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Stats, schedule say Pogba injury would sting

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Paul Pogba may not play Sunday against Swansea City after suffering a thigh injury in Thursday’s 2-1 loss at Fenerbahce in the UEFA Europa League.

This stings in a big way, regardless of how you feel Pogba has played at Old Trafford (more on that later).

United has a brutal run of matches ahead, and badly needs to find its form — with Pogba — on Sunday at Swans.

[ MOURINHO: United played like “summer friendly” ]

The Red Devils have one win in its last four matches, the EFL Cup win over Man City. They dominated Burnley on Saturday but couldn’t find a winner, and really needed six points between that match and Swansea to position itself for a Top Four spot.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Manchester City 10 7 2 1 24 9 15 3-2-0 4-0-1 23
 Arsenal 10 7 2 1 23 10 13 3-1-1 4-1-0 23
 Liverpool 10 7 2 1 24 13 11 3-1-0 4-1-1 23
 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 21 9 12 4-0-1 3-1-1 22
 Tottenham Hotspur 10 5 5 0 14 5 9 3-2-0 2-3-0 20
 Everton 10 5 3 2 15 8 7 3-2-0 2-1-2 18
 Watford 10 4 3 3 14 13 1 2-1-2 2-2-1 15
 Manchester United 10 4 3 3 13 12 1 2-2-1 2-1-2 15

United is 7 points off fourth and five off fifth in the Premier League, and its only other recourse to return to the UEFA Champions League would be winning the Europa League.

Of course a team with United’s talent can overcome either deficit, but look at the run the Red Devils face after Sunday’s match at the Liberty Stadium.

Nov. 19 – vs. Arsenal (PL)
Nov. 24 – vs. Feyenoord (UEL)
Nov. 27 – vs. West Ham (PL)
Nov. 30 – vs. West Ham (EFL Cup)
Dec. 4 – at Everton (PL)
Dec. 8 – at Zorya Luhansk (UEL)
Dec. 11 – vs. Spurs (PL)

It gets a lot easier after that, but will it matter if, say, Jose Mourinho can’t deliver at least 10 points in the Premier League through Swansea, Arsenal, West Ham, Everton, and Spurs (three at home)?

Which brings us to Pogba. The 23-year-old French star was expected to revolutionize United’s play, and still probably will, only to find himself the constant target of scorn every time he doesn’t deliver a match-winning play.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Paul Pogba of Manchester United warms up prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on October 29, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images)

When a player’s transfer fee sets a world record, that’s understandable, but Pogba has in fact been quite a good contributor already. As he readapts to the Premier League, Pogba has the following numbers to his credit (PL only):

— He’s completed 525 passes, almost 100 more than his closest competitor (Ander Herrera). He’s also tops in completed passes per game and second in completed passes per 90 (Herrera again).

His 18 key passes are the most on United. That’s tied for 13th in the league with Eden Hazard and Dele Alli.

— The extremely-active Pogba has been involved in the fourth-most duels (79) in the PL.

— He’s played the fifth-most successful through balls in the PL, behind only Alexis Sanchez, David Silva, Philippe Coutinho, and Mesut Ozil.

— Despite constant attention, Pogba is second to only Zlatan Ibrahimovic in shot attempts.

— He also has the fifth-best home passer rating in the Premier League, according to advanced stats site Who Scored.

Positionially, Who Scored has some other encouraging metrics. Pogba’s stats improve the deeper he lies in the midfield, and he’s significantly better at home than on the road in PL play (where United plays three of its next five).

Of course, the eye test matters and Pogba has yet to really dominate a match, but that’s coming. And as longtime United midfielder Bryan Robson pointed out earlier this week, it takes time for any player to adjust to being a big money arrival in a new league. And Pogba has not been awful.

“I think he’s doing okay. But it’s just okay at the moment — we know there is better to come from Paul. He’s a real talented lad and I’m sure when the team start getting a consistent run of good results then his confidence will come on and he will enjoy his football.”

There’s two ways to look at Pogba’s possible absence on Sunday. For one, getting a week of rest could mean two weeks thanks to the international break. And Pogba not pulled out of Thursday’s game with injury after 30 minutes, he may’ve found himself going 90 for the fourth time in 11 days (Ease up, Jose).

But having the chance to sync up with his teammates against a struggling Swansea City could set the table for a terrific and challenging month, and leave little risk of spending two weeks as low as 10th. United has 15 points and a plus-1 goal differential, with Southampton (at Hull) and Bournemouth (vs. Sunderland) capable of joining them on 15 points.

Plus, with Chelsea facing Everton and Spurs taking on Arsenal, three points puts United right back in the mix. That’s achievable without Pogba, but don’t let this slow start to Old Trafford superstardom let you imagine the Red Devils don’t suffer when he’s not available.

Premier League injuries, 2020-21

Premier League injuries
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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Premier League injuries: With the 2020-21 Premier League season set to kick off this weekend, it’s time to take a look at the players who might be unavailable for the opening weekend.

