Tag Archives: Manchester United

Potential Manchester United XI next season including Griezmann & Verratti

Manchester United were the highest spenders in the Premier League last summer but Jose Mourinho’s side are still short of competing for the major honours, having spent the majority of the campaign in sixth position.

Arsenal’s decline has seen the Red Devils rise to fifth, four points behind Liverpool with two games in hand, but Manchester United will be aiming for bigger and better things next season; as they eye a push for league glory and look to mount a challenge in the Champions League.

To achieve those goals, Mourinho will have to spend heavily to improve the squad once again this summer and there’s likely to be a host of holes in the squad that need filling- as the likes of Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick are all likely to leave Old Trafford.

United have cash in abundance though and spending cash won’t be an issue for the Red Devils though and this potential XI looks phenomenal.

Analysis: Would Verratti be better for Man United or Chelsea

Manchester United and Chelsea have received a boost via the recent comments from Marco Verratti’s agent, as The Daily Mirror suggests the Italian is unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain.

24-year-old Verratti is one of the finest young midfielders within world football and interest from top clubs, including that of Barcelona, is likely to be high. Now, Verratti’s agent Donato di Campli has handed any interested party a boost in the quest for his client’s services.

“The situation is very complicated – he has a very good contract until 2021. He wants to win and PSG, like it is, cannot win. He has been in Paris for five years now and he has to make a decision: earn a lot and not win or earn and become a champion.”

“It is not a problem of money. Whoever signs Verratti will pay him a lot of money. One thing is certain: if he leaves PSG, it will be for a top European club. There are some top Italian clubs but I have my doubts Italy will be his final destination. Spain, the Premier League or the Bundesliga? A top European club.”

Both Chelsea and Manchester United already have a wealth of talent in midfield but Verratti would be a significant addition, though it begs the question of where he’d be the best fit. Here, we’ve taken a look.

Which style works best?

Manchester United and Chelsea both have contrasting styles under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, with the latter adopting a three-man defence and utilising wing-backs; which means the midfield duo, which this season has largely consisted of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, needs to be solid defensively.

United, on the other hand, usually adopt a flat back-four but their shape doesn’t have too much space for another creative midfielder, with Paul Pogba playing further forward whilst Ander Herrera or Michael Carrick sweeps up the danger.

If Verratti were to arrive at either Premier League side, he’d need to be strong defensively to fit into the current set-up; although there is a chance that the tactics could be tweaked if his future does lie in England.

Is Verratti defensively strong?

Squawka statistics show Verratti can hold his own defensively but there is certainly work to be done, with the concerning aspect showing the Italian international has picked up five yellow cards this season and committed a hefty 26 fouls.

On a more positive note, 45 successful tackles and 15 interceptions make for good reading but winning three aerial duels show’s he’s not quite suited to a defensive role. Clearly, he’s better in attack than he is in a deeper role.

With that being the case, Chelsea seems to be an incredibly unlikely destination with Antonio Conte’s current tactics but the Italian link could work. Meanwhile, United would equally have to adjust their set-up.

Looking at it this way, Barcelona would probably be the best fit for Verratti and he’d certainly be a top-quality successor to Andres Iniesta in the Catalan side’s ranks.

Manchester United Fans Tease Arsenal Supporters On Social Media

In an unofficial mission that’s taken four months and 19 days to complete, Manchester United has finally moved out of 6th place in the Premier League table with a 3-1 win away to Middlesbrough. It only took José Mourinho’s men an 18-game unbeaten run to do so, too!

The Red Devils travelled to the Riverside in knowledge that a win would be all that was required of them to surpass Arsenal in 5th place, after the Gunners succumbed to a 3-1 defeat away to West Bromwich Albion in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Mourinho rang the changes against the relegation-bound outfit, currently without a manager, and raced to a 2-0 lead in the second half after a routine headed goal by Marouane Fellaini in the first period and Jesse Lingard’s long-range arrow into the top corner following the interval.

Man United were made to sweat for their goods, as Rudy Gestede’s late strike offered hope of a Middlesbrough revival, but a late howler from Victor Valdes paved way for Antonio Valencia to walk his way into the goal and propel the visitors up the table.

After an uninspired start to the season that compiled results such as a 3-1 loss to Watford at Vicarage Road and the 4-0 demolition at Stamford Bridge at the hands of Chelsea, United have had to grind their way into a position of greater power.

Along the way, the club’s renewed relationship with 6th place, week after week, had become a gimmick within the footballing world, even in their best form.

Today’s triumph sees them move forward in the table at last, whereas United fans across the globe will be glad to finally brush the joke off from their shoulder.

To make the occasion even sweeter for them, it’s bitter rivals Arsenal, currently in torrid form before a timely international break, who will now have to bear the flak.

Social media, as always, was awash with armoury to throw at the situation.

Attentions at Old Trafford will now undoubtedly switch to breaking into the top four, with United sitting just three points behind Liverpool with a game in hand, prior to their clash against Manchester City.

United’s remaining games do still see them take on the likes of Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton before the season’s conclusion, which could be the ideal way to move up the table, but one that’s evidently easier said than done.

‘Shocking Performance’ Football Fans On Twitter Criticise Manchester United Midfielder

It was a miserable night for Manchester United as they crashed out of the FA Cup in the quarter-final of the competition.

Ander Herrera may have been the man to really let United down by picking up two silly bookings, but it was Paul Pogba who frustrated the fans most as the Frenchman once again failed to deliver in a big match.

Despite pretty much all fans saying Pogba was poor against Chelsea, Mourinho amazingly declared Pogba ‘the best player on the pitch’. There was one player that was certianly better, and that was N’Golo Kante.

The international compatriot of Pogba arrived at Chelsea for just a margin of Pogba’s fee, but Kante has been the more impressive player all season and the difference in form showed in this game. One area Pogba is perhaps regarded as being better than Kante is in attacking areas, but in this FA Cup game, Kante was even more effective than Pogba in the final third. Kante scored the only goal of the game with a long-range effort that crept past De Gea into the bottom corner.

There’s been criticism from United fans themselves, rival fans and pundits. Here’s a sample of the reaction…

Pogba is starting to have one too many poor performances and when you cost £89million, that is something you really cannot afford to do. The likes of Mesut Ozil do not get away with it and Ozil cost less than half of what Pogba did. He’s still young, but Pogba needs to start making the difference in the big games sooner rather than later.

I do have a bit of sympathy for Pogba on this occasion because Herrera let him down early in the game getting those two bookings. It is hard enough having to handle Kante with a fully stocked midfield, but when one gets sent off it makes it pretty much impossible. Pogba’s attacking influence was restricted and he was forced to chase the game and work hard defensively, not his forte’ to say the least.

All The Player Ratings: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for the FA Cup Quarter-Final tie between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea

Thibaut Courtois – 7

The Belgian came up with a crucial stop in the second period, denying what would have been Manchester United’s equaliser through Marcus Rashford’s left-footed strike at goal.

César Azpilicueta – 6

Impressive at the back, less so going forward.

David Luiz – 7

Luiz was able to boss the circulation of possession, even throughout United’s sharpest spells.

Gary Cahill – 6

Noted as the weak link in Chelsea’s backline, exemplified by the rare surrender of possession in sight of United’s pressing traps, but such pressure was eventually eased on the ex-Bolton Wanderers man.

Victor Moses – 6.5

The former Crystal Palace and Wigan Athletic winger got up and down the flank well, despite it being crowded by a defensive-looking United line-up.

N’Golo Kanté – 8

The man of the match, N’Golo Kanté proved to be the decisive difference between the two FA Cup hopefuls with his goal from range.

Nemanja Matic – 6.5

Positive and tidy in possession, which boded well for Chelsea’s game plan in the second half.

Marcos Alonso – 6.5

Another to put in a decent performance, as his influence on proceedings grew in the second half.

Willian – 7

Sharp, direct and unlucky not to have earned himself a goal and assist along the way.

Eden Hazard – 8

Along with Kanté, Eden Hazard was as expressive as ever in the final third, escaping the aggressive press-traps from Man United and inflicting lasting damage.

Diego Costa – 5.5

This wasn’t the Diego Costa we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent times, taking the bait when embroiling himself in physical battles with Marcos Rojo and missing a couple of dead-cert goals on another day.

Subs:

Cesc Fabregas – 6

Accentuated Chelsea’s dominance after coming on in the second half.

Kurt Zouma – N/A

Michy Batshuayi – N/A

 

Manchester United

David De Gea – 7.5

The Spaniard was the main reason why Manchester United kept Chelsea away from the lead in the first half, as the Blues dominated proceedings following Ander Herrera’s red card.

Antonio Valencia – 5

Plenty of fouls coming from a man who was visibly frustrated with his team’s performance. Antonio Valencia was a poorer player, as a result.

Phil Jones – 6

The Englishman was fairly sound at pressing higher up the pitch in the early stages, but Eden Hazard and co. soon had his number, as he succumbed to mistimed tackles.

