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PL Preview: Man United vs. Newcastle

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Manchester United’s search for an end to the four-match winless streak now features a brand new dark cloud hanging over Old Trafford as the Red Devils host Newcastle at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Manchester United vs. Newcastle ]

A major report by The Mirror on Friday claims that Jose Mourinho will be fired following Manchester United’s match no matter the result, surely to dominate the pre-match chatter. Mourinho has had a tumultuous season, as feuds with players like Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial bled over into the media.

United has not won since a Champions League win over Young Boys on September 19th, a run of four matches across all competitions without a win. That stretch has seen them lose to West Ham in Premier League play and Championship side Derby County on penalties in League Cup play, plus draws against newly-promoted Wolves in the league and most recently a boring 0-0 finish against Spanish side Valencia.

Ander Herrera has missed much of the start to the season with an ankle injury, and was thought to be on his way back, possibly returning in this weekend’s match, but the BBC reports he will remain on the sideline. Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard also miss out for Manchester United.

For Newcastle, Solomon Rondon is out with a thigh injury, while Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez are likely to miss out with hamstring problems. The Magpies have only won once in their past 36 visits to Old Trafford, but could have a great opportunity to buck that trend as they face a wounded giant. Newcastle has yet to win a single Premier League match this season, with just two points through the first seven games of the campaign.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Newcastle’s results: “The results they had against the top teams didn’t get them points yet this season but gave them very, very close results and very difficult matches for the opposition, so we expect a difficult match.”

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez on Manchester United’s struggles: “In all my time in England, I don’t remember any fragile Manchester United team. All of them have been really strong every year with good managers, good players, so I don’t see any fragile Manchester United team.”

Prediction

The new report about Jose Mourinho gives this match an entirely different feel. Could Mourinho indeed save his job with a win? Is it already over for the Portuguese boss? Will the players play for him with his job on the line? Will they throw him under the bus? There’s so much unknown here. What we do know is that both these teams come into the match in poor form, and something has to give. That something feels far more likely to be Manchester United than Newcastle, even if Mourinho is right that the Magpies have deserved more from a number of results. Still, this match has a 1-1 draw all over it, a fitting end to Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford.

League Cup: 10-man Man Utd stunned at home; Man City wins

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Derby County outlasted 10-man Manchester United in an eight-round penalty shootout as the Rams knocked the Red Devils out of the League Cup at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Locked 2-2 after 90 minutes, the sides each converted their first seven penalties before Phil Jones missed Manchester United’s eighth following a Richard Keogh conversion.

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With Paul Pogba sitting in the stands but dancing through the headlines, United’s players piled some lumber under manager Jose Mourinho’s hot seat.

Marouane Fellaini‘s goal deep in stoppage time gave 10-man Manchester United a stay at Old Trafford after the hosts tossed away a 1-0 lead. Diego Dalot’s cross was met by the big blonde head of Fellaini, who canceled out Jack Marriott’s late goal for Derby County.

Harry Wilson, on loan from Liverpool, scored a knuckling free kick in the second half of Derby’s visit to Old Trafford to bring Frank Lampard‘s Championship side level after Juan Mata‘s third minute opener. It was gorgeous (see above).

Mata’s goal itself was pretty, as United moved up the field quickly from Ander Herrera to Anthony Martial. The latter’s crossed was moved into Mata’s path via Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard, and the Red Devils were up early.

But the Rams kept knocking, and earned a free kick that Wilson crushed past a perplexed Sergio Romero, who was later sent off for a handball outside the box in the 68th minute, further setting the stage for the Cottagers.

Marriott struck for what looked to be the eventual winner about 17 minutes later.

Millwall 1-3 Fulham

American midfielder Luca De La Torre made the most of the chance handed to him by Slavisa Jokanovic. The 20-year-old played 16 minutes in the second round but earned a start at The Den, where he assisted Joe Bryan‘s opener and scored a 52nd minute goal for himself before adding another assist on the Cottagers’ final goal.

Oxford United 0-3 Man City

Phil Foden scored his first Man City goal, capping off a relatively easy stroll for Pep Guardiola‘s men. Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez also scored for the reigning champions of the Premier League and this tournament.

Elsewhere
West Brom 0-3 Crystal Palace
Burton Albion 2-1 Burnley
Wycombe Wanderers 3-4 Norwich City
Bournemouth 3-2 Blackburn Rovers
Preston North End 2-2 (3-4 PKs) Middlesbrough
Blackpool 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Wolves 0-0 (1-3 PKs) Leicester City

Who scored it better: Mata, Townsend pot League Cup beauties

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There’s team goals, and there’s solo goals.

