Antonio Valencia

Manchester United 4-0 Everton: Red Devils ruin Rooney return

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  • Lukaku goal, assist, celebration
  • Valencia scores stunner (video)
  • Toffees continue road woes
  • Martial, Mkhitaryan also score

Ex-Everton striker Romelu Lukaku helped ruin Wayne Rooney‘s return to Old Trafford, picking up a goal and an assist against his former team as Manchester United topped Everton 4-0 on Sunday.

Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored for United, which has the joint-most points in the league but sits behind Man City by alphabetical order alone.

Starting up top, Rooney provided several clearcut chances for Everton, but Lukaku had an assist before punching in an 89th minute goal and celebrating wildly at Old Trafford.

The ex-Toffees striker was also a threat, picking up a late assist, and will rue chipping a simple finish wide of the goal in the first half.

Everton is now winless in 11-straight away PL matches, a league-high, and remains 17th with four points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jordan Pickford didn’t have much of a chance on Valencia’s wonderful opener. A quick free kick was played short to Nemanja Matic, who hit a ball across the arc of the 18 for Valencia to smash home.

Romelu Lukaku snapped into action against his former club as the match neared the 20-minute mark, just shades away from providing a goal or assist as United looked to build on its lead.

That’s when Rooney nearly tied it up. Playing up top, he cut Cuco Martina‘s pass across his body but wide of the far post.

Lukaku then let Everton off the hook when he opened up 1v1 with Pickford and shot it wide of the far post.

Tom Davies was rightly deemed offside on a 29th minute chance that ended up in the back of the goal.

With all the focus on Lukaku, it was another former Toffee who nearly made it 2-0 when Marouane Fellaini challenged Pickford for a 50-50 ball but saw his effort miss the mark.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rooney almost bulled his way to an equalizer in the second half’s first minute, sliding to win a shot that De Gea blocked with his right leg.

A Pickford giveaway led United to a free kick and Ashley Williams to a yellow card when the defender shouldered Juan Mata to turf in the 63rd minute.

Mata’s left-footed free kick wrapped around the wall to clank off the post, and United couldn’t do anything with the ensuing corner.

Left back Ashley Young set Jesse Lingard up for a left-footed chance, but the attacker’s shot was rushed by Ashley Williams and skied over the frame.

Williams stopped Lingard from getting full purchase on a point blank shot in the 78th minute, but no penalty call arrived after Pickford stooped to collect the tame effort.

Mkhitaryan provided the much-sought equalizer in the 84th minute with Williams giving the ball away to Lukaku, who cued up the ex-BVB man for a finish past Pickford.

That’s when Lukaku scored, continuing United’s penchant for piling on late goals. And Morgan Schneiderlin gave away a penalty to Anthony Martial that the Frenchman finished to make it 4-0.

WATCH: Valencia smashes volley to give Man Utd lead

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Jordan Pickford didn’t have much of a chance on Antonio Valencia‘s wonderful opener.

Manchester United took a 1-0 lead on visiting Everton on Sunday thanks to a fourth-minute marker from the Ecuadorian national team captain.

[ STREAM: Manchester United vs. Everton ]

A quick free kick was played short to Nemanja Matic, who hit a ball across the arc of the 18 for Valencia.

The 32-year-old then smashed a near side volley past a flying Pickford, the keeper’s dive making the goal look even better.

WATCH: Neymar dizzies Valencia, gets Suarez pick to score vs. Man Utd

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All three parts of the MSN trident helped Barcelona produce an International Champions Cup goal against Manchester United on Wednesday, though not in the most traditional of fashions.

Lionel Messi’s through ball was off target, and Neymar rushed onto it before spinning toward goal. Luis Suarez literally shoved Chris Smalling out of contention to stop the Brazilian, and Neymar did the rest with a finish past David De Gea.

[ REPORT: Barca confident of Coutinho deal ]

Say it with me, “It’s preseason for the officials, too, you guys.”

Neymar’s goal has given Barcelona a 1-0 lead over United, and the match is at halftime. Obviously, he hasn’t been sent to Paris Saint-Germain.

Valencia extends Man Utd deal to great Mourinho praise

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Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his Antonio Valencia appreciation, and the Manchester United manager has rewarded his fullback with a new deal.

Valencia is nine appearances away from 300 in a Manchester United kit, with 22 goals and 61 assists as a Red Devil.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

Valencia said United has “been my life” since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, while Mourinho heaped praise on the Ecuadorian captain’s character with glowing praise.

“It is no secret that I had been an admirer of Antonio’s long before I joined the club. I knew what a fantastic player he was and he has not disappointed me on that front. However, what I could never have imagined was what a great person he is. I know I have said this before but I truly believe it is a real privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man. I am delighted he has extended his contract.”

