfield compared to United’s quality in the middle of the pitch, one would have thought that the control and dominance in the midfield battle would have been one-sided and in the favour of the away side. However, it was the midfield duo of Fred and Scott McTominay that came out on top, as they were constantly outstanding on and off the ball.

Looking into Fred’s performance, it was arguably the best one he has completed in a United shirt as far as the Old Trafford faithful were concerned, as he was progressive with the ball at his feet and was getting into the defensive duties when required. On the other hand, the return of McTominay was huge for the side and the manager, as his physical presence and ability to protect the ball in midfield was much needed, as the United midfield in recent weeks have been poor and deficient.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to fight for another day at Man Utd

For sure, the main focus has been on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and how much more longer he will be at the club for, but the credit has to be given where it’s due, as he managed to overcome a strong side in Tottenham Hotspur that is managed by Jose Mourinho. Surprisingly, Solskjaer’s record in the big games have been more positive and effective than in the games against the middle-table sides.

If he wasn’t able to recently get a result against Spurs and one potentially in the Manchester derby on the weekend, he would have surely been sacked by Ed Woodward before the December fixtures had kicked in. With the United fanbase being fairly even on if they want Ole out or not, they will want him to motivate the players to perform like they did on a more regular basis, where they play with urgency, fast tempo on and off the ball whilst having the mentality of being on the front foot.

Man Utd 3-1 Brighton: Ole’s men enjoyed a straightforward afternoon at Old Trafford

Although the main focus of gameweek 12 was the head-to-head clash between Liverpool and Manchester City, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a must-win match of they own as took on Brighton & Hove Albion, with the aim of turning their form and momentum in the league around. This was the perfect chance for the Red Devils to pick up the win with a solid display.

When looking back at the game as a whole, the hosts were without a doubt the most dominant and attacking-minded side and were on top on both sides of the pitch, whilst the visitors were sat quite deep in their own half and were unable to create enough chances or moments. Nevertheless, United played on the front foot straightaway and it allowed them to gain full control of the end outcome.

The Red Devils got the lead through a good move which went from defence to attack in the matter of seconds, as Andreas Pereira’s shot took quite a deflection before going into the back of net. And then a few minutes later, United got their second from a set-piece which was poorly defended by Brighton, with the loose ball in the penalty box being put into the wrong net by Davy Propper.

Graham Potter’s men were able to pick themselves up from the floor, as they grew in confidence and began to work well on and off the ball for the remainder of the first half. With the tactical changes being made and utilised during the half-time break, the Seagulls were able to get a goal back through Lewis Dunk, who dominantly headed Pascal Gross’ corner passed David De Gea.

Fortunately for Solskjaer and United, Marcus Rashford impressively managed to get the third and final goal for the hosts, which was once again worked well by the team to prevent the visitors from coming up with a potential comeback. Had the side been more ruthless in the final third, they could have ended the match with five to six goals, something that hasn’t happened in quite a long time.

In the end, the Red Devils picked up the much needed three points and their third league victory at home this season as they go up to seventh-place in the table. Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove Albion sit comfortably in eleventh-place, currently seven valuable points away from the relegation zone.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

One of the best attacking displays at Old Trafford this season

For sure, the goals in the first half came down to a bit of luck and Brighton’s overall quality is not the greatest, but no one could deny the intensity and movement on and off the ball that United had showed, which had been lacking for quite some time. However, if it wasn’t for this early and positive mindset, the side wouldn’t have had the two important goals before the half-time break, something they haven’t shockingly completed for the first time at Old Trafford since the middle of January.

The Red Devils ended the match with five big chances created, 21 shots attempted and with 11 of them going on target. If the team are able to keep this up on a regular basis, especially once the injured players are back from the sidelines, then there should be no doubt that they could possibly push for a top four finish from the middle of the season as well as compete in the domestic cups.

The chemistry between Martial and Rashford is growing once again

After both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukuaku had left the club in the final days of the transfer windows, majority of Manchester United supporters were quite concerned about the quality and depth available in the attacking department, as no replacements were brought in at all. Though, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford getting into their stride recently, the side are now able to counter-attack effectively through the pace, movement and understanding they offer to the team.

If we’re being honest, neither of Martial and Rashford have been consistent goal-scorers week in and out, but as long as they work off one another and get into good positions, there shouldn’t be a problem in both players chipping in with 30-35 goals in the league together. United’s attacking options are quite thin at the moment, but they will be hoping that the current individuals will be able to guide them till the end of the year, with the hopes of signing someone in January being high.

Brandon Williams will make the left-back position his own very soon

It had seemed like United had some rising issues in the left-back area, given the injury problems that Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw have been having as well as Ashley Young’s time as a regular player coming to an end. On the other hand, Brandon Williams’ recent introduction has worked wonders for all parties, as he slotted into the position like a glove and is beginning to stamp his own mark.

