What the papers say
Manchester United full-back is playing the best football of his career and capped it with a fine goal against Manchester City
So, Pep, shall we talk about attacking full backs then? All things must pass and for Manchester City 21 did not become 22 in the Manchester derby, a local detail that will add a little extra sting to this 2-0 defeat, City’s first since November.
If there is any genuine cause for concern for Pep Guardiola, it might be in the way Manchester United were able not just to beat but to disturb, disrupt and unsettle this brilliant City team.Continue reading...
Manchester City's run of 21 successive victories has come to an end after a 2-0 derby defeat at home by Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side started in style, securing a penalty in the first minute after a clumsy challenge by Gabriel Jesus, which Bruno Fernandes scored. A second-half finish from Luke Shaw sealed the win and Man United have now gone 22 Premier League away games unbeatenContinue reading...
There was nothing on, seemingly, for Manchester United. Dean Henderson had the ball in his hands and Manchester City were in their defensive shape. City felt their rivals were time-wasting as they led in the early exchanges of the second half through Bruno Fernandes’s second-minute penalty. “Get on with it,” came the cry from the City ranks.
So United did. Or, more precisely, Luke Shaw did. Henderson, beginning a mini-run in the team with David de Gea on paternity leave, threw out to the left flank and Shaw had only one thought – to rumble upfield. A touch on his chest took him away from João Cancelo and he had too much pace for Kevin De Bruyne. Up to the edge of the City penalty area, Shaw swapped passes with Marcus Rashford before getting the ball out of his feet and directing a low shot into the far corner.Continue reading...
- Minute-by-minute report of the Manchester derby at the Etihad
- Jonathan Liew on Solskjær’s safety-first plan for big games
- Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘I feared I would never speak again’
- Email email@example.com | Tweet @Simon_Burnton
Manchester City have already banked their first significant victory of the afternoon:
I am surprised by the number of dogs required to ensure Kevin de Bruyne’s safety here:
City bring in Stones, Gundogan and Zinchenko and leave out Walker, Laporte and Bernardo Silva. United bring in Lindelof, McTominay, James and Martial, at the expense of Bailly, Matic, Greenwood and Cavani, all but the latter dropping to the bench.
Man City: Ederson, Joao Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling. Subs: Walker, Aguero, Steffen, Laporte, Bernardo Silva, Torres, Mendy, Fernandinho, Foden.
Man Utd: Henderson, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, James, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial. Subs: Bailly, Greenwood, Grant, Diallo, Alex Telles, Matic, Williams, Tuanzebe, Shoretire.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Your derby day line-up!
XI | Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne (C), Mahrez, Sterling, Jesus
SUBS | Steffen, Walker, Aguero, Laporte, Bernardo, Torres, Mendy, Fernandinho, Foden
#ManCity | https://t.co/axa0klD5re pic.twitter.com/WoCMpCLUdu
The Manchester derby! The teams drew 0-0 when they last met, back in December, and that night, with 11 games played, United were a point ahead of City in the league, the two Manchester clubs occupying eighth and ninth place, five and six points respectively away from the joint leaders, Tottenham and Liverpool. City also drew the game after that, at home to West Brom, since when they have won every match in every competition, and they kick off this match 14 points ahead of United, 12 points ahead of anyone, 22 points ahead of Liverpool and 23 points above Spurs. United have only lost twice in all competitions since that game in December but they have drawn too many games, including seven of their last 10 in all competitions (one of them, in the FA Cup, won after extra time).Continue reading...
- ‘I have always believed in my way of playing’
- Manager sticking to club’s tradition of pace and power
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has dismissed suggestions that Manchester United should imitate the tactical plan of Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring league leaders, with the manager confident his own style sticks to the club’s traditions of pace, power and quick attacks.
United travel to City for Sunday’s derby trailing the Premier League pacesetters by 14 points with 11 matches remaining and while Solskjær’s side are second only to City in goals scored – with 53 – their past three games have ended in goalless draws.Continue reading...
First face second in the Manchester derby on Sunday – and yet has a game between the Premier League’s top two sides ever felt so essentially inessential?
The look on Sir Alex Ferguson’s face was a curious mixture of disbelief, shock and amusement. “You can’t believe that scoreline,” he said. “First 45 minutes, we were outstanding. The sending off was a killer for us. And after that, we kept attacking. That’s the nature of Manchester United, fine. But it was crazy. Unbelievable.” And then, remarkably, he smiled. Because even though Manchester City had come to Old Trafford and dished out a 6-1 trouncing, Ferguson somehow sensed amid his disappointment that the fundamentals of his side would survive this single freak result.
Of course, Ferguson had numerous advantages his successors in the job would not: a better squad, fewer challengers, the reputation and job security that allowed him to go about his work largely as he pleased. Nonetheless, it is a point worth noting: even a 6-1 humiliation at the hands of their closest rivals did not force Ferguson into amending his approach in big games.