Chris Smalling – 6

Few complaints hang over the centre back’s head as far as the result is concerned, but as a captain, and United boss José Mourinho also joins him in this equation, Chris Smalling perhaps could have done more to prevent his teammates from losing their cool in battle.

Marcos Rojo – 5

Rash and aggressive, Marcos Rojo was another to tread on a fine line with regards to his discipline.

Matteo Darmian – 5.5

Mirroring Phil Jones’ duties in pressing a little higher up the pitch, almost like a fourth centre back, Darmian also collected his fair share of failed attempts.

Ander Herrera – 5

Man United fans may bemoan Michael Oliver’s decision to red card the midfielder in the first half, especially after such a positive impact in the early exchanges, but the visitors should also be disappointed in Herrera’s foolish actions just seconds after the referee’s general warning.

Paul Pogba – 5

Little inspiration came from the French playmaker, in particular after being paired up with Marouane Fellaini.

Ashley Young – 4.5

Totally retracted, whereas Chelsea’s preference to attack down their own left-hand side saw Young come into the picture at a sporadic rate.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5

Appeared fairly lively in and around the box, but the Armenian star was the one to be hooked early in response to Herrera’s red card.

Marcus Rashford – 5.5

Kept Chelsea on their toes, but the striker will be disappointed to have not finished a very good chance he managed to fashion for himself in the second period.

Subs:

Marouane Fellaini – 4.5

The Belgian never got into the game, much to United’s detriment.

Jesse Lingard – N/A

3 Players To Put In Your Premier League Fantasy Football Teams This Week

With each gameweek that beckons, the need for points heightens in just about every sector of the Premier League table. Us Fantasy Premier League players will be counting each and every point that comes our way too, as we head approach the final bend of a long season.

Here’s who Fresh Football’s tipping to be this weekend’s difference makers and give you the bragging rights over your mates.

1 – Gylfi Sigurðsson
Position:
Midfield
Club: Swansea City
Price: £7.6m

Carlo Ancelotti’s former partner in crime, Paul Clement, may well have set Swansea City on their way to climbing up the Premier League table, but if there’s one man to which the Swans also owe much of their recent success to, that man is Gylfi Sigurðsson.

In the Icelandic star Swansea have raked in 17 important goals (including assists) to their league tally and yet more success in front of goal could be on the over the coming weeks.

First up for the Welsh outfit are Burnley, a side who have been incredibly impressive on their own turf, but one that has also seen their form on the road fall way below of the precedent set at home.

Sean Dyche’s side have gone on to lose 10 out their 12 away games in the Premier League this season, and so the threat posed by Sigurðsson, both from open play and set-pieces, could prove to be what tips the balance should Swansea renew Burnley’s poor form.

Furthermore, the Swans will be pleased to know the likes of Hull City, Bournemouth and Middlesbrough, all within touching distance in the bottom half of the table, make up the composition of their next three fixtures, so there’s a facet of longevity to picking the ex-Tottenham Hotspur man ahead of this weekend.

‘He Was Woeful’ Manchester United Fans Unhappy With Midfielder’s Performance vs. Southampton

Manchester United were victorious in the EFL Cup final on Sunday, but it didn’t stop some fans from feeling annoyed at some of the United players.

In all honesty, Southampton were probably the better team, or at least, their players performed better. A team of United’s calibre would wipe Southampton aside with relative ease if they performed to their potential, but they didn’t. One player who underperformed in particular was world record signing Paul Pogba. Southampton’s Oriol Romeu was the standout midfield performer.

There was no such criticism for Zlatan Ibrahimovic though. The match winner, who cost United nothing, helped them win another important game. He has definitely been a more important and more productive player in comparison to Pogba this season, although the Frenchman is obviously a lot younger and has a lot more time to try and repay his transfer fee.

United didn’t have the hardest run to the League Cup final to say the least, and although they were tested in the final, they were somewhat fortunate to win the game in 90 minutes. Mourinho will have ambitions to finish inside the top four and win the FA Cup and Europa League – to do that the team will need to play better than they did against Southampton and the fans will hope to see Pogba emerge as a more effective player in the big games like these. When you pay that much money for a player, I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for them to make the difference in the games that matter.

Here’s some of the reaction to Pogba’s performance vs. Southampton

In my opinion, Pogba has played fairly well this season and has been one of the clubs better players. He hasn’t stood out as much as you would like or perhaps expect from a player that cost so much. You may expect Messi or Ronaldo effects on the team, but let’s remember he is a midfielder and he is a young midfielder, who will surely only improve season on season.

He does need to improve in the big games. People criticise the likes of Mesut Ozil for failing to make a difference in the big games, but Pogba cost more than twice as much and should be criticised and held accountable just as much as Ozil, if not more.

Luckily for Pogba, United got away with his poor performance but against a team of greater quality, I doubt they will be as lucky. Time to step up.

EFL Cup Final Player Ratings: Manchester United 3-2 Southampton

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for the EFL Cup final between Manchester United and Southampton.

Manchester United

David De Gea – 6.5

Made a couple of decent saves throughout the encounter, with the Spaniard left with little chance in stopping the other two Southampton strikes in a 3-2 win.

Antonio Valencia – 6.5

Solid and active down the right flank, particularly towards the end of the game.

Eric Bailly – 5.5

Not the best showing in a United shirt, offering a few moments of unease when in possession and struggling to cope with Manolo Gabbiadini’s presence inside the box.

Chris Smalling – 6

Slightly better than his centre back duo, but, again, hardly the convincing performance José Mourinho will have been hoping for in a final.

Marcos Rojo – 5

Stranded and in real trouble out on the left-hand side of United’s defence, as Cedric and Dusan Tadic caused problems for periods of the game. Subsequently, the Argentine offered very little going forwards, too.

Ander Herrera – 5.5

Outfought for periods of the game, as the Saints swamped the midfield, but Herrera did eventually come up with the pass of the match when assisting Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the win.

Paul Pogba – 6.5

Struggled with the intensity of Southampton’s game for large periods, but once Claude Puel’s side waned, the Frenchman grew into the game to regain some control for United.

Juan Mata – 4.5

Ineffective throughout his 45-minute showing, which is why Mourinho saw him as the strongest candidate to make way for Michael Carrick at half-time.

Jesse Lingard – 6

Hit a big goal for United, but aside from that, there was little else to take note of, minus a lot of running.

Anthony Martial – 5

Lively and threatening when given space to attack, but the Frenchman was very rarely afforded the opportunities to do so.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 7.5

The match-winner for United, as he put the Red Devil’s ahead in the first half with a free-kick. Having lost many of his fair-share of battles against the Saints’ defensive duo, the Swede had the last laugh with the winning goal deep into the final stages of the game.

Subs

Michael Carrick – 6

Helped regain some sort of control and method to United’s play, as Southampton relinquished their dominance.

Marcus Rashford – N/A

Marouane Fellaini – N/A

Southampton

Fraser Forster – 5

Could have done better to stop Ibrahimovic’s goal from a free kick, although the wall also didn’t offer a great deal of help to the former Celtic man either.

Cedric Soares – 7.5

A quality performance from the Portugal international, who found Gabbiadini for the one-touch finish on two separate occasions, despite only one of them counting in accordance to the linesman’s flag.

Maya Yoshida – 7

The Southampton old-timer led by example up against Ibrahimovic at the heart of a depleted defensive sector.

Jack Stephens – 6.5

Bar a couple of costly mistakes in two of United’s three goals, Stephens but up a fight in front of Forster’s goal.

Ryan Bertrand – 6.5

A decent performance from the ex-Chelsea full back, both going forwards and backwards.

Oriol Romeu – 7.5

Took on the heavy duty of destroying United’s play and did so very well, despite being yellow carded early on.

Steven Davis – 7

A big effort from the Saints captain, who helped Romeu in his defensive duties to great success.

James Ward-Prowse – 6.5

One moment he was wide, the next closing down through the middle – a tricky role for the young midfielder, but he executed it quite well.

Dusan Tadic – 5

Despite a handful of decent deliveries from set-pieces, the Serbian playmaker can feel a little disappointed with himself in the final third.

Nathan Redmond – 8.5

A strong contender for Man of the Match, irrespective of being on the losing side, Redmond was at the heart of plenty of positive moves created by Puel’s side.

Manolo Gabbiadini – 8.5

Up there with Redmond, the ex-Napoli and Sampdoria man took his chances brilliantly when they came, as his hot streak with the South Coast club continues.

Subs

Sofiane Boufal – 5

In to refresh Southampton’s attacking sector, but Boufal ended up seeing very little of the ball.

Shane Long – N/A

Jay Rodriguez – N/A

‘Our Best Player Is Out’ Manchester United Fans Fearful Ahead Of EFL Cup Final

Manchester United cruised through to the last 8 of the Europa League on Thursday night with a 1-0 away win against St. Etienne ensuring they won 4-0 on aggregate. However it wasn’t all good news for United. 

