Manchester United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winning streak continues

Rashford

As the Manchester United supporters and the Old Trafford faithful enjoy the rollercoaster of a ride they are currently experiencing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the side’s next league game was against Brighton & Hove Albion at home, a team that have picked up more points at home than away so far this season. With Arsenal and Chelsea facing one another in the evening fixture, it was more than crucial that the Red Devils picked up the much need three points and also in a comfortable manner.

Overall, United had a perfect first half performance, where they managed to take a healthy lead into the half-time break with the important goals coming from Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba. Though, the last 30 minutes of the game should be seen as a reality check for the manager and the players, as the visitors pulled back a goal through Pascal Gross and a couple of chances to get the equaliser too.

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

Marcus Rashford comes up with the goods again

Since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Marcus Rashford has been one of the few players within the squad that has benefitted from the 45-year-old Norwegian international’s presence as the club’s caretaker manager. The instant progress has been more than obvious over the last couple of weeks, where the forward has managed to become more clinical and proactive in the final third of the pitch.

Rashford is currently on five goals and one assist in his last six league appearances, and he has more or less been the main reason to why Romelu Lukaku has been experiencing a lot of time on the bench. If the rising star from Wythenshawe continues to develop and improve to a consistent level, he could potentially become the 20-goal-a-season striker that the current United side badly needs.

Ander Herrera came up with a Man of the Match performance

Ander Herrera is one of those types of midfielders that gets the job done without any complaints or any excuses at all. From intercepting play and tackling the opposition to moving the ball at a quick level, he produced another top notch performance on both sides of the pitch. With how he is playing at the moment, there is no chance that he will be leaving the club in the summer on a free transfer.

Focusing back onto the last 30 minutes of the game, Herrera’s role quickly became into a defensive and safe minded one, which allowed the team to survive some tough moments in their own half until the final whistle. Time and time again, the dominant displays that the former Athletic Club player produces must make one truly think he has been playing in England for his whole life.

The second half was a huge lesson for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer personally

Although the hosts dominated possession and created a couple of chances in the second half, they did not do enough in taking their shots and it led the visitors to grown in more confidence as they began to have more space and time on the ball. In the 72nd minute, Brighton created a chance out of nothing, which was calmly taken Pascal Gross, who placed it perfectly into the top corner of the net.

On top of that, the Seagulls had a chance or two in the final moments to seize a crucial point away from home, but the end product was not there when it was needed the most. With how relieved the Manchester United players and the manager himself were once the game to an end, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to improve his in-game management as well as his ability to quickly react to the ever so growing and rising threat that is offered by the opposition in the late stages of the game.

Why Idrissa Gana Gueye to PSG may be a good deal for Everton

Idrissa Gueye PSG

Propose the idea that Everton would be willing to sell Idrissa Gana Gueye to Paris Saint Germain this month and you will be met with derision.

When ranking Everton’s best players in recent years the Senegal player is a regular at the top. He remains one of few success stories from the short reign of former Director of Football Steve Walsh.

Even last season, when the Blues were one of the worst sides in the Premier League, Gueye came out with his head held high. That is a status few of his teammates can claim. This season under Marco Silva he has flourished once again. The Portuguese manager’s progressive, forward-thinking system has afforded Gueye a key role. Continue reading

Jesus back among the goals as Manchester City suffocate Wolves

Following Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, the pressure was back on Manchester City ahead of their clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Reds had extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to seven points with their success on the south coast, meaning that Pep Guardiola’s side could not afford to draw or lose against a team who had performed very well against them earlier in the campaign.

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Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men keep bouncing on

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After spending a good couple of days in Dubai to recover back their energy and momentum following the festive fixtures, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United first task back was a tricky trip away to third-place Tottenham Hotspur. The match would be seen as a make or break moment for the visitors, as a defeat would seriously deny the side’s chances of finishing in the top four.

However, Solskjaer did what the likes of David Moyes, Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal couldn’t do, and that was beat an aggressive and dominant Tottenham team away from home. With how the Red Devils played on and off the ball, as well as the patience they showed on both sides of the pitch, it would not be a surprise to see the race for third and fourth place being extreme from now till May.

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

David De Gea shows his brilliance in goal

Today at the Wembley Stadium, David De Gea set a new personal record, as he incredibly managed to complete 11 saves in a single Premier League for Manchester United without conceding a goal. His increasing influence is what makes him the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and one of the best in Europe, as he continues to save the club at least 10 to 12 crucial points season by season.

