What the papers say
While the Alexis Sánchez saga continues, Manchester United must put that to one side as they travel to Turf Moor hoping to continue their seven game unbeaten run in the league. The reverse fixture on Boxing Day saw Sean Dyche’s side take a two goal lead at Old Trafford, before Jesse Lingard salvaged a point for United with two goals. Lingard’s heroics have become a recurring theme for José Mourinho’s team, but Burnley have not won at home since early December so the England international may not be leaned on quite as heavily. Reuben Pinder
Saturday 3pmContinue reading...
• Mourinho confirms Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss trip to Burnley
José Mourinho has claimed to being in the dark about Manchester United’s bid to sign Alexis Sánchez, though the manager is calm regarding the situation.
Mourinho is hopeful the Chilean can be acquired in the current window, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan potentially moving in the opposite direction. While the Armenian is not in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Burnley due to the uncertainty over his future, Mourinho stated he is not involved in negotiations.Continue reading...
Arsène Wenger seeks a reaction, Rafa Benítez may change approach against Manchester City and is Glenn Murray what Chelsea need?
Two teams struggling to score goals go toe-to-toe when Brighton and Chelsea get the Premier League ball rolling in Saturday’s early kick-off. Brighton have drawn seven blanks in their past 10 league games and have only scored more than once on one occasion in that time. Before their FA Cup draw with Norwich on Wednesday night – Antonio Conte’s side eventually won the tie on penalties – Chelsea had failed to score in three successive games; an uncharacteristic drought for the defending champions, who will be without the suspended Pedro and Álvaro Morata and are also likely to be missing the hamstrung Cesc Fàbregas. A team already over-reliant on Eden Hazard may have to depend on him more than ever and the Belgian is likely to play as a false nine in the absence of Morata. The unsurprising news that Andy Carroll is likely to be sidelined for four to six weeks with an ankle injury means the West Ham striker will not be lumbering to the rescue any time soon. In Glenn Murray, Brighton have something of a Carroll Lite and with two goals in his past three games, the striker will have no better opportunity to audition for one of the most unlikely transfers in Premier League history. BGContinue reading...
Last season Eden Hazard observed that the main difference between José Mourinho and Antonio Conte was that Mourinho does not practise “automisations”. He does not have players practise set moves they can perform almost unconsciously that can be deployed at great pace when the situation demands. He organises his defence and leaves his forwards to improvise. That has been taken by some as evidence that Mourinho is no longer at the forefront of coaching – and perhaps it is – but it is also a detail that explains his entire methodology.
While studying at the Instituto Superior de Educação Física in Lisbon Mourinho came under the influence of Prof Manuel Sérgio, who believed that football knowledge was not enough for a coach, that he also had to be a psychologist, a public speaker and have a grasp of the sciences. Specifically he gave lectures on emotions and how they could be manipulated. Mourinho followed them with a rapacious curiosity. “He looked,” Manuel Sérgio said, “like a cat catching birds.”Continue reading...
• City and United both interested in signing Seri at end of season
Manchester United are ready to rival Manchester City’s attempt to sign Jean Michaël Seri from Nice, with José Mourinho keen to go head to head with Pep Guardiola once again to sign the Ivory Coast midfielder at the end of the season.
Seri came close to joining Barcelona last summer, only for the deal to collapse when the Spanish club withdrew their bid at the last minute. The 26-year-old was understood to have been devastated and has struggled for form in Ligue 1 this season after being awarded the Marc-Vivien Foé trophy for the best African player in France.Continue reading...
• Wenger interested in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jonny Evans
Arsène Wenger has said that the deal involving Alexis Sánchez joining Manchester United and Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving to Arsenal “is likely to happen”.
The Chilean has been keen to leave Arsenal since the summer. It was originally expected that he would join Manchester City but then United entered the race and are now the firm favourites to sign him.Continue reading...
• Some disquiet at Old Trafford over player’s agent’s stance
Manchester United could buy Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal even if Henrikh Mkhitaryan refuses to move the other way, with José Mourinho hopeful that Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, would sign off a deal financed without money received from the Armenian’s sale.
