Juan Mata

Man Utd shocked by advantageous Burnley

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Manchester United never showed up at Old Trafford, and Burnley reaped all the benefits.

Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez scored as the Clarets stunned the Red Devils 2-0 on Wednesday.

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United fails to take advantage of Chelsea’s draw with Arsenal, and sits six points back of the Top Four.

Burnley climbs seven points clear of the drop zone, level with five teams on 30 points.


Three things we learned

1. Wood shines up top: It was a 10th goal to go with his first assist of the season for the New Zealand international, who used a half-yard of space from Harry Maguire to put Burnley in front. Burnley’s philosophy is to find their forwards at all cost, and when Wood is delivering that ethos looks genius.

2. United’s absent wings cost it dear (and jeer): Juan Mata and Anthony Martial were lively, but both Daniel James and Andreas Pereira did little to inspire hope of a goal for the home side. The Red Devils were the focus of crowd derision on the day, as they again wasted a chance to improve their Top Four credentials. Most teams will suffer without their top two attackers, but this is Manchester United. Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford missing or not, Wednesday was iugly stuff.

3. Jay Rodriguez’s new nickname is “Bangers Only”: Joking aside, it’s difficult to remember Rodriguez goals that don’t get you out of your seat. His insurance goal absolutely buried United, and gives him seven across all competitions. It also gives Sean Dyche plenty of competition in training, with Ashley Barnes on the periphery.

Man of the Match: Wood


United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka cut a promising 15th minute cross through the 18, but no teammate could get a foot to it.

Fred continued his lively play when he hit a low drive to Nick Pope in the 23rd, good endeavor without the required sharpness.

Daniel James forced Pope into a leaping save in the 32nd, and Martial couldn’t get his feet right when Nemanja Matic rolled him to the doorstep in the 34th.

Burnley took the lead out of absolute nothing, Wood taking advantage of Harry Maguire when Ben Mee flicked a long free kick to the Kiwi.

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Rodriguez went bar down with a beauty in the 57th minute to make it 2-0, and real trouble arrived at Old Trafford.

Player Ratings from Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United

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Liverpool might’ve needed a stoppage time goal to put Manchester United away, but the Reds outclassed their rivals on Sunday at Anfield.

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It was a righteous beatdown of the visitors, who were without Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford but looked more like a relegated-threatened side than one of the most successful clubs in football history.

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Liverpool

Alisson — 9 — One of the world’s best gets an extra point for assisting Mohamed Salah‘s insurance goal.

Andy Robertson — 7 — Typical strength from the hard-working Scot.

Joe Gomez — 7

Virgil Van Dijk — 8 — Scored the decisive goal and was almost imperious at the back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold — 7

Georginio Wijnaldum — 7

Jordan Henderson — 8 — One of his best days in the shirt, winning numerous tackles and deprived of a delightful goal by De Gea.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Out 66′) — 7

Sadio Mane (Out 83′) — 5 — If he’s anywhere near his average self, he has a first half hat trick.

Mohamed Salah — 7 — Tied for a match-high shots with Mane, but had more of an edge and found a deserved goal late.

Roberto Firmino (Out 83′) — 7 — A game-high six dribbles to go with plenty of industry.

Subs 

Adam Lallana (66′) — 7

Divock Origi (83′) — N/A

Fabinho (83′) — N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea — 7 — An incredible save on Jordan Henderson on a day he had so little help.

Luke Shaw (Off 87′) — 5

Harry Maguire — 4 — Tried to do too much in his first match as full-time United captain.

Victor Lindelof — 4

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — 6 — One of few standouts on the day, with loads of energy and few ready to meet his level.

Brandon Williams (Out 75′) — 6

Nemanja Matic — 6

Fred — 7 — One of the few United players to bring effort and sharpness, but his shooting was off. Only Van Dijk attempted more passes.

Andreas Pereira (Out 75′) — 3 — Don’t let his ability to produce an edge of your seat moment detract from 16-of-26 passing and dreadful inconsistency.

Daniel James — 5

Anthony Martial — 4 — Blazed a perfect chance to tie the match over the bar, and effort wasn’t there.

Subs 

Juan Mata (In 75′) — N/A

Mason Greenwood (In 75′) — N/A

Diogo Dalot (In 87′) — N/A

Solskjaer talks Rashford injury, ‘finally’ beating Wolves

Manchester United's Solskjaer talks Rashford injury
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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was going to give Marcus Rashford his first match day off since Dec. 12.

