Props to Everton, but Manchester United has some issues

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Before we start breaking down Manchester United, let’s give credit where it’s due. Everton were very good on Monday. Ever since (in the middle of last season) David Moyes shifted Marouane Fellaini into a supporting striker/attacking midfielder’s role, the Toffees have been one of the league’s better teams. That Monday’s performance fits firmly in that trend gives us reason to believe Everton will compete for a Europa League spot.

Other than Fellaini’s performance, the most encouraging sign for the Toffees may have actually been their bench. John Heitenga, Seamus Coleman, and Victor Anichebe provide valuable depth, whereas in previous seasons they were counted on to play bigger roles. Ross Barkley was being touted for a breakthrough last season. Now, Everton’s squad is strong enough to ensure his apprenticeship won’t be accelerated. Add in Steven Naismith, the former Rangers midfielder who made his debut on Monday, and the just-signed Kevin Mirallas and Moyes, used to entering seasons with a threadbare squads, has a relative embarrassment of riches.

Everton’s no longer in survival mode. They’re consolidating. Like Fulham (mentioned yesterday), they’ve probably been underestimated in the lead up to the season.

Still, Everton don’t have Manchester United’s talent. It’s not even close. After the offseason acquisitions of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie (along with Nemanja Vidic and Tom Cleverley’s returns to health), the Red Devils have as much quality and depth as anybody in the world. Against a team of Everton’s resources, they should be expected to win, and while it’s far from a shock when they don’t, losing in Liverpool still raises eyebrows. Why was Manchester United shown out of Goodison without a point?

The obvious answer is Michael Carrick. He was beaten by Fellaini on the game’s only goal, the Everton target man leaping over the makeshift central defender on a second half corner. Carrick could have done better (he didn’t even get off the ground), but if you go into a match matching Michael Carrick against a team’s biggest threat on set pieces, you’ve got a bigger problem than that one-on-one matchup. You’ve given the other team an easy way to win the match.

Why was Carrick marking Fellaini? Why wasn’t Nemanja Vidic given the assignment? It was a obvious moment on non-genius from Alex Ferguson.

Another obvious problem: Wayne Rooney had a terrible night. Apparently Manchester United’s star is saving his first touch for the second week, because it completely abandoned him on Monday. He didn’t create any meaningful chances, be they for himself or others, a problem magnified by Ferguson putting Rooney in the middle of attack while pushing Danny Welbeck wide left (and leaving Robin van Persie on the bench for an hour). If Wayne Rooney’s going to continue to be the focal point of this team (which he will), he’s not only going to have to be better than he was on Monday, he’s going to have to be more consistent than he was last year, when nights like Monday’s were too frequent. While he was still one of the league’s best players, his inconsistency was one reason United failed to retain their title.

Then there’s the midfield. Oh, United’s midfield, the immense, rusted chink in the Devils’ armor, the weakness that keeps them from being considered one of the world’s best teams.

It’s more than a mere torn in their side. The void is a missing rib, an absence a titan’s too embarrassed to concede exists. Yet every time he extends his arm, reaches for some enticement he used to snare with ease, United winces and recoils, reaching with reflex from his one good side, hoping to soothe the weakness his ambition continues to expose.

For United to have such an inexplicable void while the world’s game continues to shift to more midfield dominant tactics calls into question every proclamation of genius Alex Ferguson’s ever received. To try to buck the trend is one thing, but to continue bucking in the face of diminished results is stubbornness. How can a genius continue to ignore the obvious?

On Monday, one United midfielder was rendered irrelevant by the other. Despite superficially spectacular numbers, Tom Cleverley had one of his least influential games in red, the 23-year-old clearly not used to playing beside Paul Scholes. At the beginning of last season, when Cleverley broke into United’s senior team, Scholes was retired. When Scholes returned mid-season, Cleverley was injured.

The two have never meaningful played with each other, and their first chance to do so hinted they may be too similar, Cleverley left uncertain what to do as Scholes’ movements mirrored his intent (while Kagawa dropped back into the space he’s otherwise occupy). The attack constantly deferred to the veteran Scholes, with Cleverley’s creativity left to survive on crumbs. Without consistent contributions from both midfielders, United were never able to convert their large possession advantage into meaningful threats.

Not surprisingly, the numbers tell a different story. That’s what happens when one team’s allowed to dominate the ball to the extent United did on Monday (Everton were out-passed 276 to 646). Cleverley completed 85 passes at a 92 percent clip, but his distribution failed to generate a chance. Rooney had two of United’s four shots on goal but none after the 27th minute.

