Paul Pogba

Lukaku hails debut win, “intense” Pogba friendship, Henry’s tutelage

Leave a comment

Sunday couldn’t have gone much better for Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United’s $97-million superstar signing from the summer, as the big Belgian striker scored twice on his Premier League debut for the club and helped the Red Devils to a 4-0 victory over West Ham United.

[ RECAP: Man United thrash West Ham to opening 2017-18 season ]

After the game, the 24-year-old joined the NBC Sports broadcast team field-side at Old Trafford for a lengthy interview (above video) on a wide range of topics — from his own performance on the day, to his “intense, competitive” relationship with Paul Pogba, to the icons of the game who bestowed their wisdom upon him during his five years in England, and so much more.

“[It was] a difficult first 20 minutes, I’d say, but then afterwards we found the spaces to play and we played at a higher tempo. From the press of Nemanja [Matic] we recovered the ball and he went really quickly; before the ball came to me, I had a couple looks at the goalkeeper; the pass from Marcus [Rashford] was excellent, so it was all instincts.

“The second goal was a good free kick from [Henrikh Mkhitaryan], something we worked on in training. From then on, we really controlled the game. We tried to be entertaining for the fans. That’s what they want at Manchester United.”

“Our relationship is really intense. He’s really competitive at the training ground, outside the training ground really competitive, and on the pitch we just want to win. We’re two winners.

“When we play opposite each other, the guy that loses he’s going to get stick until the next day, or has to serve the other guy for the whole day. We are like that, we’re really competitive. Playing together, I think is the best thing, because he has things in his game that I want to have, and I have things in my game that he wants to have, so we try to learn from each other. We push each other everyday on another level.”

[ VIDEO: Lukaku scores his first Man United goal ]

“I think [having Thierry Henry as a coach at mentor with the Belgian national team] is the best thing that happened to me. He’s the best thing that happened to me.

“If I look back, from 18 when I came to England until now, I’ve had possibly the five best strikers in the last 10 years as mentors. I had Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres, and now Thierry Henry. … I think it’s the best thing that could happen in my career as a young guy. … Everyday, if it’s negative or it’s positive, I really take it in stride because I know what is expected at the top level.”

Manchester United 4-0 West Ham United: Lukaku delivers the goods

Leave a comment
  • Lukaku scores in each half
  • Martial, Pogba score late
  • Mkhitaryan with two assists
  • Last goal pushes United top

Romelu Lukaku made a huge first impression for Manchester United in the Premier League, and the Red Devils were delightful in a 4-0 win over visiting West Ham United at Old Trafford.

Anthony Martial had a goal and an assist, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a pair of assists, and Paul Pogba also scored for United. The Red Devils are off to Swansea next week, while West Ham stays on the road and faces Southampton.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The name of the game’s early stages was grit, as hard tackles dotted a landscape of frenetic movement.

United came close to scoring in the 18th minute, and West Ham’s back line did well to stop a prone Romelu Lukaku from testing Joe Hart.

Paul Pogba spied Juan Mata in the 27th minute, and the Spaniard looked set to square a ball for a Lukaku goal, but Angelo Ogbonna was on the scene to deny the chance.

A goal was coming to Old Trafford, and Lukaku provided it. The build-up was impressive, as Nemanja Matic broke up a spell of West Ham possession to spring Marcus Rashford

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It was Lukaku again after the break, scoring a 53rd minute header off a Henrikh Mkhitaryan and United was well on its way.

Marko Arnautovic nearly snapped the Irons back into the match with a header over Daley Blind, but it moved just over the bar.

It was back to business for United after that, and Rashford saw a curling beauty just miss and clatter off the far post.

Martial came into the game late and did not disappointing, running onto a Mkhitaryan through ball to beat Joe Hart, and then setting up Pogba to do the same.

STREAM: Manchester United vs. West Ham United

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Old friend Javier Hernandez is on the other side of the pitch when Manchester United hosts West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

He won’t recognize too many of the Red Devils as former teammates, with Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, and Paul Pogba all handed starts by Jose Mourinho.

For their part, West Ham starts new boys Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Marko Arnautovic in addition to Hernandez. Remarkably, Jose Fonte and Aaron Cresswell are on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Obiang, Fernandes, Arnautovic, Ayew, Chicharito. Subs: Adrian, Byram, Cresswell, Fonte, Collins, Rice, Sakho.

Comparing NFL and Premier League stars

1 Comment

Ever find yourself watching the NFL and wondering how a Premier League player would get on? Or vice versa?

