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Manchester United: Gary Neville on changes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made to his midfield since international break

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has “gone back to basics” and returned to his trusted midfield set-up to solve the team’s defensive problems and help Bruno Fernandes, Gary Neville told Monday Night Football.

United went into the international break earlier this month on the back of a 6-1 thrashing at home to Tottenham, having already lost 3-1 at Old Trafford to Crystal Palace and scraped past Brighton 3-2 with a late, late penalty.

But since the Premier League has resumed, United have beaten Newcastle 4-1 and drawn 0-0 with Chelsea, as well as picking up an impressive 2-1 Champions League win at Paris Saint-Germain.

Sky Sports pundit Neville explained Solskjaer’s return to playing two holding midfield players behind Fernandes – opposed to trying to play Paul Pogba along with just one defensive midfielder and Fernandes – is key to the turnaround.

“I think the general pattern in the league, of all the goals in the early part of the season, these two managers [Solskjaer and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard] were in a situation where it was starting to reflect upon themselves, all the chances they were conceding. They looked naive,” said Neville.

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“Man Utd are 15th in the league, their worst start at Old Trafford for 50 years, they were conceding too many chances and too many goals.

“There has been a massive mentality shift. Before the game [with Chelsea] the big debate was would Man Utd stick with the back five, or go to a back four. It’s actually a bit of a sideshow, the key has been what’s in front of it.

“If you look at Man Utd early in the season, they were playing with Scott McTominay and Pogba in midfield. Pogba is a completely different player to Fred, McTominay and Nemanja Matic, and they were getting caught ahead of the ball.

“Pogba and Fernandes – both attacking-minded players, both think about creating and scoring goals rather than defending and going the other way – and it was leaving Man Utd with an isolated area with one player in there.

“Palace tore Man Utd to shreds that day. They were at that back four far too easily, on far too many occasions, and they’re not great one-on-one those two centre-backs, particularly Harry Maguire with his pace.

“Man Utd conceded chance after chance after chance [against Brighton]. Ultimately it culminated in a pretty horrific day for them against Tottenham when they got done 6-1.

“Coming out of the international break, what’s the difference? Ole has gone back to what served him well last season – that box: Victor Lindelof, Maguire, Fred, McTominay. All have a defensive mindset. All quick at getting to the ball, particularly those two in front of the centre-backs.

“So every time Man Utd attacked, and the ball broke out to Chelsea’s midfield, they were all over them like a rash.

“They also allowed Man Utd’s full-backs, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw to be really aggressive, and the midfield two get out aggressively towards the side, they’re working in tandem. It just means those back two for Man Utd, Lindelof and Maguire, are less exposed.

“For me, Ole has almost thought, ‘I need to go back to basics. I can’t keep conceding chances’. He’s got the issue in the stand, with Donny van de Beek and Pogba [not playing], but he has gone back to basics this week and it’s meant they’re more difficult to play against and they’re conceding less goals and chances.”

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Freeing up Fernandes

Neville also believes the move from Solskjaer to leave Pogba and Van de Beek on the bench and play Fernandes ahead of two holding midfielders in Fred and McTominay, will get the Portuguese firing again.

“Fernandes hasn’t been as good when Pogba, or Van de Beek has played,” said Neville. “He’s the star man, he’s rejuvenated Man Utd since January. He had the free run of wherever he wants to go in that No 10 position.

“Ole has looked at it and thought, ‘let’s get back to basics, I know these three (Fernandes, McTominay, Fred) can play together, we’re a mess pre-international break, we’re conceding chances left right and centre, Tottenham have done us 6-1, Palace have beaten us at home and looked comfortable, Brighton away we were fortunate’.

“He’s thought, ‘I’ve got to get basically a foundation this season and he’s done that with those three in midfield’.”

Carra: Pogba and Fernandes will never work

Jamie Carragher believes the move to prioritise Fernandes and defensive security at the expense of Pogba’s place in the team shows Fernandes and Pogba cannot play together in midfield.

However, he feels the pressure to play United’s most expensive signing will lead to Pogba returning to the team at some point – and he also questioned whether the base of Fred and McTominay is good enough for United to win the Premier League.

“I actually admire Solskjaer for putting Pogba on the bench,” he told Monday Night Football. “I said it a few weeks ago, after the Crystal Palace game, Fernandes and Pogba can’t play together. They are not a midfield and never will be.