United’s strategy of avoiding defeat in big games may ultimately have cost them their best chance of the title in yearsContinue reading...
Former Manchester United manager tells of brain surgery worries ahead of documentary about his life
Sir Alex Ferguson has said he feared he would never be able to speak again after suffering a brain haemorrhage in 2018. The former Manchester United manager told a Q&A at Glasgow film festival he was worried that he could lose his voice and memory after undergoing emergency surgery.
A new documentary about the two-time Champions League-winning manager premiered at the the film festival on Saturday.Continue reading...
Even a win for Manchester United only cuts the deficit to Manchester City down to 11 points with 10 games left but try they must. Pep Guardiola’s team are aiming for a 22nd successive win: should Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team stop them it will be one for fans to brag about but, surely, the title race is already over. Jamie Jackson
Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...
- Defender could have faced a hearing before the summer
- Maguire’s appeal unlikely to be heard in 2021, official says
Harry Maguire is unlikely to be summoned to court for his appeal hearing in Greece this year amid a backlog in the country’s judicial system because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the Manchester United and England defender free to focus on his football, including the European Championship this summer.
Maguire was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery in August 2020 following a holiday on Mykonos and it was believed he would be called before the summer for an appeals court hearing on Syros, the capital of the Cycladic island chain.Continue reading...
- Premier League club’s net debt increases to £455.5m
- Ed Woodward hopes for ‘full capacity’ crowds next season
Manchester United have confirmed they accessed a £60m draw-down of their available £200m credit line in order to cover a soaring net debt of £455.5m as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The club have also announced a 2.6% growth in total revenue from £168.4m to £172.8m in the last three months of 2020.
The modest climb was attributed to a 68% increase in broadcasting revenues to £108.7m, a figure helped mightily by United’s return to the Champions League. “Demand for live football remains strong,” the executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, said while announcing the club’s second-quarter fiscal results.Continue reading...
United cross town to City for a Manchester derby, while there’s a big old meeting of strugglers on Sunday lunchtime
It’s been a bad week for Steve Bruce. Saturday’s draw with Wolves means Newcastle have won just two of their last 15 league games, and are now hovering just above the drop zone. Bruce’s post-match comments – “unfortunately Matty didn’t get the directions on quick enough” – appeared to blame substitute Matt Ritchie for not passing on tactical instructions shortly before Wolves’ equaliser, which led to a training-ground argument between the pair this week. Ritchie has since apologised but morale seems to be low, particularly with mounting injuries. Callum Wilson, Miguel Almirón and Allan Saint-Maximin have scored more than half of Newcastle’s league goals this season; all three are sidelined. West Brom could hardly ask for a more favourable game, with Sam Allardyce facing another one of his former teams. The manager famously named his Costa Blanca villa ‘Casa St James’ after buying it with his £4m pay off from the Magpies. MB
Manchester City v Manchester United (Sunday, 4.30pm)
Liverpool v Fulham (Sunday 2pm)
Burnley v Arsenal (Saturday, 12.30pm)
Brighton v Leicester (Saturday, 8pm)
Aston Villa v Wolves (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Sheffield United v Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)
Chelsea v Everton (Monday 6pm)
West Ham v Leeds United (Monday, 8pm)Continue reading...
- Latest stalemate leaves United 14 points behind Manchester City
- ‘Three games without scoring sounds a lot. It’s a bit of a worry’
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has admitted Manchester United’s lack of cutting edge is a “worry” after his side were held to a third successive goalless draw to leave them 14 points behind the leaders Manchester City before the derby on Sunday.
United managed one shot on target at Selhurst Park in a lacklustre display that followed another drab stalemate at Chelsea on Sunday and the 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad in the Europa League last week.Continue reading...
Ole Gunnar Solskjær must be wondering where all the goals have gone. A third successive goalless draw may have extended Manchester United’s unbeaten away record to 21 Premier League matches but another timid performance that yielded one shot on target despite an array of talent on display was further evidence that the manager still has plenty of work to do.
Now 14 points behind their neighbours as Manchester City’s procession to a third league title in four years continues, United laboured in attack throughout against opponents who are made in the image of their manager, Roy Hodgson. It was another triumph of defensive organisation for Palace and there was no doubt who left the dugout in a better mood at the final whistle, with Sunday’s Manchester derby now looming large.Continue reading...
- Premier League updates from the 8.15pm GMT kick-off
- Live scores: goals from the matches in the UK and Europe
- Get in touch! Email Nick or tweet @NickAmes82
A report from Blades 1-0 Villa:
Where Manchester United found its away strip: pic.twitter.com/8fbtlNc6Wj
Not the best. United had that spell from around 12 to 25, Guaita saving from Matic and Rashford missing a chance. Otherwise, let’s hope this opens up a touch.
