Manchester United clobbers Norwich City despite double penalty woes

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Marcus Rashford had a goal and an assist and Manchester United saw two penalties saved in a 3-1 blowout of Norwich City on Sunday at Carrow Road, building momentum after Monday’s draw with Liverpool.

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Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay also scored in the win, with Martial and Rashford saved on their penalty bids by Tim Krul.

United moves seventh with 13 points and now sits seven points back of the Top Four.

Norwich City remains in the drop zone with seven points, as Onel Hernandez scored in the 88th minute to provide the Canaries their lone marker, while Krul made eight saves.


Three things we learned

1. Penalty woes: While both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scored later and Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul really was in form, there’s no doubt that United’s two penalty takers seeing first half efforts saved had Red Devils’ supporters seeing ghosts of points lost earlier this season. Comically, Rashford’s stuttering run-up on the first saved effort resembled a little bit of estranged penalty taker Paul Pogba, who remains out injured.

2. Martial the difference as Ole waits on Pogba: United’s terrible depth meant that the absence of Anthony Martial over the past couple of months has loomed just as large as that of Pogba. Martial scored a penalty in the Europa League at midweek, but his real welcome back was Sunday when he worked a silky 1-2 with Rashford to make it 3-0 in the second half. Having been robbed earlier by Krul at both the spot and from close range, Martial made sure to put an exclamation point on his evening.

3. Krul, to be kind, was terrific: Norwich City backstop Tim Krul made one of the best saves you’ll ever see, and it wasn’t even one of his outstanding penalty saves. Yeah, that’s plural, as United’s penalty woes continued with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial missing chances to put the match away in the first 45 minutes.

Man of the Match: Aaron Wan-Bissaka — McTominay was great before an error late, while Rashford was very good aside from his comical penalty. As for Wan-Bissaka, the right back was credited with 11 tackles. Given his age, he looks like the latest buy who could become a long-tenure monster at Old Trafford.


It was all United early, and Marcus Rashford forced a fine close-range save out of Tim Krul in the 19th minute.

Krul then made an unreal recovery to stop Anthony Martial’s header from about four yards, but he couldn’t stop McTominay’s last through traffic as the Canaries looked unsuited to the task at hand.

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That’s when VAR had many wringing their hands after awarding a penalty to Daniel James, who had left the path of the ball to draw contact and been denied a pen by Kevin Friend.

But VAR saw otherwise. After a lengthy review, Rashford went to the spot and saw his stuttering run-up saved by Krul.

James then set up Rashford properly and it was 2-0 just after the half-hour mark. Smooth finish from the United center forward.

It would’ve been 3-0 had Martial converted his penalty bid, but Krul saved that moments after a brilliant stop on a dipping Fred effort from distance.

Onel Hernandez hoped to have won a penalty after the break after a challenge from Wan-Bissaka, to no avail.

Van Dijk: Liverpool proved ‘everyone is ready’ for decisive December, January

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Liverpool will play as many as 13 more games between now and the end of January — a period which is sure to go a long way toward deciding the fate of their season, including the Premier League title — and superstar defender Virgil Van Dijk insists that Wednesday’s 5-2 thrashing of rivals Everton proved “everyone is ready” to step up and do their part.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Manager Jurgen Klopp made five changes to the team that faced Everton, matching the number of goals his side scored. According to Van Dijk, that level of squad rotation was only a preview of what’s the come over the next eight weeks — quotes from the Guardian:

“The players who came into the team don’t play regularly at all. Look at Divock [Origi], [Xherdan] Shaqiri, they did fantastic. We played Adam [Lallana], Milly [James Milner]; everyone is contributing and we need everyone. That is the key message and it is good. The season is very long. This month is very long — January as well — so we need everyone to be ready.

“We have a big squad and everyone is part of what is going on at the moment. Everyone is happy with the situation we are in. And everyone is also feeling responsible as well, ready to play or if you are on the bench. Everyone is part of the success we have and that is the message to everyone and so far, so good.”

Liverpool’s schedule for December and January breaks down as follows: eight games in the PL, one each in the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup, and up to two in the FIFA Club World Cup. The Reds’ PL fixture against West Ham United was also rescheduled due to their participation in the Club World Cup.

Through 15 games in the PL, Liverpool hold an eight-point lead on second-place Leicester City and an 11-point advantage on third-place and two-time defending champions Manchester City.

