Antonio Valencia

AP Photo/Dave Thompson

Key battles in the Manchester Derby

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Paul Pogba‘s suspension has changed the dynamic of Sunday’s huge Manchester Derby at Old Trafford.

The tantalizing concept of a duel between Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne has been stripped from the Top Two tilt, leaving Jose Mourinho likely to resort to defensive-first tactics in a bid to close the table gap to five points by handing Man City its first league loss of the season.

[ MORE: Champions League favorites ]

It was never going to be easy, and City was able to rest many of its top players at midweek while United mathematically needed its result to clinch a spot in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.

Sergio Aguero and/or Gabriel Jesus vs. United’s center backs

There’s a question whether City’s all-time leading scorer will play against Manchester United, though his days of dominating the derby go back in time. Aguero scored six goals in four Manchester Derbies culminating with a brace to finish the 2014-15 season, but an injury, a suspension, and two shutouts mean he hasn’t scored against United since then. United has allowed a Premier League best nine goals this season, one fewer than second-best City.

Romelu Lukaku versus himself

Manchester United’s eight-goal striker has not been able to escape criticism of his record against the top teams in Europe, and Sunday provides a huge chance to shut up his critics. Sure he scored against Real Madrid in the Super Cup, but he’s been kept off the score sheet this season against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool (He posted a critical assist against Spurs).

It seems odd to say, but City could provide some comfort to Lukaku. The 24-year-old Belgian scored against City twice last season for Everton in a 1-1 draw at City and a 4-0 win at Goodison Park.

Dominant De Gea versus everyone but Ederson

Manchester United’s incredible Spanish keeper conspired with a trio of Arsenal defensive flubs to pick up a 3-1 win over the Gunners last weekend, but De Gea was the primary reason for the win (including a remarkable double save). De Gea allowed a pair of goals to City at Old Trafford last season before posting a clean sheet at the Etihad Stadium, and he’ll be dealing with Leroy Sane… and Kevin De Bruyne… and Raheem Sterling… and on… and on…. and on.

Bonus: What happens out wide?

Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have been very good for Mourinho, and have plenty of derby experience. Kyle Walker is no shrinking violet, either, and the battles to send in crosses could make as much of a difference as the incisive ideas in the middle of the park.

Premier League roundup: Big wins for Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea

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Well, that was quite a day in the Premier League.

Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United picked up wins, with the Red Devils managing a 3-1 decision at Arsenal to put an exclamation point on the day’s results.

[ MORE: Gnabry’s terrific Bundesliga lob ]

Club debuts for Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew were also part of the day, with the former enjoying his day more than the latter.

Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle United — RECAP

An early Dwight Gayle goal put the Magpies on top, but Chelsea came thundering back for a thoroughly comfortable remainder of the contest thanks to a pair of goals from Eden Hazard and another marker from Alvaro Morata.

Watford 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur  — RECAP

Christian Kabasele and Heung-Min Son traded first half goals at Vicarage Road, as Spurs failed to collect a win for the fourth-straight game (two draws).

Everton 2-0 Huddersfield  — RECAP

A sloppy first half from the Toffees in their first match with Sam Allardyce in the dugout changed after the half, as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored to move the Toffees up the table with a second consecutive win.

Leicester City 1-0 Burnley — RECAP

Riyad Mahrez, now bright blonde, sent a ball in from the left, and Demarai Gray was back post to tap in the rebound. That was the lone goal of an even match at King Power Stadium, as the Foxes kept up their fine turn of form under Claude Puel.

West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Crystal PalaceRECAP

Alan Pardew, in his West Brom bow, and Roy Hodgson collected a point each for their teams in a match with too few clear cut chances, though West Brom’s young Sam Field came close to scoring in a second-straight match.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-5 Liverpool  — RECAP

Roberto Firmino scored twice and Liverpool ran rampant at the Amex Stadium, with a Jordan Henderson-conceded penalty the only away goal. Philippe Coutinho scooted a free kick under a wall, Emre Can headed home off a corner, and Shane Duffy had another own goal for the Gulls.