44 min: It’s one of those games where United just can’t get the tempo up in their passing, and Fernandes just hasn’t been involved much at all. Wan-Bissaka has woken up though and gets in another good position, raking in a fine cross that Ward clears from right in front of the poised Cavani.
42 min: Wan-Bissaka wins a corner against his old club with a welcome piece of initiative down the right. Milivojevic heads away spectacularly and eventually Palace clear the ball towards halfway.
40 min: Shaw wins the ball back well and puts in his first cross for a while, but Kouyate is positioned to head away.
39 min: This is definitely in the “lull” category. United had looked like producing some sustained quality for a spell earlier but the level has dropped right off. Palace remain disciplined.
36 min: Townsend is bundled over by Fred as he looks to slice through the middle. Palace look fairly comfortable just now.
34 min: United, having seemed to get a hold on this, have been knocked back off their stride by Palace in the last six or seven minutes.
33 min: Julian Menz writes with more stripy factoids –
“In Germany, the ’Zebras’ is the colloqial name for MSV Duisburg (they play in blue and white hoops, not sure what QPR/Reading fans might make of that).
31 min: Eze, quiet so far, goes on one of those weaving runs he’s so capable of but can’t achieve a give-and-go with Ayew.
29 min: Now a promising Palace free-kick on the left, though. It’s not far outside the box and I think Bailly made the foul. It’s one of those opportunities they need to make the most of. They don’t, though, as Eze fires it in but the ubiquitous Maguire powers it away.
27 min: Cavani heads the ball towards Croydon from a difficult, drilled Rashford cross.
26 min: Milivojevic hits a hopeless pass out of play on the wing. Palace might not be minded to push far up the pitch but they still are getting too deep for me, Clive.
Palace very organised in defence but it helps when you have a goalkeeper as good as Vicente Guaita
Ed has a good point.
24 min: Greenwood isn’t too far wide with a deflected shot, so United have a corner. Shaw outswings it but Benteke heads away – and also clears the second ball in. Sterling defensive work from the centre-forward.
22 min: United are controlling this a bit now. Palace’s forays are becoming ever more isolated.
19 min: Shaw, showing no sign of that earlier knock, is increasingly involved on the left and arrows another nice ball across, airkicked ungracefully by Fernandes.
18 min: ‘Tis a nice enough start to this game. Palace are getting space when they win the ball back, and countering quickly. United have had two decent sights and Rashford should maybe have done better with his. Fred takes aim now and it takes a deflection or two, Guaita gathering.
16 min: Oooh, chance for Rashford. He controls an intelligent Shaw ball from the left cutely and then, from 15 yards, shoots a foot wide of the near post. He’s scored those before.
14 min: But Matic errs badly now in his own half and Townsend is away ... but perhaps delays the shot too long and in the end his effort is blocked.
13 min: Fine save from Guaita! Shortly after a Rashford ball fizzes across goal, Matic – who has previous for scoring brilliant winners here – cracks one from 25 yards that snicks off McCarthy and is pawed wide! Cavani stabs over from inside the six-yard box following the corner. First big moments for United.
12 min: A marvellous Peter Oh nugget – “In Brazilian football slang, ‘zebra’ is a term for a hugely unexpected result. For example, a five-nil Palace win with Benteke scoring a hat trick, Bruno Fernandes missing two penalties, Solskjaer getting sent off and Hodgson dancing in the technical area would probably be classified as a zebra.”
10 min: The busy Maguire stabs away an Ayew centre with Benteke lurking. Palace win a corner moments later. Henderson claims it with no bother.
8 min: Has to be said, Palace have threatened the most so far. They are still pressing and Milivojevic has just had a shot blocked.
7 min: Right-sided free-kick for Palace, and Townsend inswings it wickedly. It evades Cahill and those have drifted past unsighted keepers before, but Henderson is watching it all the way. Immediately afterwards, United give the ball away and Benteke – the volleyer supreme at Brighton – tries something similar from 12 yards. This time the result is wildly different.
5 min: It’s not a high-paced start, this. Mainly slow passing from United and the occasional thwarted attempt from Palace to zip upfield. Maguire does well again, this time as Ayew looked to nip around him in the area. Then Shaw is painfully clattered by Ward as they contested a loose Rashford pass. Shaw hobbles up, eventually.
3 min: Ayew breaks for Palace and tries to play Benteke in, but Maguire is in very firmly. Before that, United were probing away.
United kick us off on a slightly misty night, and go right to left.
The teams are out at Selhurst Park! United have come as zebras, Palace have come in their classic getup.
Another result from today – Sheffield United have beaten Aston Villa 1-0, which is excellent for them in isolation but won’t help them stay up.
David De Gea is absent for personal reasons tonight, while Anthony Martial has a knock. Dean Henderson starts in goal. Bailly, Matic and Cavani are also in for Lindelof, McTominay and James.