Italian newspaper condemned for “Black Friday” headline featuring Lukaku, Smalling

Photo credit: Corriere dello Sport
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Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport has been widely condemned after printing the headline “Black Friday” on top of photos of Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku and Roma defender Chris Smalling, former Manchester United teammates set to face one another in Serie A action on Friday.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The sub-headline went on to read: “Lukaku and Smalling, former teammates at Manchester United and today idols at Inter and Roma, this is the battle within the battle tomorrow with the scudetto and a Champions League place at stake.”

Both clubs were quick to put out statements condemning the newspaper’s coverage.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Per the Guardian, an excerpt of the article which appeared to attempt to highlight Serie A’s problem with racism, saying, “We are all trying to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football,” before making a racially insensitive statement of its own:

“In the faces of those idiots who boo, tomorrow everyone must instead go ‘oooh’ like children. It will be a Black Friday, but this is not an end-of-season sale.” It went on to describe Lukaku and Smalling as “two giants of color.”

This comes less than a week after Serie A’s 20 clubs put out a joint statement “acknowledging a serious problem with racism” in the Italian game, while providing little or no concrete plan for action to rid the game of the very racism they acknowledged.

Lukaku has scored 10 goals in 14 league games since joining Inter this summer and Smalling has become a mainstay for Roma in recent months, scoring twice and leading the defense to a much improved record of goals conceded and five victories in six games.

Orlando City tabs Pareja as new coach

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Oscar Pareja is returning to Major League Soccer for a third stint.

The former Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas coach will now be plying his trade for Orlando City SC, leading Nani and Dom Dwyer as the fourth full-time coach in six MLS seasons.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A longtime Dallas player and assistant, Pareja led the Rapids to the playoffs in 2013 before leaving for the head job at his former club.

FCD won the Supporters’ Shield and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup under his watch before he left for Club Tijuana in 2018, where he went 23W-4D-21L.

Here’s Pareja, via OrlandoCitySC.com:

“The future of this Club is extremely bright, with so many opportunities to grow and succeed at all levels of the Club – from the new training facility to the world-class stadium and from the Development Academy all the way to the MLS side. Orlando is an incredible soccer city, with an especially passionate and dedicated fan base. I can’t wait to get started.”

Pareja should be a huge asset in developing the club’s top young talents into professionals, but he’s got a lot of work to do in building a competitive roster. Orlando finished eight points out of the playoffs in a league in which making the playoffs isn’t that difficult of a proposition.

PL preview: Arsenal-Brighton; Blades-Newcastle

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
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The Premier League’s midweek fixture list has two more on the docket, with mid-table positioning at play in South Yorkshire and London.

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Both host sides can advance into sixth with wins, while the visitors will also be dreaming of the top half of the table.

Arsenal v. Brighton and Hove Albion — 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Freddie Ljungberg will have his hands full at home, as Graham Potter‘s Seagulls have been anything but a walkover even in a three-match losing skid versus Manchester United, Leicester City, and Liverpool.

Arsenal, meanwhile, saw its winless run reach eight matches in all competitions with a weekend draw at Norwich City. The Gunners only outshot the Canaries by a 16-15 margin, something that will have Potter daydreaming of ways to break down the sloppy Arsenal defense.

Will Ljungberg finally start Nicolas Pepe?

“Nico is someone who is a very, very good player but sometimes when you come from a different league it takes time to adapt; off the pitch and on the pitch. But Nico is someone I plan on talking to. I’m going to have a little chat with him about what I expect and how I want to play.”

Sounds like no, which is good news for Brighton. #FreeNicolasPepe.

Sheffield United v. Newcastle United — 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Chris Wilder‘s remarkable Blades haven’t lost since September, and will like their chances against a Newcastle side which likes to cede possession.

The Magpies are coming off a remarkable 2-2 draw against Man City, though don’t expect Steve Bruce to keep things the same. He has hinted he’ll ring in the changes and trust his squad depth, with Florian Lejeune, Emil Krafth, and Yoshinori Muto among those tipped for opportunity.

“We are going to have to,” Bruce said. “When you look at the games it is a ridiculous schedule. We will have to adapt and need a bit of freshness.”

Newcastle can join its hosts on 19 points with a win, but would likely accept a draw to take them three points clear of 18th place Everton.