Eric Bailly

Manchester United triggers Bailly contract extension
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Manchester United triggers Bailly contract extension

Leave a comment

Manchester United has picked up a two-year option on Eric Bailly‘s contract, according to Sky Sports.

The Red Devils now have the giant 25-year-old center back under wraps through the 2021/22 season.

Bailly is nearing full fitness after his latest injury setback, knee and ankle injuries costing him dozens of matches since arriving from Villarreal in 2016. He underwent knee surgery in late July.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

There’s little reason for United not to pick up the option, as Bailly could’ve left for free in the summer and the extension allows for a possible transfer fee.

That said, Bailly has been very good with healthy and in-form, especially in an exceptional debut season at Old Trafford. He has 34 caps for the Ivory Coast, and is nearing the prime age for a center back.

United visits Liverpool at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday, and Bailly is not expected to play.

The center back may get a chance to get to know Bruno Fernandes, who is being tipped for a $77 million transfer. He likely won’t see Ashley Young, who’s arrived in Milan ahead of a transfer to Inter.

Solskjaer: ‘Warrior’ Maguire could play this weekend despite injury

Manchester United gets Maguire injury boost
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lifted the collective spirit of Manchester United supporters without signing a new player.

The Red Devils manager announced that fears of a long-term absence for Harry Maguire are overblown, saying the player has a minor injury.

The 26-year-old may even play at Norwich City on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“He’s got a chance for tomorrow, it was a minor thing, I don’t know where the reports are coming from,” Solskjaer said, via The Manchester Evening News. “(The media) might’ve mistaken it for Harry Kane. He’s got a chance. He will go through training today and see how he reacts for tomorrow.”

Solskjaer says that Maguire fought through pain to play in the FA Cup last weekend.

“It’s not a surprise.. He’s a warrior and he wants to play. And if there’s a minor problem he’ll put himself up to play and that’s what he did against Wolverhampton.”

The manager also updated the status of Scott McTominay, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and Eric Bailly. McTominay is out until February, while the other two are playing with the reserves Friday.

PL Preview: Man United v. Newcastle

Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Manchester United (25 pts) sits 8th in PL table
  • Newcastle United (25 pts) sits 9th in PL table
  • Last meeting: Newcastle 1-0 Man United

Manchester United’s Boxing Day match could not be bigger for the club unless the Red Devils were fighting for a Premier League title. Which they aren’t. Which is exactly why it is imperative that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer engineers a victory at Old Trafford over Newcastle United, with kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday, live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Solskjaer has led the team to just two wins over its last six Premier League games, and with a host of potential slippery matches leading up to a date with Liverpool on January 19, all eyes will be on the Norwegian boss who most certainly is running out of rope. He could have reinforcements available soon, with Paul Pogba likely to start after he came off the bench against Watford, while Diogo Dalot could also make his return from a two-month injury and Eric Bailly is still out but getting closer.

Manchester United’s last result is just plain ugly – a 2-0 loss to bottom-feeders Watford that set alarm bells off all over the club. With games against plucky Burnley and Arsenal under new management coming up in the following days, this game against Newcastle feels like a turning point one way or another.

On the other side of the coin, Newcastle comes into the match sitting ninth in the Premier League table, level with Manchester United on points. That position marks a huge jump from where many expected the Magpies to be, a massive feather in Steve Bruce‘s cap. He has led the Magpies to three wins in their last four despite a host of injuries to the squad, sticking with Miguel Almiron through his early Newcastle struggles until he provided the winner against Crystal Palace last time out.

Even so, this match marks the start of a brutal festive fixture run for Newcastle, who still must navigate games against Everton, Wolves, and Chelsea through mid-January. A result at Old Trafford and potentially doing the double over Manchester United would give Newcastle some breathing room ahead of more difficult matches.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Eric Bailly (knee), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Diogo Dalot (groin).

Newcastle: OUT – Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Jamaal Lascelles (knee), Ciaran Clark (calf), Matt Ritchie (ankle), Ki Sung-Yeung (knock). QUESTIONABLE – Paul Dummett (groin), Jetro Willems (groin).


Projected lineups

Man United: de Gea; Shaw, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Pogba, Rashford, Mata, James; Martial.

Newcastle: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lejune, Fernandez, Schar, Manquillo; Shelvey, Hayden, Almiron, Atsu; Joelinton.


What they’re saying

Man United boss Solskjaer on loss v. Newcastle: “It’s going to be difficult to break Newcastle down. I expect that we’ll get the fair share of the possession. We were disappointed when we had more than 70% possession up there [at St. James Park] and we lost the game.”

Newcastle manager Bruce on next games: “You think you’ve done it all in the Premier League and then all of a sudden, we’ve got Manchester United, Everton and Leicester in a short period time, difficult games. We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve given ourselves a nice platform but we’re only halfway there, so we’ve got to show the same resilience and spirit that we’ve shown over the last few months and see where it takes us.”