Mino Raiola, Mkhitaryan’s agent, has claimed his player holds the key to Sánchez’s transfer to United in a transaction that would be worth around £60m once the Chilean’s fee and that of his agent are factored in.Continue reading...
• United manager seeking increase on £15m-a-year deal
Manchester United have made a breakthrough in contract talks with José Mourinho, with each party confident an agreement can soon be reached.
Discussions have been ongoing for some time and are now progressing well between the manager and executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward.Continue reading...
• Antonio Conte does not think Chelsea are trying to sign Sánchez
Manchester United’s hopes of buying Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez may recede should Henrikh Mkhitaryan not wish move to the north London club, with the Armenian carefully weighing up his options before a possible move from Old Trafford.Continue reading...
Following Manchester United's 3-0 win over Stoke in the Premier League, José Mourinho said he feels 'relaxed' over the potential transfer of Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal. Sánchez has been linked to both Manchester clubs, with United seemingly pushing ahead of City in the race to sign the player in recent daysContinue reading...
Manchester United took advantage of Manchester City’s defeat at Liverpool to close the deficit to 12 points with this accomplished win. It is still a chasm but José Mourinho and co will feel better, and the club will be given a further lift should they secure Alexis Sánchez, with them now firmly in pole position to do so. Paul Lambert, the new Stoke manager, watched on from the posh seats but saw United again deny the Potters victory here, their last coming in April 1976.
Mourinho made six changes from the FA Cup win here a week ago. Once again Henrikh Mkhitaryan was excluded completely – due to “doubts about his future”, the manager said – while Romelu Lukaku started for the first time in more than a fortnight following a head injury. Eddie Niedzwiecki’s XI showed seven players different from the Cup defeat at Coventry City, with Stephen Ireland’s first league start in 996 days notable, alongside the debut of Moritz Bauer, a 25-year-old Austrian.Continue reading...
- Live updates from the match at Old Trafford
- Sánchez transfer: City close to walking away in chase
- Send Simon an email | Tweet @Simon_Burnton
20 mins: Mata hits it into the wall.
19 mins: Lingard is tripped by Allen, a couple of yards outside the penalty area, and United have a fine shooting chance.
17 mins: Stoke find space on the right, and Bauer passes to Ireland, who has the freedom of the penalty area. The ball forces him to control with his back to goal, and he spins and fires wide.
15 mins: United are giving Stoke a bit of a pummelling at the moment. Valencia may have kicked the ball more than six times with his left foot in a United shirt, but until tonight he had never scored with it.
13 mins: “Some competition for Barry’s stat gun,” writes Michael Meagher. “That is only the 6th time Antonio Valencia has kicked the ball with his left foot in his entire Manchester United career.” And another stat:
11 mins: Stoke have a shot! Fletcher lifts the ball into the box, where Shaqiri, with Shaw closing him down, scissor-kicks it goalwards. De Gea saves with ease, but it did look very good.
10 mins: Pogba carries the ball infield from the left and then finds Valencia on the other wing, who cuts inside Tymon, gets into the box and sends the ball curling into the far corner with his left foot, as sweet a strike as you’ll ever see!
What a hit! An absolute peach from the United right-back!
7 mins: Mata clips the ball into the area, where Martial has got in front of Bauer. Both players go a-tumbling, and the Stoke debutant had his arms around the Frenchman when they did so. Not exactly an assault, but probably a foul. The referee waves play on.
4 mins: Martial gets into space on the left of the penalty area, but his cross hits a defender, pings into another defender, and is cleared.
3 mins: Obviously it was Jack Butland with the towel, and not someone who doesn’t play for either team. Manchester United win a free kick, and then another free kick, and shortly afterwards another free kick, none of them anywhere near Stoke’s area.
1 min: It took 35 seconds for United to touch the ball. Then Valencia launches it downfield to nobody, and Stoke have it back again.
1 min: Rumble!
