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Marcus Rashford struggling with injury

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Marcus Rashford will not play for England during this international break.

The Manchester United striker, 21, has suffered an ankle injury and has been training away from the team as the Three Lions prepare to open up their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign against the Czech Republic.

Rashford has been in fine form for United since caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge in December, but he will not be risked by England boss Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions manager confirmed to the media on Thursday that Rashford would be sent back to United as he was not fit enough to play in either of the qualifiers over the next few days.

United’s homegrown star injured his ankle in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Feb. 24 and was forced to play on after United suffered injuries galore in the first half and couldn’t sub him off. He has been nursing the ankle injury ever since. That could explain a little dip in form in recent weeks as Rashford has scored just once from open play in his past six games for United.

Solskjaer and everyone at United would not want England to take a risk with Rashford, and Southgate hasn’t done that as he has a wealth of attacking options he has at his disposal.

Harry Kane is expected to lead the line for England, with Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jadon Sancho supporting him. Callum Wilson is another forward option for Southgate, and Callum Hudson-Odoi could also be involved, so although Rashford is a hugely important player for England there is no need to take a risk on his fitness. The decision to release Rashford is a good one by Southgate.

Manchester United shocked by Wolves in FA Cup quarterfinals

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed a stunning start to his Manchester United tenure. Now, he might just be facing his first period of adversity.

A quickfire double for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final 20 minutes doomed the Red Devils to a 2-1 defeat at Monlieux as Raul Jiminez and Diogo Jota each found the back of the net.

Manchester United held 61% of the possession throughout the match, but they struggled mightily up front, creating just two shots on target out of their 11 total efforts. Wolves, meanwhile, generated 17 total shots with seven on target despite the significant possessional disadvantage.

Wolves opened the scoring with a fabulous turn-and-fire from Jiminez who picked up the ball atop the penalty spot after United failed to clear and found a way past David De Gea.

Manchester United could not find a response, and instead Wolves put the game to bed with 14 minutes to go as Jota caught the Red Devils way too far out in front. Jota on the fast break shook Luke Shaw aside and found himself free on goal, finishing expertly with the left foot to double the lead.

While Manchester United got a consolation from Marcus Rashford deep into stoppage time, it was too little too late for the Red Devils. It’s the first losing streak of Solskjaer’s career as Manchester United boss, having lost last time out against Arsenal in Premier League play.

They next take on Watford in Premier League play after the international break, followed by another meeting with Wolves, this time in league play.

Declan Rice gets first England call-up after winning Irish award

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On Tuesday, it was announced that Declan Rice had been selected for Ireland’s Young Player of the Year award, though he will not be present to celebrate his honor at an awards ceremony on Sunday.

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola loving life as “bold” Man City advances in UCL ]

That’s because the 20-year-old will be with the England team after receiving his first call-up after switching international allegiances earlier this year. The call came from Gareth Southgate‘s Three Lions on Wednesday and will have Rice in camp for EURO 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

“His form warrants it,” Southgate said of West Ham’s rising star. “It’s been a well-publicized situation with Declan. We’ve tracked him for quite a while … His form has been excellent. We like what we see. … There aren’t many players of his age playing as well as he is in the Premier League.”

England’s 25-man squad

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)

Four things we learned: Arsenal v. Man United

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LONDON — It was a case of unlucky 13 for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as he lost for the first time as Manchester United manager in the Premier League at Arsenal on Sunday.

The Gunners scored in each half through Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to push themselves into the driving seat in the top four battle as they won a ninth-straight home game. United missed numerous glorious chances and hit the woodwork twice as their heroic midweek win at PSG seemed to catch up with them.

Here’s a look at what we learned from a gripping encounter in north London.


