Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool: Chicharito goal sees Red Devils advance in Capital One Cup

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For the second time this season, Liverpool and Manchester United rekindled their North West Derby, and for the second time this season, the first goal decided it. But whereas the teams’ Sept. 1 meeting at Anfield saw Daniel Sturridge’s fourth minute goal hold up, the Carling Cup’s switch of venue also saw a switch of victors. Thanks to Javier Hernández’s second half volley, Manchester United was able to get a measure of revenge, defeating Liverpool, 1-0.

The Mexican international’s goal came after a half in which Liverpool, who started with a three-man defense, came out the stronger team only to fade by halftime, their hosts having slowly adapted to Brendan Rodgers’ surprise deployment. Though the Reds held an edge in possession at half, both teams had only managed one shot on goal, with United’s increased pressure toward the end of the period hinting they’d adjusted to the Liverpool boss’s gambit.

Whether that was actually the case, we may never know, as Chicharito’s 46th minute goal put United ahead before the half could play out. From service via another talented reserve, Shingi Kagawa, Hernández headed home the early second half corner, rendering Liverpool’s extra central defender useless as he finished the game’s only goal.

[MORE: When they met in league – Liverpool 1, Manchester United 0]

[MORE: Absent without leave: Where in the world are Shingi Kagawa, Juan Mata?] 

In the 67th minute, Rodgers pulled Lucas Leiva for right back Martin Kelly, switching back to a four-man defense. But as was the case before the switch, the visitors couldn’t make a meaningful impact at the other end. Despite a formation that allowed the returning Luis Suárez to be coupled with Daniel Sturridge up top, Liverpool only generated three shots on goal, their team unable to navigate through a central midfield of Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones, a central defense of Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.

source: AP
Martin Skrtel (left) and Kolo Touré (right) teamed with Mamadou Sahko to form Liverpool’s three-man defense Wednesday at Old Trafford. (Photo: AP Photo.)

Against that United team, Rodgers’ change at the back may have cost Liverpool, a criticism you could have also made this weekend after the Reds’ 1-0 loss to Southampton. Then Rodgers elected to start four central defenders along the back and was rebuked as Mauricio Pochettino’s compact team was never tempted out of their spots. Today, Liverpool’s three-man back may have caused United to reconsider their approach, but once the adjustments were made, they started to look like the better side (a common narrative when a team makes a surprise switch to a three-man back). Had Liverpool deployed their normal setup, they may have taken advantage of a United team that featured only three regular starters (Wayne Rooney, Rafael, David De Gea).

To Rodgers’ benefit, he’s learned some valuable information from these two games. Had he not tried these tweaks, he’d still be curious as to whether they’d work. Thanks to his experimentation, he’s been able to see what value the tactics have going forward.

At the same time, Liverpool’s out of the League Cup, Chicharito’s second half game winner sending their rivals through.

Goals:

Manchester United – 46′ Hernández

Lineups:

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Büttner; Nani (90′ Welbeck), Jones, Giggs, Kagawa (73′ Januzaj); Rooney, Hernández (74′ Carrick). Unused Subs: Amos, Anderson, Fabio, Zaha

Liverpool: Mignolet; Touré, Skrtel, Sahko; Henderson, Gerrard, Moses (82′ Sterling), Leiva (67′ Kelly), Enrieua; Sturridge, Suárez. Unused Subs: Alberto, Jones, Aspas, Ibe, Wisdom.

VIDEO: American teen Wright scores first 2.Bundesliga goal

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For all the talk about Schalke’s 18-year-old American wunderkind, Weston McKennie, it’s easy to forget that three young Yanks signed for the Bundesliga side.

One of them, Haji Wright, scored four goals in a preseason match before being loaned out to Sandhausen in 2.Bundesliga.

Ex-New York Cosmos striker Wright, 19, came off the bench for Sandhausen in its league opener Saturday, and didn’t wilt when given a clear scoring chance alone in the 18.

[ MORE: Bundesliga preview with Howedes, Nastasic ]

Wright has scored 31 goals at the U.S. youth national team level, and Bruce Arena will be quite familiar with him given a four-year stint with the LA Galaxy Academy.

Fellow American striker Andrew Wooten is on the books at Sandhausen, but the veteran was not in the 18.

Here’s video, found by American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta:

Watch Live: Swansea host Manchester United

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Swansea City welcome Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Jose Mourinho’s side aiming to stay top of the Premier League table.

[ STREAM: Swansea v. Man United ]

Yes, it’s early days, but the Red Devils were imperious in their thumping 4-0 win against West Ham United to open their season. Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic dominated and Mourinho’s men are now a powerful, well-oiled machine.

As for Swansea, they struggled at Southampton but came away with a draw, however the main storyline surrounding the South Wales side this week has been losing Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton for over $60 million. Paul Clement will have to act fast to spend that cash wisely, but there is no doubt the Swans will miss their Icelandic playmaker.

In team news Swansea bring in Kyle Bartley and Roque Mesa as they line up in a 3-5-2 formation with Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham up top.

Man United are, unsurprisingly, unchanged.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Fernandez, Bartley, Mawson; Naughton, Mesa, Fer, Carroll, Olsson; Ayew, Abraham. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, van der Hoorn, Fulton, Narsingh, Routledge, McBurnie.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Matic, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Rashford; Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.