“Van de Beek, I don’t understand the signing. I don’t get how he was ever going to play or where he was going to fit in. As soon as he signed, my thought was, ‘He plays No 10 but Fernandes plays there and Pogba can play there’.

“You look at it right now, it’s better for the team to have Fred and McTominay there. But Fred and McTominay as a centre midfield for Manchester United is not good enough for them to challenge for the Premier League title.

“The big problem for me is Paul Pogba and it has been for a long time.

“Fernandes is the man in that No 10 position. But I don’t know how Ole can continue not to pick a £90m signing in Paul Pogba. It’s not easy for a manager. So, at some stage he will get back into the team, but him and Fernandes, for me, will never work.”

A Pogba-Fernandes solution?

Neville came back with an alternative way of playing, which he said may allow Solskjaer to play both of his star names – Fernandes and Pogba – in a midfield together.

“I get what Jamie is saying. I think it’s a problem when you’ve got £150m worth of midfield players on the bench. In Pogba, you’ve got a player who has won a World Cup and been dominant in Europe with Juventus. He’s Manchester United’s record signing. And yet he can’t get in the team on a Saturday,” said Neville.

“For me, I’ve never understood why Ole hasn’t tried – and maybe he’s looked at it in training and hasn’t liked it – one sitter with Pogba and Fernandes in front, like Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva at Manchester City. De Bruyne and Silva weren’t disciplined midfield players before Pep Guardiola came into Manchester City. He made them into that.

“That’s the only system I can see where it would be an obvious way of getting them into the same team. More often than not, Ole has played Matic and Pogba sitting alongside each other with Fernandes in front. Pogba can’t play there because in that position you need to be disciplined. But with a one then a two, I think you can have a bit more freedom to run forward.”

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Evra questions why Man United signed £40m man Donny van de Beek

‘Why have we bought him? We don’t need him, that’s the truth’: Patrice Evra questions why Manchester United signed £40m man Donny van de Beek after he was left on the bench once again in bore draw against Chelsea

  • Patrice Evra says Manchester United don’t need £40m man Donny van de Beek
  • The midfielder is yet to start a Premier League game since signing for the club
  • Evra questioned the club’s decision to bring him in if he is not going to play
  • Gary Neville said the midfielder will also be questioning why he was signed 

Manchester United don’t need £40million signing Donny van de Beek, former defender Patrice Evra has claimed after the midfielder watched his side’s draw with Chelsea from the bench.

Van de Beek was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s big summer signing but is yet to start a Premier League game and has played just 60 minutes of league football since arriving at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer has plenty of options in midfield and opted to start Scott McTominay and Fred in the two defensive roles against Chelsea with Bruno Fernandes playing in front of the them. 

Patrice Evra questioned Manchester United’s decision to sign £40m man Donny van de Beek 

 The midfielder watched from the bench as United played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at home

Paul Pogba was also left on the bench but, unlike Van de Beek, the Frenchman was introduced in the second half.

Speaking on Sky Sports after the game, Evra questioned the club’s decision to sign the 23-year-old. 

He said: ‘We’re talking about Van de Beek, nothing against the kid, but why have we bought him?’ Evra said after the game. 

He is yet to start a Premier League game and has played just 60 minutes of league football

‘He’s watching the game from the stand every game. We don’t need him, that’s the truth.’ 

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said the Van de Beek himself will be questioning why he was brought to the club if he is not part of the manager’s immediate plans.

‘What is a little bit of a mystery is the use of Van de Beek since he’s been signed for £40 million,’  

Gary Neville said Van de Beek himself will be questioning why he was signed by the club

‘He doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans in every game. It’s a bit of a mystery that one. And the more he doesn’t start, and the more he doesn’t come on, the more you’re thinking, “Well £40m player, ordinarily you’d get him in the team”.

‘He must be thinking: “What am I doing here?’ at this moment in time.’  

The two starts Van de Beek has made for United this season have come in the Carabao Cup victories against Luton and Brighton.  




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Liverpool vs Sheffield United LIVE: Latest score, goals and updates from Premier League fixture tonight

Manchester United and Chelsea’s bore draw to expose both managers’ limitations

Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea: Two sides cancel each other out in uninspiring draw at Old Trafford

Rhian Brewster makes his full debut for Sheffield United against the club he’s just left. This is a big test for the young striker, but he might fancy his chances against a Liverpool side that have let in nine goals in their last two Premier League games.

