How can Man United become title contenders?

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Man United are in the top four picture in the Premier League but they want more, a lot more, as talk of mounting a title bid in the future has begun.

Woah. Hold your horses. Man United title contenders?

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Newly-installed Man United captain Harry Maguire has told our partners at Sky Sports that he wants them to challenge for the title and not be content with a top four finish. That’s admirable, Harry, but is it realistic?

“I think you can see from the start of the season we look a lot more like a team, we can probably see where we want to go, where we want to head. I knew when I first came to Manchester United that Ole said to me loads and loads it’s a building process but we’ll be where we want to be. I can see where we’re heading and the style he wants to implement on the team,” Maguire said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of aspects we need to improve to get to the top of where we want to be. We don’t want to be challenging for this Champions League spot, we want to be challenging for titles. We know there’s still a lot of improvement to get there, but we’re on the right track and I’m sure eventually we will get there.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tried to keep expectations relatively low since he arrived at Man United in December 2018 but with big money spent on Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and most recently Bruno Fernandes, there’s a sense the Red Devils are getting there.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a long way to go until they catch up with Liverpool and Man City to mount a serious title bid, but the signs have been promising. They are currently unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions, recording nine shutouts during this run and have beaten Chelsea and Man City (twice).

Below we take a look at where Man United still need to strengthen to become title contenders.


Where Man United need to strengthen to become title challengers

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Maguire — ? — Shaw —

—- ? —- Fred — 

—- ? —- Fernandes —- Rashford —-

—– Martial —–

Most of the back four is fine and this be a little harsh to suggest a replacement for Victor Lindelof is needed and a little too kind to keep Luke Shaw in there. Simply put, if United keep Lindelof and Shaw in their back four, they will probably be solid enough. Is that good enough? If you want to challenge for titles you have to have a back four capable of not making a mistake for months on end.

Defensive midfield is United’s biggest problem area. It is quite generous for me to keep Fred in there after a few months of decent displays following his 12 months of mediocrity. That said, Nemanja Matic is edging towards the end of his career, Paul Pogba’s future is uncertain and Scott McTominay is a great 12th man but is he anymore than that? Bringing in a N’Golo Kante type player is what United need to do to knit their midfield and defense together.

On the attacking side of things, not a lot needs to happen. Of course, bringing in Harry Kane up top would be a game-changer but are Tottenham really going to sell him to Man United and will Solskjaer really blow his entire transfer budget on a forward when he already has a handful who can grab close to 20 goals a season each? Probs not. Martial, Rashford will interchange as left wingers and central strikers, while Fernandes is their star playmaker in the No.10 role. The only spot that really needs filling is out on the right. Daniel James has been inconsistent, Jesse Lingard has lost his form and Mason Greenwood prefers to play up top. Bringing in a tricky winger who can cut in from the right would be ideal.

So, Man United are at the very least three players away from having a squad which could mount a serious title bid. A center back, holding midfielder and right winger would be a fine start to closing the gap on the clubs above them. There is a plan and that is promising but they still have a heck of a long way to go.

Man United haven’t won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson returned in 2013 and the only time they’ve come relatively close since was the 2017-18 campaign when the finished a distant second to runaway leaders Man City.

Indonesia football disaster: At least 174 dead after riot, stampede

Indonesia soccer riot
Photo by AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images
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At least 174 people are dead following a riot at a Liga1 match between Arema and Persebaya Surabaya in Indonesia.

Home side Arema lost 3-2 to Persebaya, its first home derby loss in over two decades. The intensity of the rivalry had already led to away fans being banned from attending the derby in Malang, East Java.

Reports say the majority of the fans were trampled to death after police fired tear gas as some fans fired bottles and other items at players and officials.

FIFA does not allow the use of tear gas at football matches. According to Sky Sports:

Hooliganism is rife in football-obsessed Indonesia where fanaticism often ends in violence, highlighted by the 2018 death of a Persija Jakarta supporter who was killed by a mob of hardcore fans from rival club Persib Bandung.

More on this story as it develops.

Man City vs Man United live! Score, how to watch, stream link, lineups

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE), Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel

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Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)

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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi
fotmob.com

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.