Solskjaer hails Pogba as Man United roll on

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now led Manchester United to more Premier League wins than Jose Mourinho this season.

Solskjaer has taken nine games to rack up eight victories, while Mourinho had seven in his 16 games before that.

The latest victory for United’s caretaker manager saw his side stroll past Fulham 3-0, as he rested players ahead of their UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg clash against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday but still remains unbeaten in 11 games as the Red Devils’ boss.

Paul Pogba scored twice and Anthony Martial scored another as Solskjaer continues to get the best out of star players who struggled under Mourinho.

Speaking after Paul Pogba’s dominant midfield display, which led United back into the top four of the Premier League table, Solskjaer told Sky Sports that he is just trying to get his attacking players to realize their potential.

“I’ve not released those, he is playing to his potential, we are trying to put the team forward to put player in positions to where they can hurt teams,” Solskjaer said. “Paul can do that with his qualities. I speak to him like I do with the others, that’s management. He’s responding to the way we do things.”

“I always say playing altogether with the lads, attacking together, defending together helps everyone. The good atmosphere helps the team, and for me, being more in the box gives me more chances to score,” Pogba said. “I think Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] is just being himself. He isn’t acting and he can give joy to everyone and confidence to everyone. There’s still along way to go and we have a lot of big games coming up. Next is Paris St-Germain and then we have to keep trying to get three points in the league.”

With United now in the top four hunt, they have the tasty prospect of playing against Liverpool at home on Feb. 24.

The way Solskjaer’s team counter and punish opponents is scarily similar to the way the teams he played in under Sir Alex Ferguson operated and he is getting the best out of the players at his disposal.

How many more wins does he have to get to be handed the United job on a full-time basis?

Victories against PSG in the Champions League, Chelsea in the FA Cup and Liverpool in their next league game will surely seal the deal.

Solskjaer has been almost perfect so far, but now crunch time has arrived for his team in the next 10 days.

Top Premier League storylines: Week 35

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A pretty unique situation at the Etihad Stadium headlines another stop on the road to the Premier League title.


And we go again
Man City v. Tottenham Hotspur — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

As hard as it is to fathom Man City getting off the mat quickly following their Champions League exit at the hands of Spurs, it’s even more difficult to imagine the visitors traveling back to London and returning to Manchester with the same fire shown in Wednesday’s thriller.

Not only that, but how can the hosts ignore reminders of what happened against the visitors three days prior with the very same opponents staring them down, even if City is business-like? Frankly, no result would surprise us (unless someone hangs 10 goals or something truly absurd happens at the Etihad (again)).

Liverpool’s title train pulls into Wales to meet hopeful Bluebirds
Cardiff City v. Liverpool — 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

Cardiff City has new life in the race for Premier League survival, though Neil Warnock‘s men will hardly be expecting a point or three from Liverpool’s Anfield visit. That said, the Reds are coming back from Portugal and have been using Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah an awful lot. Here is where guys like Xherdan Shaqiri will, theoretically, need to step up.

Weary Chelsea seeks revenge against relatively rested Reds
Everton v. Manchester United — 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

You wouldn’t be stunned if Manchester United fans are having second thoughts about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Red Devils full-time boss, though they’d be over the same things — that defense — that worried Jose Mourinho. Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson will try to seize on that, and United’s midweek action versus Barcelona, at Goodison Park.

Stumbling Wolves hope to take advantage of sluggish Brighton
Wolves v. Brighton and Hove Albion — 10 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have slipped back into their early season mold of having fine performances in big games but not fully arriving for the little guys. Brighton, now just two points clear of the drop zone, will hope that it can do as visitors what hosts Southampton and Burnley did to Wolves.

Magpies, Saints battle for assured safety at St. James’ Park
Newcastle United v. Southampton — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com STREAM ]

The stakes here are pretty straight-forward: Win, and forget about relegation (Saints would still be mathematically alive for the drop with all three points, but it would be an extreme scenario involving fellow drop candidates running off wins over big sides).

Video shows Lazio fans’ racist chants aimed at Chelsea loanee Bakayoko

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ROME (AP) A video has emerged of Lazio fans directing a racist chant at AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The video posted on the Gazzetta dello Sport website shows fans singing, “This banana is for Bakayoko,” during Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Pochettino “not optimistic” on Kane ]

It was an apparent response to Bakayoko and Milan teammate Franck Kessie waving the shirt of Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi in front of their supporters like a trophy after a 1-0 win on Saturday.

Bakayoko, who is black, is on loan from Chelsea.

Lazio fans have a long history of racist and anti-Semitic episodes.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Chelsea, Pulisic may tour U.S. in 2020

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Chelsea has announced intent to visit the United States in the Summer of 2020.

Blues chairman Bruce Buck says the club “has work to do in Middle America” as it’s built up what he believes to be significant support on the coasts of the United States.

[ MORE: Pochettino “not optimistic” on Kane ]

Chelsea will be in Boston next month to play MLS side New England Revolution in a friendly billed “The Final Whistle on Hate.”

But Buck knows that Americans have plenty of interest in new signing Christian Pulisic, who will still be with Borussia Dortmund when Chelsea visits the U.S. in May.

“He’s a personable boy. He’s well-liked in this country,” Buck told the Associated Press. “So of course I would expect him when we come here and play some friendly matches, which is what our objective is in the summer of 2020. Then, yes, I think he will be helpful.”

American fans have been skeptical about how much of Chelsea’s interest in Pulisic was based on potential for stardom versus potential for marketing appeal in the States, but it’s important to note that this article could’ve been written about signing a top Mexican player and touring Mexico, or a Japanese star and heading to Asia.

Pochettino discusses City rematch, Kane status

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Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur flew back to North London after Wednesday’s memorable triumph in the UEFA Champions League, a few days before the club will make the same trip to visit Manchester City in the Premier League.

“We are tired after an amazing and crazy and unbelievable night,” Pochettino said, via the BBC. “We flew late and didn’t sleep too much, but the happiness made us feel strong and with energy. We need to forget the Champions League now and be ready for Saturday, for a battle.”

[ MORE: Klopp on 1st time facing Messi ]

Good luck on the forgetting part, Poch. The advancement past Man City over two legs came after VAR correctly ripped a stoppage time City goal off the board and plunged Spurs from despair into euphoria.

And now they go again.

Pochettino said he elected to bring the team back to London to sleep in their own beds and recover at their own facilities.

It also allows Spurs to keep a close eye on Harry Kane, who missed the second leg and has been expected to miss most if not all of the season with an ankle injury.

“We are not optimistic but you know Harry Kane and with Harry Kane all is possible,” Pochettino said. “We are not going to say he is not going to play again or not. We will assess him day by day.”

We have to imagine that Spurs going from, “Can we beat City and stay in the Top Four without Harry?” to “We are three wins from a Champions League title” might help Kane heal a bit faster (and he’s already a bit of a specimen when it comes to that.