The champions are in action next, hosting Sheffield United at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp appears to have gone with a 4-2-3-1, starting with Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino. Joe Gomez and Fabinho are partnered at centre-back again in the absence of Virgil van Dijk.

It’s back-to-back 0-0 draws for Chelsea, then. Few would have expected that only a week ago, but Lampard has obviously prioritised defensive improvement. The problem is that it’s come at the expense of fluidity in the final third. Despite the big money attacking signings, Chelsea created almost nothing against a leaky United defence here.

For Solskjaer, avoiding defeat will be a relief, but as the home side United needed to be more proactive. Rashford’s late chance might have changed things, and Cavani looked sharp. But Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy have clearly made Chelsea a more difficult team to beat.

Full-time

That’s it! It finishes goalless, and both sides will probably settle for that. That doesn’t make it any less underwhelming. A tough game to watch, but signs of progress, defensively at least, for two inconsistent teams.

90+1 min

Great save! The ball drops to Rashford on the edge of the box and he curls a shot towards the far corner. Mendy flies to his left, reacting superbly and parrying the powerful effort away.

There’ll be four minutes of added time.

88 min

A cross from Greenwood loops up to Fernandes, who tries an overhead kick. It’s heading wide, although James gets his head to it anyway. Moments later, Lindelof pushes forward down the right and crosses for Cavani, but Silva is there to block crucially at the near post.

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Fred: Manchester United aiming to win every trophy after PSG victory

‘I obviously want to win every trophy, that’s an ambition shared’: Fred insists Manchester United are aiming to compete on all four fronts as they look to kick on after victory over PSG

  • Manchester United want to win all four trophies available this season, says Fred
  • The Red Devils had a poor start to season including a 6-1 defeat vs Tottenham
  • But they have responded since and beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Tuesday
  • The Brazilian believes United have the quality to challenge for every trophy 

Midfielder Fred insists Manchester United are aiming to win all four trophies available to them this season.

The Red Devils have had an unconvincing start to their Premier League season including a 6-1 thrashing by Tottenham, but secured an impressive 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday.

United have now gone three years without any silverware, and the Brazilian claimed they are determined to restore the trophy-winning mentality back at Old Trafford.

Fred insists Manchester United want to win every trophy available to them this season

The Red Devils will be looking to build on their impressive PSG victory after a poor start before

‘I obviously want to win every trophy, that’s an ambition shared with the club’, Fred told United’s official club site. 

‘My personal aim is to play a lot of games, put in great performances, do my best to help the team. Not get injured, obviously. I want to have a great season and the team’s objective is to win things together.

‘I’m convinced we have the quality to do this, to go far in the Champions League and the cups here in England, do well in the Premier League. We hope to compete for trophies in all competitions.’

United have responded after they were humiliated 6-1 by Tottenham earlier this season

United have not delivered a trophy since the Europa League in 2017 when Jose Mourinho was in charge, with current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still looking for his first silverware since taking over the hot-seat.

The Norwegian lifted some of the pressure growing on him with that PSG result, after that Spurs humiliation and a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, both at home, in their opening four league games.

Fred revealed some stern words were said after the Spurs game and said he is happy with the team’s response since, which also includes a 4-1 win over Newcastle.

The Brazilian (c) revealed words were spoken in dressing room after the heavy Spurs defeat

‘Nobody wants to lose a game, especially at home and by that scoreline. We thought a lot about it, talked a lot in the dressing room. It was really bad for us, but we knew we had to come back stronger, better, more focused, and we did that against Newcastle.’

‘It was a good response from the team and we were very happy to get the win at a difficult place to go.’




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Liverpool vs Sheffield United preview, team news, kick-off

Liverpool assessing Thiago Alcantara; Rhian Brewster could be handed full Sheff Utd debut; Liverpool vs Sheffield United will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Box Office; Kick-off at 8pm

Friday 23 October 2020 13:52, UK

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Liverpool vs Sheffield United in the Premier League on Saturday; Kick-off 8pm.

Team news

For the first time in 75 Premier League games, Liverpool will be without Virgil van Dijk as the Dutchman begins his long road to recovery following his anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (knee), goalkeeper Alisson (shoulder) and defender Konstantinos Tsimikas (thigh) all remain out.

Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Joel Matip are being assessed but are all doubtful, with Jurgen Klopp having discussions with the medical department over the trio.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder would have “no hesitation” handing club-record signing Rhian Brewster his full debut against his former club.

