AP Photo/Scott Heppell

Premier League preview: Manchester United vs. Stoke City

Leave a comment
  • Man Utd (5th) five points off 4th
  • Stoke (9th) four points off 5th
  • On Boxing Day: Stoke 2-0 MUFC

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

As tight as the top of the Premier League table is these days (five points separate four sides), the margins are even narrower a quarter of the way down the ledger, as clubs five through nine are separated by just four points. Tuesday’s clash between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET, on Live Extra) could go a long way to clearing up the top-five race, or make matters a whole lot messier.

Last time out at Old Trafford, Man United suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Southampton and were subsequently booed off the field at full time. That result, predictably, sent the rumor mill into overdrive with regards to Louis Van Gaal‘s employment. Fast forward 10 days, and the Dutchman is still in charge, though another home defeat could finally spell his end of days. A real positive for United: In his last six games across all competitions, Wayne Rooney has scored six goals, thus giving the previously putrid United attack some measure of potency.

[ MORE: Transfer grades — How did each PL club fare in January? ]

Stoke, meanwhile, have lost three straight across all competitions (one in the PL), even though the results haven’t always matched the performances (more on that from manager Mark Hughes in a moment). Having failed to find the back of the net in 372 minutes (all competitions), the Potters will not relish the challenge of facing a United defense which has conceded just five goals at home all season (fewest in the PL).

On the injury front, United’s back half is currently decimated by injuries, as Phil Jones (ankle), Marcos Rojo (shoulder), Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Ashley Young (groin), Antonio Valencia (foot) and Luke Shaw (leg) are all expected to be unavailable. Meanwhile, the Potters will be without Geoff Cameron (ankle), Ryan Shawcross (back) and Charlie Adam (calf), and possibly Marko Arnautovic (hamstring).

What they’re saying

Man United manager Louis van Gaal: “It is important that the fans continue to support the players against Stoke as the players have the most difficult task – they have to get a result at that hour, against Stoke’s resistance and there are no excuses. The fans have to support again.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes: “I think we’ve got to look to be positive and that’s what we did against Liverpool. We understood what they would do and we were ready for that. The game plan of our own caused them problems. The same will apply to United, we’ll look at areas in which we can be positive and build a performance on that basis. There’s nothing to be fearful or apprehensive of.”

Prediction

This one has “late winner after 75 or 80 minutes of difficult-to-watch soccer” written all over it. Despite the defensive injuries, Van Gaal will set his side up with a clean sheet atop his list of priorities, which essentially guarantees the Red Devils a 0-0 draw at worst. From there, it’ll be up to Rooney and Anthony Martial to conjure up something special to restore a supportive atmosphere at the “Theater of Dreams.” Man United 1-0 Stoke.

Champions League wrap: PSV strikes late to win thriller (video)

Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Five first legs of the UEFA Champions League’s second qualifying round are in the books, including a thrilling back-and-forth with a show-stopping stoppage time winner.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]


PSV Eindhoven 3-2 FC Basel

Bruma scored a debut opener for the Dutch hosts, who fell behind 2-1 in the 79th minute before Sam Lammers and Donyell Malen struck in the 89th minute and second minute of stoppage, respectively, to put PSV ahead.

Basel will be okay taken two away goals home via Albian Aljeti and Omar Alderete.

Lammers came in for Mexican star Hirving Lozano in the 79th minute to score the leveler within 10 minutes before Malen, who went the full 90, kept his focus to deliver this clever winner.

The New Saints 0-2 Copenhagen

Pieros Sotiriou and Robert Skov scored on either side of halftime to give the Danish powers a healthy advantage heading into the second leg.

Elsewhere
FK Sutjeska 0-1 APOEL Nicosia
Saburtalo 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Olympiacos

Wednesday
BATE Borisov v. Rosenborg — 1 p.m. ET
Ferencvaros v. Valletta — 2 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2 p.m. ET
Maribor v. AIK — 2:15 p.m. ET
Red Star Belgrade v. HJK Helsinki — 2:45 p.m. ET
Dundalk v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Celtic v. Nomme Kalju — 2:45 p.m. ET

Rodgers says no close bids for Maguire

Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Those tired of seeing Harry Maguire‘s name in the headlines, hoping his transfer saga had concluded with weekend reports that Manchester United agreed to a fee with Leicester City, well, they are going to be sorely disappointed.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers credited Maguire for his professionalism — the center back scored in a friendly win on Tuesday — and said that the club’s vice chairman Aiyawatt “Top” Srivaddhanaprabha has not received a fitting bid for the 26 year old’s services.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“There’s no big pressure to sell any player. If a player does leave Leicester City, then the player would need to be met because we have a top-level player, coveted by top-level clubs and I respect that,” Rodgers said. “Harry is on a long contract here and there’s been no valuation or near to that which would make Top have a look.”

Nooooooooooo.

Look, we’ve still got a few weeks until the close of the window, and every supporter has a target they want their club to acquire and some have some assets they hope stay in the same shirt at the deadline.

The Maguire story is getting a bit tedious now. He wants to go to Manchester United, but Rodgers is happy to keep him at Leicester. Maguire’s not the player who will quit on the club if he’s not sold, and Leicester’s hope of landing a replacement will dip as the deadline draws nearer and clubs like Burnley (James Tarkowski) realize their replacements options have been lessened by the wait.

Janssen leaves Spurs for Liga MX in $8M deal

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
1 Comment

Vincent Janssen‘s less-than-ideal tenure with Tottenham Hotspur has come to its end, and he’s moving his way to this side of the Atlantic.

Liga MX side Monterrey has agreed to buy Janssen, Spurs announced Tuesday. The deal is for a reported $8 million.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

The Dutchman turned 25 this summer. He played just 42 times for Spurs after arriving from AZ Alkmaar for around $25 million in 2016, scoring six times, but did manage five goals and four assists in a half-year loan to Fenerbahce in 2017-18.

Janssen saw his time with the Netherlands national team peter out during his tenure at Spurs. After a red-hot start, he has not been capped since 2017. Janssen has seven goals in 17 caps.

His time at Spurs cannot be labeled as anything but a gigantic bust, but Janssen is still pretty young and has a chance to recapture his career momentum.

And he looks pretty happy about it.

Transfer gossip: Newcastle eyes 2nd Brazilian, USMNT’s Arriola on move

Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two players from the Western hemisphere may be heading across the Atlantic, one of whom is very familiar to American eyes.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

DC United winger Paul Arriola could be leaving Major League Soccer in a return to Liga MX or a move abroad to Europe.

CBS’ Roger Gonzalez says some of the big boys in Mexico are after the former LA Galaxy youth product who got his start at Club Tijuana.

Arriola, 24, has 28 caps with five goals and five assists for the USMNT, blooded by Jurgen Klinsmann in 2016. He has 12 goals and 10 assists in 57 matches for DC United since arriving from Tijuana.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Next up: Newcastle United may be in for another Brazilian attacker.

Marrony is the name, and Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol says the Magpies were alerted to his potential by the same source who claimed they were after Joelinton (who signed today after a $50 million deal).

The 20-year-old has a reported $37 million release clause, a left winger has a goal and an assist in two seasons with Vasco da Gama in Brazil. He also scored five times in 15 appearances for the club in the state league.

It feels a bit like a red herring or straight-up agent speak, but the Joelinton deal seemed unusual as well (albeit in a different way).