Yeah, me too.

[ MORE: Ranking top 10 players in each position

With so many Premier League stars now growing up watching the NFL in England due to the success of the International Series (yes, we are talking about you and your Patriots fandom, Harry Kane) this summer plenty of PL stars caught up with NFL stars during their preseason tours to the States.

That got us thinking here at Pro Soccer Talk: what are the best examples of PL/NFL crossovers with active players from both leagues?

With the 2017-18 PL season kicking off this weekend and the new NFL season next month, remember the following comparisons when cheering on your favorite teams/players.

And of course, feel free to add your own pairings in the comment section below.


Andrew Luck/Harry Kane – The golden boys who you’d want your daughters to date. Face of their franchises and will be for many years. Consummate leaders

Le’Veon Bell/Alexis Sanchez – Flair and ability to pull off the unbelievable with an incredible inner-drive. But, locked in contract disputes

Antonio Brown/Sadio Mane – Absolutely rapid and able to punish opponents in an instance

Odell Beckham/Paul Pogba – Languid and full of sublime skill, star names who aren’t afraid of the spotlight

Tom Brady/Cesc Fabregas – Passmasters who are hated by many outsiders but loved by their current clubs. Serial winners

Larry Fitzgerald/Romelu Lukaku – Get the job done no matter what. Not always the most influential on the pitch/field but reliable

Ben Roethlisberger/Vincent Kompany – Have two titles tucked into their back pocket and keep returning from injury for more

Julio Jones/Mesut Ozil – Laid back on the field and off it. Stars of teams who are almost always the bridesmaids. Mercurial

Clay Matthews/David Luiz – The dudes with the funny hair but also damn good defenders who stop opponents with considerable style

Ezekiel Elliot/Dele Alli – Rising stars for sleeping giants and set to become the face of the league. Enough said

Cam Newton/Daniel Sturridge – Plenty of sass and confidence but can back it up on the pitch. Well, when they’re healthy anyway

Julian Edelman/Sergio Aguero – “Mr. Clutch” characters who always come up with the good when their teams need it in the biggest moments

Ranking the top 10 Premier League players in each position

Getty Images
8 Comments

It’s always nice to open up a can of worms before the start of the season, right?

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

With new players arriving in the Premier League and superstars staying put, we thought it would be a good idea to rank the best players in each position ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Think of this as a preseason PL player Power Rankings, if you will, and if you want to use this us a “cheat-sheet” for your PL fantasy teams, go for it.

Here’s a list at the top 10 in each position. Let the debate begin in 3, 2, 1…


Goalkeepers

1. David De Gea
2. Hugo Lloris
3. Petr Cech
4. Thibaut Courtois
5. Jack Butland
6. Jordan Pickford
7. Kasper Schmeichel
8. Joe Hart
9. Lukasz Fabianski
10. Ben Foster

Right back

1. Antonio Valencia
2. Seamus Coleman
3. Kyle Walker
4. Danilo
5. Cedric
6. Nathaniel Clyne
7. Kieran Trippier
8. Victor Moses
9. Hector Bellerin
10. Pablo Zabaleta

Center back

1. Toby Alderweireld
2. Cesar Azpilicueta
3. Virgil Van Dijk
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Laurent Koscielny
6. Vincent Kompany
7. David Luiz
8. Eric Bailly
9. Michael Keane
10. Gary Cahill

Left back

1. Danny Rose
2. Ryan Bertrand
3. Marcos Alonso
4. Nacho Monreal
5. Leighton Baines
6. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
7. Benjamin Mendy
8. Luke Shaw
9. Aaron Cresswell
10. Andrew Robertson

Central midfielders

1. N'Golo Kante
2. David Silva
3. Mousa Dembele
4. Paul Pogba
5. Juan Mata
6. Nemanja Matic
7. Victor Wanyama
8. Ander Herrera
9. Oriol Romeu
10. Georginio Wijnaldum

Attacking midfielders/wingers

1. Kevin De Bruyne
2. Dele Alli
3. Eden Hazard
4. Sadio Mane
5. Philippe Coutinho
6. Christian Eriksen
7. Mesut Ozil
8. Leroy Sane
9. Gylfi Sigurdsson
10. Bernardo Silva

Strikers

1. Harry Kane
2. Alexis Sanchez
3. Sergio Aguero
4. Romelu Lukaku
5. Diego Costa
6. Alvaro Morata
7. Javier Hernandez
8. Gabriel Jesus
9. Roberto Firmino
10. Jamie Vardy