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Max Lowe had to be withdrawn with a head injury against Fulham and the Blades are awaiting a doctor’s report before deciding if he travels to Merseyside.

Meanwhile, midfielder John Fleck will be out for up to six weeks with the back problem that saw him miss out against the Cottagers.

Listen to the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Preview Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox.

How to follow

Liverpool vs Sheffield United will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Box Office; Kick-off at 8pm.

Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Jones Knows’ prediction

This is the last thing Chris Wilder and his likeable Blades team need – a trip to the champions, who haven’t lost at home since April 23, 2017.

Looking at the Blades’ performance metrics, I’m certain Wilder will turn things around – getting a first goal in a football match will be crucial as they don’t really possess the players to go chasing a game but are superb at protecting a lead. This fixture will be about staying in the game for as long as possible. A tough ask, indeed, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in deadly form in front of goal.

I can’t foresee too many problems for Jurgen Klopp’s men even without Virgil van Dijk, as Fabinho looks a very reliable understudy – as explained here by my colleague Peter Smith, who was suitably impressed by his performance in the 1-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday. Home win to nil.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0 (11/2 with Sky Bet)

Opta stats

  • Liverpool have won their last three Premier League games against Sheffield United without conceding a single goal, winning by an aggregate score of 3-0 last season.
  • Sheffield United have lost 19 of their last 23 away top-flight matches against Liverpool (W3 D1) with their last win at Anfield coming back in April 1994 (a 2-1 victory courtesy of a brace from Jostein Flo).
  • Since having their league title win confirmed last season, Liverpool have conceded 25 goals in 12 Premier League games – no side has conceded more. Their previous 25 league goals conceded had come across a period of 38 games.
  • Liverpool haven’t failed to win three consecutive Premier League games since May 2018 (D2 L1), with the Reds currently winless in their last two in the competition (D1 L1).
  • Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 61 Premier League home games, winning 27 of their last 28 at Anfield. They’ve netted 162 goals in these 61 games (2.7 per game), while conceding just 40 in return (0.7 per game).
  • Sheffield United have lost 16 of their last 17 away league matches against the reigning top-flight champion, winning the other 1-0 in 1971-72 at Highbury against Arsenal via a goal from Stewart Scullion.

Pitch to Post Preview podcast: Mata exclusive, Everton latest, Coady’s rise at Wolves

Juan Mata is the special guest on this week’s show, and he tells Peter Smith about Man Utd’s return to form, looks ahead to their clash with Chelsea, and shares his views on the work being done off the pitch by Marcus Rashford.

Plus, we have more fallout from the Merseyside derby as Alan Myers explains Everton’s perspective, Johnny Phillips discusses cult hero Conor Coady’s importance to Wolves, and Sky Sports Data Editor Adam Smith delves into the numbers behind the Premier League’s goal rush, and makes a bold Pitch!

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Woodward brags about United spending more than ALL their rivals

Ed Woodward tries to appease fans by insisting Manchester United have spent more than ANY other top European club during the last three transfer windows

  • Manchester United revealed debt increase of 133% to £474.1m on Wednesday
  • Ed Woodward defended finances and bragged about spending more than rivals
  • He said United have backed boss by spending ‘over €200m since summer 2019’
  • He picked on ‘outliers’ Chelsea and said United ‘compare favourably’ with rivals

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward has attempted to appease the club’s fans by bragging that they have spent more than any of their European rivals over the last three transfer windows – despite a huge rise in debts amid the Covid-19 pandemic.    

The executive vice-chairman and hierarchy at Old Trafford have come under fire for their work in the transfer market in recent years, but Woodward was keen to praise their summer purchases.

Speaking upon the release of United’s finances on Wednesday, in which it was revealed their debt has risen a massive 133 per cent to £474.1million, Woodward insisted that the club have fully backed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.  

Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has bragged about Manchester United’s recent spend

United signed Edinson Cavani, among others, from Paris Saint-Germain the summer window

Woodward was insistent that Manchester United have backed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

‘We are pleased with our recent additions to the First Team squad of Donny van de Beek and Alex Telles, two players we had been tracking as part of our recruitment process for a long period, and Edinson Cavani, a top striker who adds a new option to our forward line,’ he said.

‘We also welcome Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, who will join in January, two exciting young prospects who have also been scouted extensively. 

