Manchester United 1-1 Southampton: Late equalizer hands Saints deserved draw (video)

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In the 89th minute Saints captain Adam Lallana deflected in Dejan Lovren’s scrappy shot to send the South Coast club wild and condemn United to more misery at the start of the Premier League campaign.

The Red Devils looked shaky throughout and couldn’t really argue with the result at Old Trafford.

They’d taken a first half lead through Robin van Persie, but United looked disjointed and jaded after several of their players had traveled around the globe in midweek internationals.

The draw leaves Southampton in fourth on 15 points, while Manchester United are in eighth spot on eleven points.

source: AP
RVP gave United the lead, but yet another collapse sees the Red Devils struggling.

It was a bright start from the visitors, who should have gone ahead in the 23rd minute when Victor Wanyama dispossessed Wayne Rooney and found Lallana who slotted Daniel Osvaldo in, but the Italian international struck a weak effort at David de Gea.

And then moments later the Saints were made to pay for that miss, as van Persie put United 1-0 up.

Wayne Rooney was set clean through after a terrific defense splitting pass from Adnan Januzaj, and Rooney forced Artur Boruc into a tremendous save. However, the ball ricocheted back into RVP’s path and the Dutchman tucked the ball home for his fourth PL goal of the season.

Slightly harsh on the Saints after a bright start to the game.

Soon after, Rooney was found in the box by Nani and the England international swiveled before striking his shot against the crossbar as the Red Devils piled on the pressure.

For most of the first half Southampton had the ball and looked composed and patient, however on the break United looked dangerous with Januzaj proving a threat on the left-hand side.

The Saints had a few other chances with Osvaldo, Lallana and Jay Rodriguez looking lively going forward, however the Red Devils went in ahead at the interval despite not impressing.

After the break Southampton again started on the front foot, as Luke Shaw made a great run down the left and Lallana’s shot was cleared away by Johnny Evens for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Dejan Lovren’s header was cleared away by RVP on the post, as the Saints kept their assault on United’s goal going.

But as the second half wore on United ramped up their attack as van Persie and Nani both went close, then Boruc saved superbly from Januzaj in the 62nd minute.

Southampton kept going throughout the second half and pushed forward, leaving themselves exposed on many occasions. But some last-ditch tackles left the Saints in with a chance to grab an equalizer… and that’s exactly what they did.

In the 89th minute an inswinging corner found Dejan Lovren at the back post and the Croatian international bundled the ball towards goals, as they final touch went in off Lallana to send Southampton’s players into raptures in front of their fans in the far right hand corner. It was the third goal Southampton have scored after the 88th minute this season, the most in the PL.

United threatened to try and snatch a late win, but the Saints held on for a point to keep their good start to the season going.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Evans, Evra; Nani (Giggs, 69). Carrick, Fellaini (Welbeck, 76), Januzaj; Rooney (Smalling, 87), van Persie.

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama (Guly, 83), Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Ward-Prowse, 67), Lallana (c), Rodriguez (Lambert, 55), Osvaldo.

Klopp hails players in blowout, downplays squad rotation

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t bothered by Jurgen Klopp‘s squad rotation at Liverpool.

“The front four have been on fire, they are not bad,” he said after the Reds battered Bournemouth 4-0 on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool ]

“Everyone’s a quality player and the rest of us have to sneak our noses in there. Squad rotation is important, keeps us fresh.”

Klopp was a little more critical of his squad, saying the changes had more to do with how the Reds performed against West Brom than a need to keep players fresh.

“I like them but against West Brom they didn’t hit the target. I don’t change my mind in three minutes, but we have to be consistently good because we are Liverpool.”

The manager especially loved how well Liverpool started, as Bournemouth didn’t have a chance to get moving. Klopp gets plenty of criticism, but he almost always has his finger on the pulse of his club. Sunday was a big win for the manager and his club, even if it was somewhat expected.

Making sense of the table in a Man City world

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There are natural advantages to being atop the table deep into a Premier League season, the most evident being the ability to enter into any match against a challenger knowing a draw will likely be fine.

But what about being ahead of the field by double digits?

Perspective is a major challenge when a team is as doing as well as Manchester City. Pep Guardiola‘s men have drawn just once in 18 matches, and hold a 11-point lead on Manchester United, 14 points better than third place Chelsea.

Speaking of the Blues, manager Antonio Conte raised an interesting point after Chelsea beat Southampton on Saturday. Conte says City’s crazy run has colored over his team’s fine results, as last season’s champions are 8-1-1 since losing two-straight in October.

[ MORE: WBA 1-2 Man Utd | Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool ]

Four losses is four losses — United has three — but it’s an interesting notion. Both sides have lost to City at home, but otherwise will finish the weekend boasting multiple match leads on the field when it comes to second- and third-place.

