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Mourinho on “tired” Lukaku, Liverpool’s Van Dijk deal

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Jose Mourinho has said that Romelu Lukaku is “tired” and “needs a little rest” after his recent defensive mistakes have cost Manchester United goals from set pieces.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Lukaku has been involved in half clearances and marking which has gone wrong in goals conceded against Manchester City and Burnley, which saw United pick up just one point in those two games.

United still sit in second place in the PL table but are 15 points behind Manchester City and just six points above fifth-place Tottenham.

Lukaku has played in every single second of all 20 Premier League games for United so far this season, scoring 10 goals.

“The boy is tired. He is physically a monster but not a machine and he is feeling it,” Mourinho said. “For striker in the Premier League to play 20 matches, 90 minutes, I have to be very grateful for his personality and character. He was in the picture in some of the last goals we concede but all is a consequence of a player who really needs a little rest.”

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to full fitness, Mourinho has an option to rest Lukaku. But it’s unlikely he will.

United host Southampton on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) and they need to chase down City at every opportunity. Mourinho can’t afford to rest Lukaku as United aim to stay in pole position among the chasing pack to finish in the top four.

As for United’s bitter rivals Liverpool, Mourinho has been having his say on Jurgen Klopp splashing $100 million on center back Virgil Van Dijk.

The fee is a world-record for a defender and plenty of managers are weighing in about whether or not the Dutch defender is worth the money.

“Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players, yes. But if you bring one player in for £100m or whatever, and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney. Do I have to do it differently to that? Actually, I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money,” Mourinho said. “The day that this is football, I’m not in a job any more… “I am not speaking specifically now about that case [Van Dijk] because in Liverpool they do what they want to do and I am nobody to comment on what they do.”

Mourinho then continued: “The reality is if they think the player is the right player for them, they pay this amount or they don’t have the player because that is the way the market is now,” Mourinho said. “Van Dijk is the most expensive defender in the history of football, Was he better than Maldini or Ferdinand? You cannot say that, it is just the way the market is – pay or don’t pay.”

Mourinho then reminded everyone of Klopp’s criticism of big money deals in the summer of 2016 when United signed Paul Pogba from Juventus for a then world-record fee.

“No critics at all about what Liverpool did. It is just the way it is. I think the one to speak about it in a specific way has to be Jurgen. If I was one of you, I would ask him about his comments about one year ago,” Mourinho said.

He can’t help himself.

VIDEO: Chelsea score stunning team goal

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Take a bow, Chelsea.

Willian put the Blues 2-0 up at Brighton early on Saturday and the goal was a thing of beauty.

Latching onto an error from Brighton, Chelsea surged forward through Willian who played the ball into Eden Hazard.

The Belgian played a delicious back heel to Michy Batshuayi and the forward then followed suit to flick the ball into Willian’s path who fired home.

Take a look at the stunning goal in the video above.

Watch Live: Brighton v. Chelsea

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Brighton & Hove Albion host Chelsea at the Amex Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

With just one win in their last 12 games, Brighton are being dragged into a relegation battle, while Chelsea aren’t in glittering form with five draws on the spin in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

In team news, Brighton start with Tomer Hemed up top and have top scorer Glenn Murray on the bench. New club-record signing Jurgen Locadia isn’t illegible to make his Brighton debut after his signing was only confirmed late Friday, plus the former PSV Eindhoven forward is struggling with an injury..

Chelsea are without star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who has suffered an ankle injury in training, with Willy Caballero coming in to replace him. Alvaro Morata and Pedro are suspended, while Ross Barkley is on the bench and he could make his Chelsea debut.


LINEUPS

Brighton: Ryan; Goldson, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner, Schelotto; Stephens, Propper; March, Gross, Hemed. Subs: Hunemeier, Kayal, Baldock, Murray, Izquierdo, Rosenior, Krul

Chelsea: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Hazard. SubsEduardo, David Luiz, Zappacosta, Sterling, Ampadu, Barkley, Musonda

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

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  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.

PL Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

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  • Burnley has 1 win vs. Man United in last 23 meetings
  • Manchester United has not conceded a goal in 2018
  • Paul Pogba is joint-top of the league with 9 assists

A critical top of the table battle comes our way from Turf Moor (!!) on Saturday as Manchester United travels to Burnley live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

Since losing at Chelsea back in early November, Manchester United in unbeaten away from home and has won four of the five road matches. Burnley, meanwhile, has lost three matches in a row to start the new year and has not won in Premier League play since December 12th against Stoke City.

The goalscoring form of each team is also in stark contrast. Manchester United has not allowed a goal in any competition in 2018, and last conceded back on Boxing Day in a 2-2 draw with this Burnley side. The Clarets, meanwhile, have just one goal in their last three Premier League games and just three goals in their last six.

INJURIES: Burnley – OUT: Chris Wood (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Chris Taylor (ribs). Manchester United – OUT: Daley Blind (undisclosed), Eric Bailly (ankle), Michael Carrick (heart), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia.

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on the gap in riches between clubs: “I don’t think any of us are surprised by the gap in the Premier League – I think it’s been there a long time and it’s getting harder year on year since the business model of football has changed.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on focusing despite transfer rumors: “In this moment, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan our player, [Alexis] Sanchez an Arsenal player and with a match tomorrow, I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match.”

Prediction

Burnley may be coming back down to Earth, but they are still a formidable team with great organization, and Manchester United will be once again held to a draw, this time 1-1.