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Pogba ‘not ready’ for Man United’s win at Burnley

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Paul Pogba “wasn’t ready” to take part in Manchester United’s clash at Burnley on Saturday despite returning to full fitness after being out since September with an ankle issue.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left Pogba out of the 18-man squad for the trip to Turf Moor, which was a surprise as the French midfielder had come on for the final 30 minutes and at half time against Watford and Newcastle United respectively in their last two games.

Speaking after the 2-0 win which sent United fifth and closed the gap on the top four to just one pointafter the 2-0 win which sent United fifth and closed the gap on the top four to just one point, Solskjaer revealed that Pogba hasn’t suffered a setback but didn’t feel ready to play at Burnley.

“He’s been out for a long while, and he didn’t feel right, he reacted to that one [against Newcastle] so we’ll just have to take our time and get him ready for next time,” Solskjaer said. “He wasn’t ready today because he has not really done too many games, and he’s had two in three days or whatever, two performances. So he just needed another day of recovery probably.

“When you’ve been out for such a while it’s always going to take time before you are 100 per cent. Today I thought Fred and Nemanja [Matic] played really well. And of course, we got two real players out there. I don’t think many of you would think three or four months ago that Fred is going to be one of the best players away at Burnley, at Turf Moor. But he was excellent.”

This was actually a really smart move from Solskjaer. Playing Pogba in a physical game away at Burnley after he’d returned from there months out injured was not a risk worth taking, especially with Scott McTominay now out for “three to four weeks” after knee ligament damage. Pogba should be eased back in and his quality on the ball against Watford and Newcastle totally changed the dynamic for United when he came on to the pitch.

With a trip to Arsenal up next on Wednesday, Pogba will probably start in what is a huge game for the Red Devils to jump further ahead of another team battling to try and sneak into the top four.

United also face Man City in the League Cup semifinals in January and face Wolves in the FA Cup third round in a season-defining few weeks. Whatever you think of Pogba and his inconsistency over the last few seasons, there’s no doubt United need his quality on the ball for these massive games coming up.

Jose Mourinho defends players “trying to do miracles,” explains Dele move

Jose Mourinho
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Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho says he can have no complaints with his shorthanded men following a 2-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho pointed to the absence of strikers Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane as well as a Champions League match in midweek.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“Look at Chelsea they played a World Cup-winning striker up front, England’s second striker on the bench, and Belgium’s second striker in the stands,” he said, via Football.London. “We had no strikers on the pitch, no strikers on the bench and two in the hospital.”

Chelsea were the much better side on the day, with Olivier Giroud making a statement to Frank Lampard about his ability as a center forward.

And Mourinho felt sufficiently shorthanded on the day, especially given the exhausting 1-0 loss to RB Leipzig at midweek.

“Lucas, Lo Celso, Bergwijn,” he said. “These boys that are playing every minute and trying to do miracles in positions that are not their positions. I cannot complain.”

Mourinho also defended keeping Dele Alli on the bench for the first time in his tenure as Spurs boss.

“We had strange game plans but we needed to have them. Like Lamela who played well, people think I’m stupid that I don’t play him, but he’s constantly communicating with me in the warm-up, can I play or not. He was telling me his feelings.”

Spurs will finish the weekend four points back of the top four and as many as two back of fifth. They have eight days until another big match, March 1 versus Wolves.

Watch Live: Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday

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If you want to follow the scores from every single league across the UK, Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday has you covered from 10 a.m. ET and you can watch it live via NBC Sports Gold.

WATCH SOCCER SATURDAY LIVE 

Jeff Stelling and his panel of esteemed former professional players host the show from Sky’s studios in London and Sky have reporters based at grounds across the UK from the Premier League to League Two and all across Scotland’s four divisions and the Welsh Premier League.

With the National League (fifth tier) also reported on, they literally have every single league covered. There is an intriguing Matchweek 27 coming up in the Premier League in particular.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can also access additional Premier League games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

WATCH EVERY PREMIER LEAGUE GAME

Click on the link above to watch the Soccer Saturday lads in action as a wonderful accompaniment to all of the live Premier League games you can watch across NBC Sports’ platforms.

