With Radamel Falcao, can Manchester United challenge for the Premier League?

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With the transfer window shut and Manchester United the biggest spenders on the globe, what next?

The Red Devils have brought in six players for upwards of $250 million in transfer fees alone. That’s not including the astronomical wages dished out to superstars Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, as their incredible outlay and faith in new manager Louis van Gaal was proven beyond all doubt after a summer of expensive acquisitions.

[RELATED: Transfer window grades]

[RELATED: Every Deadline Day deal]

Many are worried United didn’t strengthen defensively and will be suspect at the back, but with the attacking options they now possess, the Red Devils could silence the doubters.

One man’s arrival on Deadline Day was crucial: Radamel Falcao.

The Colombian striker sealed a season-long loan deal on Monday, which can be turned into a permanent deal for a reported $80 million at the end of the season, as the club have gone back to their attacking core to gain success. The message is clear: we will score more goals than you.

With Falcao on board — he has scored 155 goals in his last 200 games in European club soccer across three different leagues — the swashbuckling ways of Sir Alex Ferguson will return as the defense-first mantra deployed last season will go out of the window. Van Gaal finally has a group of players that are his and he will play to their strengths after assembling them. That overwhelming strength is: attack, attack, attack,

 [RELATED: How will Manchester United line up?]

In all, 17 players left Manchester United this summer as a long-awaited gutting of the squad took placer under LVG’s stewardship. The message is clear: quality over quantity.

source: Reuters
El Tigre was the final piece of the jigsaw in United’s record-breaking shopping spree.

With no European soccer, or League Cup for that matter, to worry about in the next four months until January, the sole purpose is on one game a week in the Premier League. Getting back into the top four and securing UCL qualification is the aim and somehow (probably, the money) van Gaal has managed to persuade the likes of Di Maria and Falcao to join United’s renaissance. Cash aside, his influence in these two signing should not be overlooked. Getting these big name players through the door was a big part of why van Gaal was brought in as manager after David Moyes struggled to sell the club to new players all of last season.

Falcao was the cherry on top of an expensively assembled ice cream sundae.

Without him, LVG’s plan may have fallen flat on its face. With him, well, they may just have a chance. To start the season Rooney has looked out of sorts up top, van Persie is increasingly injury prone and both Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck left on Deadline Day. All of that leads the way for one man to shine. The man they call El Tigre.

With Di Maria, Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata and Rooney supplying him the ammunition, Falcao’s job in simple: stick the ball in the back of the net. Ruud van Nistleerooy’s job was exactly the same at Old Trafford and he had the likes of Ryan Giggs and David Beckham feeding him crosses and through balls to finish. Falcao may not have those two around, but the attackers and wingers the Red Devils possess now will provide him with plenty of opportunities to score. If this plan comes off, United might not be hoping for just a top four finish this campaign. With no other distractions and a long-stretch ahead of just PL games, United could surprise everyone just like Liverpool did last season.

Falcao was the final piece of the jigsaw, as we can all start to judge van Gaal’s Manchester United… now.

AT HALF: Watch Willian, Lukaku goals as Chelsea, Man Utd level

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It’s been a good one so far at Old Trafford, where Willian and Romelu Lukaku traded first half goals for Chelsea and Manchester United.

Both players started and finished their goals, though plenty more time elapsed between the beginning and end of Chelsea’s opener.

[ MORE: Watch the second half live, online ]

Willian broke up a United cross and Chelsea nearly went the length of the pitch on their goal. David De Gea will want to have done better on the Brazilian’s rocket finish, but a fine goal nonetheless (above).

As for Lukaku, he went head-to-head with Andreas Christensen and the Chelsea man hit the deck while the Belgian striker was merely stunned before getting on the end of terrific one touch work between Nemanja Matic, Alexis Sanchez, and Anthony Martial.

