Stoke City 2-0 Manchester United: Van Gaal on the brink

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  • United without a win in 7 games
  • Stoke now 3 points behind United
  • 3-straight PL defeats for United

Stoke City beat Manchester United 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday as Louis Van Gaal‘s Boxing Day was a miserable one.

First half goals from Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic did the damage as Stoke have now beaten Chelsea, Manchester City and now United at home this season.

Mark Hughes‘ side move on to 26 points with the win, while United remain on 29 points and are in a monumental rut having now lost four games in a row in all competitions for the first time in a season since 1961.

Van Gaal is in real danger of losing his job with United’s directors reportedly telling him to win at least two of their three festive fixtures to survive being sacked. Well, United and LVG have lost the opening two.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Stoke looked composed and dangerous on the break early on with Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri making plenty of runs in-behind United’s defense at a blustery Britannia Stadium. The away side had a few chances but it was Stoke who raced into an early 2-0 lead to pile the pressure on Van Gaal.

First a lovely dinked ball from U.S. international Geoff Cameron found Glen Johnson in-behind Memphis and as the United attacker tried to head back to David De Gea he got it all wrong to let in Johnson who squared the ball to Bojan to make it 1-0.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Inside 25 minutes it was 2-0 as a foul on the edge of the box saw Bojan line up a free kick. His effort smashed into the wall but the rebound fell to Arnautovic 25-yards out and the Austrian sent a missile into the net as the Britannia went wild. 2-0 to Stoke as Van Gaal and his coaching staff sunk into their seats.

A free kick from Memphis was parried out to the crowd of players in the box and Fellaini’s follow-up went straight at Jack Butland with the goal gaping. Arnautovic was clean though in the 35th minute after a great ball from Bojan but he smashed his effort just wide as Stoke threatened to run away with things in the first half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Wayne Rooney came on at half time to try and rescue the situation and United improved with Ashley Young whipping in a great cross that just missed everyone.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Butland drilled a long punt forward which set Arnautovic free but the Austrian fell over the ball when bearing down one-on-one with United’s last man and they were almost made to pay for that miss.

After that Rooney turned inside the box and sent a superb cut-back to Fellaini six-yards out but Butland made a terrific reaction stop from the Belgian’s effort and Stoke remained 2-0 up and threatened on the counter in the closing stages.

Butland agains saved well from Anthony Martial and Juan Mata late on but Stoke easily held on for yet another impressive home victory to hammer another nail in LVG’s managerial coffin.

League Cup: How to watch, start times, as Premier League powers enter

League Cup how to watch
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Fifteen Premier League teams eye dates in the fourth round when the League Cup returns for another September midweek.

The congested nature of the season will see some PL sides play three matches in as many weeks, though the European qualifying teams are just entering the fray this week.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

That includes Europa League sides Arsenal and Leicester City, who will stage the lone all-PL scrap of the round come Wednesday at the King Power Stadium.

Tuesday was going to see Tottenham Hotspur visit a club sponsored by Spurs striker Harry Kane, but Leyton Orient is in the news after positive COVID-19 tests have threatened to forfeit Spurs into the next round.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Manchester United will hope to snap out of its season-opening funk when it begins its tourney Tuesday at Luton Town, while Chelsea hosts Barnsley on Wednesday.

Liverpool is off to Lincoln City on Thursday, kicking off its League Cup at the same time Manchester City welcomes Bournemouth.

Because of the aforementioned congested September in the tournament, the fourth round draw has already been held and those fixtures are at bottom of the page.


League Cup third round draw

All times ET

Tuesday
Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur — 1 pm ET
West Brom v Brentford — 2 pm ET
Newport County v Watford — 2pm ET
West Ham United v Hull City — 2:30 pm ET
Luton Town v Manchester United — 3:15 pm ET

Wednesday
Preston North End v Brighton — 2 pm
Millwall v Burnley — 2 pm
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday — 2 pm
Stoke City v Gillingham — 2 pm
Chelsea v Barnsley — 2:45 pm
Leicester City v Arsenal — 2:45 pm
Fleetwood Town v Everton — 2:45 pm
Morecambe v Newcastle United — 2:45 pm

Thursday
Bristol City v Aston Villa — 2 pm
Lincoln City v Liverpool — 2:45 pm
Manchester City v Bournemouth — 2:45 pm