The gap in quality between the two sides was obvious and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was one player whose performance helped highlight the quality difference between the two sides. His goal was the only goal of the game and he scored it early to settle any nerves United may have had.

However the night ended early for Henrikh and on a sour note with Mkhitaryan going off injured in the 24th minute, the extent to his injury has not been revealed yet, but given his recent form the fans will be hoping it is nothing serious.

He only managed to make 11 touches during his time on the pitch and made 1 shot, which crucially hit the back of the net.

Aside from the goal, he didn’t look great before going off injured and that has led many to question whether he may have been carrying an injury before the game started. So is Mourinho to blame for his injury? Why did Jose potentially risk his fitness when the team had all but certainly advanced to the next round already thanks to their 3-0 first leg win. With the EFL Cup final coming up at the weekend, it makes the decision even more bemusing. Mourinho has also said that Carrick has no chance of playing in the EFL Cup final – so why did he feature vs. Saint-Etienne? It is obvious how important Carrick is to making United tick – so it is ridiculous to risk him just days before a final.

Here’s how some fans reacted to the midfielder’s performance and his injury. 

 

United have been drawn Rostov in the last 16 and Mourinho will surely be confident of advancing to the last 8 of the competition considering that draw.

Despite their terrible start to the Premier League under Mourinho, the team have a serious chance of winning 3 trophies this season under Mourinho – the EFL Cup, Europa League and the FA Cup. If Mourinho manages to land two of those trophies and finish in the top four then it would surely be a successful debut season for him at United.

With both Carrick and Mkhitaryan out of the final at the weekend, Manchester United’s chances of winning have surely fallen significantly. Should United’s midfield put in a lacklustre display in the final then there is only one man to blame…

Manchester United Transfer News: Forward Could Complete Big Money Move This Month

Manchester United have reportedly told Wayne Rooney he can choose if he wants to leave to go to China in the next week. 

The Chinese transfer deadline is on Tuesday and Rooney will have a chance to complete a big money move there before the deadline passes.

The news comes as an ‘exclusive’ from Yahoo, who are believed to be well connected.

With several reports linking United with a big money move for Antoine Griezmann in the summer, shifting Wayne Rooney off the wage bill would certainly help. Rooney is one of the highest earners at the club, believed to be earning around £300,000 per week.

It would be fair to say that his contribution on the field is not of such high value at this moment in time. United would be wise to move him on, but as the clubs highest goalscorer of all time, it is not that easy.

It’s hardly like Rooney is completely past it, he’s only 31, many professional footballers continue at the highest level well into their 30’s, you only have to look at Carrick, 35, who has made himself an important part of the United eleven this season.

That may make Rooney think twice before moving to China. If he waits til the summer to move, not only does he have a chance to win more trophies at the club, but he would be able to move to clubs of a higher caliber in the summer. If he doesn’t want to stay in England, I’m sure he wouldn’t be short of offers from the likes of Milan.

It’s understandable that United are making moving to China an option for Rooney. They will be aware that other European club would be unlikely to offer much money for him and also their wage offers are unlikely to tempt Rooney from his luxury lifestyle in Manchester. Chinese clubs would have no problems in matching his wage demands and United would probably receive a sizeable fee for him.

If the Griezmann stories are true, then United may have to break their own world record again to go and sign him. We are looking at around £100million, so if they can get £30million+ for a 31-year-old Rooney they will certainly be pleased.

Rooney must now decide if he wants to take one last payday and move to China, joining the others that have decided to cash in in Asia. He has a week to decide.

The latest reports from The Independent indicate that Rooney doesn’t want to move to China and is hoping an English club will match his wage demands in the summer. I can’t see that happening, personally.

What do you think he should do?

“Pure Class” Fans Heap Praise On Manchester United Midfielder After Stellar Show Against Leicester

Manchester United capitalised on Arsenal and Liverpool dropping points on Saturday with a solid 3-0 win against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The result means the gap between the Red Devils and the top four is now down to just two points.

The game got off to a sluggish start, with neither side really testing the opposition in the opening stages. However, two quick-fire goals on the stroke of half-time from Henrik Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic before a clincher from Juan Mata ensured that United ended their run of three consecutive draws in the Premier League.

After 41 minutes of frustration, Mourinho opted for a change of tactics, moving Mkhitaryan away from the left wing, where he was placed to accommodate Rashford and Ibrahimovic, and into a more central role. It worked a treat for the Red Devils, who quickly starting turning up the gears following the change.

Mkhitaryan provided the moment of quality to open up the game for Mourinho’s side, beating Robert Huth to the ball just inside the Leicester half before running through on goal and slotting past Kasper Schmeichel. The Armenian midfielder then turned creator for United’s third, playing a wonderful one-two with Juan Mata before the Spaniard steered in at the near post.

Here’s how twitter reacted to Mkhitaryan’s display. Do you agree?

It’s crazy to think that just two months ago, the midfielder was being cast aside, much like Anthony Martial at present. Following a poor performance in the Manchester derby in September, Mkhitaryan has responded exceptionally from his early-season exile and his performance against Leicester typified just how far he has come.

Since being given another chance by Mourinho,  Mkhitaryan has started 12 games, scoring five goals in the process. Moving into the number 10 spot has caused a significant rise in his performances and against Leicester he looked like United’s greatest threat – a stark contrast from his early season woes.

Scoring just 36 goals, the side are the lowest scorers of any of the big six – 10 goals behind Spurs, but Mourinho may have found a solution with Mkhitaryan providing the side with an extra edge and zip to their play from the middle of the park.

Despite getting off to a rocky start at Manchester United, Mkhitaryan has shown his quality in recent weeks, injecting a much greater attacking impetus into the side. Fans will be hoping to see more of the same from the 28-year-old as Mourinho’s side look to keep up the pressure on the top four and try and secure Champions League football for next season.

Man Utd Fans Say Midfielder ‘Needs To Play More’ After Influential Performance vs. Wigan

Manchester United fans were extremely happy with one midfielder’s performance against Wigan on Sunday afternoon.

Mourinho’s men strolled into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 home win.

The German international was famously sent to the reserves by Jose Mourinho who had concerns about his fitness and overall quality. But the midfielder has come back with a bang, scoring and assisting in the game against Wigan.

He boasted a 93% pass accuracy rate, with 111 passes and 131 touches overall, a lot more than any other player on the pitch. Playing in the holding midfield role, Bastian dictated the play, impressing in his short and long passing with 5 of his 6 attempted long balls finding the target.

Defensively he made a respectable 3 tackles and 3 interceptions. Going forward he didn’t offer much throughout, but crucially provided an assist and scored an acrobatic goal.

This type of display will have reassured fans who previously could see a dependence on Michael Carrick in midfield. But Schweinsteiger is of a similar ilk and if managed correctly, the 30+ duo could effectively share that role and be the platform for United’s more attack-minded midfielders to flourish.

It is this type of midfielder that Manchester United need to ensure they always have in the team. For all the quality that they have within the squad, balance plays a huge part in how a team performs and they need a midfield conductor, like Schweinsteiger to provide that balance. For all the skill and flash Pogba offers, he does not give you that authority and reliability on the ball in deep areas. Schweinsteiger or Carrick appear the perfect foil to enable Pogba to play his best football.

Here’s some of the reaction to his performance from Twitter.

My concern would be that whilst he performed very well in this fixture, is he capable of such quality performances against bigger and better teams? His drawbacks are his slowness and lack of mobility and these were never going to be exposed against a team like Wigan. The Germans performance has done enough to make Mourinho take notice though, and he could now expect a longer run in the first eleven.

He is though, of a different ilk to the other United midfielders and his presence is certainly beneficial in some scenarios, especially when Carrick is missing. My worry would be that with so many months out the team and squad, will he be physically ready to play in the Premier League? Time will tell, if Jose gives him a chance.

‘Superb Performance’ Liverpool Fans Heap Praise On Defender After His Performance vs. Manchester United

The news that Nathaniel Clyne was ruled out against Manchester United due to a rib injury sustained against Southampton in midweek definitely shook several Liverpool fans. Clyne has been one of the most consistent figures for Klopp’s side so far this season, and his absence was thought to be a real blow for the Reds in such an important fixture.

As a result, Trent Alexander Arnold was handed his first Premier League appearance for Liverpool, thrown in at the deep end by his manager. Many thought he’d sink and struggle against the pace and trickery of United’s Anthony Martial, but the 18-year-old stood firm throughout the match to do himself, and his manager proud.

Alexander Arnold made three key tackles in the match, and showed a calm and collected presence despite the magnitude of the fixture. It was never going to be an easy task for the youngster but apart from a few wayward passes, he handled the occasion superbly and showed just what a bright future he has at Liverpool.

A look at his defensive statistics help highlight how well he did. Up against Anthony Martial, many thought the youngster would struggle and be easily beaten but he managed 8 clearances, 3 tackles and 2 interceptions – he also committed 0 fouls. That’s very impressive considering who he was up against and the occasion itself would have gotten to many other young players.