One change for Palace – McCarthy in for Riedewald.
It has finished Burnley 1-1 Leicester – so United can go three points clear in second tonight.
We have more football, too, while-u-wait. Or while-u-watch! Multitasking is good for you. Paul Doyle has Chelsea Women v Atletico Madrid Women:
Burnley v Leicester is in its latter stages, which is of consequence to this fixture because it’s currently 1-1 and if Leicester won they’d go above United into second for now. Bite your nails with Barry Glendenning!
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, McCarthy, Ayew, Eze, Townsend, Benteke. Subs: Butland, Dann, Mateta, Schlupp, Wickham, Batshuayi, Kelly, Hannam, Riedewald.
Manchester United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Matic, Fred, Fernandes, Greenwood, Rashford, Cavani. Subs: De Gea, Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Williams, Telles, McTominay, Shoretire, Amad, James.
All hail the away day kings. Manchester United are yet to come a cropper on the road in this season’s Premier League and here’s a mighty fine chance to make it 14 undefeated trips on the spin. And wouldn’t they love to take it. A goalless draw at Chelsea in their most recent trip to London, a mere three days ago, left them pretty comfortable in the top three for now but something better this time would keep pushing that prospect home. The title is way off now – a victory in this history-laden fixture would narrow the gap to City by a mere 12 points – but this is a season in which finishing runners-up would surely be a considerable success.
Palace are capable of anything though. They are! I was at Brighton last Monday to see them pull off one of the most astonishing smash and grabs I’ve ever seen in the flesh. So while they’re hardly sparkling, and the mumbles of discontent are growing louder, I’m the last person to be ruling them out today. This one could be a scrap – so buckle in!Continue reading...
- Man Utd were denied a penalty in Sunday’s draw with Chelsea
- ‘Refs have a difficult enough job,’ says Man Utd manager
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has criticised Manchester United and Chelsea players for putting pressure on Stuart Attwell while the referee checked the touchline monitor to decide whether Callum Hudson-Odoi had committed a handball in Sunday’s draw at Chelsea.Continue reading...
- 39-year-old sustained adductor injury on Sunday
- Ibrahimovic set to be evaluated again in 10 days
Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks likely to miss the first leg of Milan’s tie against Manchester United in the last 16 of the Europa League after picking up an adductor injury in the 2-1 victory over Roma at the weekend.Continue reading...
Fulham continue to struggle in front of goal, Leicester threatening a second collapse and West Brom play by the rules
At the start of Scott McTominay’s United career, his place in the team seemed predicated in José Mourinho’s antipathy towards Paul Pogba, his receipt of the manager’s player of the year award the nearest Mourinho could get to presenting it to himself. Since then, though, McTominay has improved by several orders of magnitude, contributing power, tenacity and personality – skills that have been crucial in helping United improve from sixth to second. They still struggle to dominate, however, and when Pogba is absent the entirety of the creative burden rests with Bruno Fernandes, who had an off-day at Stamford Bridge. To take the next step, they need McTominay to develop his passing – in particular around both boxes, but also with regard to the one and two-touch play that controls games – or they will remain a team able to beat the best when at their best, but whose average level stops them competing over the course of a season. Daniel HarrisContinue reading...
- Manager upset after team denied penalty against Chelsea
- Solskjær hits out at ‘cheeky’ coverage on Chelsea website
Ole Gunnar Solskjær accused rival managers of looking to influence referees against Manchester United after his side were controversially denied a penalty during their goalless draw with Chelsea, whose laboured attacking display saw them miss an opportunity to return to the top four.
Although Solskjær acknowledged United failed to do enough to win a dull encounter, he was left fuming after Stuart Attwell decided not to penalise a handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi during the early stages at Stamford Bridge. Attwell waved play on after the video assistant referee told him to check the on-pitch monitor and there was further controversy when Luke Shaw claimed the official told United’s captain, Harry Maguire, that he chose not to award a penalty because he was worried about the post-match reaction. United later sought to play down Shaw’s comments, stating that the left-back had, in fact, misheard Attwell’s claims.Continue reading...
Little better than ordinary on the ball the forward’s job was to throttle Chelsea attacks at source
Early on Sunday morning I was walking through my local park in south London, where around eight guys were playing football on the grass. At one stage, one of them ran clean through: round the keeper, goal at his mercy, only to roll the ball wide. “Daniel James!” he exclaimed to himself as he went to fetch it. “Daniel James,” he muttered again, shamefaced and still furious. And before long, all his mates were calling him “Daniel James” as well.