Time and time again, the opposition’s attackers and their home supporters are left in awe and total shock, especially when they feel a clear chance is going to end into the back of the net, bar it is saved by no one else but De Gea himself. Without a doubt, the Spanish international is up there with the likes of Eden Hazard, Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne as one of the best players within the league.

Marcus Rashford is proving he can be clinical and deadly

From his early days under Louis Van Gaal to playing on a regular basis for Jose Mourinho, Marcus Rashford had always shown magical moments as well as his scary potential to go onto become United’s ideal number nine for the next ten years. Though, the only thing that was letting him down was his lack of ability to be clinical and to finish, something he could not improve on straightaway.

On the other hand, the arrival of Solskjaer has helped him to evolve into an individual that can slowly reach the appreciation and hype that the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Demebele receives, as long as he becomes consistent and reliable. For the time being, Rashford has done more than enough over the last couple of weeks which has led the coach to drop Romelu Lukaku to the bench.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer succeeds in his first big task as interim manager

The victories against the lower sides in Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth and Newcastle United were seen as the much needed and straightforward ones, particularly because of the fact that the team were moving away from the top four spots week in and out. However, a cool, calm and collected victory away at Tottenham is starting to show that Solskjaer could be the real deal.

It may not be the right time to question if he is the right manager for Manchester United in the long run or not, but you cannot deny that he has began to revive the side’s attacking and breathtaking football. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer somehow rallies the current squad to a top four finish as well as a potential FA Cup trophy, the Old Trafford faithful will without a doubt feel he is the chosen one.

Four things we truthfully learned about Manchester United in 2018

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The majority of Manchester United supporters will be hoping that the New Year is filled with memorable moments as well as one or two trophies. 2018 as a whole will be one to forget for the Red Devils, given that a lot of unforgettable things had happened, from the unconvincing transfer windows to the disappointment in the Champions League and the defeat in the FA Cup final.

On top of that, the Old Trafford faithful had to bare the appalling and dire football that was played under Jose Mourinho, which resulted in a number of points being dropped home and away during the season. Due to this, the board made a huge managerial decision and are now looking to get back to their best, before they can start to challenge for the league title and the domestic trophies again.

Here are the four fascinating things we learned throughout the year of 2018…

A director of football is badly needed

With the likes of Andrea Berta, Fabio Paratici and Paul Mitchell being reportedly linked as the new director of football at Manchester United, the board and Ed Woodward are starting to understand the importance of having an individual that has the football knowledge to help take the football club to the next level. If this was to happen within the next couple of months, the next permanent manager of the team will enjoy the presence of someone who has positive plans for the long run.

Most vitally, a director of football will help to target players in a simple yet effective way, which will allow the club to utilise their money properly rather than splashing it out on midfielders or attackers who have not proved themselves at the top level. The revival of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla over the last five to ten years have been because of the board’s capability to bring in a sporting director, who can bring forward a controllable philosophy that everyone can follow.

Jose Mourinho was the virus, not Paul Pogba

For a large number of months in 2018, it had seem like the gloomy days and painful nights at Old Trafford were solely due to the rift between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba, two individuals who could not get along with one another and could not put their differences aside for the sake of the football club. With the situation becoming worse and worse, the Premier League pundits and Manchester United supporters felt one of them had to leave before it affected the team as a whole.

In the end, the hierarchy felt enough was enough and chose to relieve the manager of his duties, which now happens to be a great decision as the side are now playing their football with more confidence and freedom as well as Pogba himself being the heartbeat of the midfield. Had the board decided to back the manager and get rid of the player, they would have potentially looked very stupid in a year’s time, where the Frenchman could be playing the best football of his career at Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain whilst they are stuck with a declining and finished Mourinho.

David De Gea has constantly been saving United’s defence

Over the last couple of years or so, both Louis Van Gaal and Mourinho set United up in a defensive and counter-attack way, which made it look like the side were defensively a solid unit whilst being just about clinical on the other side. However, the side’s defensive displays in recent years have been largely exaggerated due to the brilliance of David De Gea, a goalkeeper that comes up with a number of saves with ease on a regular basis, which has made him to be recognised as the best shot-stopper within the Premier League as well as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, if not the best.

The defence has to be seen as a weak department and an area that needs shuffling around, especially given that the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been playing at the club for far longer than necessary and have simply failed to reach the potential they were expected to meet. If the board want to make a statement and are looking to show ruthlessness, then they will be willing to seriously revamp the backline over the summer transfer window.