The League Cup saw both in its early Tuesday throes.

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First, Frank Lampard‘s Derby County received a rude welcome to Old Trafford.

Manchester United went up 1-0 in under 200 seconds with a breakneck rush up the left of the field (see above).

Ander Herrera spotted Anthony Martial, and an exquisite touch sent the Frenchman toward the corner flag.

His cross was touched to Jesse Lingard by Romelu Lukaku, and the English winger laid off to Juan Mata.

Mata made no mistake, supplying the finish required by such an electric move.

The second goal came at the Hawthorns, where Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend punished West Bromwich Albion with a long dribble and shot from distance.

Mourinho’s mixed messages over Man United progression

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Jose Mourinho believes his Manchester United side will progress this season. Even if the table or points tally doesn’t show it.

Work that one out.

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Speaking ahead of United’s 1-1 draw at home to Wolves on Saturday — Paul Pogba has already had his say as he urged United to ‘attack, attack, attack’ at home — Mourinho said he is pleased with the overall development of his side.

“I am not saying we are going to have more points than last season because last season we collect a very acceptable level,” Mourinho said. “I think we are going to be a better team. We are going to play better than we did but I think it’s going to be a very difficult season. Not just for us, also for the others because the others they can say exactly the same as I am saying and they can say: ‘Oh, Manchester United, good team, good squad, City good squad, good team.’”

“I am optimistic, but a difficult season, yes,” Mourinho added. “I don’t change that because we won two matches in the Premier League. You see the level of the teams: you see [the] Liverpool squad, City squad, Chelsea squad, Tottenham squad, Arsenal improving. It’s going to be difficult.”

As Mourinho mentioned, they’ve won two of their last three but just three of their opening six PL games this season and they’re already eight points off league leaders Liverpool in the table.

Surely he can’t be too happy with the development of his team? Mourinho questioned the attitude of his players after the draw with Wolves, which isn’t a sign of him believing they’re moving in the right direction.

The Portuguese coach is sending out mixed messages.

United’s dropped points against Tottenham, Brighton and Wolves were deserved, although the game against Spurs was a strange one as they played well and should have led but they were then punished in the second half. Wolves could’ve easily nicked a win at United on Saturday and United’s defensive deficiencies are the biggest problem for Mourinho to sort out as he chops and changes defensive players.

Do they need to attack more? Well, that is always the objective for any team and United are no different, especially at home, but Mourinho doesn’t seem to know his best attacking lineup aside from Romelu Lukaku. There’s no doubt Alexis Sanchez is in a severe slump, while Marcus Rashford is being played out of position on the wing and the likes of Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are in and out of the team. To become a better attacking unit you need to have a settled system and personnel who can create and combine effectively. United do not have that. At all. And they haven’t since Mourinho arrived in 2016.

Over the past three seasons, United have scored 131 goals, the fewest amount of the so-called ‘big six’ in the Premier League.

They’ve scored nine goals in their opening six games of this season and they’ve conceded nine. That points to fine-tuning needed in both defense and attack if they’re not only going to finish in the top four but also drag themselves into the title race.

At this point Mourinho needs his players to put points on the board and more trophies in the cabinet at Old Trafford because his team aren’t showing serious signs of progression and aren’t enjoyable to watch on a weekly basis a la Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and even Arsenal.

Wolves, Manchester United equal at Old Trafford

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  • Pogba makes star pass to Fred (video)
  • Moutinho with equally clever goal
  • United sits sixth

Joao Moutinho‘s terrific second half goal helped Wolverhampton Wanderers to a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Fred scored United’s goal off a clever Paul Pogba feed, with the Frenchman having a decent day in the stalemate. United had the better of the chances, but could not find a second goal.

United is sixth with 10 points, behind Bournemouth on goal differential, while Wolves are 10th with one less point.

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David De Gea was called upon for a prime 7th minute save when Wolves unlocked the United defense to afford Raul Jimenez a point blank turn-and-fire.

Fred but United ahead in the 18th minute, the Red Devils’ Brazilian addition hitting a low ball past Rui Patricio after a breathtaking touch bass from Paul Pogba.

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Hold on just one minute, though, as Wolves leveled the score with a scintillating strike from Moutinho, who curled a pass from Raul behind a helpless De Gea.

Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard posted dangerous chances for United, and an offside Romelu Lukaku missed with a header from a Pogba cross.

De Gea and Patricio traded saves as the final 20 minutes began at Old Trafford, with Marouane Fellaini threatening the latter with a 72nd minute header.