‘Added to the arrival of Bruno Fernandes earlier this year, these recruits underscore our continued commitment to strengthening the squad and take our net investment in new players since summer 2019 to over €200m – more, I believe, than any other major European club over that time period.’ 

Manchester United released their latest quarterly financial results on Wednesday morning

Alex Telles was another major arrival at Old Trafford amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has decimated finances at most of Europe’s top clubs this summer, and Woodward picked out Chelsea as the ‘outlier’ for spending so big while others shied away.

‘At a club level, many of our peers were cautious, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and PSG having a combined net spent of €9m; or a median net spend of €13m,’ Woodward continued.

‘Of course there were one or two outliers the other way, most notably Chelsea, who were making up for not being able to be active during their transfer ban in summer 2019. 

‘But one needs to look across multiple windows to gain a clearer perspective; and as I mentioned earlier our aggregate net investment over the last 3 transfer windows compares very favourably with our peers.

United owners Avram Glazer (left) and Joel Glazer will take a heavy hit amid the Covid-19 crisis

Finances continue to take hits with more games this season played behind closed doors

‘The bottom line is we are investing and will continue to invest to back the manager.’

United’s worrying financial results come just hours after the team secured a brilliant result on the pitch, beating last season’s Champions League finalists PSG away from home.

The result, with both goals in the 2-1 win scored by Marcus Rashford, puts them in a strong position in a tough Champions League group.

Progression to the knockout stages is vital to Woodward and the club’s finances as they look to balance the books in the latter stages of a tough 2020. 




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Woodward insists United will explore options after Big Picture flop

Ed Woodward insists Manchester United will explore options ‘to make the English game stronger and more sustainable’ after they and Liverpool failed to get Project Big Picture off the ground following Premier League vote

  • Manchester United were driving force behind Project Big Picture with Liverpool
  • Contentious proposals were shot down at meeting with other top flight clubs 
  • Undeterred, Ed Woodward outlined commitment to helping football pyramid 
  • Covid-19 has had a £70m negative impact on United’s turnover of £509million

Ed Woodward says he is ‘committed to exploring options’ following Manchester United’s role in the controversial Project Big Picture.

The club, along with Liverpool, came up with proposals for a major power shift in the Premier League towards its big six clubs in exchange for what was billed as a rescue package for the EFL.

The hugely contentious proposals were blown out of the water at a top flight meeting last week, but Woodward has vowed to press ahead.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is ‘exploring options’ after Project Big Picture was dismissed by other Premier League clubs in a meeting last week 

In a statement released alongside the club’s annual figures, which highlight the impact of Covid 19 on finances, the United executive vice chairman said: ‘Our focus remains on protecting the health of our colleagues, fans and community while adapting to the significant economic ramifications of the pandemic. 

‘Within that context, our top priority is to get fans back into the stadium safely and as soon as possible. We are also committed to playing a constructive role in helping the wider football pyramid through this period of adversity, while exploring options for making the English game stronger and more sustainable in the long-term. 

‘This requires strategic vision and leadership from all stakeholders, and we look forward to helping drive forward that process in a timely manner.’

United have extended their expiring shirt sponsorship with Chevrolet by six months, which is expected to net them an extra £11m. However, they announced a £23.2m loss for last season, which was also impacted 41.9 per cent drop in broadcasting income.

Liverpool and United were the primary driving forces behind Project Big Picture 

Woodward said United are committed to playing a role in creating a sustainable football future

Ahead of the pandemic, United had expected to bring in £560m to £580m of revenue compared with last year’s record £627.1m, with the drop thanks largely due to a lack of Champions League football last season.

However, the figures – for the fourth quarter and full financial year – show that Covid has had a £70m negative impact on turnover, which was £509m.

Only one Premier League home match, two top flight away matches and an FA Cup quarter-final were played over the fourth quarter period, which runs from April 1 to June 30. All of those were behind closed doors.

Woodward added: ‘On the pitch, we have strengthened the team over the summer and we remain committed to our objective of winning trophies, playing entertaining, attacking football with a blend of academy graduates and high-quality recruits, while carefully managing our resources to protect the long-term resilience of the club.’

