Luke Shaw

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Liverpool, Manchester United set for injury returns

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According to reports, both Manchester United and Liverpool are preparing to welcome back a number of important players from injury for their rivalry meeting at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Most notably, the Reds will reportedly have goalkeeper Alisson ready to take his place between the sticks, having missed nearly the entire season to this point with a calf injury. The Brazilian made it just 39 minutes into the Premier League opener against Norwich City before succumbing to injury, and Adrian has filled in since. While the Spaniard has played exceptionally well in his teammate’s stead, The Guardian reports that Alisson will take back his starting place no questions asked, having rigorously tested his injured leg with intensive training to make sure he is ready.

In addition to the Brazilian goalkeeper, Liverpool is also reportedly set to see Mohamed Salah prove fit to start despite his injury scare against Leicester City just before the international break.

For the hosts, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has received welcome news on a number of players prior to the matchup. Paul Pogba, who has missed three of the last four league matches and five of the last seven overall thanks to an ankle injury, is ready to go and will be available to start. The Mirror reports that Pogba spent much of the international break training in Dubai to aid in his recovery.

Also returning for Manchester United is Aaron Wan-Bissaka who has missed the last two Premier League matches with tonsillitis. It was reported that Wan-Bissaka was ready to return for the Newcastle match prior to the international break, but he missed out nonetheless and was absent from the England national team as well. Also reportedly returning is the oft-injured Luke Shaw who has not played since late August thanks to a hamstring problem.

Finally, Anthony Martial could be ready to return from his own hamstring injury. The report is that Martial would be in contention for a place in the Manchester United18-man squad, suggesting that he may need a match or two to regain full fitness for a starting spot but would be an option off the bench if needed.

Liverpool and Manchester United meet on Sunday for the 203rd time overall and 173rd time in the top flight, kicking off at 11:30 a.m. ET from Old Trafford. The matchup is significant for both sides as Liverpool looks to maintain its perfect record and eight point lead atop the Premier League table, while Manchester United is hoping for a boost from its vastly mediocre record to this point in the season, having recorded just two wins through the first eight matches.

Can Man United buy its way back to glory?

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By all accounts, Manchester United is having a woeful start to the Premier League season. However, the front office reportedly believes it can solve the crisis at the club with strategic purchases over the next two seasons.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Manchester United is looking to make eight signings spread through the next two summer transfer windows. The report claims they’ve already created a shortlist of targets and one may even be acquired in the upcoming winter transfer window in January. Players like Leicester City’s James Maddison and Ben Chillwell have been rumored to be on Man United’s radar in recent days, as it looks to improve its squad.

[READ: Maddison pulls out of England squad]

There’s no doubt that Man United’s team is in dire straights. From the days of Sir Alex Ferguson where the team had Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and many others, the current squad absolutely pales in comparison.

This summer was supposed to be a massive one for the club after another season outside the top four. And yet, the only major signing was Harry Maguire. Ironically, one of the summer’s first signings for current manager – for how long, who knows? – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Daniel James, has been very good when fit.

While on defense Man United is decent, in the final third, the Red Devils are woeful. With Anthony Martial still out injured and the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez this summer, Marcus Rashford looks too under pressure to handle all the responsibility right now. Man United has only scored one goal from open play in the last five games, and it’s not looking like things will improve that much even when Paul Pogba and Martial return from injury.

So it raises the question: Can Man United buy its way out of trouble? The answer, is maybe.

Manchester City spent boatloads of money, and it did end up with a first Premier League-era title in 2012. Only Micah Richards was from the club’s youth system in the squad. The latest smart purchases from Man City has put the club on a path to long-term success.

And yet, it’s not like Man United hasn’t spent a ton of money over the last decade chasing success. Since Ferguson retired, millions were spent on signing so many players, some of whom turned out to be good, but none turned out to be great. There was Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini. Then Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, and Angel Di Maria. Then Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Anthony Martial. Soon after it was Pogba and Eric Bailley and don’t forget Henrik Mkhitaryan. How much did Victor Lindelof, Lukaku and Sanchez cost Man United?

I could go on even further, but the point is made. Man United has spent tons, and it seems like with no plan.

The only way this new plan works is if they buy smart and buy players who fit well in a system, not just the ones who are shining in other systems.