Off-kilter Kane saves sloppy Spurs at Palace

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  • Tottenham goes fourth
  • Spurs with 76 percent possession
  • Kane scores 150th Spurs goal

Harry Kane made amends for an atypical day of sloppy finishing with an 89th minute winner as Tottenham Hotspur persisted to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

The win gives Spurs 55 points, good for fourth in the Premier League before Chelsea faces Manchester United.

Palace remains 17th, behind Saints but ahead of Swans on goal differential. The Eagles are sorely missing Wilfried Zaha.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ben Davies was fouled in a bid to meet a back post free kick in the eighth minute, but no penalty was given and Palace cleared the corner as Spurs provided the first true scoring chance of the match.

Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey was at his left post for a fine save on Harry Kane in the 10th, as Patrick Van Aanholt lost the English superstar.

At the other end, Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was headed into the arms of Hugo Lloris by James Tomkins. Lloris would deprive Christian Benteke of a finishing bid in the 16th minute, too.

A penalty was coming for Kane before the referee noticed the linesman’s raised flag and saved Timothy Fosu-Mensah from conceded the opportunity.

Palace made it to the locker room at 0-0, with Townsend hitting a low ball to Lloris before the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half began, and Spurs worked some chances to score that were lacking the appropriate finish. Both Kane and Christian Eriksen shanked attempts in the first five minutes.

A pair of gorgeous flicks from Serge Aurier and Eriksen met Kane near the back post, but the striker atypically missed what should’ve been an easy opener.

Palace thought Alexander Sorloth might’ve earned a penalty from Davinson Sanchez, but Spurs escaped punishment in the 63rd minute.

Hennessey continued to play his role, stopping from Aurier before extending fully to palm away Davies’ offering in the 73rd.

Dele Alli dove in a bid to win a penalty soon after the Davies denial, but had no success.

Kane found a moment of brilliance in the 83rd minute, but Benteke of all players slid to block the shot and Hennessey collected the ball.

Davies should’ve had an assist moments later, but Aurier tripped on the ball.

Kane dragged an 86th minute shot inches wide of the goal, and it just seemed unlikely to be Spurs day despite dominance on the ball.

Of course, that meant an off-balance Hennessey couldn’t get a hold of Kane’s header off an Eriksen free kick with 90 seconds remaining before stoppage time.

Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

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It’s a big one, you know: Manchester United hosts Chelsea in a battle for table positioning on Sunday at Old Trafford (Watch live at 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Scrutinized summer signings Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata start at center forward for their respective sides.

Morata scored the lone goal when Chelsea beat United 1-0 in November.

Jose Mourinho has opted for Scott McTominay over Michael Carrick and Juan Mata in the midfield, while Anthony Martial gets the call over Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.

Chelsea will have Pedro and Olivier Giroud on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, McTominay, Matic, Pogba, Alexis, Lukaku, Martial. Subs: Pereira, Bailly, Shaw, Carrick, Mata, Lingard, Rashford.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Drinkwater, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Emerson, Fabregas, Pedro, Giroud.

Aubameyang says off-field criticism “goes over my head”

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The Daily Mirror posted a profile on Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang late Saturday, speaking with the Gabonese striker as well as a number of people in his life.

[ MORE: PL Saturday roundup ]

Most of the talk dealt with his obsession with soccer, which started as an admirer of his internationally-capped father, but the quotes getting attention come from Aubameyang and deal with his comfort as a flashy personality.

So for those wondering whether the 27-year-old is going to tame his off-field activities now that he’s moved to London, well, it’s unlikely.

Aubameyang has a bit of David Beckham in him, cognizant of his background and relishing his place in life.

“The clothes, the cars and all that are a bonus. I enjoy living this way. I like who I am and it doesn’t matter if other people can’t ­accept that – it goes over my head.

“As they say ‘you only live once’. It’s important to know where you come from and where your roots are – the rest is a big bonus.”

Any number of players, from Andy Carroll to Cristiano Ronaldo, have appreciated the very same things.

It’s not a big deal.

As long as on-field performances accompany them, any criticism is driven by envy or a need to attract a similar form of attention as the player himself.