Harry Maguire

Four things learned: Man City v. Spurs

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Manchester City and Tottenham played out a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as Kevin De Bruyne impressed but Spurs pegged the reigning champions back and late VAR drama stole the show as Gabriel Jesus‘ strike was ruled out.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Just like their clashes in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League last season, this was appointment viewing as Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola went at it on the sidelines and Spurs rode their luck with Jesus’ goal in stoppage time ruled out for handball.

Here’s what we learned from a heavyweight battle between two title contenders.


JUST LIKE UCL CLASH, VAR DECISION BURNS CITY

Gabriel Jesus thought he had won it in stoppage time as he curled home a beauty to make it 3-2, but VAR was used correctly and it was another dagger deep into the heart of Guardiola and City.

Aymeric Laporte flicked the ball off his arm towards Jesus and VAR quickly cleared up that it was a handball in the box. Incredible drama for the second time in three games for Spurs at Man City, and Guardiola, one of the biggest advocates for VAR, has been burned by it twice in damaging fashion.

Man City fans will point to Fernando Llorente’s handball in their UCL quarterfinal victory last season and why that wasn’t ruled out and that is a valid point. But under the PL’s laws with handballs in the box, Laporte handling the ball pushed it into the path of Jesus and without that knock off his arm, City don’t score. It is as simple as that.


CITY’S SHAKY DEFENSE WILL HOLD THEM BACK

There is a Vincent Kompany sized hole at the heart of Man City’s defense and Spurs made the most of it. Tottenham had two shots on target and scored with both, as Man City looked shaky with both Otamendi and Zinchenko caught out of position. Fernandinho‘s absence was also felt as Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri failed to stop Spurs’ counter attacks, especially in the second half.

City tried to sign Harry Maguire this summer and Virgil Van Dijk in the past and it is clear that Guardiola isn’t happy with John Stones, Otamendi and Laporte as his three first-choice center backs. City made live to regret not paying a little extra for Maguire this summer. It was an area they clearly needed to upgrade and they didn’t.


KEVIN DE BRUYNE RAN THE SHOW

Kevin de Bruyne’s return to full fitness is a massive boost for Man City this season. He grabbed two assists in the first half and absolutely ran the show with two moments of real quality.

The Belgian wizard had last season interrupted with two serious knee injuries, but he’s eager to make up for lost time after grabbing two assists last weekend and another two in Matchweek 2. De Bruyne’s pass to Sterling for the opener was brilliant but his cross for Aguero to double the lead was a thing of beauty.

De Bruyne’s precision was spot on, as usual, and he is coolness personified. The way he strokes the ball around is majestic.

It is absurd that Man City won three domestic trophies and racked up 98 points last season with De Bruyne only playing 19 PL games. Imagine what they can do, alongside David Silva, Bernando Silva, Raheem Sterling and Aguero, if he’s fit for the entire campaign.


SPURS FAIL TO FEED Harry Kane, AS AGUERO, GUARDIOLA FALL OUT

Christian Eriksen, Tanguy Ndombele and Erik Lamela failed to feed Harry Kane and their entire attacking unit faltered because in central midfield they were completely overrun. Harry Winks did his best to put out fires, but not having a true holding midfielder in the engine room hurts Spurs badly. Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier and even Moussa Sissoko aren’t the flashiest of players, but the balance of Spurs’ midfield was off and Kane was isolated for most of the game.

As for Man City’s top goalscorer and star striker, he may not be around for much longer. Aguero clashed with Guardiola as he was subbed off in the second half and there was a heated exchange between the two as they had to be separated.

You love to see the passion from both the manager and star striker, but with tension bubbling under the surface for years over Aguero’s playing style in a Pep side, this looked a lot more personal. In the coming weeks we will find out just how damaging this public spat will be for both Guardiola and Aguero.

‘We need to make Old Trafford a fortress’ vows Maguire

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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Harry Maguire‘s first home match at Old Trafford was tremendous, even if the center back didn’t nab a goal to top it off.

