Premier League Playback: Fellaini leads Manchester United’s charge

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UNITED’S RESURGENCE LED BY FELLAINI

Manchester United are the kings of Manchester this season. The Red Devils won their six-straight Premier League match on Sunday in impressive fashion and secured their first victory in five Manchester derbies against Manchester City.

After an early wobble, Louis van Gaal’s side were worthy of their 4-2 victory as Marouane Fellaini played a leading role in helping United increase their lead to four points over their “noisy neighbors” and seemingly hammered another nail in Manuel Pellegrini’s coffin with his tenure as City boss becoming more delicate by the day.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned from Old Trafford ]

Fellaini rose above Gael Clichy at the back post in the 27th minute to send a towering header into the net and put United 2-1 up, after Sergio Aguero gave City an early lead, but it wasn’t just his goal that should be admired. The Belgian was everywhere and his energy and industry playing in behind Wayne Rooney and then drifting out to the left flank caused Yaya Toure and City’s lackluster midfield all kinds of problems, which was evident for Juan Mata’s third goal as Toure failed to track Fellaini and left a huge hole which United exploited expertly.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Premier League Schedule – Week 32

Result Recap & Highlights
Burnley 0-1 Arsenal Recap and watch here
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Man United 4-2 Man City Recap and watch here
QPR 0-1 Chelsea Recap and watch here
Saints 2-0 Hull City Recap and watch here
Sunderland 1-4 Palace Recap and watch here
Swansea 1-1 Everton Recap and watch here
Tottenham 0-1 Villa Recap and watch here
West Brom 2-3 Leicester Recap and watch here
West Ham 1-1 Stoke Recap and watch here

Last season Fellaini didn’t replicate the form which persuaded United to pay $43 million for the former Everton midfielder but now he’s flourishing and United’s boss is pleased enough to be keeping the likes of Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao on the bench behind Fellaini.

“The fans also see that he is very important for the team, he scored goals and gave pressure when we needed it. He plays the ball to the same color, which is also very important. I am very happy for him,” Van Gaal said. “Fellaini, in my opinion, he was a lot of times injured but he is from day one he is the player who is always doing what I ask. Okay, you can say not always very good but never bad. That is also very important for a manager, that a player will always give a certain level of performance.”

[ RELATED: Latest PL standings ]

United’s level of performance was sublime as they suffocated City’s backline and midfield with relentless pressure by deploying a 4-1-4-1 formation with Michael Carrick orchestrating the midfield and allowing Fellaini, Ashley Young, Mata and Ander Herrera to push forward. Mata, Young and Fellaini all scored, as the balance is right and confidence is sky-high at Old Trafford. On Sunday, the atmosphere was electric as United’s fans tasted success in the derby for the first time in five and kicked City, who have now lost four of their last six matches, while they were down.

Asked about the key to United’s success which has seen them rise to third in the PL ahead of a trip to champions-elect Chelsea on Saturday, Van Gaal had the following to say.

“What is the key?” Van Gaal said. “That’s the process and I have told you every press conference there’s a process and I have said, if you can remember, that when the players do understand what they are doing on the pitch with confidence, then you can continue much easier than before. I have said that, it is a process. I have explained it a lot of times and now I think maybe a lot of players do understand what we are doing and what we are willing to perform.”

The penny has dropped for United and they are building momentum for a title charge next season. Plus, as Van Gaal made a point of mentioning in his post-game press conference, United’s fans now have bragging rights in their hometown until next season with a 4-3 aggregate win over the two games this season. It seems Manchester has taken to Van Gaal and vice versa.

COQUELIN CRUCIAL FOR BALANCED GUNNERS

On Saturday at Turf Moor Francis Coquelin was praised by manager Arsene Wenger following their 1-0 win against Burnley. After the game I asked the Arsenal boss about the balance the French midfielder provides.

“First of all he has shown his individual qualities in winning the ball and passing it quickly and he is very strong in the challenge. But as you said, he contributes to the balance of the team,” Wenger said. “That’s very difficult to measure. The balance of a team sometimes depends on one player with some characteristics that the others haven’t got. It looks like he has hugely contributed to that.”

