Getty Images

Man United to seal deals for Portuguese superstars?

Leave a comment

Manchester United have already said they will be “ruthless” as they rebuild their squad this summer, and it appears they are trying to crack on with that as soon as possible.

[ MORE: Can Spurs beat Ajax? ]  

A report from the Evening Standard states that the Red Devils are lining up deals for two Portugal youngsters who have impressed mightily in the Portuguese capital this season.

Joao Felix and Bruno Fernandes are at the top of United’s summer wishlist, and the report states that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to seal the deals as soon as possible. A transfer fee of $196 million for both of the players has been suggested, with Felix costing a little more as Benfica aim to cash in on their top talent after his stunning season.

The only snag is that United may not be able to offer the duo Champions League action next season, as their chances of finishing in the top four are very slim heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Man City and Real Madrid have also been linked with a move for Felix, just 19 years old, as the Portuguese attacker is dubbed ‘the new Cristiano Ronaldo’ in his homeland. The Benfica youngster has scored 18 times in his first season in the top-flight and his trickery and direct play saw him score a hat trick in their UEFA Europa League quarterfinal first leg win against Eintracht Frankfurt.

As for Fernandes, 24, Man City are also chasing him hard as he continues to score goals from midfield for Sporting Lisbon (he has 28 in all competitions this season) and is exactly the type of player who could replace Juan Mata and Paul Pogba if they leave this summer, as expected.

These two midfielder are needed, for sure, but United also need to add a center back, right back and another striker this summer if they are truly going to kick on under Solskjaer this summer.

There is a core of players at Old Trafford for Solskjaer to build around, but it is clear they need to cut plenty of players adrift this summer and that will be tough to do.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund, Hertha, Hoffenheim win

Bundesliga results
Photo by PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Day two of the Bundesliga season saw very little drop-off from Friday’s opening day, when champions Bayern Munich hung eight goals on Schalke.

Five of six games saw a winner score three or more goals on Saturday, with a 1-1 draw the lone “low-scoring” affair in Germany.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season preview ]

The day was headlined by two impressive and dominant showings, one headlined by a 17-year-old American.


Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

The season’s first match-up of top-four contenders saw USMNT teenager Giovanni Reyna score the game’s first goal and draw the penalty that Erling Haaland converted to give BVB breathing room at home.

Reyna’s goal was assisted by English teen Jude Bellingham, and fellow UK export Jado Sancho set up Haaland’s second of the day in the 77th minute as Dortmund took advantage of their chances on a day Gladbach started with Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea on the bench.

Reyna started at attacking midfield underneath Haaland and Sancho. He finished with 100 percent passing over 78 minutes, drawing three fouls, registering a key pass, and winning an atypical 3-of-9 duels.

Here’s Reyna, from BVB.de:

“It was a very good start to the season,” Reyna said. “We have a lot of young players, it’s really enjoyable. We all have so much energy, but we need to keep working, we need to improve even more. We were so happy to see that some of our fans could be there again. That’s very important for us as players.”

Here’s the one goal that didn’t feature Reyna.

Werder Bremen 1-4 Hertha Berlin

Those of us who went out on a limb and said Hertha Berlin could be a surprise team in 2020-21 were validated for a day by the visitors to the Weserstadion.

Dodi Lukebakio and Matheus Cunha both scored, Vladimir Darida had two assists, and Peter Pekarik joined Jhon Cordoba on the score sheet for the away side.

Hertha produced five big chances and conceded little to Bremen, who scored via Davie Selke in the 69th minute.

USMNT forward Josh Sargent played further back from the front line in an advanced midfield or wing role. He had a key pass, two tackles, an interception, and a clearance. He won only four of 10 duels and completed half of his passes on a 33-touch day.

Koln 2-3 Hoffeheim

Leicester City knew what it was doing when it signed Andrej Kramaric in 2015, but the spoils have all been seen in the Bundesliga.

Kramaric gave Hoffenheim 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 leads on Saturday in Cologne, overcoming home equalizers from Sebastian Andersson and Dominic Drexler.

The 29-year-old Kramaric now has five goals in two outings this season to give him 75 goals and 30 assists in 152 appearances for Hoffenheim.

He’s good.


Elsewhere

Bayern Munich 8-0 Schalke — Friday
Union Berlin 1-3 Augsburg
Stuttgart 2-3 Freiburg
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Arminia Bielefeld
RB Leipzig v. Mainz — 9:30 am ET Sunday
Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 1 1 0 0 8 0 8 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Hertha BSC 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Augsburg 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Freiburg 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Hoffenheim 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Arminia Bielefeld 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Eintracht Frankfurt 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 Bayer Leverkusen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Mainz 05 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 RB Leipzig 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Wolfsburg 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 1. FC Köln 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Stuttgart 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Union Berlin 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Werder Bremen 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Mönchengladbach 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Schalke 04 1 0 0 1 0 8 -8 0-0-0 0-0-1 0

Special Ceballos keys Arsenal win over West Ham

Leave a comment

Arsenal – West Ham: It takes special moments to beat dedicated, packed-in back lines, and Arsenal found a pair in a 2-1 win over improved West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette scored goals off classy team goals, as Dani Ceballos drove the Gunners to a 2-0 start and sent West Ham to 0-2.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Up next for the Gunners: a trip to Liverpool.

West Ham will host Wolves next, buoyed perhaps by the improvement shown from a Week 1 loss to Newcastle.