Stoke City 2-1 Swansea CityRECAP

Wilfried Bony scored for his old old club (Swansea) against his old club (Stoke), but Xherdan Shaqiri leveled for the Potters before the break. Soon after, Mame Biram Diouf was Johnny-on-the-spot to convert fine work from Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch.

Arsenal 1-3 Manchester UnitedRECAP

The Gunners had a load of the possession but a trio of defensive gaffes allowed United to punish the hosts. Jesse Lingard scored twice and Antonio Valencia also scored, while Alexandre Lacazette briefly had the score line 2-1.

Perhaps more importantly, Paul Pogba was sent off for a tackle on Hector Bellerin and will miss the Manchester Derby.

Four things we learned from Arsenal v. Man United

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LONDON — There were not a parked bus in sight at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday as Arsenal and Manchester United put on a show.

[ MORE: Mourinho slams Arsenal, Koscielny ]

United ran out 3-1 winners with two goals from Jesse Lingard and an early Antonio Valencia strike, but that only tells part of the story as Alexandre Lacazette scored for the Gunners, Paul Pogba was sent off and David De Gea was in sensational form.

[ MORE: Wenger fuming with refs after loss

Here’s what we learned from an absolutely bonkers encounter in north London.


DE GEA ON ANOTHER PLANET

David de Gea saved Manchester United time and time again on Saturday.

In the first half the Spanish goalkeeper saved superbly from Alexandre Lacazette while on the floor as the ball looped up and hit the bar. He then clawed the ball away as Romelu Lukaku knocked the ball towards his own goal.

He wasn’t done. Oh no. In the second half he saved superbly from Alex Iwobi and then moments later, with the score 2-1 and Arsenal pushing, he made one of the best double saves you will see. De Gea dove to his right to save Lacazette’s low effort and then his reactions to get up and deny Alexis Sanchez were lightning quick. That moment changed the outcome of this game.

De Gea was the man of the match by a country mile. It is time we placed him above Manuel Neuer and Thibaut Courtois as the best goalkeeper on the planet right now. Simple.

Judging by United’s defensive performance, De Gea will be a busy man against Manchester City in the Manchester Derby next weekend.


SAME DEFENSIVE ISSUES ARISE FOR ARSENAL

Arsenal were the better team from the majority of this game. They had 15 shots on target and 75 percent of the possession but defensive mistakes, once again, cost them dear.

Wenger’s men were 2-0 down with 12 minutes gone and it came via two absolutely needless giveaways from central defenders. United’s third goal came from another defensive mistake.

Just like against Manchester City and Liverpool this season, Arsenal’s lack of defensive solidity in big games against their top four rivals was the difference.

Laurent Koscielny gave the ball away cheaply for United’s first goal and was bullied by Paul Pogba for United’s third and Shkodran Mustafi‘s poor ball led to United’s second.

Arsenal missed chances galore and came up against an inspired De Gea and on another day they could have won 4-3. They didn’t because their defensive lapses surfaced once again. That’s what will cost them any chance of achieving anything more than finishing in the top four for the foreseeable future.


UNITED RUTHLESS ON COUNTER

Yes, United rode their luck and had DDG to thank for their win, but they also launched several sensational counter attacks with Pogba, Anthony Martial and Lingard leading the charge to support Lukaku.

All three of United’s goals came on the counter but their second goal summed up how ruthless they were on the break. Lukaku played in Martial who had cut in from the left and his clever turn and ball into Lingard led to the onrushing United midfield sweeping home. It was a thing of beauty.

In truth, United could have scored with more of their counters as Lingard had his shot tipped onto the post by Petr Cech in the second half and Lukaku was reluctant to shoot on similar breakaways.

Remember: this was a team who has scored just one goal in seven outings away at the “top six” since Mourinho took charge in August 2016. They could have scored five times, at least, on the counter on Saturday.

There was no parking the bus. The bus was strategically placed for a quick getaway and it worked a treat with Pogba and Lingard causing havoc.


POGBA RED CARD MADNESS; TOUGH CALLS WRONG

Pogba undid all of his good work with a moment of madness.