High praise from Wenger, indeed. Since bursting onto the scene against Manchester City in an away-day masterclass back in January, Coquelin has displayed a wonderful knack for timing tackles to perfection and then holding back to protect the Gunners’ back four. His restraint and discipline is remarkable, and the 23-year-old midfielder is allowing Arsenal’s talented attackers to flourish. Away at Burnley on Saturday the Gunners were pushed to their physical limits by a bruising Sean Dyche side who could have nicked a point but it was Coquelin’s type of game as he chipped away at Burnley’s midfield and disrupted the Clarets’ tempo.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Gunners have now won eight in a row and with six matches left Wenger played down their title chances, but they are building momentum and the pieces are being put in place for next season already. Before their 1-0 win at Turf Moor on Saturday, ProSoccerTalk caught up with Arsenal’s Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis who said he’s “not happy” with their campaign but is getting pretty excited for next season.

“We are not happy but we are going to keep pushing to the end and see how far we can go,” Gazidis said. “We are happy with the way the squad has developed and we are very focused how we can make a positive end to the season. After that it will be a question of how can we progress the team further so that we can have an even better season next year. We have a squad that’s clearly coming together. It’s a relatively young squad so it will continue to improve.

LEICESTER ROLLING, LEGEND OF “PARDIOLA”

The Foxes are on the charge. Leicester won for the second-straight game to breath new life into their battle against relegation. Nigel Pearson’s side now sit on 25 points and are just three points off safety with a game in hand. Yes, that game is against Chelsea but if they can nick a point against the Blues, their other games are suddenly seeming rather winnable compared to a few weeks ago. With Hull City falling fast, Burnley struggling to score and QPR continuing to huff and puff but falter, the Foxes have a real chance.

Then there is Sunderland. After beating Newcastle 1-0 last week, Dick Advocaat’s side were hammered 4-1 at home by Crystal Palace. The new Sunderland boss still has plenty of work to do to keep the Black Cats up, while his rival in the Palace dugout on Saturday is grinning like a Cheshire cat. Alan Pardew has won 25 points since he took charge in January as the Eagles sit in 11th place on 42 points after being in a relegation scrap when he arrived. Pardew has set Palace up perfectly for the players they possess as Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie rip teams apart on the break with their searing pace. Bolasie scored an 11-minute hat trick at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and his hunger to chase lost causes was greater than the urge Sunderland’s players had to defend. Bright days are ahead for Palace and “Pardiola.”

SHERWOOD HAS THE LAST LAUGH

Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa provided the most shocking result of the weekend as they beat Tottenham 1-0 away from home. Sherwood was fired by Spurs somewhat acrimoniously at the end of last season after taking over midway through the 2013-14 campaign, and on his first return to White Hart Lane Christian Benteke gave his Villa side a crucial three points in their battle against relegation.

Speaking afterwards, Sherwood was delighted to grab just a third PL win as Villa boss on his return to Spurs.

“It is a sweet victory. You always want to do well when you come back to your old club,” Sherwood said. “Tottenham Hotspur has been excellent and a fantastic club for me. I’ve had a lot of well wishes from people inside this football club. There was a lot of people rooting for me today and rooting for Aston Villa and I appreciate that.”

Often mocked for his smugness and many calling his tactics one-dimensional, Sherwood comes in for plenty of criticism. Whether or not that’s justified remains to be seen but what you can’t accuse him of is failing to galvanize a Villa side which resembled a sitting duck and looked in serious danger of being relegated in February when Paul Lambert was fired. Now, Villa sit six points above the drop zone and Sherwood will be smiling after getting one over the people at Spurs who deemed his managerial ability not good enough to lead Tottenham.

USMNT UPDATE: YEDLIN DEBUTS

Four U.S. national team players were in action across the PL this weekend. Tim Howard made a string of fine saves to help Everton pick up a point on the road at Swansea City on Saturday, while Geoff Cameron played the full 90 minutes at right back for Stoke City in their 1-1 draw away at West Ham United. Brad Guzan helped Villa to their massive 1-0 win at Tottenham as the Illinois native recorded a superb shutout. His heroics came against a fellow USMNT man, as DeAndre Yedlin made his debut for Spurs.