Watch Live: Four Premier League games, 10am ET

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Four Premier League games take center stage on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET and all four promise to be very tight encounters.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Newcastle head to Crystal Palace, Brighton travel to Sheffield United, Burnley host Bournemouth and Southampton welcome Aston Villa to St Mary’s. Good luck picking out a winner for these four evenly-matched games.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the four games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Brighton – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley v. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Southampton v. Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Rampant Chelsea secure huge win, humble rivals Tottenham

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Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to secure a huge three points in their battle fo finish in the top four of the Premier League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso struck early in each half as Jose Mourinho’s Spurs were totally dominated with Erik Lamela‘s late cross deflected in off Antonio Rudiger for nothing more than a consolation.

Frank Lampard‘s tactical changes paid off as he completed the double over his former manager, as he became the first man to beat a side managed by Mourinho both home and away in a single league season.

With the win (their first in five games) Chelsea cement their spot in fourth and now sit four points above fifth-place Spurs who have 40 points.


3 things we learned

1. Giroud delivers clinical edge: This is just what he does. For some reason Giroud has been the third-choice striker all season at Chelsea and he looked likely to leave in January. Chelsea will be glad he didn’t. Tammy Abraham is young and has cooled down after a red-hot start to the season and Michy Batshuayi doesn’t have Giroud’s composure or experience in key moments. Giroud jumped off the bench on Monday against Man United and scored but was just offside and he has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. We spoke with Giroud after his display against United and he said he was fired up and ready to start, especially with a place in France’s EURO 2020 squad on the line. With Bayern Munich coming up in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, surely he has to lead the Chelsea line. With his clever runs and flicks, Giroud linked up defense and attack perfectly. This is just what he does and it is a mystery as to why he hasn’t played more this season.

2. Mourinho’s excuses seep into his players: We get it, Mourinho has been unlucky with injuries with Harry Kane out until April and Heung-Min Son perhaps out for the season. But Mourinho saying that a top four finish this season would be the best achievement of his managerial career was a stretch. That message of negativity filtered into the minds of his Spurs players as the 2-1 scoreline flattered them. Bergwijn and Moura were so isolated and Tottenham’s midfield was totally overrun. Mourinho has done well to push Spurs back into the top four conversation since he arrived but Tottenham, especially defensively, are so far away from being genuine top four contenders.

3. VAR drama rumbles on: Giovani Lo Celso should have been sent off and VAR officials at Stockley Park have since admitted that via BT Sport. His stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg was a clear case of violent conduct and a lengthy VAR review during the game resulted in the Argentine playmaker staying on the pitch. How is that possible? When you see it you will wince and even thought Azpilicueta slid in, Lo Celso had enough time to pull his foot away from the challenge. One of the worst VAR decisions you will see as the debate about its consistency rumbles on.

Man of the Match: Olivier Giroud – Scored a goal and had a hand in the second as his overall display provided Chelsea with a focal point. Even though his contract is up this summer, expect to see plenty of Giroud for Chelsea between now and then.


Chelsea looked dangerous early on as Giroud went close from a corner as the hosts came flying out of the traps.

They got the goal their fine start deserved as Giroud was denied by Hugo Lloris, Ross Barkley hit the post with the rebound and then Giroud was on hand to tuck home from a tight angle to make it 1-0.

A VAR delay to check if the goal was offside was needed but in his first start since November, Giroud had delivered. Marcos Alonso sent a volley just over as Chelsea were in their groove.

Spurs improved as half time drew closer as Lucas Moura‘s shot deflected over and then from the resulting corner a looping header from Davinson Sanchez was tipped over by Willy Caballero.

Japhet Tanganga almost made the most of a long ball in-behind Alonso but his first touch was just a tad too heavy, as Spurs were hanging in the game despite Chelsea looking the more dangerous.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The second half continued in the same pattern of the first as Chelsea doubled their lead in splendid fashion.

A flowing move which involved all four players brought into the starting lineup by Lampard saw Giroud flick the ball towards Mason Mount who fed Barkley who teed up Alonso to smash home a low shot and send the home fans wild.

Moments after a huge moment of controversy arrived as Giovani Lo Celso appeared to stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg but after a lengthy VAR check no red card was given as Chelsea’s fans, players and coaches looked on in bemusement.

Tanguy Ndombele then went down in the box as he tried to dribble towards goal but Spurs were so lackluster in attack and Chelsea totally deserved a massive three points as substitute Tammy Abraham went close late on as Lloris saved and Alonso smashed the bar with a wonderful free kick.

Tottenham did pull one back in the 89th minute after substitute Lamela crossed and his effort deflected into the net off Rudiger, but Chelsea never looked likely to cough up another goal late on.