The future looks bright for the Red Devils on and off the pitch

For sure a lot of money has been spent from after the Sir Alex Ferguson era up until now, though, it cannot be kept as a secret that the current squad is filled with a number of talented players. They maybe yet to prove themselves as Champions League or Premier League winners, but the important individuals such as Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof as well as a couple of others who have shown moments here and there are ready to take this football club forward.

Overall, it is impossible to see United fall far away from the top sides within England and Europe, as they have the financial resources to aggressively buy in every transfer window. On the other hand, it is critical for the club to start reflecting and showing their dominance on the pitch, otherwise, their chances of creating another successful legacy decreases season by season. In the end, there is simply no doubt that the Red Devils will be bouncing back and return to the throne that was once theirs.

Same old Arsenal as season is unravelling for the Gunners

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Arsenal dropped more points at the weekend when they went to West Ham and lost 1-0 and quite frankly this season is looking just like any other under Arsene Wenger.

That isn’t to say that new coach Unai Emery hasn’t stamped his presence on the team, because he has and the Gunners in general have been more willing to attack and take chances especially away from home. But one glance at the league table and after 22 games Arsenal just aren’t bringing anything fresh to the table or their season.

Not too much criticism should be put upon Emery- coming into a side that have been so used to having Wenger in charge for more than two decades, a change takes some doing and it isn’t going to happen quickly. Having said that Emery will be under more pressure next season.

This latest loss though means that Manchester United have been able to catch up to them. Just before Christmas they were a good 8 points adrift, so it just underline how very average the Gunners have been lately.

The defeat against West Ham also means that they have slipped 6 points behind a top 4 finish, and with United right on top of them it means that Arsenal now have to challenge both Chelsea and possibly a resurgent United for that top four place. In short it looks as it Arsenal will miss out on a Champions League place for the 2nd time in a row.

Because of this we can say that Emery has failed in his objectives this season which must have been to put Arsenal back into Europe’s elite competition, right now that looks like a distant dream. Emery’s salvation could come by way of the FA Cup, a competition the Gunners have won 3 times from the last four years.

There is also of course the Europa League where Arsenal have made it to the knockout stages. If they win that then they will qualify for the Champions League, so not everything is at a dead end for them. However fans will be alarmed at some of the clubs latest stats.

Emery’s team have just one win in their past four and on form the club would not be in 5th place but in 10th. And maybe no fans want to hear this but this time last season Arsenal had 39 points, there really is nothing in it between Wenger’s last season and Emery’s first.

We can say that on the face of it Arsenal have not got any worse, but neither have they got any better. That doesn’t mean the future isn’t bright with Emery in the hot seat but it is clear that he will need a big budget this summer in order to compete at the top.

Manchester City can’t afford to be complacent against Wolves

Manchester City v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group C

With nine dropped points in December, Pep Guardiola will be eager to keep the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool when his Manchester City welcome Wolves to the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.

Being labelled as giant killers, the visitors have recently beaten Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool and so Guardiola will warn his team against complacency, despite coming into this fixture on the back of a morale boosting wins against Rotherham (7-0) and Burton Albion (9-0) in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup semi-final. Continue reading

Everton’s three-point plan for the January transfer window

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Like most clubs in the Premier League, Everton will be keen to get work done in the January transfer window.

While manager Marco Silva and Director of Football Marcel Brands have indicated that the Blues won’t be busy that is unlikely to be the reality. Both know that stating their intentions openly is a foolish move. Indeed, it was a pitfall the previous regime fell into and ended up suffering because of.

They also know, however, that this is a squad that remains in transition and needs several areas addressing before it is capable of achieving anywhere near their goals.

That makes it likely Brands and his team will be working hard behind the scenes to improve Everton’s squad this month. Continue reading

Solanke deal falls through but Crystal Palace must continue search for new striker

Steve Parish did not want to give too much away, but he did in effect confirm that the deal was close.

“These things are never straightforward but we’re really trying to get someone in early,” the Crystal Palace chairman told beIN SPORTS in a pitchside interview ahead of the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea on December 30. “For once, the papers are probably not miles off what we’re looking at.”

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Bernardo Silva: His importance to Manchester City

Bernardo Silva

Manchester City’s Portuguese magician Bernardo Silva put in a performance of a lifetime against Liverpool to keep their Premier League title hopes alive on Thursday night, just months after he was almost shipped out after struggling during his first season in Manchester. Continue reading