The former Seattle Sounders right back came on with 11 minutes to go at White Hart Lane and the 21-year-old reflected on making his bow in the PL before he heads to San Antonio to play for the U.S. against Mexico on Wednesday.

“It’s unbelievable to make my debut here, something I’ve looked forward to for a while now but the circumstances weren’t the best and it was a disappointing loss,” DeAndre said. “The only thing going through my head now is the loss. The debut was great but the loss overshadows everything. It’s disappointing but we have to keep our heads up. We’ll look to come back and get those points back.”

Premier League Playback comes out every Monday as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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Premier League injury news, 2022-23 season

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Premier League injury news: It’s time to take a look at which players might be unavailable for matchweek 8 of the 2022-23 Premier League season, due to injury.

[ MORE: How to watch the Premier League on NBC ]

Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.


Arsenal injuries

OUT: Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf),, Kieran Tierney (head), Cedric Soares (knock), Reiss Nelson (thigh)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Matty Cash (hamstring), Cameron Archer (adductor)

Bournemouth injuries

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford injuries

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles), Keane Lewis-Potter (knock) | QUESTIONABLE: Ethan Pinnock (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Enock Mwepu (illness) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Lallana (calf)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (knee), Marc Cucurella (illness), Carney Chukwuemeka  (illness)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT:  Jack Butland (hand), Nathan Ferguson (foot), James McArthur (groin) | QUESTIONABLE: James Tomkins (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Ben Godfrey (broken leg), Yerry Mina (ankle), Nathan Patterson (ankle), Mason Holgate (knee), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Harry Wilson (knee), Joao Pahlinha (suspension), Manor Solomon (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Rodrigo (shoulder), Stuart Dallas (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Forshaw (ankle)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Patson Daka (illness)

Liverpool injuries

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Curtis Jones (calf), Calvin Ramsay (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Newcastle United injuries

OUT: Aleksander Isak (leg), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Matt Ritchie (calf), Emil Krafth (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Chris Wood (ribs)

Nottingham Forest injuries

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Orel Mangala (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Emmanuel Dennis (knock), Morgan Gibbs-White (knock), Scott McKenna (knee)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (quad), Dejan Kulusevski (undisclosed), Ben Davies (knee), Lucas Moura (achilles)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee)

Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved from South to North London?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved across London?

Based in Woolwich in south east London, the club was originally founded in 1886 as a group of workers from the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to set up a club.

They were originally called Dial Square because of a sun dial atop the entrance to the factory. Seriously.

As for the factory itself, it served the British Army with ammunition and explosives research and 80,000 people worked there during the First World War.


Red jerseys and stadium struggles

Dial Square then became Royal Arsenal and players from Nottingham Forest joined the club, hence the now famous Garibaldi red jerseys which Forest, established 20 years before Arsenal, gave them.

After moving around several stadiums in Plumstead, which was based on the outskirts of London at the time, Arsenal then became Woolwich Arsenal and it stayed that way until 1913.

Struggling financially due to Plumstead being in an isolated area and not easy for people to travel to compared to other London clubs, Woolwich Arsenal were looking for other locations to move to from their Manor Ground home.

Arsenal vs Liverpool at the Manor Ground in Plumstead


Bombing accelerates move

During the suffragettes battle for equality for women in the UK, targeted bombings were carried out at high profile venues.

One such bombing occurred at Arsenal’s home stadium, destroying the grandstand at the Manor Ground in 1913 which would reportedly cost over $1,220 to repair.

With a significant bill to pay to repair the stadium and the club once again teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the largest shareholder of the consortium who bought the club in 1910, Sir Henry Norris, decided to move the club to Highbury in north London in 1913 after a failed attempt to merge Fulham and Arsenal, the two clubs he was chairman of.

Arsenal moved to Highbury Stadium


Controversial 12-mile move from South to North London approved in 1913

Amid uproar from fans in Woolwich and north London, it still happened and famed stadium architect Archibald Leitch built their home ground at Highbury.

That is when the Arsenal we know today was truly born.

They soon became known as ‘The Arsenal’ in 1914 and then dropped ‘the’ to become known simply as Arsenal in 1919 as football resumed in England following the First World War.