About eight hours later, the real Daniel James was charging towards goal at Stamford Bridge in that rapid but largely innocuous style of his. Has there ever been an attacking player who ran so fast while carrying so little perceived threat? When we think of the game’s great speed merchants – Kylian Mbappé, Gareth Bale, the original Ronaldo – their pace was inextricably bound up in menace. With James, by contrast, it feels entirely peripheral to his quality as a footballer. A curiosity, a party trick, perhaps even a stick to beat him with: the pace of an elastic band, and roughly the same potential for damage.Continue reading...
There was more VAR controversy at Stamford Bridge, where the match ended goalless despite plenty of purposeful, high-tempo attacking from both sides
Right, that’s it - please join Luke McLaughlin for Sheffield United v Liverpool. Goodnight!
This is what Solskjaer was referring to, in a preview on the official Chelsea website.
The Man United skipper’s actions will also be under scrutiny again on Sunday after his penalty area tangle with Jamal Lascelles last weekend. In recent Chelsea meetings the Red Devils’ centre-back has survived VAR reviews of a potential penalty foul on Cesar Azpilicueta and violent challenge on Michy Batshuayi that may well have affected the outcome.
More from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
“Our defending, energy, application, pressing were absolutely spot on. With the ball, not good enough. We didn’t have enough quality. A clean sheet is always the foundation, we’ve had loads against the top sides but we haven’t found the goal and we need to sort that.”
[Should you have had a penalty?] “Yep, 100 per cent. [Can you understand why it wasn’t given?] No. Not at all. From here it looked like it might have been a handball by our player but when you see it on the video it’s clear, and it’s taken two points away from us.
“I can’t say [what the referee said to the United players] because that’s not gonna be good for him. [Is that not concerning to you?] Of course it is. [Luke Shaw said the referee told Harry Maguire he didn’t want to give it because there would be controversy]. Exactly. I didn’t say that and I don’t want to cause controversy, but it’s not right, is it?
Hang on, here’s a fuming Ole Gunnar Solskjaer...
Here’s David Hytner’s match report. Goodnight!
Those were two slightly odd interviews, as both Luke Shaw and Thomas Tuchel got the wrong end of the stick over the penalty appeal. Shaw didn’t understand that VAR had advised Stuart Attwell to look at the monitor, and that he had then stayed with his original decision; Tuchel though Greenwood handled it before Hudson-Odoi, which wasn’t the case.
Here’s Thomas Tuchel
“It was a high-quality game between two very strong teams. We suffered at times in the first half because of the quality of MacGyver, Maguire to come in, and we couldn’t close the 6, but overall it was an even game. In the second half I felt we were very strong - many high recoveries, good chances and half-chances. Performance-wise I am very satisfied. We defended very high, very brave, and I am very happy with that.
Chelsea’s results against the Big Six this season
0-2, 0-0, 0-0, 1-3, 1-3, 1-0, 0-0
United’s results against the Big Six this season
1-6, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0
Here’s Luke Shaw
“[What did you make of that game?] Dunno really. Quite an evenly matched game, not too many chances. We were both quite safe; maybe they had a bit more possession. We defended well but we didn’t create much so we’re a bit disappointed with that. We needed to win because the gap’s getting bigger.
Still want more? Bet you do.
Manchester City are now 12 points clear, so it’s probably safe to cross those Ts. United stay second, a point of ahead of Leicester. Chelsea are fifth, a point off West Ham in fourth and six behind United.
Victor Lindelof walks over to ask Stuart Attwell what the flip he was doing with that penalty appeal in the first half. But both sets of players seem happy with life - except Bruno Fernandes, who looks thoroughly hacked off as he leaves the field. He didn’t have a great game, though he is crying out for some creative support. Overall, a draw was a fair result.
Peep peep! There have been many worse 0-0s.
90+3 min A stinging rising drive from Fred is straight at Mendy, who beats it away unconvincingly.
90+3 min James’s free-kick is headed away by Maguire. Mount’s long-range volley is blocked and then Kovacic’s shot dribbles through to de Gea.
90+2 min Another free-kick on the right to Chelsea, this time 35 yards from goal. This will probably be the last chance.
90+1 min Three minutes of added time.
90 min James’ free-kick clears everybody and United break. Fred plays a brilliant pass to McTominay on the right, and suddenly United are four on three. But McTominay’s low pass towards Martial is underhit, which allows Kante to make a vital interception. That was a big chance.
89 min Reece James is blocked off the ball by Shaw, which gives Chelsea a free-kick on the right wing...
87 min Martial takes Shaw’s pass neatly in his stride on the edge of the area, forcing Christensen to stretch to make an important tackle.
85 min And now Pulisic blasts over from the edge of the area.
85 min Chelsea look the likelier winners at the moment. Werner, on the left of the area, hits a crisp shot from a tight angle that is comfortably saved by de Gea.
83 min: Great defending from Lindelof! Reece James, on the right, curls a wicked ball to the far post, where Lindelof just gets in front of Werner to poke the ball behind. The referee gives a goalkick but that was definitely good defending rather than a bad miss.
