Three things we learned from Manchester United vs. Arsenal

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MANCHESTER — Dubbed as the battle for third-place before the game, it was a stalemate at Old Trafford on Sunday as Arsenal fought back to draw 1-1 with Manchester United.

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United are now two points behind Arsenal and the Gunners have two games remaining to United’s one. Neither team wants to finish in fourth-place and enter the lottery of a UEFA Champions League play-off to get into the group stage, so grabbing a point late on was vital for Arsenal as they aim to qualify automatically for next seasons UCL.

Here’s three things we learned from Manchester.

YOUNG REBORN

Ashley Young’s resurgence in recent months has been remarkable. Many thought Young’s United career was over last summer, as the winger bought for $28 million from Aston Villa in 2011 had Angel di Maria arriving in his left-wing spot. Young has won the spot from Di Maria and rightly so. Sure, his numbers aren’t phenomenal. He’s scored twice and assisted five times this season for United but other things are turning him into a fans favorite as one of their forgotten men has played a leading role in securing a UEFA Champions League return for the Red Devils. Initially deployed by Louis van Gaal as a left-wing back during preseason, Young suffered injuries and struggled to oust Di Maria in the opening  months of the season. But since February the England winger has been sublime with his work rate pleasing fans, and the quality of his deliveries causing the opposition so many issues. His late winner away at Newcastle on Mar. 4 seemed to give him confidence and he followed that up with a majestic display against Manchester City in April  where he scored and had two assists in a big derby win. Last week against Crystal Palace he ran the Eagles ragged and he was at it again on Sunday.

Against Arsenal, Young again came up big against the big teams, as he slide in and won crunching tackles much to the delight of the home crowd. His patient wing-play and delicate cross to the back post found Herrera for United’s goal, then soon after Young nutmegged Hector Bellerin on the run as Arsenal’s right back had a torrid afternoon trying to keep the United winger quiet. A rejuvenated Young is likely to feature in Roy Hodgson’s next England squad and given his recent form, he thoroughly deserves it.

ARSENAL’s SOFT CENTER RETURNS

Arsenal, once again, proved their silky, skillful core has a soft center. Francis Coquelin tried to chip away at United’s central midfield but had no joy as Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Young kept coming at him in the first half. Not until late on did Arsenal’s attacking midfielders cause such problems for United’s holding midfielder Daley Blind. Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey all had says to forget but Theo Walcott arrive to inject pace in Arsenal’s attack. Sanchez and Ramsey have been influential in securing another top four finish for the Gunners this season but if Arsene Wenger’s side have any aspirations to win the Premier League title next season, and they do, then another midfield general needs to arrive. The current squad is settled, see below, but it does need some sprucing up.

We’ve said it time and time again but the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin would be a great addition and either instead of or alongside Coquelin, that would give the Gunners’ core more steel and allow their flair players to flourish. Jack Wilshere’s return from injury can provide them with more bite, but the Gunners arguably need a new goalkeeper and another top central defender to make any inroads on Chelsea and Manchester City ahead of them. When it comes down to it, Arsenal seem to be two or three key players short of being genuine title contenders.

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United and Arsenal shared the spoils at Old Trafford.

FALCAO’S FAILINGS CLEAR

The same can be said for United, especially in the striker department. The early signing of Memphis Depay should boost van Gaal’s striking options next season but after giving Radamel Falcao his first start since Apr. 18 in the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea, it was clear that it’s just not happening for Falcao at United. The man on loan from Monaco until the end of the season may well have played his last game at Old Trafford. It wasn’t a lack of effort but perhaps Falcao was trying too hard. Early on he twisted and turned on the ball numerous times and tried to do too much which got the crowd on his back from the get-go. At every club there is always one player the fans turn on and use as a scapegoat. At United, that player is, and has been, Falcao.

In the 38th minute we briefly saw the hunger of Falcao as Juan Mata dinked a ball to the back post and the man they call “El Tigre” in his homeland charged at the ball with ferocious intent and flung himself forward to somehow get contact on it. It was a brief moment of controlled desire as he was substituted in the 61st minute and replaced by Robin van Persie amid rumors that the Dutch striker will leave United this summer and could be heading to Juventus. With Wayne Rooney out injured on Sunday, the state of United’s attacking options looked a little bleak. Van Gaal is likely to get upwards of $200 million to spend on new signings this summer. It’s a safe bet that a large chunk of that will be on bringing in a couple of new strikers. United need it.

Transfer rumor roundup: Mata to Newcastle; Wilson to Saints

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The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


Juan Mata is out of contract at Manchester United this summer, and it appears he could be staying in the Premier League.

The Spanish attacking midfielder has spent the last nine season in the Premier League at Chelsea and Man United, scoring 78 goals in 353 appearances in all competitions.

Mata, 31, has been linked with a free transfer for Newcastle United with the Sun saying that Rafael Benitez is keen to bring in the Spanish midfielder. He will have to use his powers of persuasion with owner Mike Ashley to try and get in the players they need this summer.

Benitez is still not assured of being at St James’ Park himself next season, as talks with Ashley over a new contract are ongoing, but it is clear that the Spanish coach needs to be backed in the transfer market if the Magpies are going to improve on their 13th and 10th place finishes in the last two seasons.

Mata played for Benitez at Chelsea and it is believed he has offers to return to La Liga.