Feud with Tottenham begins

In-between then a feud had already bubbled up with Tottenham. Of course it had.

Arsenal were promoted to the first division at the expense of Tottenham amid huge controversy and after a league vote, Arsenal took Spurs’ place in the first division.

Hence a bitter rivalry was born and Tottenham’s fans like to remind Arsenal to, shall we say, ‘head back to Woolwich, please, because north London is ours.’ The real version is obviously less polite.


The Gunners have never looked back

Financial success, being close to a London Underground station and improved facilities were the main reasons Arsenal moved 12 miles across London to north London in 1913 and it is where they have remained ever since.

London’s most successful team (in terms of the number of major titles and top-flight titles), the decision to move Arsenal across England’s capital city is still bearing fruit over 100 years later.

They’ve come a long way from a team set up in a factory which made explosives for the British Military.

Fantasy Premier League Week 9: Who to captain, top transfer targets

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The return of the Premier League from international break brings, as usual, injuries, intrigue, and a load of, “Who’s good at dealing with travel?” to our Fantasy Premier League discussion.

Rather than delve deep into stats that analyze the last part of that, let’s take a look at the first several weeks of the Premier League season and ask: Who’s piling up the points?

[ MORE: Premier League odds, predictions ]

And let’s also look deeper than the obvious answers; Erling Haaland and Gabriel Jesus have been the genuine article for Manchester City and Arsenal, respectively, but who else is consistently dropping decent numbers?

We’ll also ignore some penalty takers, as surely Alexis Mac Allister won’t spend his season heading to the spot with the same regularity he has for Brighton early in it.

Here’s the “All-Fantasy Premier League XI” heading into Week 9, but before that, how about a couple of captain and transfer options?

This week is highlighted by some Bees, who seem to have people forgetting both how unlucky they’ve been and how fortunate their hosts have been in recent weeks…

Add and/or captain Week 9: Ivan Toney, Brentford at Bournemouth, 7.3M

Add, Week 9: David Raya, Brentford at Bournemouth, 4.5M

Add, Week 9: Kyle Walker-Peters, Southampton vs Everton, 4.5M

Add, Week 9: Lucas Paqueta, West Ham vs Wolves, 6.0M

Captain, Week 9: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool vs Brighton, 12.9M

Captain, Week 9: James Maddison, Leicester vs Nottingham Forest, 7.9M

Goalkeeper

Nick Pope, Newcastle (5.2 million, 38 points): After not facing a single shot in Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Opening Day, the Burnley transfer has made 30 saves over six more matches. He’s twice claimed bonus points

Defenders

William Saliba, Arsenal (4.9 million, 44 points): Almost as many goals (2) as clean sheets (3) for the CB.

Joao Cancelo, Manchester City (7.2 million, 42 points): A goal, an assist, and three times earning bonus points for his managers.

Kieran Trippier, Newcastle United (5.4 million, 35 points): Same as Cancelo, but with Newcastle.

Midfielders

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City (12.3 million, 45 points): Two matches with multiple goal contributions, the same number as the mere two times he’s been held without one (and one of those was a 21-minute appearance).

Pascal Gross, Brighton (6.0 million, 42 points): Can he keep it up? Seems unlikely, but the midfielder was essentially playing forward for Graham Potter. Will it stay the same under Roberto De Zerbi?

Marcus Rashford, Manchester United (6.6 million, 40 points): Still trading under 7.0 million and listed as a midfielder. Please and thank you.

Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal (6.6 million, 39 points): The quiet gem of Arsenal, he’s showing us why Mikel Arteta kept trotting him out last season.

Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton (5.6 million, 39 points): Pens won’t last forever.

Bernardo Silva, Manchester City (7.0 million, 39 points): And to think he could’ve left for Barcelona…

Forwards

Erling Haaland, Manchester City (12.0 million, 73 points): An actual monster.

Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur (11.4 million, 50 points): Derby day looms.

Ivan Toney, Brentford (7.3 million, 47 points): How long can Brentford hold onto him? A complete center forward.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.9 million, 41 points): Can he keep this up in the Premier League as the focal point for Fulham with a stint as Serbia’s focal point in the middle.

Gabriel Jesus (8.0 million, 39 points): His heroics have been well-covered.