82 min Stick or twist, lads. At the moment it looks like the former.
80 min “Kovacic surely should have been booked for taking down James,” says Martin Lancon of an incident a couple of minutes ago.
I thought they both got the ball simultaneously, though I haven’t seen a replay.
79 min Maguire is booked for a late tackle on Pulisic.
78 min Manchester United make their first change: Anthony Martial replaces Mason Greenwood, who had a couple of good moments but still looks a shadow of the player he was last season.
77 min Chelsea make their final change: Timo Werner replaces Hakim Ziyech, who faded after a confident start.
76 min Dan James runs at Rudiger and hammers an excellent low cross that is spilled by the stretching Mendy. Happily for him, there are no United forwards on the scene and he grabs it at the second attempt.
75 min de Gea makes another comfortable save, this time from Azpilicueta’s long-range shot.
73 min Lots of Chelsea possession in the last few minutes. Eventually Kovacic curls a first-time shot from 25 yards that is comfortably held to his left by de Gea.
70 min United have had so many 0-0s in the Big Six games this season - City and Chelsea at home, Liverpool and Arsenal away. I think they’ve played pretty well today, for what it’s worth, and they should have had a penalty. I’m not sure this will end 0-0 anyway.
69 min Ziyech is now playing up front for Chelsea, with Pulisic and Mount behind him.
68 min After some snappy one-touch passing, Fred hits a right-footed curler from 25 yards that goes just wide of the far top corner. That was a terrific effort from a player whose long-range shooting usually has a whiff of the John Jensens.
66 min The 0-0 between these teams at Old Trafford was a stinker; this has been a much better game.
65 min Another Chelsea substitution: Christian Pulisic replaces Olivier Giroud.
65 min A vicious long-range shot from McTominay is blocked by the falling Rudiger.
63 min: Great defending from McTominay! Mendy makes a more comfortable save from Rashford’s curler. Chelsea break and McTominay makes a vital block from a close-range shot by Mount. It was brilliant play from Mount, who played a one-two with Ziyech on the halfway line and ran all the way into the area. Then he Cruyff-turned McTominay, who recovered admirably to block the ensuing shot.
62 min Chilwell is booked for a late tackle on Greenwood, who has come alive in the last few minutes.
61 min: Good save from Mendy! Wan-Bissaka, on the right of the area, cuts the ball back to the unmarked McTominay. He curls a first-time shot that is blocked by the chest of the unsighted Mendy. That was good, unorthodox goalkeeping because he saw the ball so late.
60 min Greenwood plays a crisp one-two with James, zips away from Christensen in the D and hits a fierce shot that flashes just wide of the near post. That was terrific play.
59 min Kante’s long-range shot is blocked by Lindelof and United break three on three - but Fernandes’s pass to Rashford is slightly overhit and runs out of play. Fernandes is fuming because James was taking out by Rudiger off the ball; Stuart Attwell isn’t interested.
58 min Rudiger booms another terrific crossfield pass, this time to Reece James. His sharp cross is cut out by Fred. Chelsea are having an excellent spell though.
57 min Dan James and Greenwood have struggled to influence the game, so we might see Anthony Martial pretty soon. United don’t have many attacking options on the bench because of injuries to Cavani and Mata.
56 min Chelsea make a mess of a short corner. Mary Waltz and Big Sam (8 min) nod knowingly.
53 min Shaw’s corner is headed away by Giroud and Chelsea break. Ziyech cuts infield from the right, past a couple of players, and hits a shot that is blocked by Fred.
52 min Rashford plays an excellent long pass to James, 25 yards from goal. A good off-the-ball run from Greenwood gives James the time to turn and hit a shot that deflects wide off Christensen.
51 min Chelsea have started the second half really well.
50 min Fred is booked for a late tackle on Mount.
49 min: Superb save from de Gea! Chilwell surged down the left, looked up and tried to pick at Giroud at the near post with a sharp cutback. He missed it but the ball reached Ziyech, who swept a cracking first-time shot towards goal. De Gea, who was going the other way, stretched out his right hand to make a fine block. The ball rebounded to James, whose shot was brilliantly blocked by the stretching Shaw.
47 min Hudson-Odoi’s left knee is strapped, so it wasn’t a tactical change.
46 min Chelsea begin the second half.
Some desperately sad news - Glenn Roeder, the former manager of West Ham and Newcastle, has died at the age of 65.
Chelsea substitution Reece James is coming on to replace poor old Callum Hudson-Odoi.
S4 Ep6 is here. Part 1 of our deep dive into Kevin Keegan's England and long chat about player of the pod, Gianfranco Zolahttps://t.co/Td2eUp1enl
“I feel like letting the ref decide whether a handball was deliberate/reckless without any video reviews might work,” says Niall Mullen. “We’d all have to agree to shut the h*ll up and leave the ref alone. I can’t see that being an issue. Every year Steven Wells’ piece from 2008 resonates more.”