FA Cup fourth round live! Scores, how to watch live, predictions

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The FA Cup always delivers shocks and plenty of Premier League clubs have tricky tasks facing them in the fourth round.

After Aston Villa, Newcastle, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth were all knocked out by lower league opponents in round three, plus Everton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Brentford knocked out by fellow Premier League sides, there are only 10 top-flight teams left in the competition.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores, updates ]

Arsenal lost narrowly at Manchester City in heavyweight clash, while Brighton against Liverpool has the makings of a classic and Manchester United will be on upset alert against Reading and so too will West Ham as they face a tough trip to third-tier Derby County.

Read on for FA Cup stream info, fixtures, and predictions.


FA Cup live scores, schedule, dates, how to watch

Dates: Fourth round (January 27-30)
Times: Below
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: ESPN+


FA Cup fourth round schedule

All games 10am ET unless otherwise stated

Friday
Man City 1-0 Arsenal – Recap/video highlights

Saturday
Accrington Stanley 1-3 Leeds United
Walsall 0-1 Leicester City
Fulham vs Sunderland
Bristol City vs West Brom
Sheffield Wednesday vs Fleetwood Town
Blackburn Rovers vs Birmingham City
Luton Town vs Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town vs Burnley
Southampton vs Blackpool
Preston North End vs Tottenham Hotspur – 1pm ET
Manchester United vs Reading – 3pm ET

Sunday
Brighton vs Liverpool – 8:30am ET
Stoke City vs Stevenage – 9am ET
Wrexham vs Sheffield United – 11:30am ET

Monday
Derby County vs West Ham – 2:45pm ET


FA Cup fourth round predictions – By Joe Prince-Wright

Friday
Man City 2-1 Arsenal

Saturday
Accrington Stanley 1-3 Leeds United
Walsall 1-2 Leicester City
Fulham 1-2 Sunderland
Bristol City 1-2 West Brom
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Fleetwood Town
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Birmingham City
Luton Town 3-1 Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town 1-3 Burnley
Southampton 2-0 Blackpool
Preston North End 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United 2-1 Reading

Sunday
Brighton 2-2 Liverpool
Stoke City 2-1 Stevenage
Wrexham 1-2 Sheffield United

Monday
Derby County 1-1 West Ham


FA Cup third round replays

Tuesday 

Swansea City 1-2 (AET) Bristol City
Forest Green Rovers 1-2 Birmingham City (original tie postponed due to waterlogged pitch)
Wigan 1-2 Luton
Wolves 0-1 Liverpool
West Brom 4-0 Chesterfield

Wednesday

Leeds United 5-2 Cardiff City

Tuesday, January 24

Accrington Stanley vs Boreham Wood


FA Cup third round results

Friday

Manchester United 3-1 Everton

Saturday

Preston North End 3-1 Huddersfield Town
Reading 2-0 Watford
Tottenham 1-0 Portsmouth
Gillingham 0-1 Leicester City
Forest Green Rovers vs Birmingham City — PPD
Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton
Hull City 0-2 Fulham
Middlesbrough 1-5 Brighton
Fleetwood Town 2-1 QPR
Ipswich Town 4-1 Rotherham
Bournemouth 2-4 Burnley
Blackpool 4-1 Nottingham Forest
Chesterfield 3-3 West Brom
Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United
Boreham Wood 1-1 Accrington Stanley
Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Sunderland
Brentford 0-1 West Ham
Coventry City 3-4 Wrexham
Luton Town 1-1 Wigan
Grimsby Town 1-0 Burton Albion
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Newcastle
Liverpool 2-2 Wolves

Sunday

Bristol City 1-1 Swansea City
Derby County 3-0 Barnsley
Cardiff City 2-2 Leeds
Stockport 1-2 Walsall
Hartlepool 0-3 Stoke City
Norwich 0-1 Blackpool
Aston Villa 1-2 Stevenage
Man City 4-0 Chelsea

Monday

Oxford United 0-3 Arsenal


Weston McKennie set to join Leeds: Is this a good move for the USMNT star?

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USMNT star Weston McKennie is set to sign for Leeds United from Juventus.

“Leeds United States of America” continues to grow with McKennie to join fellow Americans Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson playing for Jesse Marsch and newly-appointed assistant Chris Armas.

Who will be next to turn up at Elland Road, Christian Pulisic?

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Per Fabrizio Romano, McKennie will sign for Leeds on loan for a $1.4 million fee and Leeds have the option to buy him for just under $36 million in the summer.

Juventus boss Max Allegri confirmed that Juventus and Leeds have completed the deal and that the USMNT midfielder will not be available to play for the Italian giants against Monza on Sunday.

“There’s an agreement ready between clubs to sell McKennie. He won’t be available tomorrow,” Allegri said.


