Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal arrived at the storied Premier League club, and so far, he’s faced early season struggles–a loss to Swansea City and a Capital One Cup drubbing at the hands of MK Dons. A 1-1 tie to Sunderland can also count against the Dutchman.
Tomorrow, Van Gaal and the Reds will hope to turn their fortune around, taking on Burnley, and one of the questions of the match will revolve around the availability of 19-year-old Luke Shaw, who left Southampton in July to further his status as a footballer at United.
England national team manager Roy Hodgson has said that he cautioned Shaw to pay attention to his fitness during the World Cup, but Van Gaal believes Hodgson is off the mark. According to the Netherlands head man, Shaw sustained a injury in August, after England was eliminated from Brazil.
“About Shaw I want to say something. I have read nasty articles about him. In the United States I said to him ‘you came not fit’,” Van Gaal said. “But I changed his program and he did everything that he was to do to be fit and now he is an example in the dressing room.”
“He is not fit now because he is injured but Roy Hodgson cannot judge at this moment. Roy Hodgson cannot judge him because I have never seen him here at a training session. I think that he refers to the World Cup but I don’t know. But now he (Shaw) is doing a great job.”
In fact, Shaw’s been great in practice, and Van Gaal let reporters know that he will honestly discuss the young defender.
“He is training fantastic, so when you want to write something then maybe you can ask me ‘is he doing his work or not?’ I am open. I answer the questions when you put a question to me.”
Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.
[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]
Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City
Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.
Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth
The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.
But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.
Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a
Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland
Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.
One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.
Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.
The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.
[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]
That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.
“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”
A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?
Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.
Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.
[ STREAM: Every PL game online ]
A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.
Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.
Click play on the video above to watch it.
There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.
So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.
[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]
On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.
That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.
Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.