Manchester United is on a roll right now as they brushed aside Sunderland to win 3-1 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
United’s fourth-straight win in the Premier League came courtesy of Daley Blind‘s first half strike and then goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a wonder strike from Henrikh Mkhitaryan made it 3-0. Fabio Borini scored a stunner of his own to make it 3-1 but it was nothing more than a consolation as David Moyes‘ side were outplayed on his return to United.
With the win United moves to within one point of the top four as they have 33 points, while Sunderland remains in the relegation zone on 14 points.
Paul Pogba then went close to opening the scoring as his shot deflected off Sebastian Larsson and clipped the post. At the other end Jermain Defoe clipped in a wonderful ball but Anichebe couldn’t sort his feet out and the chance came and went.
3 – All three of Paul Pogba's Premier League assists have resulted in Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals. Link.
Before half time Zlatan headed down for Pogba but his volleyed effort was just over following a defensive mix up from Sunderland and soon after United went ahead. Zlatan held the ball up and waited for a run and Blind obliged as he powered forward from left back and drilled home. 1-0 to the Red Devils.
United pushed for a second early in the second half with Zlatan off target but Sunderland hung in there.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan came on and curled an effort just wide, while Pogba poked an effort goalwards which the impressive Jordan Pickford saved. Pickford denied Zlatan moments later with an excellent save down low as United pushed to finish the Black Cats off.
Then came a flurry of late goals to liven up this Boxing Day clash.
Zlatan latched on to Pogba’s through ball and finished calmly to make it 2-0 and then Mkhitaryan produced a moment of magic to make it 3-0 before Borini’s wonder strike made it 3-1. Phew. What a finish.
Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.
Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).
Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).
While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.
Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:
The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.
“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”
Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.
Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.
Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.
As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it ispeak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:
“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.
“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”
But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:
Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.
Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.
Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.
In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).