Would a move to Leeds be a good fit for Weston McKennie?

Stylistically the Premier League is a great fit for Weston McKennie and Leeds are probably one of the best teams he could move to.

He loves to fly into tackles and drive forward from midfield and playing just in front of Tyler Adams and Marc Roca or to the right of them would be a perfect spot for him at Leeds.

It would give Leeds more control of games and the Yorkshire club also play to his strengths. it’s a really good fit.

McKennie has struggled to have a big impact at Juve this season as injuries have taken their toll on him over the last few years. That would perhaps be the one concern about his move to the Premier League, as McKennie seems to pick up quite a few knocks.

However, looking at his stats below from this season at Juventus, the chances he creates per game and the shots per game will improve and his accurate passing will help Leeds become less susceptible on the counter.

McKennie is a player who rattles into tackles, feeds off the energy of his fans and his mentality is perfect for the aggressive side Jesse Marsch has created at Leeds.

The Texas born midfielder has always wanted to play in the Premier League and he’s got his wish at a club where he will play week in, week out and one which suits his style of play perfectly.

Weston McKennie
Graphic via FotMob.com

USMNT vs Colombia live: How to watch, stream link, start time

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Anthony Hudson takes the reins for his second friendly in charge of the USMNT, two days after the U.S. Soccer Federation confirmed that he’ll be the interim coach through a hiring process that could take through the end of the summer.

Hudson’s first game was a 2-1 loss to Serbia on Wednesday, as Julian Gressel cued up a Brandon Vazquez goal but a mistake at the back and a brilliant free kick helped the Serbians to victory.

[ MORE: Follow FA Cup scores, updates ]

San Jose star Cade Cowell impressed with his electric pace and engine, while Chelsea goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina was put in some tricky spots over his time. Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long split time at center back, next to LA Galaxy youngster Jalen neal.

Colombia’s first game of 2023 is just its fifth since the conclusion of World Cup qualifying in 2022.

Los Cafeteros, like the USMNT, will not have a ton of usual suspects, but Frank Fabra will be joined by Cucho Hernandez, now with Columbus Crew, as well as five other MLS players.


How to watch USMNT vs Colombia live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30pm ET, Saturday (January 28)
Stadium: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, Calif.
TV channels in English: TNT
TV channels en Español: Universo
Streaming en Español: Peacock


USMNT vs Colombia Preview

The Yanks fell 2-1 to Serbia in a match about as scattered as you’d expect for a largely out-of-season, MLS-based side and a Serbia team with droves of uncapped players.

Saturday’s opponents will be of similar ilk, as no player besides veteran Frank Fabra of Boca Juniors boasts more than three caps.

[ MORE: Grades for USMNT players at 2022 World Cup ]

With recent USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter currently under investigation by the U.S. Soccer Federation after he admitted kicking his now wife in 1991 when they were in college together, assistant coach Anthony Hudson will lead the USMNT. Hudson has been leading practice during the January camp and will take charge until the USMNT tabs a new coach by the end of summer.

Five players who went to the 2022 World Cup with the USMNT are on this roster (Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Kellyn Acosta, Sean Johnson and Jesus Ferreira).


USMNT quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 11
Coach: Anthony Hudson (temporary)

Colombia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 17
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
Coach: Nestor Lorenzo


USMNT vs Serbia video highlights, Brandon Vazquez goal video

Manchester United vs Reading: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester United looks to stay in the mix for a pair of domestic cups when it hosts old pal Paul Ince and Reading in the fourth round of the 2022 FA Cup on Saturday.

United scored a solid win at midweek to move within 90 minutes of the League Cup Final and of course also harbors hopes of winning the Europa League and, perhaps less so, the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

Reading sits 14th in the Championship, five points off the playoff places and fairly clear of the relegation mess.


Manchester United vs Reading, FA Cup fourth round: How to watch live, stream link

Kick off: 3pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: ESPN+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch 

Tom Ince, Paul’s son, is leading the club both in goals and assists, and sits among the leaders in pretty much everything else from tackles to completed dribbles.  Yakou Meite has also been a busy piece of what Reading has done well.

United’s stars are well-known, as Marcus Rashford continues to thrive at forward. Wout Weghorst picked up his first Man Utd goal at midweek and could be in line for more playing time while Anthony Martial recovers from injury.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

Manchester United won’t have Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Donny van de Beek, and Jadon Sancho, while Luke Shaw is a question mark with an illness.

Reading team news, injuries, lineup options

Paul Ince’s bid to upset United will not include Naby Sarr, Sam Hutchinson, and old foe Andy Carroll.