He may not be seen as the next big thing or the finished article as of yet, but the 19-year-old has been showing his quality and potential on both sides of the pitch, being able to defend with composure, play confidently with both feet and prove to be a threat going forward. If he can continue to perform on a consistent basis and get into the good books of Solskjaer, then the Old Trafford faithful will definitely see the younger be on the team sheet more often than predicted.

Should Manchester United turn to Red Bull Leipzig’s Timo Werner?

As the January transfer window peers ever closer, Manchester United know they have a lot of work to do in such a short space of time. 

At best, a club can aim for one transfer to be completed in January that is a permanent move given the time restrains set in place during the winter market, but the Red Devils need at least two through the door if they are to seriously challenge for a top four place.

Given the lack of recruitment in the forward and midfield departments, it is no real surprise to see Man United suffering in the way that they are. Injuries to key players in Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba have stunted the club so far this season, with the former only just returning to full fitness.

Although Romelu Lukaku clearly didn’t fit into Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s plans, as well as the underperforming Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United made a huge mistake in not replacing them – even if they do have a strong belief in Marcus Rashford and the youngster Mason Greenwood.

The club pleaded to fans to suggest there were no players on the market available, but there never will be that ticks every single box. Mario Mandzukic is still one name to reverberate around Old Trafford, which might be re-ignited in January, but the Red Devils left it too late and could not put a deal in place before the English-buying market closed.

Timo Werner has continually been linked with a move to the Premier League, with Liverpool and Manchester United showing the most interest. After extending his contract until 2023, there is some noise from sections of the German media to suggest his release clause is £27 million.

If this is to be believed, there will be a vast number of teams in Europe that will be queuing up for Werner’s signature in January, which already puts Solskjær’s team at a disadvantage given the league position they are in, as well as their performances.

Werner is not a traditional centre forward, with a lot of his play starting from deep and integrating others. He began his career with VfB Stuttgart, operating as a winger, in which he continues to drift in-and-out of those areas on the pitch in present day.

There is no doubt about it that Manchester United need a new striker to help alleviate the pressure placed on Rashford and Martial. While Werner is not too much older than the pair, he has a reputation of a consistent goal-scorer.

The German international already has 13 goals to his name in 15 appearances throughout all competitions, and another six assists. More than just a typical centre forward, Werner can contribute from all areas of the pitch and help others – just as he has done in tandem with his partner Yussuf Poulson.

Ultimately, it will come down to Werner’s intentions moving forward. If he wishes to start every week and become the main player in a forward line, Liverpool is not his best option, given the fact he will not displace Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are more unattractive in where their reputation is currently situated, but offer more game time and the ability to become a hero that helps the club get back on track once and for all.

There will be a lot more Premier League and European teams that come to the table and try to place themselves in a position to sign the German, but Manchester United are Liverpool are the two most interested presently.

For such a cheap transfer fee in the current market, whichever club does manage to land him have themselves a potential world-class striker for the foreseeable future.

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Manchester United’s fall from grace will be underlined by a lack of quality strikers

When Manchester United lost to West Ham, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about his lack of strikers, especially if one of them gets injured like in the case of Anthony Martial. He responded diplomatically by suggesting that on the strikers department there isn’t a problem and seemed happy with that statement. His eyes seemed to say something else though and a few days later in his own press conference he mentioned that the club will be looking for a striker to come in for January.

It is hard to think of a United side who have looked so average up front. At the end of the day Anthony Martial who came from Monaco ended up being the striker that could have been and the one that got away from United was actually the other youngster coming up the ranks in Kylian Mbappe who now plays for PSG.

Marcus Rashford is a quality striker when on form and has got some important goals for the club. However he is 22 and maybe more would have been expected of him given that he has never scored more than 10 league goals in his career, and he has spent 5 seasons with the club. This isn’t to say that Rashford doesn’t deserve his place because he does and plays off well in the team.

Daniel James can attack too and he looks one for the future, and the three attackers have scored 8 of United’s goals from 9 this season. But at the same time United not only have young strikers and no stardust if you like, but also players that can perform on their day but simply aren’t consistent enough, and that will be key in thinking United may not even finish in the top six this season. At this rate top 4 looks very distant too.

It’s hard to think that this situation would have been allowed under Sir Alex Ferguson and that was to sell Romelu Lukaku for over £70m but not replace him, that seemed like an odd choice. Instead United went for defence and brought in Harry Maguire for £80m, but the club need to be in a situation where they could have afforded both targets. If one looks at Mauro Icardi for example, a goalscorer that was bought by PSG as they believed Neymar would be sold and they had injuries up front, instead of resting on their laurels the club knew they had to bring in quality, and they did.

United seemed to have taken their eye off the ball and even if they can navigate themselves until January, that is a month where traditionally the best players are not available. A penny for your thoughts, Ole?

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