WATCH LIVE: Manchester United v. Arsenal

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One of the Premier League’s fiercest rivalries has some extra punch to it as a Monday showdown features two desperate giants looking to prove they can still compete with the league’s best.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Manchester United sits in 8th in the Premier League table, while Arsenal rests in 11th, both far lower than the clubs expect to be seven matches in. The two teams meet at Old Trafford at 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

In a surprise spell of fitness for Manchester United, Paul Pogba starts despite reports that a midweek recurrence of his ankle injury could keep him out, while Marcus Rashford also makes the starting lineup despite reports of his likely absence, leaving Mason Greenwood to the bench. On the other end of the spectrum, Aaron Wan-Bissaka misses out officially due to illness, although reports state he’s been managing a back problem of late while Luke Shaw also can’t prove his fitness, which means the full-backs are Axel Tuanzebe and Ashley Young. Young Brandon Williams makes the bench as cover for one of the full-backs.

For Arsenal, it was thought that Kieran Tierney would be fit to make his Premier League debut for the club, but despite debuting midweek off the bench, he does not appear in the squad, with Sead Kolasinac remaining the left back of choice. Calum Chambers is chosen over Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right-back after the latter’s sending off last time out, while creative force Dani Ceballos begins on the bench. 18-year-old Bukayo Saka becomes the youngest player ever to start a Premier League match against Manchester United for Arsenal as Unai Emery deploys the youngster on the left wing.

LINEUPS

Man United – De Gea; Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; McTominay, Pogba; Pereira, Lingard, James; Rashford.
Bench – Romero; Rojo, Williams, Matic, Fred, Mata, Greenwood.

Arsenal – Leno; Kolasinac, Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Torreira, Xhaka; Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.
Bench – Martinez; Holding, Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Willock, Martinelli.

Solskjaer on Man United: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’

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Ahead of Manchester United‘s clash with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his Red Devils are on track.

Despite sitting 13 points off Premier League leaders Liverpool, the man in his first full season in charge at United is cautiously optimistic about the squad and playing style he is building.

Solskjaer sat down with our partners Sky Sports, and told Gerard Brand that United are just about where he expected them to be right now.

“It’s not like the situation we had last year,” Solskjaer said. “There’s no lack of desire there. For us it’s about building a new culture, building a new team, bringing everybody together. Is it the job I expected? Yes. I never said this was going to be a quick-fix job. It’s step after step after step.”

“Of course, we’ve hit a few bumps in the road, I never said this was going to be a quick-fix job. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We need time, and the attitude of the boys has been great. [We must] keep working on improving the understanding and relationships between all players, and the style we want to play.”

Given the fact Solskjaer inherited an almighty mess last season after Jose Mourinho left, then rejuvenated the squad as they looked likely to finish in the top four before a late season collapse, he deserves more time until he’s properly judged.

Defeats against Crystal Palace and West Ham early this season haven’t helped his cause but neither have costly injuries to Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and now Marcus Rashford.

Context is key in life, and in football.

Solskjaer is slowly trying to create a new culture at United and the younger players he is bedding in (Mason Greenwood, Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Scott McTominay to name a few) will take time to find their feet. There is a clear playing style of counter-attacking coupled with more intense pressing in attacking areas, and it has shown glimpses of working well.

Will Solskjaer be given the time to turn United into a top four team, at the very least, once again?

As he says, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But a decent football team can be built in about 6-12 months. The clock is ticking, Ole…

If United aren’t firmly in the top four battle by January, Ed Woodward and Co. may be getting a little twitchy.

At this point, blaming the manager is probably not the answer. Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes have all come and gone since Sir Alex Ferguson retired while the rest of the football structure at the club hasn’t changed at all over the last six years.

That tells its own story and should probably buy Solskjaer at least until the end of this season before he is judged.

Paul Pogba set to return for Man United

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Paul Pogba is set to return for Manchester United against Rochdale on Wednesday.

Pogba has been missing since picking up an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw at Southampton on Aug. 31, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed the Frenchman is in contention to play at Old Trafford against League One Rochdale.

“He’ll probably get some minutes against Rochdale,” Solskjaer said. “But we definitely think he’s ready for Arsenal.”

Despite all of the criticism about Pogba’s inconsistent displays, United have missed him in midfield over the last few weeks.

In the two Premier League games he’s been missing, United have lost to West Ham and narrowly beat Leicester City.

Scott McTominay has been okay in central midfield but both Fred and Nemanja Matic have failed to take their chance with Pogba out of the team.

In recent games United have looked lethargic and lacking ideas in the attacking third. Pogba’s return will change that.

With the Arsenal game next Monday in mind (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Solskjaer will he hoping the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw will all be available to play, but that trio will not be fit enough to play against Rochdale.

Mason Greenwood will be available to play in the League Cup game after recovering from tonsillitis.