United’s French midfielder went in studs up on Hector Bellerin who had his left leg across the floor and referee Andre Marriner gave Pogba a straight red card. That will keep him out of the next three games, including the Manchester Derby against Manchester City next Sunday. That’s a massive blow for United, who are a totally different, and much more dangerous, side when he’s playing.

You can see why Marriner gave the red card.

Pogba had time to pull out of the challenge and it was studs up on Bellerin’s calf. You can’t be doing that. It didn’t look great, especially on the replay, but did he mean it? Was it malicious? The jury is out but it’s unlikely Pogba will win his appeal, if he lodges one, with the FA. His lung-bursting runs will be badly missed by United against Man City next Sunday and his much anticipated battle with Kevin De Bruyne will have to wait until later in the season.

Other big calls were clearly incorrect as Danny Welbeck was brought down by Matteo Darmian in the box and Arsenal should have had a penalty kick, while Koscielny should have been sent off when taking down Lukaku as last man. Bellerin may have been getting back, but when the foul was committed Arsenal’s center back was the last man. Not a good day for the officials.

Lingard, De Gea lead Man Utd past Arsenal

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  • Valencia, Lingard put United up 2-0 early
  • Arsenal has 71 percent first half possession
  • Lacazette makes it 2-1 after break
  • Pogba sets up Lingard for 3-1, then sent off
  • Arsenal out-attempts United 33-8

Jesse Lingard bagged a brace as Manchester United took its chances in a 3-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Antonio Valencia also scored for the Red Devils, who moved to within five points of Manchester City before the Premier League leaders play Sunday.

Arsenal got its goal from Alexandre Lacazette, and sits fifth with 28 points.

Paul Pogba was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Hector Bellerin with just over a quarter hour to play in North London.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Valencia looked to have been denied by his extra touch off a Paul Pogba through ball, but spun the ball through Petr Cech‘s legs to make it 1-0.

It was off a bad giveaway, and Arsenal had a second one moments later. United clinically finished again, with Anthony Martial‘s incredibly deft flick meeting Lingard’s impressive side-footed finish inside the far post.

Arsenal liked to attack down the right, and Chris Smalling defended well earn a goal kick in the 20th.

The Gunners were thwarted in a chance to pull one back when David De Gea stopped Alexandre Lacazette at close range before Granit Xhaka laced the rebound wide of the frame.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lacazette hit on a 49th minute rebound to make it 2-1, with both playmaker Aaron Ramsey and the goal scorer in acres of space.

United saw a ball hit the far post moments later in a bid to restore the two-goal lead.

De Gea made an amazing pair of stops on Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez in the 56th minute.

It was 3-1 after the hour mark thanks to another Arsenal giveaway, with Pogba turning Laurent Koscielny inside out before passing through the six for Lingard to tap home.

But the smiles turned to frowns when Pogba went studs up into Bellerin’s ankle, an easy red card and a huge obstacle for Jose Mourinho in the Manchester Derby.

Manchester United 1-0 Brighton: Win nabbed in downpour

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  • Rainy day at Old Trafford
  • Dunk deflection dooms Gulls
  • United stays second
  • MORE: Mourinho reacts

Ashley Young‘s long shot took a wicked deflection for an own goal that gave Manchester United a 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on a rainy Saturday at Old Trafford.

Lewis Dunk was credited with the own goal, as the Gulls’ game effort leaves them in ninth.

United now has 29 points, five back of Man City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Romelu Lukaku got a shot away after a 1-2 with Anthony Martial in the second minute, but his left-footed hit was wildly inaccurate.

Brighton was very much involved in the match, with David De Gea called upon to make a stop on Pascal Gross.

Antonio Valencia swept an invitation to the back post for Lukaku, but the Belgian couldn’t nod it on frame.

United looked as good as ahead when Mathew Ryan stopped Lukaku and Paul Pogba within two yards of the goal line from a Marcus Rashford cross.

United got its breakthrough in the 66th minute, when Young’s shot from outside the 18 took a huge turn off Lewis Dunk to beat Ryan.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a late chance to make it 2-0 when he dragged a shot wide of the frame.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]