Preliminaries completed. Ready to rumble.
United have turned up, and the players are now on the pitch! To celebrate, here’s a stat:
Prepare to be strafed by a hail of bullets from my Stoke City Stat Gun: In eight Monday night appearances since football began in 1992, they have never lost. Never.
It is pouring in Manchester. Stoke’s players are in the tunnel, all alone at the moment. Jack Butland is carrying a large towel, and will need it.
Jose Mourinho speaks! Firstly, about the gap since their last game:
We recovered some injured players. We had the possibility to work really well, which we really cannot do when we play every three days. That compensates the fact we didn’t have competition for quite a while, but I think we needed, to be together, living together for one week, to be together, training. Hopefully we can take advantage in the second part of the season.
Valencia was injured, but other guys, they had lots of minutes in their legs, and after the Christmas period to have this week i think is important for the future. We have Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup to come and the more players we have available the better.
Here’s Moritz Bauer on signing for Stoke. And here he is, six days later, making his debut at Old Trafford:
It’s the biggest stage, you play against the biggest teams, the superstars. To compete with these kind of teams you are running out of words to say what it means. Of course one of the dreams is coming true but Stoke is a big club, not like some of the clubs in the Premier League. I’m really happy to be here.
There is no Mkhitaryan in Manchester United’s squad, as Jose Mourinho makes three changes. Stoke may have “tried not to change too much”, but there are still five of them.
Eddie Niedzwiecki speaks:
Paul came in to see the players at 4.45pm tonight, spoke to them briefly and told them he’d see them in the morning. It has been a tough week, but since the first day I’ve prepared myself for this game, try to do it as best as I possibly can, as we always have. I’ve tried not to change too much.
[On team changes] This season we’ve never been able to keep a back three, or four, or five, together for any period of time. Injuries have taken their toll on us and they have again tonight. Moritz Bauer, I thought I had to throw him in. In Bruno’s case, it’s a risk, he hasn’t played since the middle of December, but needs must. I had to make a decision at left-back, so that’s what I’ve done.
The team sheets are in, and here are our entertainers tonight:
Man Utd: de Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Lindelof, Rojo, Rashford, Ander Herrera, Fellaini, McTominay, Joel Pereira.
Stoke: Butland, Bauer, Zouma, Martins Indi, Tymon, Fletcher, Shaqiri, Allen, Ireland, Choupo-Moting, Crouch. Subs: Wimmer, Afellay, Adam, Diouf, Sobhi, Grant, Edwards.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Eddie Niedzwiecki makes 7⃣ changes to tonight's team that faces @ManUtd at Old Trafford.
Bauer, Martins Indi, Tymon, Fletcher, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting and Crouch all make the starting XI.
City line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.#SCFC ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/2CIECRjITg
There should be no problem with motivation for this one: Manchester City have finally lost a game, so tonight United have the chance to set the title chase alight by reducing the gap at the top of the table to just 12 points! And everyone’s playing for their places, with Alexis Sánchez expected to turn up and steal someone’s spot any day now. Meanwhile Stoke will have new manager Paul “I am Bert” Lambert sitting in the stands watching his new side as Eddie Niedzwiecki and Kevin Russell take charge of the team, the players knowing that he has already delivered to a wowed boardroom what Peter Coates called “a clear plan of how he would improve our results”, wondering if they were included in his virtuoso PowerPointsmanship and hoping to crowbar themselves into his thinking if it didn’t. Plus they’re playing at Old Trafford, so there’s also that. And they’re not being managed by Mark Hughes any more, a fact that has certainly lifted my spirits as a neutral who is occasionally professionally obliged to watch Stoke, and must surely have an even greater impact on those who are permanently professionally obliged to play for them.
Simon will be here shortly. In the meantime you can catch up with the latest on Alexis Sánchez’s potential move to Manchester United …Continue reading...
It isn’t hard to pick out the moment Alexis Sánchez began to say his long goodbye. Last season’s Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich is still a tender spot for Arsenal fans, one of those episodes of Total Collapse that have marked out springtime in the late Wenger years.