Liverpool fans have been quick to praise the defender, who could see more chances at first team action in the coming games if Clyne is sidelined for an extended period of time. He certainly didn’t harm his case today.

Here’s how Twitter reacted to Alexander-Arnold’s performance. Do you agree with these thoughts?

When you consider it was his first Premier League appearance for the club, and the fact that he is only 18 years of age, Arnold’s performance was exemplary. He took a while to settle into the match, initially struggling with the pace of Martial, but he produced what was needed of him.

He wasn’t shying away from tackles, and he didn’t show the fear or nerves of a player making his Premier League bow – that in itself says a lot about his quality.

Few players can come into a side on such a big occasion and do a job, especially an 18 year old. Hats off to Trent Alexander Arnold for putting in a stellar performance for Liverpool. The future looks bright.

Manchester United Fans Criticise ‘Woeful’ Midfielder For Poor Display vs. Liverpool

Manchester United snatched a late draw against Liverpool in a game which truly lacked quality throughout. 

Despite the millions of pounds of talent on display, both teams failed to conjure up much inspiration in the final third and it was a scrappy game. Manchester United had a £90million midfielder in their team, but he failed to make any sort of difference and in fact was perhaps one of the worst players on the field on the day.

The hugely poor moment for him was when he handballed inside the area to gift Liverpool a 1st half advantage. After that he did very little to redeem himself with passes going astray frequently.

Pogba completed just 72% of his passes and was dispossessed 3 times. He received a 5.6 match rating on WhoScored, less than any other player on the pitch. Offensively he offered nothing, completing just 1 dribble, 0 key passes and making 0 shots. Defensively he failed to make an interception and completed just 1 tackle. The Frenchman normally prides himself on being effective at both ends of the pitch, but he was shockingly bad defensively and offensively today – certainly an afternoon to forget for the world record transfer signing.

Here’s some reaction to the players performance against Liverpool.

In my opinion, Pogba once again proved that he is in no way worth the £90million Manchester United paid for him. He’s a very good midfielder, don’t get me wrong, but his valuation was ludicrous and considering the amount of bad press the likes of Mesut Ozil have received for bad performances, Pogba deserves every bit of criticism he will get for this lacklustre showing.

Many have suggested Pogba should focus on his football rather than his off the field promotion, and I certainly agree there. The Frenchman spends a lot of time with Adidas and on social media to create more revenue for him and his brand, fair play to him, but the fans just want him to be the best he can on the football pitch, and with all that other activity it cannot be helping him perform his best on the pitch.

To be honest I think Pogba is a good player, maybe even a great player. But after moving for such a large amount of money, he will always be compared to that £90million price tag, and for that amount of money you need to be making the difference in nearly every game, especially big games like today against Liverpool.

Manchester United Linked With £50m Striker: Is He A Better Option Than Griezmann?

Whilst strikers such as, Suarez, Griezmann or Ibrahimovic steal all the headlines, one European goal scorer is sneaking under the radar.

Paulo Dybala is quickly becoming a fan favourite in Juventus. The 23-year-old has scored 23 goals in his 45 games in the Serie A, also making five assists. The Argentinian managed to score 20 Serie A goals faster than THE Juventus legend himself, Del Piero.

But with such a great goal scoring record already, it wouldn’t be long before he attracted attention from other giants in Europe, with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Manchester United all fighting for his signature, according to The Sun.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite what he says himself, won’t be able to play forever and will soon have to hang up his boots, which will leave the Red Devils once again needing a proven goal scorer, and it could potentially be Dybala, who will not be sold for under 50 million.

But with Manchester United heavily linked to Antoine Griezmann, would it be wise to ditch the Frenchman and steal Dybala out of Madrid and City’s hands?

I think not, Griezmann has proved himself in the tournaments such as Euro 2016 and has also scored 12 goals in 28 Champions League appearances, and also scoring 51 goals in 91 La Liga appearances, compared to Dybala’s 60 goals in 171 showing that he just has the edge on the Argentinian.

Griezmann may only be two years older than Dybala but he is much more experienced, after playing in huge games such as the Champions League final and the Euro 2016 final. Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have proved that playing in the biggest games is important for a player, both scoring goals this season when it matters most.

Another advantage of signing Griezmann is that he can fill in at striker, right wing and in the number ten role. It would be a smart decision to sign a player that has played world class in three different positions.

For the cost that you would have to sign either of them, I think the money would be better off going towards bringing Griezmann to Old Trafford, rather than Dybala. Both will be expensive transfers but any teams planning to pay so much for Dybala may be a gamble, but there is no doubt him and Griezmann will be battling against one another for the crown of best striker one day, whoever they play for.

It’s very unlikely that a deal for either of these players would happen in the January window, but when the summer rolls around, it would be worth keeping an eye on both players situations and the cash-rich Manchester United are likely to re-invest more millions into their team.

Defender Left Out Of Squad, Fuels Speculation Of A Transfer To Manchester United or West Ham

It looks as if a former Manchester United fans favourite is on the move, and he might well be going back to his old stomping ground. 

Evra is now 35 and his contract at Juventus is due to expire at the end of the current season, thus allowing foreign clubs to begin negotiations over his signing.

West Ham and Manchester United have been linked with the experienced full-back and with the player now left out of Juventus’ squad, it seems more likely that a move back to England may be on the horizon.

Evra has only made 6 Serie A appearances this season, with the younger Alex Sandro now seemingly the clubs favoured left back option. It is not clear whether Juventus intend to extend Evra’s contract beyond the conclusion of this season and that would allow either West Ham or Manchester United to sign him for free, or pay a small fee in January and get him now.

However, his agent Federico Pastorello played down the chances of the France international departing the Italian champions midseason.

“It’s not certain he will leave Juventus,” Pastorello told Juvenews. “We’ll see what happens over the next few days.”

It’s probably silly to bother looking at Evra’s statistics from this season considering how little he has played, so let’s go back to last season, where he was still a fairly regular presence in the starting eleven.

Making 26 appearances in Serie A, Evra proved that despite his age, he is still a very reliable defender, averaging 1.49 interceptions and 1.53 aerial duels won per 90 last season. He was also influential going forward, as always, completing on average 23.92 forward passes and on 1.01 key passes per 90, a good amount for a full back.

His attacking influence may fade as he continues to age, but the experience and defensive know-how that Evra has is mental and will only get stronger with age. As West Ham’s ship continues to shake, you can see why they would like a player of his ilk and experience in their defence.

For Manchester United, they do not have an established left back at the moment, with Luke Shaw struggling to return to form since his long term injury and Darmian seriously struggling to impress. Marcos Rojo is another option in that position but he is playing a lot better in central defence and I’m sure that Mourinho will be keen to try and keep him in that favoured central role.

If Evra has an offer from both clubs it’ll be interesting to see what decision he makes. At West Ham, he is more likely to play regular football, but his history at Manchester United will surely have a huge impact on his decision. I think if United’s interest is genuine, then Mourinho will be keen to add Evra for his off the pitch contribution as much as anything else.

Manchester United Fans Say Midfielder ‘Needs To Play Every Game’ After Great Performance vs. Reading

It was a comfortable afternoon for Manchester United as they made light work of Championship high-flyers Reading by winning 4-0 at Old Trafford in Saturday’s early kick-off.

There were several standout performers for Manchester United on the day, but one player who received lots of praise from the fans post-match was Anthony Martial, a player who has been used sparingly under Jose Mourinho.

A fans favourite since he signed, many have been bemused as to why he has not played more often, but this performance will have surely done his chances no harm. Originally a striker, Martial has been pushed out to the left wing at United and it looks as if that will be his long term position. He will be competing with Marcus Rashford, a player with similar attributes, strengths and weaknesses and also a player who can play in both his positions.

The only personal issue perhaps for Martial is that even though he scored and played very well, his teammate and competitor for his position, Rashford, scored a brace and continued to impress his manager. Mourinho publicly praised Rashford’s contributions post-match.

Martial took 4 shots, 3 of which hit the target. He was also creative, making 3 key passes. The other aspect to Martial’s game is his physicality, he managed to win 3 aerial duels.

He got on the scoresheet, but that was not Martial’s only contribution. The Frenchman was a menace for the Reading defence all afternoon and certainly will have made Jose Mourinho consider playing him more frequently.

Here’s some of the fans reaction to Martial’s performance. 

Manchester United spent an awful lot of money on Martial, and they cannot forget that. Mourinho needs to ensure he maximises the potential of a player with a huge amount of it. A run out in the FA Cup is nice, but Martial deserves more than that. He has surely earned a regular place in the team, perhaps not from what he’s done under Mourinho (has he had a chance?) but what he did in his first season at the club. What worries me is whether he is going to be given that game time that he deserves at a club that continues to look for external improvements. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was signed in the summer and Antoine Griezmann is reportedly being lined up. If they’ve got the money, you can’t criticise the club for spending it, however when they have young talent like Martial and Rashford, surely developing that duo would be a better idea that continuing to invest?