League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
West Brom/Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham United/Hull City
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
Newport County/Watford v Morecambe/Newcastle United
Preston North End/Brighton v Luton Town/Manchester United


How to watch League Cup third round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Aston Villa edge past 10-man Sheffield United

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Aston Villa – Sheffield United: The Blades battled hard after going down to 10 men just 12 minutes in, but Villa secured the win thanks to a header from Ezri Konsa.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Dean Smith’s side huffed and puffed but Sheffield United will be ruing their luck as John Lundstram saw his penalty kick saved by Villa’s debutant goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez in the first half.

The Blades have now lost their opening two games of the season without scoring, while Villa have one win from one game.


3 things we learned: Aston Villa – Sheffield United

1. Debutants impress for Villa: Martinez saved a penalty kick on his debut. Matty Cash was solid at right back and whipped in some lovely crosses. Ollie Watkins forced the red card which swung the game in Villa’s favor and came close to a debut goal. Before this game Dean Smith said he was focused on bringing in quality over quantity. It looks like he’s done that. With Bertrand Traore watching on from the stands, he gives them another attacking option too and with Grealish signed up to a new deal, perhaps Villa could steer themselves well clear of relegation trouble this season.

2. Blades blunt: Sheffield United played really well. They battled hard after going down to 10 men and kept playing the same way, with center backs popping up in attack and every single player ran themselves into the ground. Chris Wilder can’t complain with this display. That said, the Blades have now lost six games in a row in all competitions if you stretch that run back to last season and they seem to have just lost that cutting edge which propelled them towards the top six for most of last season. After two defeats from two to start this PL season, it doesn’t get any easier for the Blades. They have Leeds, Arsenal, Fulham, Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea in their next six games. Sheffield United have made a habit of proving people wrong since they returned to the top-flight but regaining momentum will be tough.

3. Solid defense the way forward for Villa: Mings and Konsa combined for the goal but it was their work at the other end of the pitch which has impressed more. At the end of last season Villa looked much better at the back and that is what saved them from relegation. Konsa and Mings at center back and Cash and Targett at full back is solid and with Martinez behind them, they now have a reliable goalkeeper to back them up. Defense is key for Villa, because with Grealish, Watkins, Trezeguet and McGinn going forward, they have always looked like they can create and score goals.

Man of the Match: John McGinn – Worked so hard in midfield and did all he could to help Villa get on the front foot.


Aston Villa put Sheffield United under pressure early on as the hosts whipped in plenty of crosses from wide areas. Grealish was a threat as Villa’s new boys settled into their Premier League debuts pretty well and they received a massive boost as John Egan was sent off just 12 minutes in.

The Sheffield United skipper pulled back Ollie Watkins after one long ball over the top and was adjudged to have denied a goalscoring opportunity, as VAR checked the decision but Egan was off and the Blades had to play close to 80 minutes down a man.

Despite having the man advantage Villa struggled to carve out any clear-cut chances in the first half and Sheffield United instead came the closest to opening the scoring.

Ollie Burke did brilliantly to run at goal and pass for Chris Basham, who was taken down by Matt Targett and a penalty was given. However, debutant Emiliano Martinez saved John Lundstram’s penalty kick superbly to keep the score level.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Watkins was off target with a header as Villa dominated possession but the Blades remained resolute and a threat on the counter.

Just as Villa looked to be running out of ideas, they took the lead. Tyrone Mings flicked the ball on and Konsa finished with a header as he popped up with yet another important goal.

Watkins curled just over late on, and Grealish had a shot deflected over, as Villa pushed to seal the win but they didn’t need a second as they started off the campaign with three points on the board.

Wolves – Man City: How to watch, team news, prediction, odds

Wolves - Man City
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Wolves – Man City: Pep Guardiola and Manchester City hope to find their feet quickly as they kickstart their Premier League campaign with a visit to Wolves at the Molineux Stadium (Watch live at 3:15 pm ET Monday, online via Peacock).

Wolves are coming for a third-straight win in all competitions after beating Sheffield United last weekend in their Premier League opener before beating Stoke City at midweek in the League Cup.