3 things we learned from Arsenal – West Ham

1. Arteta’s magic touch springs winner: Lacazette got the start and scored but Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was not afraid to take off the goal scorer and replace him with… a goal scorer. Nketiah ran into the heart of the box to be available for Dani Ceballos’ cutback of Bukayo Saka’s through ball and the Gunners fought through the congested 5-4-1 for a 2-1 win.

2. Steely lineup (kinda) works for Moyes: A week after leaving Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson, and Andriy Yarmolenko on the bench against Newcastle — and seeing Haller look strong in the League Cup — David Moyes again opted for a bit more steel and a lot more defending. Moyes’ men were set to counter in a 5-4-1 and they really limited Arsenal’s attack. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was kept from the danger areas apart from his assist, and it took a real touch of class in possession and movement for the Gunners to find their winner.

That said, Arsenal was a bit open at the back and was forced into playing Sead Kolasinac when Kieran Tierney pulled up with an injury before the game. Might Anderson and Yarmolenko have been able to produce a second goal?

Arsenal - West Ham
West Ham United’s Michail Antonio (right) and Arsenal’s Gabriel Magalhaes (Photo by Will Oliver/PA Images via Getty Images)

3. Super Ceballos: His assist came from a great run and the appropriate final ball to Nketiah, but the Real Madrid loanee was exactly what Arteta needed on a day the Gunners were treated much like Man City was when the manager helped Pep Guardiola and Co. find its way through a packed-in group of defenders.

For his stat line, see “Man of the Match” below.

Man of the Match

Ceballos had 119 touches and completed 90-of-98 passes. He won 8-of-12 duels and collected three tackles, three interceptions, three clearances, and two blocked shots. A complete performance.


Arsenal – West Ham recap

Angelo Ogbonna had the first chance of the game but Declan Rice’s headed flick didn’t have enough power for the defender to head past Bernd Leno.

The Gunners soon asserted themselves on the game and Aubameyang put it on a tee for Lacazetteto head home and provide a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.

West Ham tied it when Antonio got in front of Rob Holding to tap Ryan Fredericks cross home after great work from Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Arthur Masuaku’s dangerous cross looked set to give West Ham a shock lead early in the second but Antonio couldn’t meet it cleanly and Leno cleaned up the mess.

Arsenal sprung a counter to earn a corner but a foul foiled the Gunners.

Willian was lively but was taken off in the 65th minute for Nicolas Pepe, a nice change for a manager to have in his locker.

Antonio popped a header off the bar in the 67th with West Ham in search of all three points.

Eddie Nketiah replaced Lacazette in the 77th.

The Irons were focused on stifling Arsenal and stayed well-drilled as the game reached its final 10 minutes.

Solskjaer reacts to Manchester United loss to Palace, transfer market

Leave a comment

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer knows his Manchester United team wasn’t good enough in Saturday’s 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace.

He also thinks the club needs to add some players in the transfer market.

[ MORE: Van de Beek deems loss “really bad” ]

“You can see we are short and they deserved the points,” Solskjaer said after the game. They were sharper than us in challenges, tackles. We started off slowly and that had a knock-on effect for the rest of the game when they got the first goal. We had a long season last season and we didn’t finish until August 16 and we have not had enough preparation time to be sharper. We’ve worked hard with the ones who’ve been here, there have been a few players away on internationals.”

Sure, that’s true, but Solskjaer should know those excuses wouldn’t be afforded to Liverpool or Man City, clubs he’s trying to reach, and so they aren’t adequate now.

Whether the club needs to buy some better talent or not, few will argue that United doesn’t have the ammunition to stick with Palace at home. Juan Mata wasn’t in the 18 and probably would start for at least half of the Premier League’s clubs.

But Solskjaer’s men were wobbled, especially at the back, and the Norwegian manager left big buys Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Donny van de Beek on the bench. The latter came off the bench to score United’s lone goal.

The Red Devils have spent plenty on players — yes, even under Solskjaer — and did get a very good performance out of Bruno Fernandes that was wasted by out-of-sorts Daniel James, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford.

“We will improve quickly, hopefully quicker than we’ve seen today,” Solskjaer said. “Today was a performance that you don’t see very often from these players because these players are better than that.”

As for transfers?

“We are always looking to improve if there is something out there that is available at the right price. We always want to strengthen. But we can all look ourselves in the mirror, instead.”

Manchester United’s Van de Beek: “We lost 3-1 at home, that’s really bad”

Leave a comment

Donny van de Beek scored off the bench for his Manchester United debut, but it didn’t mean that much coming in a troubling 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Van de Beek came on for Paul Pogba with United down 1-0 and quickly saw his side dip two goals down on a controversial penalty.

[ RECAP: Man United 1-3 Crystal Palace ]

The former Ajax midfielder then snapped a reaction shot inside the far post to pull United within 2-1, but finished the day with not much more than the goal in 23 minutes. Van de Beek was credited with 30 touches, a tackle, and 18-of-23 passing.

“First match for the club, a day you want to win,” Van de Beek said to Manchester United TV. “It doesn’t matter how, you want to win and I’m really disappointed that we lost 3-1 at home, that’s really bad. In the week of training we did really well, we trained good so my feeling was really positive. But today we played too slowly, too long with the ball and I think against an opponent like Crystal Palace you need to speed up the game to create something. That was not good enough.”

It may take Solskjaer some time to get his best XI in order and the Red Devils were playing a Palace team with a PL match and League Cup outing under their belt. Still, the performance was poor and Van de Beek may find himself starting soon.