He didn’t, and he regrets it.

Solskjaer plucked his star striker off the bench in the 64th minute and removed him 16 minutes later after a back injury hobbled the 22-year-old.

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“Yes, it backfired,” Solskjaer said, via the BBC. “You got to take them once in a while. He’ll be tested in the next few days – we have to see for Sunday. He couldn’t run. He struggled a little bit with his back and got another knock. It didn’t help.”

Rashford played just 20 minutes in the first meeting between the two on Jan. 4, but started eight other matches in the last 34 days. He went 90 minutes in five of those outings.

The injury, possibly minor, threatens to overshadow a terrific Juan Mata goal as Manchester United earned a date with either Watford and Tranmere Rovers in the fourth round.

The 1-0 win is United’s first over Wolves in six tries since the latter was promoted in 2018 (three draws, two losses).

“I think you can see it was two teams towards the end that were tired. End to end and an open game – sometimes that doesn’t suit us,” Solskjaer said. “We’re delighted to beat Wolves finally. Juan Mata is different class. He’s got the skill, composure and even pace.”

Mata’s looked great in consecutive matches, and he’s gonna need to do it more often if Rashford is unable to go for any prolonged period.

FA Cup: Mata leads Man Utd win as Rashford hurt; Cardiff wins 7-goal thriller

Manchester United advances in FA Cup
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The FA Cup’s fourth round fixture list is complete, pending one water-logged reschedule, after Manchester United and Cardiff City picked up wins on Wednesday.

United’s win came at a cost, as Marcus Rashford limped off with a back injury.

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Watford and Tranmere Rovers face a replay next week after seeing their Tuesday match moved due to an unplayable pitch.

Spurs outlasted Middlesbrough on Tuesday to headline a host of replays.

As for Wednesday…

Manchester United v. Wolves

The visitors thought that they’d gone ahead early, but an inadvertent handball was caught by VAR to keep the score 0-0.

Red-hot Juan Mata made the difference with a delightful run to meet Anthony Martial‘s through ball, dinking the ball over John Ruddy in the 67th minute.

What a goal from one of the serially underappreciated players of his generation.

Carlisle United 3-4 Cardiff City

League Two relegation candidates Carlisle showed well against their Championship visitors, taking a lead through Nathan Thomas.

Cardiff scored the next three goals of the match, but Harry McKirdy twice pulled the hosts back within a goal at 3-2 and 4-3.

It was just too big an ask of the Cumbrians, though, as Aden Flint’s double joined goals from Josh Murphy and Danny Ward to make it 4-2 before the hour mark.

FA Cup fourth round schedule

Jan. 24
Northampton Town v. Derby County
QPR v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 25
Brentford v. Leicester City
Southampton v. Tottenham Hotspur
Millwall v. Sheffield United
Reading v. Cardiff City
West Ham v. West Brom
Burnley v. Norwich City
Coventry City v. Birmingham City
Newcastle United v. Oxford United
Portsmouth v. Barnsley
Hull City v. Chelsea

Jan. 26
Man City v. Fulham
Watford or Tranmere Rovers v. Manchester United
Shrewsbury Town v. Liverpool

Jan. 27
Bournemouth v. Arsenal

Manchester United’s Mata ‘still hungry’ after making case for more time

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Juan Mata would like the world to know he still wants to compete, and on Saturday he showed that class is permanent.

The Manchester United midfielder picked two assists in his first league start since Dec. 1, the first a sensational set-up of Marcus Rashford.

“It is frustrating when I don’t play,” Mata said after the 4-0 defeat of Norwich City. “I am still hungry to help my team with goals and assists. Like every player, when I don’t play I am not happy. But I have to always be available for the team.”

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Mata, 31, has been an unused sub for nine PL matches this season, and played less than 10 minutes in five others. His two assists, however, were his first notches on the score sheet in Premier League play.

The Spaniard’s been around the block, and says Saturday’s show highlights the Top Four capabilities of United. From The Manchester Evening News:

“It is a good example of how good we can play. We need to play like this on a consistent basis if we want to get a Champions League spot.”

As for Mata’s manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was please with this performance. United rebounded from a poor performance in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal versus rivals Man City.

“Very happy,” he said. “We started on the front foot. When you can walk off, and I am sure the opposition are talking about Man Utd as a very hard working team, that is what I want from my team.”