That’s the view of me, not a United fan. I’d love to hear what United fans think about this, should both Rashford and Martial be featuring more regularly?

Report: Manchester United Have Made An Offer For Serie A Ace, Would He Be A Good Addition?

Manchester United appear to be moving fast in the January transfer window and have already lodged a bid for AC Milan forward M’Baye Niang, according to reports in Italy.

Reports breaking from Italian daily Il Giornale, suggest the Red Devils have made an offer for the 21-year-old as they look to bolster their squad ahead of a crucial second part of the season.

M’Baye Niang is under contract until 2019 so the Italians will be in no desperate need to sell their man, Milan are said to want to keep their prized asset and were hoping he would sign a new contract but reports from Italy said talks over an extension has buffered, despite the Frenchman reportedly willing to renew.

Reports suggest Milan’s takeover by Chinese investors has complicated the renewal, which has left Jose Mourinho with fresh hope for his signature.

Since his arrival to Serie A, he has gone on to play 64 league games for the Italians scoring eight goals, although he has represented France at youth level, he is yet to make his first-team appearance.

Although he can play the 9 role, he has been deployed on the left-hand side of a 4-3-3 more often which is where his long-term future seems to lay. The Milan attacker often uses his pace to stretch defences and get in behind backlines, an attribute that will attract Jose Mourinho due to his positive style of play.

United are now using a similar formation in the Premier League, and may have an eye on M’Baye Niang for the left-hand side of the front free for rotation purposes. Memphis Depay looks like he could be on the way out, so perhaps Niang is earmarked as a replacement? It’s hard to say which player would be better for United, both are still far from the finished article and I find it hard to beleive that if Mourinho is not willing to give Memphis time, that he would want a player like Niang. Jose does still have options on the left with Mkhitaryan, Lingard, Mata, Rashford and Martial all able to play there.

Although Niang has been playing at the top level for several years, he is still very raw in many aspects, he is yet to master his issues in front of goal and lacks that clinical edge and this shows with the fact he has scored just 0.26 goals per 90 minutes thus far this season. But, he is still young and has shown glimpses of his goal-scoring pedigree in him, which will be another bonus for on-looking potential suitors.

The forward was a target for Everton and Arsenal when he was still playing for Caen, despite turning down England for Italy four years ago, he firmly believes his long-term future is in England as it suits his style of play.

The Red Devils would have a battle on their hands from clubs around Europe if he was made available, with earlier reports suggesting Arsenal, Monaco and Borussia Dortmund are also monitoring his availability closely.

3 Big Signings Manchester United Could Reportedly Complete This Month

With Manchester United on a good run of form going into the second half of the Premier League season, Jose Mourinho might be looking at bringing in some January additions to the squad. Here are three transfers that the Red Devils could complete in the next seven days.

1) M’Baye Niang

Jose Mourinho has reportedly already had a bid turned down for the AC Milan star, but could return in an attempt to make a January swoop for the forward.

It has previously been reported that the Manchester United boss is on the lookout for a long-term replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and has his eye on Harry Kane in the summer transfer window should Spurs finish outside of the top four.

However, looking into the more immediate future, Mourinho is ready to take a gamble on this AC Milan forward according to Il Giornale, who has struggled to hit top form this season, having not scored in his last eight appearances for the Italian outfit.

Niang looked to be on a good run of form at the start of last season, but his season was ended early after a car crash, and has never returned to top form since. Obviously Mourinho feels that Niang can hit top form once again at United.

As the long season of English football starts to affect Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Niang could come in and provide some backup, but can also influence games from the wider areas. As I have mentioned, Mourinho has already had a bid knocked back, but with a strong second bid, and contract extension talks stalling, Niang could become a Red Devils players in the very near future.

Arsenal, Man Utd, Everton & Tottenham Spotted Scouting Top Quality German International

Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton are all interested in signing a German sensation after all clubs were found to be scouting the midfielder. 

A report from The Sun suggests that all four previously mentioned clubs have been extensively scouting impressive German midfielder Julian Brandt. The news was originally picked out from this piece in the Mail.

The 20-year-old wonder kid has been in exceptional form thus far this season and is scoring goals and assisting as Bayer Leverkusen attempt to get back on track and fight for the European places after a slow start to the season.

The impressive versatile midfielder has been in exquisite form in the first half of the season and has attracted interest from major clubs around Europe, as scouts from the four clubs mentioned were in attendance in Leverkusen’s matches in recent weeks.

Premier League top gun Manchester United and Arsenal are the most eye-watering names for the youngster whilst Spurs and the Toffees have also sent representatives out to check out his performances in the past.

Brandt is considered as one of the finest talents coming out of Germany in a new German era of colossal talents, with the player already being capped a handful of times for his country.

Something which will attract top clubs to this fine talent is his versatility, he can play on either wing and can also be deployed in the attacking midfield role, as he has the brilliant capability at driving at defences and attack the space provided.

The German youngster is tied down until 2019 with the Germans, and with the inflated prices with regards to the transfer market, any interested club will probably have to cough up around £25-30 million to secure his services.

It is clear why some of the biggest European top guns are sniffing around Leverkusen’s prized asset, he is quick, direct and technically superb on the ball. He has developed rapidly in recent seasons which is mostly down to his maturity, as his attitude is simply admirable.

Sporting director, Rudi Völler classes Brandt as “one of the most talented players in German football” and he is certainly living up to his high praise.

Being so young in his premature career, of course, he is not yet perfect, the German youngster needs to work on his defensive attributes as he often gets beaten too easily, or bypassed in a defensive phase.

Brandt has played a part in all 16 Bundesliga games for the German side thus far this season and has showcased his quality already. Predominantly playing on the wing, he has an eye for creating chances and has created 1.89 chances per 90 minutes already this season.

When he has the ball he will drift in from the wing and occupy the #10 space as he looks to drive at defences and create chances or use the byline as his attacking approach. As previously noted, he has already created chances this season but has managed 0.45 assists per 90 this season, an impressive end product, then.

All Premier League clubs mentioned with interest usually dominate play and have an identity of keeping the ball and racking up possession. Clubs like United and Arsenal would expect the winger to be efficient on the ball, and Brandt is OK in this area with 75% pass completion thus far.

Modern day football relies heavily on wingers contribution to goals, with the likes of Sadio Mané, Dimitri Payet, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez all sharing the same versatility trait of being able to play anywhere across the front three midfield positions, with the latter also covering the #9 role.

These players all chip in with goals and are relied upon by their respected managers to score and create at will. Brandt, although not as efficient in front of goal as the players above, has still scored 0.15 goals per 90 thus far to show he has an eye for goal, although this is an area that will certainly need work on in the near future.

The exciting youngster would be a top class signing for any of the clubs mentioned and would certainly help boost competition for places within their ready-made squads. Although Leverkusen will be hopeful of keeping hold of their prodigious playmaker, a move to England could be the stepping stone he needs to reach the next level of his career which promises to be beautiful, as he looks to blossom from his colossal potential and reach the heights many expect him to reach.

Manchester United Reportedly Line Up Sensational £80m Move For Premier League Striker, Is The Deal Possible?

Manchester United are lining up a sensational £80m move for Tottenham striker Harry Kane as a long-term replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford. 

Jose Mourinho’s side currently sit 6th in the Premier League table, and CalcioMercato say that United are ready to splash the cash in the summer in an attempt to bolster their long-term attacking options.

However, the Daily Express say that in order for the deal to be remotely realistic, the Red Devils must secure a finish in the top four and Mauricio Pochettino’s side must miss out on a place in the Champions League.

Harry Kane made it a 100th Premier League appearance to remember, bagging himself a brace as Spurs began the new year in emphatic fashion with a 4-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road. Kane did sign a new deal with Spurs as recently at November, but the Daily Express report that this might not be enough to keep him at White Hart Lane beyond next summer.

Kane is a proven prolific Premier League goalscorer as proved by his record, netting 59 times in 100 Premier League appearances, and is a player that every top flight club can only dream of having in their team.

Is this deal realistic, and could it happen in the summer?

The short answer to that question is in my opinion no. Spurs are in a very good stretch of form, winning their last four Premier League matches since their defeat at Old Trafford, making a move into the top four for the first time since October.

The way things are looking at the moment, Spurs are much more likely to finish in the top four than Manchester United, so come the summer, Spurs may have Champions League football, whereas the Red Devils may not.

Despite the wages that United would be likely to offer being very lucrative indeed, that might still not be enough to persuade Kane. The Englishman has repeatedly talked about how he wants to become a one-club man, become club legend and achieve great things with Spurs.

Mauricio Pochettino is building something special at Spurs. Performances in the Premier League have been good over the last couple of seasons, a new stadium is coming up in a few years, and the club are making huge steps to keeping this current team together. The future is bright for Spurs, and would Kane really trade all that in and leave White Hart Lane for a move to Old Trafford to an unsettled, inconsistent team. I very much doubt it.