His teammates took care of that, with Marcus Rashford scoring twice to go with Anthony Martial and Daniel James tallies in a 4-0 demolition of Chelsea on Sunday.

[ MORE: Man Utd pummels Chelsea ]

Maguire and right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka made the right side of United’s defense a tough pill to swallow, and teamed up with David De Gea and the goal posts to keep up with a strong first half from Chelsea.

The second half was all United. From the BBC:

“It is the first game at Old Trafford so I think there were nerves. We gave the ball away in dangerous areas. We moved it nicely second half and our front three are so dangerous on the break.

“We knew there were only two clean sheets last year here. We need to make it a fortress. I felt good. I’ve only had three or four days with the lads. I am going to get fitter and better.”

It hardly gets easier for United, who will next Wolves at the Molineux on Aug. 19.

Christian Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform?

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MANCHESTER — USMNT star Christian Pulisic made his Premier League debut for Chelsea at Manchester United on Sunday, as the Pennsylvanian native came on in the second half.

Things didn’t go to plan for his team in their 4-0 defeat, but how did Pulisic do?

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

The 20-year-old arrived in the 58th minute to a huge roar from the away fans at Old Trafford, and it was certainly an eventful first 32 minutes as a Premier League player for him.


59th minute: Pulisic arrives in the Premier League by being clattered into by Paul Pogba,. Pulisic rolls around on the floor and is grabbing his left side. Welcome to the PL, Christian…

65th minute: Man United score through Anthony Martial to go 2-0 up.

67th minute: Man United score through Marcus Rashford to go 3-0 up.

70th minute: Makes a surging run into the box but Kovacic doesn’t find him. Pulisic is not happy.

72nd minute: Wins the ball back and surges towards the box, but they can’t find him with the give-and-go.

75th minute: Played in down the left flank but his cross is cleared by Harry Maguire. From the resulting throw-in he’s tackled by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

79th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally and runs towards the goal but Luke Shaw nicks the ball off him. Pulisic has switched from the left flank to the right.

86th minute: Skips away from two tackles on the edge of his own box but then gives the ball away.

87th minute: Has a shot that is blocked then moments later clatters into Maguire in the box in an aerial challenge.

90th minute: Races free down the left but overhits his cross to Giroud and it goes out for a throw in.

Three things learned: Man United v. Chelsea

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MANCHESTER — Manchester United eased to a 4-0 victory against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Saturday, but that didn’t tell the whole story.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marcus Rashford scored in each half and Anthony Martial and Daniel James both scored in the second half, but Chelsea hit the woodwork twice in the first half and new manager Frank Lampard will be scratching his head after a proper thumping.

[ MORE: How did Pulisic perform on debut? ]

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s name reverberated around Old Trafford as this new-look United side dug deep, rode their luck and showed there may be good times ahead.

Here’s what we learned from Old Trafford.


UNITED’S NEW BOYS SETTLE IN QUICKLY

Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were both making their home debuts as Manchester United players and both had their name sung loud and proud by the Stretford End. They snapped into tackles, looked calm defensively and even though Chelsea caused United problems defensively, it was more so down to Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof being caught out of position or sloppy passes in midfield.

Daniel James then jumped off the bench to score on his Premier League debut to make it 4-0 as the Welsh winger proved he can be a real menace as an impact player. All three of United’s new boys made a positive impact on their debut and Solskjaer will hope that Maguire and AWB continue as they’ve started off. With those two in defense, they look a much better defensive unit.


CHELSEA’S DEFENDING WILL BE A WORRY

Kurt Zouma may well have been Man United’s best player on Sunday. That’s a tad harsh, but he gave away a penalty kick, looked all over the place positionally and the pace of Marcus Rashford was too much for him to handle. David Luiz has been sold, N’Golo Kante didn’t start due to injury and Antonio Rudiger is still out, so this Chelsea defensive unit will look a lot different when it is fully fit.