Related: Steven Wells: In praise of referees
Peep peep! As 0-0s go, that was pretty decent: there wasn’t much excitement, just one VAR controversy, but the tempo was excellent and both sides attacked with quality and intent. They also defended extremely well, which is why it’s 0-0.
45 min Two minutes of added time.
44 min Lindelof’s long, angled pass is headed down neatly by Fernandes towards Rashford, who is waiting for the ball to come down when Kante appears on his blindside to put it behind for a corner.
43 min United continue to dominate possession, which is not what we expected.
42 min “Afternoon Rob,” says Tom Hopkins. “To Rick Harris’s point, the current law seems to have been designed for a VAR world of absolutes where we’ve lost the idea that to give away a penalty or get sent off you must have done something wrong (or at least made a mistake). Kind of tail wagging the dog and just intuitively unsatisfying.”
I think this is a huge problem. A combination of VAR and social media is not entirely conducive to clarity of decision-making, or sensible discourse.
41 min Fernandes’s long-range shot is deflected behind. That was another half chance that came from Fred winning the ball in a dangerous area. He has been excellent.
39 min Ziyech is down holding his head after an aerial challenge from Lindelof. He’s fine.
36 min Lovely play from Chelsea. Rudiger moves away from James and crashes a crossfield pass to the unmarked Hudson-Odoi. He puts in a beautiful cross that just evades the diving Giroud in the six-yard box and drifts to safety. Giroud’s momentum takes him into the post, and there’s a short break in play while he receives treatment to his back.
35 min Corner to United on the left. They have pinned Chelsea back in the last 10-15 minutes. Shaw’s corner is poor and Kante clears at the near post.
34 min Abraham was on the bench in Madrid, and there has been no reports of an injury, though it does seem strange not to have him among the substitutes if he’s fit.
33 min “Watching in US where Lee Dixon claims ‘the game is gone’ if that was given as a penalty,” says Stephen Taylor.
That was Niall Mullen’s point (26th min), and I’d agree with it. But in accordance with the current interpretation of the law, it should surely have been given.
32 min A poor kick from de Gea goes straight to Giroud, 30 yards from goal. He takes a touch and then launches a half-volley into Fulham Palace Road.
31 min “We need to go back to the concept of intentional handball and ignore any other instance of ball to hand,” says Rick Harris. “VAR can be the final arbiter but it is pretty clear where a player deliberately handballs as opposed to say protecting their face.”
There’s a grey area of reckless handballs that isn’t quite as easy to define, especially in a social-media age, but in principle I agree with you.
30 min This is a decent spell for United, their best of the match so far, although they haven’t yet created any clear chances.
29 min “Tammy Abraham isn’t even in the squad,” says Julian Menz. “Is he injured?”
I don’t think so.
28 min Fernandes clips another good pass over the top towards Rashford, who this time is eased off the ball by Christensen. I think Rashford was fractionally offside anyway.
26 min “Nobody knows anything but I’m glad that wasn’t given just because it’s so disproportionate to give a goal away for basically accidental handball at the edge of the box with the players facing away from goal,” says Niall Mullen. “In modern terms an xG of near 0 would have been turned into an xG of near 1 for really no good reason.”
Yes, I agree with you on that. It would have been a VAR penalty in every sense, a jobsworth’s fantasy.
24 min Fernandes stabs a clever return pass towards Rashford, and Azpilicueta shepherds the ball behind for a goalkick. That move started with Fred winning the ball high up the pitch; both sides continue to press very aggressively.
22 min Hudson-Odoi plays a one-two with Azpilicueta, flicks the ball up and cracks a volley from the edge of the area that goes a few yards wide of the far post. That was lovely play.
20 min Nothing much has happened since that VAR check, though the pace of the game remains impressively high.
That was so clumsy from Hudson-Odoi but if a referee is going to have a replay of a probable penalty and not give it it's Stuart Attwell. #mufc
19 min “How is that not given?” says Martin Lancon.
17 min In the context of some of the recent penalties that have been given, especially for Wolves at Southampton, Chelsea are pretty lucky.
16 min: No penalty! Stuart Attwell has overruled VAR. As Gary Neville says on Sky, a few months ago that would definitely have been a penalty. I think he’s pretty lucky there, as his hand was a long way away from his body.
15 min When Mendy punched that free-kick away, the ball bounced up and hit the outstretched hand of Hudson-Odoi. Play went on for ages and then Stuart Attwell was told to look at the monitor. I think this will be given.
VAR check: Man Utd penalty!
14 min Rashford’s wobbling free-kick is punched away by Mendy, who sensibly took no chances.