Player Ratings: West Ham United 0-2 Manchester United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for West Ham United’s home clash versus Manchester United in the Premier League:

West Ham United

Darren Randolph – 6.5

Came up with an important reflex save to deny Antonio Valencia a simple tap-in, with the Irish goalkeeper left with little to work with in denying the visitors’ two goals.

Håvard Nordtveit – 4.5

The weak link in West Ham’s defence, adapted at right back and fully exposed by Marcus Rashford’s entrance in the second half.

Winston Reid – 6

Kept the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic as quiet as possible throughout much of the game, eventually falling foul to an offside goal by the Swede.

Angelo Ogbonna – 6

Much like Reid, Ogbonna kept things tight as best as he could in what seemed to be an inclined pitch following Sofiane Feghouli’s early red card.

Aaron Cresswell – 5

Due to obvious circumstances, we didn’t see the ex-Ipswich Town full back bomb up and down the left flank as often as he would’ve hoped, taking away a key outlet in the Hammers’ attack.

Cheikhou Kouyaté – 5.5

Closed many avenues centrally but also tired substantially as the game went on, allowing for greater dominance by United.

Pedro Obiang – 6

Among the best in a West Ham shirt, evading the bodies situated in the middle of the park to set counters with the ball in his possession, but like his midfield counterpart, Kouyaté, Obiang appeared visibly fatigued in the latter stages of the game.

Sofiane Feghouli – N/A

In his first start for the London club, the former Valencia wide man was sent off rather controversially after just 15 minutes of football.

Manuel Lanzini – 6.5

The key threat going forward, somewhat muted following Feghouli’s red card.

Dimitri Payet – 5.5

Looked sharp in the early exchanges, but he also shrunk in size and effectiveness after Mike Dean’s controversial decision in the game’s infancy.

Michail Antonio – 4

The West Ham top scorer spurned a great chance one-on-one to give the hosts the lead and United weren’t so merciful soon after at the opposite end.

Subs:

Andy Carroll – 4.5

Came on in response to United taking the lead, but the man most likely to find him inside the box turned out to be the player he replaced – Payet. A missed opportunity from Slaven Bilić, rather than anyone else.

Edimilson Fernandes – N/A

Manchester United:

David De Gea – 7

As reliable as ever, De Gea came up with two big saves to deny Lanzini and Antonio a goal either side of the half time interval.

Antonio Valencia – 5.5

Arguably should’ve scored from close range, didn’t, but there’ll be few complaints from a defensive perspective, which is never a bad thing.

Phil Jones – 6

Another clean sheet for the file, strengthening the defender’s case to enter the defensive equation definitively in the José Mourinho era.

Marcos Rojo – 6

Started the game at centre back, ended it at left back. Solid, once again, in both positions, as his versatility begins to prove fruitful.

Matteo Darmian – 5

Victim of a tactical shift at half-time that saw Juan Mata replace him against 10-man West Ham. A solid, if insignificant, first-half performance by the Italian.

Michael Carrick – 6.5

Very sound in conducting United’s search for a goal, keeping them composed, as they eventually broke through the Hammers’ barricade.

Ander Herrera – 6.5

Typically kept play ticking, pressed high to retain possession and provided a threat late in the second half, as the game opened up. Good again from the Spaniard.

Paul Pogba – 6.5

In the same boat as Herrera, the multi-million pound man grew as the game went on, going close to goal himself a couple of times in the second period.

Jesse Lingard – 4

Hit the post from just yards out in United’s clearest goal-scoring opportunity in the first period, as the 24-year-old failed to inflict damage upon a compact West Ham side prior to be replaced by Marcus Rashford.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5

Not his finest performance of late, with space to operate in proving to be limited.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 5

Starved of service for the best part, but Ibrahimovic still managed to add a goal to his name, despite being in an offside position.

Subs:

Juan Mata – 6.5

The goal scorer of yet another crucial goal for the Red Devils, as he tipped the balance once more in United’s favour.

Marcus Rashford – 7

The key to unlocking the game, Rashford was able to cause disruptions down the left flank and, crucially, assist Mata for the game’s opening goal.

Chris Smalling – N/A

An In-Depth Look At Whether Or Not Victor Lindelöf Is Worth The Investment For Manchester United

Much has been made of a potential move launched by Manchester United for Benfica centre back Victor Lindelöf, who could, eventually, be joined by defensive counterpart Nélson Semedo in a historic double swoop.

The latest murmurs surrounding the multi-million-pound operation, however, suggest any hope the Red Devils may have had of gaining the Sweden international’s signature may have been dampened.

At the heart of the deal’s supposed collapse is the public dispute between Benfica and Lindelöf’s former club, Västerås, over alleged fees owed in his initial transfer to Portugal, although José Mourinho may also have had a hand in United turning their backs on a £42 million transfer. Just how accurate might that decision be?

Beyond the media storm surrounding Renato Sanches in Lisbon last season, Lindelöf proved to be equally as impressive and pivotal to Benfica’s run en route to the Liga NOS title last season, as he capitalised on injuries to first-team centre-backs to forge a stellar partnership alongside Jardel for over half a season.

The 22-year-old tasted defeat just five times in 45 games since breaking into Benfica’s XI, three of those coming in the UEFA Champions’ League against Napoli (2x) and Bayern Munich, with FC Porto and Maritimo also claiming rare victories against the Swede.

With 22 clean sheets under his belt, Lindelöf picked up “The Iceman” nickname for his composure and calculated interventions that has seen the defender gain just five yellow cards in the last 12 months.

Additionally composed and exemplifying qualities that fall within the modern-day ball-playing defender template, his talents didn’t go unnoticed by his national team when earning the call-up for Euro 2016, and now it appears Man United have followed suit in attraction to his traits.

Up against his United counterparts, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, none of the aforementioned options to Mourinho have completed as many successful passes (51.71 per game), or indeed successful forward passes (47.21 per game) as Lindelöf in their respective league competition.

Only Bailly with 1.64 tackles won per game beats the rumoured United target, whereas it is Chris Smalling who is the only defender to lose out fewer times than the man lauded for his precision when defending. Although he’s some way off the top with a statistical register of 1.71 interceptions per game versus Bailly’s 2.82, the Swedish star does mix in well with Rojo’s 1.80 and Jones’ 1.75 score, both second and third ahead of Lindelöf.

Blocks made by the defenders paint a similar picture, with Bailly leading the way with 0.45 made per game to Lindelöf’s 0.36, but there’s one fact the core stats don’t highlight and that’s the degree to which the defenders in question are exposed to the threats of high-quality attacks.

Lindelöf has, undoubtedly, emerged as top performer for Benfica, but this has all come in a visibly inferior league. One shouldn’t have to remind many of the below-par figure that was ex-Liverpool and Sunderland centre-back Sebastian Coates, the same man who now, at the same time as Lindelöf, leads by example as one of the Portuguese league’s most consistent players at the back.

Likewise, Manchester City’s £32 million flop, Eliaquim Mangala, was totally imperious for much of his three-year-spell in Portugal when starring for the then champions FC Porto, meanwhile memories of the Frenchman in the blue half of Manchester weren’t as fond as his record deal promised.

A common attitude within the realms of Portuguese football sees most sides outside the traditional top four of Benfica, Sporting, Porto and Braga opt to “park the bus” and time-waste from the first minute as if it were the last when facing a big boy. In turn, that limits the pressure that key defenders like Lindelöf, Mangala etc. are subjected to, thus making it very tricky to truly judge the qualities that they possess.

It’s a decision Mourinho will undoubtedly continue to mull over, with the rumour mill still at its birth. In the meantime, the recent pairing of Jones and Rojo has stabilised the ship at Old Trafford, with Smalling still to return to the first-team, one would assume, following a lengthy foot injury.

The investment made in Bailly appears to have been a good one, and despite international duty making him unavailable for the best part of a month during the African Cup of Nations, United still have the versatile Daley Blind to fall back on.

And so for all the promise (and doubts) hanging over Lindelöf’s shoulders, just how necessary to Man United is the £38 million-rated man?

West Ham Plot January Moves For Manchester United, Liverpool & Chelsea Stars In New Year Shake-Up

It is fair to say that this season has not gone to plan for Slaven Bilic and West Ham. In a bid to turn the Hammer’s fortunes around, the club have reportedly sent letters asking their Premier League rivals for help in the January transfer window, according to The Telegraph. 

Tottenham are the only one of the Premier League big hitters not to receive a letter from West Ham chiefs as the Hammers plan some very smart January transfer business. Letters were reportedly sent to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City asking if any of those clubs have fringe players that the Hammers can sign on loan for the rest of the season.

With many players not becoming available that Slaven Bilic will want to sign until the summer transfer window, this plea to sign players with Premier League experience at the top clubs would seem like a good plan. Having sent a general letter to those five clubs, The Telegraph claim that West Ham have further enquiries regarding loan moves for Michy Batshuayi, Daniel Sturridge, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as their search for a striker to sign in January begins.