Prediction

Newcastle is in good form, and that should boost them in this match. Still, Manchester United is the far more desperate team at Old Trafford and that should go a long way in the Boxing Day meeting. The Red Devils will find it difficult to break down a bunkered-in Newcastle looking to save its energy for multiple difficult games, but they will find a way through in a hard-fought 2-0 win for the home side.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Man United

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Man City (3rd) trail Liverpool by 11 points
  • Man United (6th) eight points out of 4th
  • Last meeting: Man United 0-2 Man City

For the first time in recent memory, Manchester City and Manchester United each find themselves failing to meet expectations — by their own respective standards, at least — as they prepare to meet at the Etihad Stadium in the 179th Manchester derby on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Man City, the two-time defending Premier League champions, are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their crown for a third straight season but look a surefire bet to finish in the top-four, which is a place for which Man United would bite your hand off as they currently trail leaders Liverpool by more points (22) than they have points of their own (21).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The struggles for United have been all about consistency as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. The Red Devils haven’t won two in a row in the PL since March. On the bright side, United turned in one of their complete performances of the season on Wednesday, spoiling Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford and beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored both goals and Solskjaer couldn’t rave enough about his 22-year-old forward after the game. From start to finish, United were the better team and looked in majority control, which isn’t something they’ve been able to say often in 2019.

As for City, they’ve simply been “not good enough” without ever actually being “bad” this season, given Liverpool’s scintillating form (14W-1D-0L thus far). Realistically, City likely need to pick up all 69 remaining points this season, and even then they might still come up short.

Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)

Man United: OUT – Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (ankle), Nemanja Matic (groin), Diogo Dalot (groin)


Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Angeliño — Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling

Man United: De Gea — Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young — Fred, McTominay, James, Mata, Lingard — Rashford


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on the derby: “It’s Man United. I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them. We play against a good team, try to follow the performances we’ve put in and try to win the game. You know my opinion on the title race.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his derby memories: “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself. Of course, Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. … Confidence is a strange thing in football; you can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much. And I know our boys will be up for it. 24 hours less recovery time [than City] shouldn’t matter, you go on adrenaline.”


Prediction

The win over Tottenham was impressive, no doubt about it, but City remain a challenge of an entirely different class, no matter what their points total says. If the title is well and truly gone for Guardiola’s side, then retaining superiority in Manchester will have to suffice. City 3-1 United.

PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s post-Emery era; Man Utd host Villa

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features four games, including (but not limited to) the first game of the post-Unai Emery era at Arsenal, Manchester United with a chance to climb into fifth place, and what could be the final game of Marco Silva‘s tenure at Everton.

[ MORE: Mourinho praises “phenomenal” Dele Alli, Spurs supporters ]

Arsenal v. Norwich City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal on Friday, making way for the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era to begin on Sunday. With no obvious candidate standing out from all the others, Ljungberg, a long-time favorite as a Gunners player, could be given the chance to impress and have the “interim” tag removed, a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a year ago. After taking just three points from their last five PL games, Arsenal have fallen to ninth place, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea, and could finish the weekend as low as 10th place. On the other hand, a win over 19th-place Norwich would see them climb up to fifth, a point ahead of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, who took the PL by storm with five goals in his first three games, hasn’t found the back of the net since Sept. 14, a run of eight straight goal-less games for the Fininish forward.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Dani Ceballos (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (hamstring), David Luiz (ribs), Shkodran Mustafi (foot) | Norwich  — OUT: Alexander Tettey (personal), Grant Hanley (groin), Timm Klose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jamal Lewis (knee), Josip Drmic (hamstring)


Wolves v. Sheffield United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Through 13 games of their debut season in the PL, Sheffield United are threatening to “do a Wolves,” in so much that the newly promoted side currently sits seventh — where Wolves finished last season — following a red-hot start. Following a poor start of their own (zero wins from their first six games), Wolves have rebounded nicely (unbeaten in their last eight, including four wins) and climbed all the way up to sixth (each side sat a place higher coming into the weekend).

INJURIES: Wolves —  OUT: Willy Boly (ankle), Ryan Bennett (groin), Romain Saiss (suspension), Morgan Gibbs-White (back) | Sheffield United  — OUT: None


Man United v. Aston Villa — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Nearly four months into the season, Man United are still without back-to-back PL victories. In fact, they’ve not repeated the same result — win, loss or draw — in consecutive league games all season. The Red Devils ave been, if anything, consistently inconsistent. After drawing Sheffield United 3-3 last time out, the best Solskjaer’s side can do on Sunday is get halfway there ahead of Tottenham’s blockbuster visit, and Jose Mourinho’s return, on Wednesday. United’s injury list remains extensive — and expensive — as Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly remain out, with Nemanja Matic perhaps set to return on Sunday. As for Villa, Dean Smith‘s side snapped a three-game losing skid last time out by thoroughly besting Newcastle United at Villa Park to put four points between themselves and the relegation zone. Following Southampton’s victory on Saturday, that gap is already down to two points.

INJURIES: Man United —  OUT: Paul Pogba (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Nemanja Matic (groin), Scott McTominay (ankle) | Aston Villa  — OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Bjorn Engels (hip)


Leicester City v. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Every defeat in the coming days could prove to be the final day of Silva’s employment as Everton manager, with the Toffees entering Sunday’s trip to the King Power Stadium in 17th place. It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (seven) on the season thus far, but the sides to which they’ve lost (Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich, to name most of them) that stands out as most embarrassing for a club that thought it would be competing for the top-six this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have happily and swiftly taken their place as the side most likely to break up the monotony of the same clubs finishing atop the table every season. The Foxes entered the weekend in second place (they have since fallen to second), eight points back of Liverpool (now 11), on the back of five straight league victories. Jamie Vardy‘s 12 goals have garnered most of the headlines, but the play-making duo of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been arguably more enjoyable to watch

INJURIES: Leicester —  OUT: Matty James (achilles) | Everton  — OUT: Andre Gomes (ankle), Theo Walcott (knock), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (knock), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Bernard (knee)