With 11 minutes gone in Bavaria Arsenal were 1-0 down, the defence apparently astonished to find Arjen Robben has a thing for dipping his shoulder, cutting inside and shooting. By the final whistle it was 5-1 to Bayern. But it could have been seven, or eight, or 12. In between times, as his team-mates curdled and turned green, Sánchez went nuts.Continue reading...
• Way clear for Manchester United to seal move for Sánchez
Manchester City are close to accepting their attempt to sign Alexis Sánchez is dead because of what they regard as the astronomical money wanted by the Arsenal forward and his agent.
City may have been prepared to increase their £20m valuation of Sánchez but it is understood they have balked at the signing-on fee wanted by a player who is out of contract in the summer and the payment expected by Fernando Felicevich, his representative.Continue reading...
• Manager makes reference to his rapprochement with Claudio Ranieri
• Manchester United keen on extending David de Gea’s contract
José Mourinho has reignited the feud with Antonio Conte by stating he has been “man enough” to say sorry when in the wrong, with the Manchester United manager referencing his 2017 apology to Claudio Ranieri.
This appears to be a response to the Chelsea manager’s claim that Mourinho was “fake” regarding a move to make peace with Ranieri. The Portuguese had scorned Ranieri’s use of English but wore a training shirt to a press conference with CR embossed on it when Ranieri was sacked as Leicester manager last February.Continue reading...
• Sánchez did not feature against Bournemouth with United move likely
• Arsenal close to signing Malcom and interested in Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Arsène Wenger says he expects Alexis Sánchez to leave Arsenal in the “next 48 hours”, with Manchester United having emerged as the forward’s preferred destination. The manager omitted Sánchez from the squad he took to Bournemouth for their 2-1 defeat on Sunday, although he remained a major talking point.
Wenger explained he did not select Sánchez because of the knife-edged nature of his situation and suggested his transfer could even have happened during the buildup to the Bournemouth game – a distraction he could not have tolerated. Wenger described Sánchez as having been on standby and the Chilean did not travel to the south coast with the rest of the Arsenal squad on Saturday.Continue reading...
• United move ahead of Manchester City in transfer battle for forward
• Arsenal interested in taking Henrikh Mkhitaryan from United
Alexis Sánchez will not play for Arsenal at Bournemouth on Sunday – the forward has not travelled to the south coast – and the latest indication is that he has come to favour a move to Manchester United over Manchester City.
Arsène Wenger finally admitted last Friday that Sánchez would not sign a new contract at Arsenal; his deal is set to expire in the summer. And, with Sánchez’s agent due in England for talks, the saga has now entered its end game.Continue reading...
• United could still make a move for Arsenal striker Alexis Sánchez
José Mourinho does not believe there is any point in Manchester United throwing money around this month in an effort to reinvigorate the title race – because Manchester City are too far ahead.
The United manager was careful not to rule out a possible move for Alexis Sánchez – he said an exception to the club’s normal policy of strengthening in summer could be made if an outstanding player became available – but he insists it is too late for anyone to buy their way into the title race this season.Continue reading...
José Mourinho, fresh from Manchester United’s break in Dubai, was in relaxed form before Stoke City’s visit. Yet by Monday night his team could be a gaping 18 points behind Manchester City should Pep Guardiola’s side defeat Liverpool. If so, the rest of the season could start to feel particularly embarrassing for Mourinho and his club should City continue to stretch their lead. Jamie Jackson
Kick-off Monday 8pmContinue reading...
• Manchester United manager draws line under clash with Chelsea counterpart
• Mourinho hopes Ibrahimovic can return to fitness in three weeks after relapse
José Mourinho has claimed he now feels “contempt” for Antonio Conte, with Manchester United’s manager intent on finally drawing a line under the insults he and his Chelsea counterpart have been trading.
Last week Conte accused the Portuguese of having “demenza senile” after believing Mourinho had referenced him when discussing a “clown on the touchline”.Continue reading...