In addition to this, the Hammers are also going to make enquiries over the availability of Chris Smalling, Branislav Ivanovic, Mamadou Sakho, Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson. However, many of the highlighted players above are unlikely realistic targets for West Ham for two reasons.

First of all, it is well documented that clubs are often not prepared to loan out or sell players to Premier League rivals, unless it is at the right price. With loan moves being proposed by the Hammers, it is unlikely that clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool will allow key players such as Sturridge and Martial to leave the club, even if it is on a loan basis.

Secondly, I feel the wages that West Ham would have to pay these players would not be within their price range, they simply would not be able to compete with the Premier League big boys. Would the players highlighted take a pay cut in favour of a move to West Ham when many get regular game time anyway? Probably not.

Although West Ham’s idea of taking Premier League players on loan for the rest of the season seems good business at first glance, the proposed deals not only look unlikely, but they look impractical as well.

There are some players there that are more realistic though, with the Gunners reportedly willing to allow Debuchy and Jenkinson to leave should the offer be right. But Jenkinson’s most recent spell at West Ham didn’t go too well, so I’m not sure how the fans would feel about that one should it happen. Smalling is also an interesting one should Manchester United sign their reported target, Victor Lindelof. The young central defender is being linked with a big-money move to United and with Eric Bailly already at the club and Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones impressing at the heart of defence at the moment, how much football will Smalling be playing in the new year?

Robbie Savage Names These 2 Manchester United Players In His Team Of The Season So Far

Writing for The Mirror, former footballer Robbie Savage had his say on the team of the season so far. Despite their mediocre performances to date, Jose Mourinho’s men were fairly well represented. 

He seemed to be rather generous to Manchester United, naming two of their players in his eleven. Controversially, he decided that no Liverpool player had made the grade, and that infuriated their fanbase.

Michael Carrick was given the nod in midfield, ahead of the likes of N’Golo Kante and Adam Lallana. The English midfielder has really helped change United’s fortunes in recent weeks, but he has only played around half of his teams games this season – leading many to believe that he hasn’t warranted a space in the team.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was also selected in the team, which was given a 433 formation, the Swede was placed alongside Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa in the line up. Liverpool fans felt that Sadio Mane may have been a better fit in the side, especially as Savage had previously suggested that Mane may be the signing of the summer (ahead of Zlatan).

Carrick has no doubt been influential, as has Zlatan, but whilst they have been good, it is understandable that many disagree with them being placed in the team of the season so far. The bemusement of many fans is that Savage only included 1 Arsenal, 0 Liverpool, 0 Tottenham and 2 Manchester City players – all clubs which sit ahead of United in the league currently.

If Carrick and Zlatan continue their good form and help United get closer to the summit of the Premier League then their inclusions will be a bit more understandable, but for now it does seem a little biased to include both.

Kante, Lallana and Mane have all been incredible this season and influential in helping their teams to the top of the Premier League. For me, all three of those players deserve to be in the team ahead of Carrick at this moment in time. Kante has continued his form from his Leicester City days and continues to be an integral part of his team, whilst Lallana has improved tremendously under Jurgen Klopp – he already has 6 Premier League goals and 6 Premier League assists this season, proving that he can be an incredibly productive midfielder.

The team represented with the most players was Chelsea, with Costa, Azpilicueta, Luiz and Hazard all in Savage’s 11 – so even without Kante, Conte’s men have 4 players in the team.

Premier League Team Of The Week: Ft. 3 Man City, 2 Man Utd, 1 Liverpool & 1 Chelsea Player

Here is our Premier League team of the week from the latest round of fixtures.

Jordan Pickford – Sunderland

Pickford was immense for Sunderland against Watford as he kept a clean sheet and ensured the Black Cats took all three points.

The 22-year-old has become a regular in the starting XI for David Moyes men and is growing with confidence each week, his displays have been so impressive it is only a matter of time before the big clubs come calling.

Aleksandar Kolarov – Manchester City

When the team-sheet was announced on Sunday afternoon, many football fans was surprised that Kolarov started over summer signing John Stones, but his performance warranted his starting spot and with a performance like that it will keep the Englishman out of the team for coming weeks.

The centre-half was solid at the back, keeping the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott very quiet throughout the game, as always the City man was excellent in possession and composed defensively.

Ragnar Klavan – Liverpool

Playing in his first Merseyside derby, Klavan had a truly phenomenal display dealing with Romelu Lukaku with ease and keeping Everton’s attacking players at bay.

The Liverpool man was physical, defensively sound and composed in possession finishing the game with 88% passing accuracy, as a defender winning your tackles is crucial and this man won 100% of his against Everton, to emphasise how impressive he was.

He was excellent in an all-round great display as the Red side of Merseyside came out on top.

Phil Jones – Manchester United

Phil Jones was once the forgotten man at Manchester United, but is slowly becoming the needed man.

The English International has been superb at the back for United in recent weeks and is giving Jose Mourinho a headache for when Chris Smalling and others return to full fitness.

Many doubted Jones’s ability but he dealt with Salomon Rondon very well, coming out on top of the physical battle and helping his side take all three points.

Patrick Van Aanholt – Sunderland

Firstly, Sunderland has a very good left-back on their hands in Van Aanholt, he has been consistently impressive all season thus far and his performance at the weekend again proved why he has become vital in this Sunderland team.

When your club is in a relegation battle, all you want is for your players to show desire and fight in their performances and that shone through when he ran from deep in his own half, into Watford’s area to set up the winning goal was fantastic, a run of true desire.

Jack Wilshere – Bournemouth

Jack Wilshere registered his first assist of the season this weekend against Southampton and was unfortunate to be on the losing side.

It’s brilliant to see Wilshere getting back to his best after years of devastating injuries, he was excellent against the Saints and is finally getting his burst of speed back. As Wilshere completed another 90 minutes, some of the stats behind his game are impressive, he managed 85% pass accuracy, made nine take ons and created one chance.

Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

The attacking midfielder’s display against Arsenal was simply sublime, magical and amazing.

He ran the show, from start to finish he was a complete nuisance for the Arsenal defence, he made arguably the pass of the season to assist Raheem Sterling for the winning goal after switching play magnificently.

The Belgian was immense, he created seven chances against Arsenal, having three shots and completing one take on. He deserved to score when he hit the post and was a stand out performer on Sunday afternoon.

Fernando – Manchester City

With Manchester City missing Fernandinho, it was crucial that Fernando stepped up in his absence and he has done so in style.

The Brazilian was a rock in the midfield against Arsenal and dominated the Gunners midfield winning the battle overall. The midfield rock maintained a 90% pass accuracy which is exquisite, whilst making two interceptions and four blocks.

The midfielder was good in both offensive and defensive situations and was always on top of the likes of Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin.

Diego Costa – Chelsea

Diego Costa is the best number 9 in Europe, without a shadow of doubt, there is no better striker on this planet at this current moment and Costa is week in week out showing why.

The Spanish international is currently leading the race for the Golden Boot with 13 goals, and scored the winning goal (again) against Crystal Palace to ensure his side are comfortably top of the tree at Christmas.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United

Like the man himself said, he get’s better with age, just like wine.

The Manchester United man again proved why he was such a good signing for free in the summer as he has hit double figures for the season already

He was influential for United in their 2-0 win over West Brom and helped the Red Devils secure all three points with a brace.

Alvaro Negredo – Middlesbrough

The summer arrival of Negredo was massive for Boro, and he is really starting to find his feet again in England as he scored a brace in a brilliant win over relegation rivals Swansea.

Boro were superb at the weekend as they picked up a massive three points just before Christmas, climbing away from the relegation zone by four points.

‘Incredible’ Twitter Heaps Praise On Manchester United Man After Performance vs. West Brom

All talk was reserved for one man in particular, as Manchester United continued to brush up their fortunes with a 2-0 victory away to Premier League high-flyers West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns this Saturday.

As Wayne Rooney continues to set his sights on Bobby Charlton’s historic 249-goal haul for the Red Devils, denied the feat on the night by the crossbar, it was Man United’s other veteran in attack, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that hogged the plaudits with his renewed stream of goals.

The Swede gave José Mourinho’s reviving side the lead as early as the 5th minute with a well-taken header from Jesse Lingard’s cross, whereas Ibrahimovic was on hand to double the dosage in the second half and ease any lingering worries that existed concerning a potential banana skin that was the trip to 7th placed West Brom.

Of the two shots taken by Ibrahimovic, all ended up in the back of the net in what was a Man of the Match performance, whereas the brace bagged tonight sees the target man hit his 34th goal in 33 league games throughout 2016.

Just the one goal was enough, however, for the 35-year-old’s name to dominate the reactions emerging from United’s evening in the West Midlands.

Ibrahimovic was widely expected to struggle in the Premier League when arriving at Old Trafford, in particular due to his age, but the striker’s first goal of the night told a very different story, taking him to double figures in the Premier League and pushing his total for the season to 15.