WOLVES – MAN CITY STREAM LIVE

City is ready for its first competitive match since losing 3-1 to Lyon in the UCL quarterfinal.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Wolves – Man City this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Wolves – Man City (INJURY REPORT)

For Wolves, Jonny Otto remains out with a knee injury. The club signed Ki-Jana Hoever from Liverpool after selling Diogo Jota to the Anfield set this week. New signing Marcal starts on the left, with Adama Traore as a right wing-back.

Sergio Aguero is out for a while still, as Guardiola revealed that the Argentine is not back training yet after a summer knee injury cost him the final stage of the Champions League.

Ilkay Gundogan is missing after testing positive for COVID-19. Aymeric Laporte is not yet ready after a positive COVID-19 test, but Riyad Mahrez is back and on the bench. Bernardo Silva and Oleksandar Zinchenko are out with small injuries.


What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo on Diogo Jota being sold to Liverpool: “Jota is a player who has been with us for three seasons with such high performances.We’re not a stepping stone. Players that join us really want to play and progress with us, not looking for the next move. That is definitely not our idea, definitely not.”

Guardiola is ready for the new season: “The feeling is good as always. I see the team as always in an incredible mood. It’s a joy to work with them. We have good expectations to play good football and get the results this club deserves.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Even playing a first competitive match in ages against a Wolves team which has played twice in the last week, Man City pulls -200 odds to win. Wolves are +525 to win and +340 to draw.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Wolves – Man City prediction

This should be a treat but perhaps absence is making us see more cracks in City’s foundation than exist in reality. City won its last five PL matches of last season by a combined 21-1 score line. Wolves are very good and have done well versus City but we’ll project 2-1 for the visitors.


How to watch Wolves – Man City stream and start time

Kickoff: 3:15 pm ET Monday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Arsenal sign goalkeeper Runarsson

Runarsson to Arsenal
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Runarsson to Arsenal is complete.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Icelandic international goalkeeper Alex Runarsson has finally sealed his move to the Gunners, as the 25-year-old has joined Arsenal from Ligue 1 side Dijon.

Let’s hope he cuts the mustard for the north London club… (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.

Runarsson arrives to provide competition for Bernd Leno following the departure of Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa.

Speaking about his arrival at the Emirates Stadium, Runarsson wants to push for as many minutes as possible as Arsenal will be in Premier League, League Cup, Europa League and FA Cup action this season.

“I’m just extremely happy, extremely proud, it is a big day for me and my family. I can’t wait to get started!” Runarsson said. “It is one of the biggest clubs in the world – they’ve won the Premier League 13 times, the FA Cup 14 times, it is a huge club and obviously playing in the Premier League as well, it is a win-win situation. I know it is going to be a lot of hard work, but I am ready to do everything I can to get the most amount of minutes as possible.”

“I would say I’m a modern goalkeeper. It is one of my best attributes that I’m comfortable with my feet, I can play with my right and left foot, I am not afraid to play as a sweeper and I am good one against one. For goalkeepers, because we play a position where if we make a mistake, most of the time it will lead to [a goal] so you need to have a strong mindset. You need to have a mindset where you demand the best so you don’t make those mistakes too often. That’s why you need to work hard, you need to train hard to be able to perform in the matches.”

Being good with your feet is clearly something Arteta wants from his goalkeepers and it is something that Leno can improve on.

Runarsson worked with Arsenal’s current goalkeeping coach, Inaki Cana, when they were both in Denmark at FC Nordsjaelland, so he should settle in very well in England. Arteta is eager for Runarsson to push Leno all the way for the starting spot.

“We want to create healthy competition for places and we look forward to seeing Alex bring further depth to the goalkeeping position,” Arteta said.

This is the perfect back-up goalkeeper situation.

Martinez leaving seemed harsh but after proving himself during ‘Project Restart’ after replacing the injured Leno, then being key in Arsenal winning the FA Cup after so many years on the periphery, it was clear that Martinez would play second fiddle behind Leno this season.

Runarsson will now be the back-up to Leno and the German goalkeeper has been very consistent since arriving at Arsenal in the summer of 2018. That said, many Arsenal fans weren’t sure about him coming straight back in for Martinez and if Runarsson performs well in some of the cup competitions, who knows? Playing out from the back is key to Arteta’s philosophy and Runarsson slots in nicely in that regard.