Britain Soccer Premier League

Thinking through assertions of those “straightforward” Manchester United tactics

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We’ll set aside for now the wisdom of Rene Meulensteen having a wee go at mighty Manchester United. David Moyes’ first year as boss around Old Trafford certainly isn’t going as planned, but does anyone doubt that in the long run, the trophy count around Old Trafford will trump the total at cozy Craven Cottage?

The Fulham boss, perhaps drunk on elation of seeing his team’s big accomplishment in a 2-2 draw at United, labeled Manchester United’s tactics as “straightforward.”

This BBC story notes that the men of Manchester United supplied 81 crosses, and says that was the most by any team in a Premier League team in a contest 2006. Of that telling total, 18 found a United target.

Fulham’s manager was proffering that United became surprisingly easy to defend.  Essentially, he said, it comes down to “see cross, deal with cross.”

It’s not always that simple, of course. Center backs and goalkeepers need to be more or less mistake free in terms of positioning, communication and technical merit to successfully deal with 70 to 80 crosses over 90 minutes. Give any team that many opportunities and you’re asking for it at some point.

United did, after all, score twice. It certainly wasn’t an alarming number of crosses that saw United concede two at home to the Premier League’s bottom side.

(MORE: Prindi’s picks for this weeks’ Premier League matches)

But the Fulham manager does get us to this point: wasn’t Juan Mata’s ballyhooed January arrival supposed to help in this very matter? Wasn’t the former Chelsea man’s move north from West London supposed to address the Red Devil’s over-reliance on service from wide areas?

On the one hand, Fulham put so many bodies behind the ball that crossing from wide areas was often the one and only way through. On the other hand, it’s on Moyes to get the most from what should now be a potentially devastating, attacking foursome of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Adnan Januzaj and Mata, however that may be.

The team’s next chance to get it right comes Wednesday at Arsenal.

How can Man United qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United FC

Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]

So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:

  • A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.

VIDEO: Can Leicester stun the world? Man United title favorites?

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The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?

With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.

[ MORE: Full PST Extra archive ]

Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.

Men in Blazers podcast: The Leicester fairytale goes on

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo revel in another chapter of the Leicester City fairytale, break down Liverpool’s shock dismantling of Manchester City and discuss Arsenal’s slip against West Brom.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Pellegrini updates status of Joe Hart’s hamstring injury

Joe Hart, Manchester City FC
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Joe Hart was forced to leave Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, which he seemed to incur while making a spectacular one-on-one kick-save late in the second half.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Hart’s injury is indeed a hamstring issue, and went on to say that he would need further tests once the team arrives back in Manchester to determine the severity and how long, if at all, City and England’s no. 1 would be out of action.

Man City, currently third in the Premier League on 26 points, will host eighth-place Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).