In response, United fans and loyal ‘Ibra’ backers were on hand to outline the former Paris-Saint Germain star’s good work, without a doubt aimed at those branding him a flop.

Ibrahimovic, a champion in Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands, has always had the question mark hanging over his head around these alleys of Europe over whether he could replicate his success in front of goal in the popular goldfish that is Premier League.

Now testing his capabilities at the ripe old age of 35, the odds weren’t as favourable as the man himself might like to think, but the striker has always strived to discard such claims that he’s “finished” at the highest level.

Even as recently as today, the well-preserved Ibrahimovic was keen to outline that he feels fresh in the prospect of being handed a rest in coming games.

“In football, sometimes you have to listen to everybody around you, but in my mind I’m a 20-year-old boy,” the Man United number 9 said. “I’m fresh and I’ll keep going, as long as the team needs me.”

A repeat of Ibrahimovic’s current goal scoring exploits in 2016 certainly wouldn’t go amiss in United’s bid to climb back up the Premier League.

He Made The Difference: Manchester United Fans Druel Over ‘Immense’ Midfielder’s Performance vs. Crystal Palace

Manchester United continued their mini-resurgence with a hard-fought 2-1 win away at Crystal Palace on Wednesday night. Whilst Jose Mourinho’s men were not at their best, there was one player that really helped them get the 3 points. 

Paul Pogba was absolutely immense for Manchester United on the night, scoring the first and assisting the second goal, but those were not his only contributions in what was a near faultless performance. Pogba won 100% of his tackles, 6 aerial duels, 4 take ons and managed 4 shots, with one crucially giving United the lead.

Pogba is effective both offensively and defensively and he showed that against Palace, making 4 key passes, 6 clearances, 2 interceptions and 2 tackles.

Pogba was involved heavily in the build-up for United, completing a huge 93 passes with a fairly impressive 82.8% accuracy rate. The Frenchman has never been the neatest in possession and he wasn’t again on Wednesday, but he is a different and unique breed of midfielder. Combining defensive & technical ability with athleticism, he completed 4 of his 5 attempted long balls and 1/1 through ball. Despite playing centrally, Pogba still managed to attempt 2 crosses – highlighting how he was involved all over the pitch and central to everything United did.

To be honest it is about time that Pogba produced such a dominating, match-winning performance. Costing the club £90million, his influence this season has been limited to date and the club certainly need him to make the difference in games like these more regularly. Mourinho will also surely want to see the club’s record signing produce performances like these in the big matches against their title rivals.

Here’s how Twitter reacted to Pogba’s performance. Do you agree with these thoughts?

I must admit, Pogba’s performance on Wednesday night was excellent. He finally produced a performance that justifies the price that United have paid for him. Whilst I think he has been good for United since signing, he has been great, enough of the time. Like any player that moves from a foreign league, there is a settling in period and Pogba is not immune to that. It may be the case now that he has fully settled and is ready to step up and produce more World Class performances like he did on Wednesday night.

That’s the key thing: when you pay so much for a player you need them to win you points, making the difference in games where you don’t play brilliantly. Mourinho may say otherwise, but United were far from brilliant against Crystal Palace and without Pogba on the pitch I severely doubt that they would’ve picked up all three points.

Player Ratings For Both Teams: Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

These are Fresh Football’s player ratings for the game in between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.

Manchester United

David De Gea – 7

The Spaniard made some good, if uncomplicated saves to keep Man United’s register clean throughout the game.

Antonio Valencia – 6.5

Maintained a solid display from start to finish, entering in interesting disputes with Danny Rose out on United’s right flank.

Phil Jones – 7.5

The former Blackburn Rovers man continues to offer José Mourinho food for thought with yet another impressive performance, this time marking Harry Kane out of the game.

Marcos Rojo – 7

Solid once more, accommodating Jones from a technical aspect at the heart of defence. Rojo has been given lots of praise from the fans, see some reaction here.

Matteo Darmian – 6

The Italian had his hands full with both Kyle Walker, Son Heung-Min and later Moussa Sissoko bombarding his flank, but Darmian didn’t let his side down.

Michael Carrick – 6.5

At the base of United’s midfield, Carrick was on hand keep things compact, evade Spurs’ habitual high press and set purposeful counters.

Ander Herrera – 6

Combative in midfield, priceless in supporting Carrick up against the likes of Vincent Wanyama, Mousa Dembélé and Dele Alli.

Paul Pogba – 7

Among his best performances in a United shirt, the Frenchman took full advantage of the space beyond him in an open second half, threatening Spurs in a number of attacks and leaving his compatriot, Hugo Lloris, stunned when smashing the post from a dangerous free-kick. Better.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 8

Another man of the match performance from the Armenian, the man to break the deadlock with an emphatic finish in the first half. Mkhitaryan served as the main outlet in spearheading counter-attacks.

Anthony Martial – 5

Very passive and unsupportive of his full back partner, Darmian. The weak link in United’s side.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 6.5

Far from being the main threat, but the spaces occupied by Ibrahimovic proved to be incredibly beneficial in confusing a high defensive line from Spurs.

Subs

Marcus Rashford – 5

There was nothing of note in the final third from the young Englishman, but his mere presence and fresh legs was enough to dampen Kyle Walker’s appetite to roam forwards.

Eric Bailly – N/A

Marouane Fellaini – N/A

Tottenham Hotspur

Hugo Lloris – 6.5

Kept Spurs’ hopes of taking something from the game alive with a couple of good saves from Pogba and Ibrahimovic efforts.

Kyle Walker – 6

Often supportive high up on the right flank, but didn’t quite find the openings that have so often seen him inflict damage in Mauricio Pochettino’s set-up.

Toby Alderweireld – 6

A little rusty and limited further by United’s tactical approach to prevent him from playing the ball out from the back, but the Belgian was generally okay.

Jan Vertonghen – 5

Never quite managed to patch up the gap between him and Danny Rose, exposed fully by Mkhitaryan on his way smashing in the game’s only goal.

Danny Rose – 5.5

Lively as always, but second best up against Mkhitaryan and Valencia.

Victor Wanyama – 5

Missed a very good chance to equalise in the second half with a tame and inaccurate header, whereas the Kenyan, moreover, was an unnecessary quantity in midfield in Spurs’ search for an equaliser.

Mousa Dembélé – 5.5

Never quite got ahold of the game as he usually does, to Spurs’ detriment.

Son Heung-Min – 5.5

Appeared the most likely player in the first half to bring Spurs level, testing De Gea from range on a couple of occasions, but the South Korean was sacrificed for Pochettino’s tactical switch early in the second period.

Dele Alli – 4.5

Failed to link the midfield to a stranded Harry Kane in a toothless performance from the young Englishman. Tottenham fans aren’t happy with his performance, see some reaction here.

Christian Eriksen – 5

Always a threat from a set-piece, that’s almost a given, but Eriksen continued to be somewhat uninspired as one of Spurs’ chief creatives.

Harry Kane – 4.5

Buried in United bodies and culpable in Mkhitaryan’s goal, giving the ball away prior to the hosts’ quick counter.

Subs

Moussa Sissoko – 5

Came on to take full advantage of Martial’s flawed back-tracking, but the Frenchman lacked a little finesse in his thought process to ever hurt the Red Devils.

Harry Winks – N/A

Georges Nkoudou – N/A

‘Best Ever Performance In A Manchester United Shirt’ Fans Heap Praise Onto Defender After Display vs. Tottenham

Manchester United managed to overcome their recent poor form late on in games to see out a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, courtesy of a goal from Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the first period. 

Spurs started the game the better of the two after a shaky start, but it was Harry Kane, Spurs’ saviour since he returned from injury who was at fault for the goal. He gave the ball away sloppily in midfield before Ander Herrera played Mkhitaryan through, who finished convincingly to score his first Premier League goal.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men missed a golden opportunity to equalise just after the break. Christian Eriksen swung a good ball towards the back post, where Victor Wanyama had sneaked in, but he failed to trouble David De Gea with his header.

Paul Pogba could have fired Manchester United two goals to the good on two separate occasions within a couple of minutes of each other. First of all, his free-kick rattled the woodwork, before he found himself with space for a shot just inside the box, but his effort was straight at Hugo Lloris.

Spurs failed to create any decent chances throughout the game, and much of that can be down to Harry Kane being so ineffective up front. Marcos Rojo was the man tasked with keeping the Englishman quiet for the ninety minutes, and he did an outstanding job.

Although he won just 33% of his tackles and 40% of his aerial duels, Rojo denied Kane of any sort of half-chance for the whole game. He made an impressive 16 clearances, 4 blocks and a further 4 interceptions. Here is how United fans reacted to Rojo’s outstanding display.

We all thought that United being without both Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly would be a huge problem for the Red Devils. However, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have really stepped up in the last few weeks. Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling will be back in the fold soon, and it will be interesting to see if Mourinho sticks with Jones and Rojo at the back or puts Bailly and Smalling back in.