With Matt Ritchie, Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez in attack, Newcastle could probably strengthen in other areas of their squad first. However, with Salomon Rondon only on loan from West Brom last season and no deal to sign him permanently currently in place, Benitez will know he needs extra attacking options and must do it on the cheap to appease Ashley.

Given that fact, Mata is a quality player who would demand high wages but no transfer fee is a clincher.


Harry Wilson is a man in demand after his superb loan spell at Derby County this season.

Wilson, 22, is wanted by Newcastle, Southampton and Brighton according to Sky Sports, while the likes of Wolves, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, as well as several Bundesliga clubs, have all been previously interesting in the Liverpool youngster. Jurgen Klopp has loaned Wilson out to Crewe, Hull and now Derby, and it is unlikely he will break through at Liverpool soon considering the attacking talent they possess.

A fee of $32 million has been suggested for Wilson, as the Welsh international has excelled under Frank Lampard at Derby and has been key in their run to the Championship playoff final against Aston Villa next Monday. His set piece delivery is sensational and Wilson has scored 18 goals and added four assists in all competitions for the Rams this season.

If Derby are promoted, maybe Wilson will remain at Pride Park, but the likes of Southampton, Wolves and Newcastle would seem like a very good spot for him to kick on and prove himself in the Premier League. Saints and Newcastle would offer him guaranteed playing time almost immediately and that has been key in his development this season at Derby.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been keen to stress Saints will only sign young players or those who are hungry and searching for a first big contract of their career, and Wilson would slot into their attack nicely alongside Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse in support of Danny Ings.

Sarri to discuss Chelsea future

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Maurizio Sarri isn’t sure if he will be in charge at Chelsea next season.

The Italian coach has confirmed that he will sit down and meet with Chelsea’s hierarchy after the UEFA Europa League final with Arsenal next Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, Sarri was asked about news reports linking him with a return to Italy to manager Juventus.

“It is very exciting to be here, but now it is time to think of the final,” Sarri said. “I have two years of my contract here. I have no contract with other clubs. I have to speak with my club after the final. I want to know if they are happy with me.”

Sarri added that he will discuss the situation in detail, but is extremely happy to remain at Stamford Bridge.

“I’m very happy to stay in the Premier League, with Chelsea, one of the most important clubs in the Premier League. I’m very, very happy but we have to discuss the situation. It’s normal. You have to discuss things with the club. It’s like this,” Sarri said.

Chelsea have hardly set the world alight this season, but finished third in the Premier League as they limped over the line at the end of the season. A top four finish was key for Sarri in his first season, so he achieved that, but the style of play was lambasted by many fans and neutrals, as the predictable, slow build-up play turned out to be easy to defend against. The reports around his future state that Chelsea are quite happy to let him leave this summer if another club wants to pay his $7 million release clause.

Sarri has reached the League Cup final and Europa League final in his debut season in England too, but his downbeat demeanor in press conferences has translated to a negative vibe with supporters.

Many want Frank Lampard — who has excelled in his first season as a manager at second-tier Derby — to replace Sarri this summer and given the impending transfer ban for Chelsea and Eden Hazard leaving, will he be able to improve the squad of players he currently has?

A big few weeks coming up for Sarri and Chelsea and their immediate futures.

Dortmund continue shopping spree, sign Julian Brandt

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That Christian Pulisic money is going far and wide for Borussia Dortmund.

Hot off the heels of signing Thorgan Hazard for $38 million on Wednesday and adding German defender Nico Schulz for $30 million, Dortmund have signed Julian Brandt for $30 million.

Not bad business after getting $73 million for Pulisic…

Brandt, 23, was linked with a move to the Premier League to Tottenham Hotspur and others in recent months but the Bayer Leverkusen winger will remain in the Bundesliga. His combination of speed out wide and cutting inside to finish off moves has seen him become a regular for the German national team.

After finishing second in the Bundesliga this season, Dortmund are wasting no time in stealing a march on Bayern Munich who fought back from a nine-point deficit to win the title on the final day of the season.

Bayern’s offseason plans have seen them add defender Lucas Hernandez for a club record $85 million, while his French national team teammate Benjamin Pavard, who can also play at center back and full back, will also arrive for $38 million.

That said, Dortmund’s early moves this offseason are impressive and may even install Lucien Favre’s men as the preseason favorites to win the German title.

Report: Inter Milan, Man United to discuss Lukaku, Perisic deals

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Multiple reports state that Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is set to talk to Inter Milan this week about a swap deal involving Ivan Perisic and cash for Romelu Lukaku.

According to the Daily Mirror, Woodward will meet Inter’s hierarchy in Milan to discuss a swap deal which involves Lukaku and Perisic this summer.

Perisic, 30, has been a long-term target for United and per the report is said to be worth around $45 million. United value Lukaku at $90 million, so Inter would have to let Perisic leave and put about $40 million down to sign Lukaku.

A good deal?

Lukaku, 26, has previously stated he admires Serie A and wants to move to the Italian top-flight, and if he stays at United he will likely play second fiddle to Marcus Rashford. So moving him on and getting in a top quality winger they’ve wanted to sign for some time makes sense.

Perisic doesn’t fit into the young and hungry category that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is after this summer, but his quality speaks for itself. The Croatian international had a superb 2018 World Cup and has been consistently good for Inter, scoring 40 goals in 161 appearances in all competitions since he arrived in 2015.

United need to rebuild their team and Lukaku, aside from his poor 2018-19 campaign, is one of their most valuable assets. If he has another bad season coming up, you can expect his value to half what it currently is.