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Sarri: Man United have best squad in Premier League

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Maurizio Sarri probably meant this as a compliment to Jose Mourinho and Manchester United.

It is unlikely it will come across that way ahead of United’s trip to Chelsea on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: Key battles, Chelsea v. Man United

The Blues are unbeaten in all competitions under Sarri since he arrived in the summer and they sit joint-top of the Premier League with 20 points on the board after 24 games. Mourinho’s United have 13 points and their struggles have been well documented with the former Chelsea boss reportedly close to losing his job.

Sarri’s suggestion that United have the best squad in the PL may too feed into the narrative that United’s players are woefully underperforming under Mourinho.

“I think they are a very strong team. Maybe player-by-player, they are the best team in the league,” Sarri said. “At the moment City is more of a team, but player-by-player they are very, very strong. We are talking only about eight matches, they are doing well in the Champions League so they can improve in the Premier League, we are talking about two months.”

Okay, so United did finish second last season in the Premier League, so you can kind of understand what he’s getting at, especially with Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and David De Gea in their squad. But maybe he’s suggesting that the team itself just isn’t that solid a unit, which is certainly what we have all seen so far this season as United got off to their worst-ever start to a PL campaign.

Sarri went on to call for the media to show Mourinho more respect, with the Italian coach revealing his admiration for all that United’s manager has achieved in the game.

“We are talking about a coach that has won everything, everywhere, so I think you have to respect him. I think you all have to respect him,” Sarri told journalists.

After Mourinho felt out with Antonio Conte, the manager Sarri replaced at Chelsea, we should probably expect a more jovial greeting between himself and Sarri this Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri has shown he has a sense of humor and his laidback nature is a complete contrast to Antonio Conte’s demeanor on the sidelines.

Mourinho now receives a pretty mixed reaction from the Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge after his second spell in charge of the west London club ended on a sour note, but the fact he’s led them to three of their five PL titles all-time means he will still be lauded by the vast majority of those connected with Chelsea.

“It’s another game,” Mourinho said. “Would I celebrate like crazy if my team score a goal and get a victory, I don’t think so. I will try to control myself and respect my [old] supporters and my [old] stadium. Just that. Another match for me. I want to do well for my club.”

If you ask Sarri, he probably feels that Mourinho and United should be doing much better.

I wonder what Jose thinks about that…

Kaku gets 3 matches for booting ball into crowd, injuring spectator

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The struggling New York Red Bulls got a major let-off Wednesday with the news that Kaku would only be suspended two more matches for blasting a ball into a group of fans.

It’s a total of three matches away from the Red Bulls after the incident, which occurred against Sporting KC on April 14.

[ MORE: Manchester Derby recap ]

Someone must have convinced the league that Kaku’s intent was to smash the ball into the advertising boards and not the fans, and injuring a spectator certainly could’ve carried a much longer suspension than three matches.

Kaku already missed a match against New England and will sit out matches against FC Cincinnati and the LA Galaxy.

The 24-year-old midfielder, thrice capped by Paraguay, has seven goals and 14 assists during little more than a season with RBNY. The Red Bulls have started the season 1W-4L-2T.

Solskjaer: Man City “had too much for” Manchester United

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Manchester United has spent a lot of money on players, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the talent on show at Old Trafford is nothing compared to rivals Manchester City.

What else could he say after his rivals outclassed him 2-0 on Wednesday, a club which wasn’t even in the same league — physically and metaphorically — for half of his tenure as a player for Manchester United?

[ MORE: Manchester Derby recap | 4 things ]

“They had too much for us,” Solskjaer said after the loss. “They are the best team in the country, they have set the standard in the last two seasons and I don’t know how many points they’ve taken. What Pep Guardiola has done with his players is remarkable and we are so close to it in the vicinity so we feel it every day.”

This was a different loss than the lackluster 4-0 blowout at the hands of Everton on Sunday, as United definitely worked hard but had little to offer in attack aside from a few choice Paul Pogba long balls and some wayward finishing from an industrious Jesse Lingard.

“There is a difference in quality,” Solskjaer said in another interview. “That is why they are top and we are where we are. Living in Manchester we cannot be happy with that. It is up to us to close that gap and overtake them.”

[ MORE: Pep reacts | Sane with NBCSN crew ]

We bet every one those words felt like broken glass climbing out of Solskjaer’s throat.

It’s going to take a squad revolution and then time to settle into a new reality. United is probably at least another full season from contending with City, even given last season’s runner-up finish.

And that has to be weird for a manager who was used to seeing the noisy neighbors stationed in the Championship. Solskjaer knows he has a lot of work to do at Old Trafford. Will his bosses let him do it?

I understand Pep using me off the bench, says super sub Sane

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Leroy Sane added a second 10-goal season to his Premier League resume on Wednesday when Man City beat Manchester United 2-0 at Old Trafford.

That he did so in about 650 less minutes says something about his growth and patience as Pep Guardiola has opted to focus on other options in attack.

[ MORE: Manchester Derby recap | 4 things ]

“The mood is obviously you want to play every game but in this squad it’s sometimes normal that you can sit on the bench,” Sane said in a post-match pitch-side talk with the NBCSN crew.

“It’s why I’m not really disappointed. I think in my own head to work harder and stay focused. On the pitch there are really good players playing good. I appreciate it, I enjoy it, and I can learn from this.”

Arlo White asked Sterling whether he believes City are the favorites to win the Premier League title. Liverpool is a point behind City, but has two of its three remaining matches at home compared to City’s one.

“It’s hard to say,” Sane said. “There’s a lot of pressure from Liverpool, but we stay focused on game to game. We have it in our own hands, so just stay focused, and try to win the last three games.”

Pep urges increased focus after Man City keeps PL title control

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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are officially over their UEFA Champions League exit, and now salivating at the idea of defending their Premier League crown following a 2-0 defeat of Manchester United on Wednesday.

And the manager is now demanding that his players get laser-focused on the game-by-game.

[ MORE: Recap | 3, er, 4 things ]

“I told the players don’t read tomorrow, don’t watch the television, just rest and sleep a lot and go in there against Burnley,” Guardiola said.

The Man City boss says the side’s early second half changes, taking off Fernandinho to move in Leroy Sane and slot Ilkay Gundogan a bit deeper made the difference from 0-0 to 2-0.

“We knew without Romelu Lukaku they would try more runs in behind,” he said. “The chances we lost came from us losing simple balls in the middle and we changed things in the second half, with Ilkay Gundogan in the middle and with Leroy Sane on we were more dynamic.”

And Guardiola tried to find the words to explain how either Man City or Liverpool will walk away from this season at second place in the league despite being two of the greatest sides ever produced by England.

“Both teams deserve the title, but it can be just one,” Guardiola said. “The team that is going to lose cannot have regrets because they have given everything. Normally with this kind of victory you can it enjoy it the most but now we have to be calm. We have to be in the right phase.”