[ MORE: 2020-21 Premier League season previews, all 20 clubs ]

Prior to every matchweek of the 2020-21 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.

Note: Any player listed for COVID-19 reasons — whether a positive test or additional precautions — will always be deemed “questionable” until they make their return to action.

Arsenal injuries

QUESTIONABLE: David Luiz (back) | OUT: Gabriel Martinelli (knee), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh), Pablo Mari (ankle), Calum Chambers (knee)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed El Mohamady (thigh)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

QUERSTIONABLE: Ben White (ankle) | OUT: Jose Iquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee), Christian Walton (ankle)

Burnley injuries

OUT: Jack Cork (ankle)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Timo Werner (thigh), Hakim Ziyech (knee), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh), Ben Chilwell (ankle), Thiago Silva (undisclosed) | OUT: Mateo Kovacic (suspension)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT: James Tomkins (thigh), Mamadou Sakho (thigh), Nathan Ferguson (knee), Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder), Christian Benteke (ankle), Gary Cahill (thigh), Jairo Riedewald (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Fabian Delph (calf)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Jean Michael Seri (undisclosed), Stefan Johansen (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin)

Leicester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Wes Morgan (thigh) | OUT: Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin)

Liverpool injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Xherdan Shakiri (undisclosed), Konstantinos Tsimikas (COVID-19) | OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee)

Manchester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Aguero (knee), Bernardo Silva (undisclosed) | OUT: Aymeric Laporte (COVID-19), Riyad Mahrez (COVID-19)

Manchester United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (COVID-19) | OUT: Axel Tuanzebe (ankle), Phil Jones (knee)

Newcastle United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Matty Longstaff (thigh) | OUT: Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee)

Sheffield United injuries

OUT: Lys Mousset (ankle)

Southampton injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Nathan Redmond (knock) | OUT: Stuart Armstrong (thigh)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Serge Aurier (undisclosed) | OUT: Japhet Tanganga (thigh)

West Bromwich Albion injuries

OUT: Kenneth Zohore (calf)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Jack Wilshere (ankle)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Jonny (knee)

VIDEO: ProSoccerTalk team unfiltered – Review, preview, Power Rankings and more

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ProSoccerTalk is now on video as well as in written format. Unleash the beast, as they say.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Each week Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards will tell us what they learned from the Premier League action, rank their top five PL players based on current form, preview the upcoming weekend and handle any other news from around the soccer world.

Expect opinions, analysis and insight, as well as plenty of friendly banter along the way.

Basically, they have these chats on their own anyway so we thought we would record them and let them loose on the Premier League, USMNT and everything in-between. This is going to be a lot of fun and a lighthearted look at all of the action from across the soccer world each week.

With JPW is based in England and heading to Premier League games and traveling to stadiums/ training grounds, plus Andy and Nick based Stateside, we will be checking in with them regularly to get their views on just about anything when it comes to Pro Soccer. Because, well, ProSoccerTalk.

Follow the ProSoccerTalk lads on Twitter below, and click play on the video above to watch ProSocccerTalk this week in full.

League Cup fourth round draw results

League Cup draw
LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images
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Following the completion of the second round of the League Cup on Thursday, the draw for the fourth round was held prior to the third round, which is set to be played next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

[ MORE: Spurs come from behind to beat 9-man Plovdiv in UEL qualifier ]

The potential gem of the round depends upon Chelsea beating EFL Championship side Barnsley, and Tottenham Hotspur getting past EFL League Two Leyton Orient. Liverpool v Arsenal is another tasty possibility.

The draws for the third and fourth rounds of the 2020-21 League Cup are as follows…

League Cup third round draw

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

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

UEL roundup: AC Milan, Rangers reach next qualifying round

Europa League results
Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
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Europa League results: AC Milan and Rangers were victorious in the second round of UEFA Europa League qualifying on Thursday, advancing to within two more wins of the group stage.

[ MORE: Spurs come from behind to beat 9-man Plovdiv in UEL qualifier ]

Shamrock Rovers 0-2 AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored early and Hakan Calhanoglu added a second-half insurance goal to secure Milan’s passage into the third qualifying round.

Up next for Milan is a home clash with Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt with a place in the playoff round, the final level of qualification to reach the group stage, on the line.

Lincoln Red Imps 0-5 Rangers

James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Alfredo Morelos (twice) and Jermain Defoe bagged goals for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers side as they cruised to a 5-0 victory over Gibraltarian side Lincoln Red Imps.

Rangers will now be away to Dutch side Willem II in the third qualifying round.

Notable Europa League results

Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (RECAP)
Kekesi 0-4 Wolfsburg
Hibernians 0-1 Fehervar
Coleraine 2-2 *Motherwell
Viking 0-2 Aberdeen
Servette 0-1 Reims
Budapest Honved 0-2 Malmo
Teuta Durres 0-4 Granada
FK Neftchi 1-3 Galatasaray