Is this much different from recent years? Consider the following seasons after 18 weeks.

Remember: Manchester United has 41 points, and Chelsea 38 (And United has been missing its World XI class player for all but eight games. Some of his doing, some not).

2016-17

Chelsea led the table with 46 points, six better than Liverpool and seven ahead of Man City. Spurs, who would finish second, had 33 points with a match-in-hand. That 13-point gap closed to seven.

2015-16

Leicester was atop the table with 38 points, just two better than Arsenal and three ahead of Man City. They’d finish 10 points better than Arsenal’s 71.

2014-15

Chelsea (45 points) held a three-point advantage on Man City and 10 on third place Manchester United. The Blues would finish eight points ahead of City.

2013-14

Liverpool and Arsenal were dead even with 36 points, one better than eventual champions Man City. The title winners finished two ahead of Liverpool, four free of Chelsea, and six past Arsenal.

So… both United and Chelsea would be leading the Premier League in two of the past four seasons, which is certainly notable.

I don’t want to belabor the Pogba point too much, especially since the most recent absence comes from a red card suspension, but what if United had him for all those matches? Do they find a goal in the 0-0 at Liverpool? Get a point from the 1-0 loss at Chelsea? Flip the script on the 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town?

Let alone the City loss.

But again, seasons like this one from City remind us of the challenges of framing seasons when one campaign is oh-so-dominant.

Liverpool mashes Cherries

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  • Coutinho, Salah score beauties (video)
  • Cherries winless in six
  • Reds unbeaten in nine
  • Robertson key on left side

Liverpool ran a red-hot first half to an easy 4-0 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho scored highlight reel goals, with Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino pitching in flying headers, as the Reds moved into the Top Four with 34 points.

Bournemouth sits 16th, a point ahead of the relegation zone, and witnessed a match much different than last season’s 4-3 win over Liverpool at the same venue.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Joe Gomez curled a shot wide of the goal in the fourth minute. A Nathan Ake foul six minutes later gave Liverpool a free kick just outside the 18, and Philippe Coutinho struck a sweet effort off the inside of the post… and out.

Coutinho nearly put a chance home moments later, so it was not surprise when he scored the match’s first goal. A mazy dribbled past two Cherries ended with a shot across his body and inside the near post. Wonderful stuff. 1-0.

Lovren had 2-0 within six minutes, hitting the deck with a diving header goal after Roberto Firmino saved a corner kick on the line at the back post.

Jermain Defoe timed his run well for a 1v1 with Simon Mignolet, but his shot caromed off the far post.

It would’ve been 3-0 were it not for an outstanding reaction save from Asmir Begovic as Mohamed Salah attempted to cap off a terrific team play in the 43rd minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Salah got his goal in stunning fashion, bodying off a defender before dribbling past two more to finish with an off-balance belt past Begovic.

Substitute Ryan Fraser had a chance to pull one back in the 56th minute, but rang it wide of the near post.

The Reds raised their advantage to four on another Robertson started move, with Firmino heading a Coutinho cross beyond Begovic.

Mourinho on muted celebrations from Lukaku, himself

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There’s a lot of buzz about celebrating, and not celebrating, when it comes to Manchester United.

Star striker Romelu Lukaku‘s post-goal actions were muted for a second-straight week, and manager Jose Mourinho appeared nonchalant on the bench.

[ RECAP: WBA 1-2 Man Utd ]

For Lukaku, that could be down to his status as a former West Brom player (and to be sure he was quite energetic in support of Jesse Lingard‘s insurance goal).

As for Mourinho, this is a man who was quite critical of Man City’s celebrations after winning a derby at Old Trafford. And Jose isn’t one to let a story line die unnecessarily.

Here’s Mourinho when asked about Lukaku’s non-celebration, from the BBC:

“Maybe he looks to the bench and sees his manager doesn’t celebrate. Maybe he loves West Brom. Maybe he remembers the team that helped him early in his career.

“I will celebrate if my team scores a winning goal in the last minute. But you have to have more maturity and keep your feet on the ground. If some guys want to be kids until the last day of their careers or if they want to act to the cameras then they can. But if we score an important goal then I can do anything.”

On one hand, I get it. On the other hand (and a third if I can find one), be okay with having a bit of fun, Jose.

United is back to within 11 points of leaders Man City, and it’s a massive mountain to climb for the Red Devils. Yet Ander Herrera, who was terrific again on Sunday, said the directive is simple: control what you can.

“We won three titles last season, which was very good. It is true that the top of the table is difficult to reach right now but this is Premier League, you never know. Our aim is just to keep winning games.”

The side’s 41 points through 18 matches would’ve been enough to lead the Premier League in two of the previous four seasons. No one’s going to tell United to be content with where they stand, but it’s been a fine season for Mourinho’s men so far.