12 min Fernandes, 20 yards out, whacks a shot on the turn that is blocked by Christensen. McTominay picks up the loose ball and is fouled by Mount, maybe 30 yards from goal. Rashford scored a screamer from this range, albeit at the other end, in the Carabao Cup last season.
10 min Mount’s corner is headed away by McTominay and United break at pace. Eventually Rashford hooks a clever pass over his shoulder towards Greenwood, and the last man Chilwell does well to head it away. Greenwood would have been through on goal.
10 min Hudson-Odoi’s cross just evades Giroud at the near post and is kneed behind by Lindelof. Chelsea are on top at the moment.
9 min Ziyech and Mount are getting into some dangerous positions between the United defence and midfield. Having an extra passer, rather than a runner in Werner, has so far worked very well.
8 min “Taking corners short and then crossing has always seemed a little clever by half,” says Mary Waltz. “Has anyone done a study of the success rate of that tactic?”
I bet Big Sam could give you chapter and verse.
7 min Mount, who looks very bright, receives a return pass from Ziyech and forces a shot that is blocked by Lindelof.
6 min Rudiger goes on a storming 50-yard run - and why not - before hitting a cross that is cut out by McTominay.
4 min The match is starting to settle into the expected rhythm, with plenty of Chelsea possession.
2 min It’s been a fast, aggressive start from both teams. Ziyech cracks a good pass out to Mount on the left. He cuts inside and floats a cross that is taken off the head of Giroud by Shaw. That was a vital piece of defending.
1 min Peep peep! Manchester United kick off from left to right. They’ve started with Mason Greenwood rather than Marcus Rashford up front.
“Hello Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “I hope you don’t mind me mentioning that St. Johnstone, yes St. Johnstone, have today won the Scottish League cup, beating Livingston 1-0 at Hampden. This after losing on penalties to Dundee United in the group stage, from which the Perth minnows only progressed due to the fact that United had lost to Peterhead, yes Peterhead, at home earlier in the competition. So by rights it’s United’s cup really. Just like the Scottish Cup in 2014, when a United team featuring both Andy Robertson and Stuart Armstrong, inexplicably lost to, well, I forget now. Not that I’m bitter of course. As long as football is the winner, eh?”
The players are ready for action. It’s a nice day in west London, with a whiff of spring in the air.
In other news
Here’s Thomas Tuchel
“[Hakim Ziyech] is a different kind of player - he had a good impact against Atletico and he deserves to start. We also wanted to give Timo a little break; I felt he was a bit tired after playing so many games in a row. [What is the best way to deal with Bruno Fernandes?] Leave him out! Give him a rest, he plays all the time. We have guys who can take of him, we trust N’Golo and Kova to be close to him. He is a key player - he is the accelerator of the game, he’s the guy who delivers passes behind the defence, always on point. The challenge is to defend well in the areas he will hang around.”
“I signed up to the Fiver,” says Bill Hargreaves, “and now I wear my dentures with confidence, and don’t worry about wet patches if I laugh in public. (Smiles at camera and pats retriever.)”
I should have said that a study into side effects of signing up for the Fiver hasn’t yet been completed, so all those rumours about people openly weeping for the future of comedy and humanity should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
“We need to play a good game and hopefully get the three points. But if you think too much about the result, your focus is somewhere else. We need to perform. We know it will be hard to take the ball off them. Thomas has made them really hard to press, so we need to press high, be aggressive, then play ourselves and find the spaces. We know they press hard - the German style, if you like - so we need to be good on the ball to play through that press and get at their back three.”
Don’t be selfish - sign up to the Fiver
I’ve done it. It was very quick, and I’ve had lots of letters from people who have been very surprised at how easy it was to sign up to the Fiver. And it didn’t hurt at all.
Thomas Tuchel makes three changes from the side that beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League: Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech come in for Marcos Alonso, Jorginho and Timo Werner.
Manchester United didn’t play their best XI against Real Sociedad, as they were effectively through, but there are two changes from the 3-1 win over Newcastle in their last league game: Scott McTominay, fit again, and Mason Greenwood come in for Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial. That means Marcus Rashford Mason Greenwood will play up front.
Hello. Progress, like hope and potatoes, comes in many forms. In football it can be measured by trophies, signings, performances, even unexpected praise escaping from the open face of Royston Keane. And – duh – league position. Last season, Chelsea and Manchester United were competing to finish third; this year they both have their eye on second. That’s primarily because Liverpool have gegenpressed straight into a brick wall, but their shocking collapse shouldn’t obscure the fact that United in particular have made a big improvement this year.
Chelsea have had a mixed season, and would probably be content to finish in the top four. But after a promising start under Thomas Tuchel – eight games, no defeats, only two goals conceded – second is a realistic ambition. If they win today they will move within three points of United. With a respectful and unwittingly patronising nod to Leicester, these two clubs are the likeliest to break the duopoly of Liverpool and Manchester City.
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