The annual figures relate to 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Woodward announced the clubs annual figures and revealed a negative impact on turnover




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West Ham 2-4 Manchester United: Tobin Heath inspires victory

West Ham Women 2-4 Manchester United Women: Alessia Russo double and a fine strike from US import Tobin Heath helps Casey Stoney’s side continue unbeaten start to the season

  • Manchester United Women beat West Ham 4-2 in the WSL to stay unbeaten
  • Alessia Russo scored twice while Tobin Heath and Christen Press were on target
  • Emily van Egmond and Rachel Daly scored to reduce the deficit for home side

Socks around her shins, hugging the right touchline, Tobin Heath looks like a throwback to English football as it was in the 1970s, not one of this league’s new American glitterati.

The focus on the game’s US arrivals has actually been disproportionate to their contribution, so far. Sam Mewis hasn’t set the world alight at Manchester City, where Rose Lavelle has barely played. Alex Morgan won’t appear for at least two weeks at Tottenham, yesterday citing a ‘small setback.’ But Heath delivered the first performance commensurate with all the talk, revealing in the process that opponents will need to be a great deal better prepared for her than this.

Bigger clubs alone might have the resources to attract such players, though there could be no excuse for the time and space the 32-year-old was given to dominate and win the game for Manchester United, who are still unbeaten and one of the division’s new forces.

Tobin Heath was influential as Manchester United Women beat West Ham 4-2 on Sunday

Alessia Russo was on target twice as Casey Stoney’s stayed unbeaten in the WSL this season

She was free to stand and assess the options as Katie Zelem arrived to take her pass and loop the ball which Leah Galton laid back for Alessia Russo to score an opener. There was similar hospitality as Heath took a short ball from Russo and powered a shot beyond Mackenzie Arnold three minutes later.

It helped Casey Stoney’s side that West Ham were determined to play out from the back on every occasion, despite lacking a capacity to pass consistently under pressure. The same one-track mind which did for Phil Neville’s England at last summer’s World Cup. Manna from heaven for Zelem, the highly influential midfield technician.

United, like Chelsea, demonstrate a capacity to mix it up and also go long. There’s also an excellent attacking balance about them, with centre forward Alessia Russo capitalising on the width that Heath and Leah Galton provide from the right and left flanks. A throwback to how United’s men’s team used to play.

The USA international scored her side’s second goal with a fine right-footed strike 

Russo scored her second goal just before half time to put the Red Devils in the driving seat

Russo, of Italian decent, is the one Neville and his England successor Sarina Wiegman have cause to be excited about. Bringing others into play, linking with Heath and scoring United’s technically excellent third with a run across goal to meet Galton’s cross with a strong header – the 21-year-old looks a ready-made successor to Ellen White in the international ranks. She also sought refuge from the US chaos this summer, moving to the UK six months ahead of schedule having originally planned to complete her studies at the University of North Carolina while playing for North Carolina Tar.

‘We’ve been looking at her for a long time,’ manager Casey Stoney said last night. ‘Her availability was one of the very, very few plus-sides to what’s going on all around.’

United’s defence, plagued by injuries, can be punctured, as West Ham proved. Emily van Egmond beat Amy Turner to a cross to bring things to 2-1. Rachel Daly, the side’s most dangerous threat, arced a cross/shot from the right which looped over Mary Earps for 3-2. The home side went long after the interval and threatened more. United failed to put pressure on the ball before the two goals.

Emily van Egmond pulled one back for the hosts while Rachel Daly’s cross/shot made it 3-2

But the Americans ran things. It was exhibition football at times from Heath, running the ball under her studs, flicking it over her head with her heel and driving at a Laura Vetterlain. Her World Cup teammate Christen Press arrived from the bench on 76 minutes and rapidly netted United’s fourth – a fine volley from Lucy Staniforth’s free-kick.

The new stars have impacted on a number of levels. United sold six times more women’s team-related merchandise than their previous monthly record after Heath and Press arrived. But Stoney is more concerned about Arsenal, who annihilated Tottenham yesterday and will provide a more accurate barometer in two weeks’ time of whether United can claim a top three spot this season. ‘It’s going to be a very big test for us,’ Stoney reflected. ‘They’re an exceptional team.’

Christen Press was introduced for the final 15 minutes and volleyed home to make it four




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Newcastle vs Manchester United predicted line-ups: Team news ahead of Premier League fixture tonight


Manchester United will look to bounce back from their drubbing at the hands of Tottenham in their first match after the international break.

The Red Devils head to Newcastle on Saturday night, having lost two of their first three league games.

Two new senior arrivals since the loss to Spurs will have helped optimism around the club, though only Alex Telles may make his debut here.

Newcastle have started the Premier League campaign well, but this is their toughest test of 2020/21 so far.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the match.