Only Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly recorded better tackle rates at Old Trafford last season, and Valencia was credited with a team-best 1.5 crosses per game.

An under-the-radar Premier League XI

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The Premier League’s international break invites reflection on both what we’ve seen so far and what’s to come.

For example, what if we left out the superstars?

For whatever reason, this one is recalling the state of mind of 2015-16, when we were digesting that Leicester City very much looked the part of Premier League champions.

[ MORE: Herrera on “intense” Zlatan ]

For a lot of us, that meant delving into statistics and seeing what matched the eye test. Many started Googling the name “N'Golo Kante“, the dynamic disruptor who’d move to Chelsea in August.

He’s a household name now, with some personalities even arguing that he should buck the trend of Ballon d’Or nominees including only major statistic producers (There was a time when names like Fabio Cannavaro and Matthias Sammer claimed the honor, you know).

For our purposes, we’ll use a pair of advanced stats sites and the good ol’ eye test. (Of the sites we’re using, Squawka seems to skew toward high attack scores, while WhoScored tilts a bit toward the back, so life is good if a player hits both sites’ Top 50).

Before getting into our team — we promise no 10-picture, click-to-reveal-next stuff — some stats that stood out.

— Three players have had outstanding “short” seasons for different reasons.

  • Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi took a short spell to adjust to the Premier League after arriving in January, but has been the Foxes’ most influential player in their recent turnaround).
  • Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake essentially was the Cherries’ first-half success before heading back to Chelsea where Antonio Conte won’t move him ahead of Marcos Alonso or Victor Moses (and that’s actually understandable as you’ll see below).
  • Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas just doesn’t feature a ton for Conte, but in limited time his per-90 stats on Squawka trail only Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.

— The following players have risen well above most of their teammates but fall short of the league Top 50 on either site: Ben Gibson (Boro), Michael Keane and Ben Mee (Burnley), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), Joe Allen (Stoke City), Jose Holebas and Troy Deeney (Watford), Gareth McAuley (West Brom).

— Watford, as a side, is seemingly the choose to a sort of MVP. On WhoScored, not a single player rises above 7, but there are a host in the very high sixes.

— In very different systems, John Stones (91.8) and Adam Forshaw (89.2) are thriving in pass percentage.

Oriol Romeu of Southampton and Victor Wanyama of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

— Southampton’s Oriel Romeu and Stoke’s Erik Pieters rank fourth and fifth respectively in tackles per game.

— In a team that has to intervene a ton, Hull City’s Curtis Davies the league with 3.8 interceptions per game.


Honorable mention

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)

Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Calum Chambers (Boro), Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Midfielders: Ake, Victor Wanyama (Spurs), Willian (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Harry Winks (Spurs), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Jack Wilshere (Bournemouth).

Forwards: Joshua King (Bournemouth), Fernando Llorente (Swansea City), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)


Goalkeeper

Ben Foster (West Brom) — With the highest performance score in the position on WhoScored, Foster has claimed all 95 balls he’s went up for and has a league-best 76 saves.

Defenders

Nicolas Otamendi (Man City, 7.49, 29.18) — One of few defenders to rate high in interceptions despite being on a team that doesn’t concede loads of chances or possession.

George Friend (Middlesbrough) — Just out of the upper echelon on the advanced stats site, he is in rarefield air in traditional stats interceptions and tackles.

Steve Cook (Bournemouth, 7.16, 22.76) — Jumps out of the advanced stats on a Cherries team which has faced plenty of attacking pressure.

Antonio Valencia (Manchester United, 7.28, 27.45) — There’s a reason Jose Mourinho rewarded him with an extension not long into the manager’s tenure at Old Trafford.

Midfielders

Ander Herrera (Manchester United, 7.44, 36.64) – Long-heralded at Athletic Bilbao, Herrera is finally showing what made him so sought. One odd stat that may be explained by his willingness to run to any situation: he’s very high in average times dribbled past.

Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, 7.34, 20.57) – The best player in Aston Villa’s awful 2015-16, he’s been arguably as effective as N’Golo Kante. Seriously.

Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) – Once the top player on a relegated QPR, Phillips is fifth in the Premier League in assists despite missing the last four matches with injury.

Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur, 7.41, 31.89) – Second in the PL in key passes, he doesn’t get the plaudits of English teammates Dele Alli and Harry Kane. The relationships are very symbiotic.

 

Forwards

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, 7.44) – On an under-achieving team, Zaha’s statistics are wild. He’s the most-fouled player in the league, and attempts/completes the most dribbles in the PL. He gives the ball away a lot, too, but that happens when you’re the focal point of everything your team does in the attacking third.

Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, 30.54) – The Nigerian turns 21 in May, and has four goals and seven assists across all competitions.