That said, the way Chelsea capitulated in the second half will be a worry for Lampard and even when Rudiger and Kante are fully fit, who starts at center back? On this showing neither Zouma or Christensen did themselves any favors.


BEST AND WORST OF POGBA ARRIVES

In the first half Paul Pogba‘s display summed up the vacuum present in United’s midfield. He and Scott McTominay couldn’t get on the ball and when they did, they lost it. Pogba’s second half was superb. He pinged over a pinpoint ball to Rashford to make it 3-0, then surged towards goal and slotted in Daniel James for the fourth.

We saw the best and worst of Pogba on Sunday and that is the main problem.

That is why fans are so divided when it comes to his worth at United and don’t forget, he could still move on to Juventus or Real Madrid later this summer when their transfer windows close. He was booed and cheered when his name was read out over the PA announcer. That sums up the feeling towards him right now. He is infuriatingly inconsistent.

Pogba played like he wanted to be at United, but only in the second half. If he can become more consistent, United can really challenge for a top four finish this season.

Manchester United pummels Chelsea behind Pogba playmaking

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Paul Pogba set up two goals and Marcus Rashford scored twice as Manchester United clobbered Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Blues were the better team for the first hour aside from a conceded penalty, but the dam exploded in the second half.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

American winger Christian Pulisic came off the bench for Chelsea with an hour to play.

Both Daniel James and Anthony Martial also scored in the win.


Three things we learned

1. Paul Pogba looked a man inspired, chipping in at both ends and scooping up two assists. The first was an audacious, inch-perfect ball to lift the lid on the defense and the second came after leading a marauding counter attack and playing a scintillating little pass to James.

2. Both Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer want to give the kids a chance, even if the former didn’t give our American kid a start. Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira held places in United’s XI, and both Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham opened business for Chelsea.

Lampard, however, perhaps got a little too cute in handing the Abraham an opening day start at Old Trafford when he had Olivier Giroud‘s experience in the mix (albeit with the knowledge that Giroud doesn’t have a great record at United). Abraham was quick and industrious but perhaps a bit tipsy from the stage.

UPDATE: Jose Mourinho, speaking on Sky Sports, agrees.

“Alonso, Kante and Giroud were on the bench. To come to Old Trafford, even if it’s not the huge Manchester United team that used to scare people, it’s still Manchester United, it’s the first match at home, first match of the season, people are excited. A little bit of experience would fit well with the team. You look at the performance of Mount, Abraham and Christensen and I think for matches of this dimension you need a bit more.”

3. Top strikers — and we have no idea if Marcus Rashford will prove to be one — score even when they’re struggling, and Rashford won and converted a penalty despite looking out of place for the first 15 minutes of the match.

Man of the Match:  Aaron Wan-Bissaka


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Tammy Abraham hammered a shot off the post in the fifth minute, and it didn’t even appear to spin (and may have been heard to whimper).

At the other end, a poor giveaway allowed Anthony Martial a prime chance. The French hit a low drive to Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Mason Mount hit a hard shot that deflected off Harry Maguire but spun to David De Gea in the 12th.

Marcus Rashford had a poor first quarter-hour but his mistouch put Kurt Zouma off balance and the Chelsea man chopped him down for a penalty. Rashford roofed his effort for a 1-0 lead.

De Gea made a fine leg save on Ross Barkley as the match neared halftime, and Victor Lindelof blocked Jorginho‘s mediocre attempt to volley the rebound home. And Emerson smashed a shot off the top of the near post moments later.

Emerson forced De Gea into another fine save in the 56th minute.

Chelsea introduced Christian Pulisic around the hour mark, and the Blues had all of the ball but gave up a goal at the next United opportunity.

That came when Martial bodied up to meet Andreas Pereira’s cross at the center of the box.

Two minutes later, Rashford ran onto an inch-perfect long ball from Pogba and put his shot behind Arrizabalaga for 3-0.

Pogba then led a free kick counter attack down the left of the pitch before slipping a sensational pass through to James, whose shot turned off Emerson and past Arrizabalaga.