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When is the game?

The match kicks off at 8pm on Saturday, 17 October.

Where can I watch it?

The game will be shown live on Sky Sports Box Office on a pay-per-view basis.

If you’re not a Sky customer you can grab a NOWTV Day Pass here to join without a subscription and then purchase the pay-per-view channel.

What is the team news?

Newcastle are without Matt Ritchie, Martin Dubravka and Dwight Gayle still. Miguel Almiron is fit despite a knock on international duty. Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark are edging closer but may need more group training sessions before considered for action.

United will be without new striker signing Edinson Cavani, who is self-isolating after his arrival. Anthony Martial is suspended and Phil Jones is a long-term absentee.

Predicted line-ups

NEW: Darlow; Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Lewis; Hendrick, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin; Joelinton, Almiron.

MUN: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; Matic, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, James; Rashford.

Odds

Newcastle – 17/4

Draw – 13/4

Man United – 71/100

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Soccer

Sheffield United vs Fulham preview, team news, kick-off

Rhian Brewster is set to make his Blades debut after his arrival from Liverpool, while new Fulham signing Joachim Andersen misses out after sustaining damage to his ankle ligaments; watch free match highlights shortly after full-time on Sky Sports’ digital platforms and YouTube channel

Friday 16 October 2020 15:31, UK

Team news and stats ahead of Sheffield United vs Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday (kick-off 12pm).

Team news

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder will check on his returning international players before finalising his plans for the home game against Fulham.

The Blades have a Covid-19 issue with an unnamed player who has returned from the international break, as well as individuals nursing injuries after representing their countries.

Club-record signing Rhian Brewster is likely to make his debut following his arrival from Liverpool earlier this month. However, fellow striker Lys Mousset (ankle) remains out.

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Fulham manager Scott Parker has been dealt an injury blow ahead of his side’s trip to Sheffield, with both teams still searching for their first points of the season.

Trending

New signing Joachim Andersen sustained damage to his ankle ligaments in training and will join fellow newcomer Kenny Tete on the sidelines, with Parker unable to give a timescale on the recovery of either.

However, Mario Lemina has been training over the international break and could feature, while this weekend’s fixture is set to come too soon for Harrison Reed.

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How to follow

Follow Sheffield United vs Fulham in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

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Watch the Premier League live on Sky Sports

At least 146 Premier League games will be shown live on Sky Sports in the 2020/21 season. The Premier League has further increased the number of televised games this season from 200 to 231, with over half of the extra fixtures set to be shown live on Sky Sports.

Overall, Sky Sports will be showing at least 146 Premier League matches live throughout the 2020/21 season, continuing to bring you all the latest twists, turns and shocks at the home of the Premier League.

There will also be two additional midweek programmes – one will be played across the weeks commencing January 11 and 18 and the second will be in the week commencing May 10. All of these games will be broadcast live.

You can also follow the action with our dedicated live blogs on the Sky Sports website and app, and watch free match highlights from every game shortly after full-time on our digital platforms and YouTube channel.

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Opta stats

  • The home side has won both previous Premier League meetings between Sheffield United and Fulham, with the Blades winning 2-0 and the Cottagers winning 1-0 in the 2006-07 campaign.
  • Fulham won both league meetings with Sheffield United the last time the sides faced in the 2017-18 Championship, winning 5-4 at Bramall Lane and 3-0 at Craven Cottage. A player from each side scored a hat-trick in the 5-4 triumph (Ryan Sessegnon for Fulham, Leon Clarke for Sheffield United).
  • The home side has won 11 of the last 15 Premier League matches between the bottom two sides (D3 L1), with the only away win in that time coming for bottom placed Watford at Norwich in November 2019 (2-0).
  • Sheffield United have lost their last seven Premier League games – they’ve never lost eight league games in a row in their history.
  • Fulham have lost each of their four Premier League games this season, failing to score in three of them and shipping 11 goals in the process. They’ve never lost each of their first five games in a league season before in their history.
  • Fulham and Sheffield United are the only sides yet to have led so far in the Premier League this season, while Fulham have been behind for a league-high four hours 40 minutes in 2020-21.
  • Last season in the Premier League, Sheffield United conceded a goal every 98 minutes on average with Dean Henderson in goal (33 goals in 3240 minutes). Without Henderson in goal this season and last, the Blades concede on average a goal every 45 minutes (12 in 540 minutes).

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