EMERY HAS INSTILLED STEEL

It wasn’t pretty from Arsenal, but they got the job done and kept a clean sheet, and it is clear that Unai Emery has instilled a steely resolve into this Gunners team. In recent weeks they’ve held firm against the rampant attacks of Tottenham and Man United in the Premier League, and on Sunday it took a lot of courage to dig deep and fight back after their disappointing midweek defeat at Rennes in the Europa League. By the end of Arsene Wenger‘s Arsenal reign, they had become a weak-minded, fragile bunch of players. There is now a fighting spirit and grit to their play which complements their free-flowing attacking prowess. Despite various setbacks along the way this season, one thing that has improved drastically under Emery is their defensive organization. And despite that improved defensive solidity, helped mainly by Sokratis’ arrival, they have also scored more goals (63) than they had at this point last season. With three goals conceded in their last five PL games, if Arsenal’s defense keeps this up it will get them into the top four. Coupled with turning the Emirates into a fortress, the Gunners have finally added some steel to their silky attack.


UNITED’S MIDFIELD MUDDLE COSTS SOLSKJAER

25 minutes into the game Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had seen enough from his midfield. He switched the formation from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 because Fred and Nemanja Matic were left woefully exposed to Arsenal’s fluid attacks. Young shifted to center back, Diogo Dalot went to right wing-back and all of a sudden United had more control. Pogba was drifting around aimlessly early on, not sure if he was playing in the center or on the left of midfield, and it was all a bit of a muddle. Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay were badly missed alongside Matic, and although Fred gave away a penalty kick, he didn’t play too badly. United’s failure to finish chances was their biggest downfall on Sunday, as Solskjaer’s fine unbeaten run is over. Injuries, constant personnel changes and the PSG win in midweek caught up with them, but there is still plenty of life left in their top four quest.


LUKAKU GOES COLD IN FRONT OF GOAL

After scoring twice in each of his last three outings, Romelu Lukaku was bang on form heading into this game. Moments before Arsenal took the lead he somehow hit the crossbar from close range, and before half time he gave Bernd Leno just enough time to claw the ball away after he rounded him. In the second half Lukaku was clean through again but was denied and it just wasn’t his day in front of goal. The Belgian striker still caused problems with his runs and combination play with Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, but he had an off-day in front of goal. Lukaku going stone cold in front of goal was the main reason why Man United failed to get anything from this game. And the fact that only 14 percent of Lukaku’s 113 Premier League goals have come against “big six” opposition (16 in 75 appearances) will add fuel to the fire of those saying Anthony Martial must replace him in the starting lineup.


TOP 4 BATTLE BLOWN WIDE OPEN

The race to finish in the top four of the Premier League got real this weekend. Tottenham lost at Southampton. Chelsea drew at home against Wolves. And Arsenal beat Man United. Arsenal now sit in fourth on 60 points (just one point short of third-place Spurs), Man United are in fifth on 58 points and Chelsea are in sixth on 57 points with a game in hand.

In the matchday programme Arsenal skipper Laurent Koscielny said that this was a “crucial game” for the Gunners and their season. It’s cliche, but every game between now and May 12 is huge for Emery’s Arsenal project. And the same can be said for Pochettino, Sarri and Solskjaer at their respective clubs.

This race for UEFA Champions League qualification will go down to the wire and you have to say that Arsenal have the edge with an easier remaining schedule than their rivals. Spurs still have to visit Liverpool and Man City, while United have to play City and Chelsea. The latter have to play Liverpool and United, so there are plenty of twists and turns ahead in the top four race. Momentum means a lot at this stage of the season and Arsenal’s big win gives them a spring in their step ahead of the run-in. And that is a run-in where they do not have to play against any of their rivals and can sit back and watch them all take points off one another.

Neymar criticizes VAR in expletive-laden rant: ‘How can it be handball?’

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For all intents and purposes, Neymar’s competitive season is over. The Brazilian star, who’s been sidelined for the second straight-year at this time with an ankle injury, is clearly and understandably upset about it. Especially with the way things went down in Paris Saint-Germain’s shock bouncing from the UEFA Champions League.

After Manchester United were awarded a penalty kick in second half stoppage time, leading to Marcus Rashford‘s game-winning-goal, Neymar posted an update to his Instagram story, asking how it could be a handball if it hit his back, before releasing an expletive aimed at the referees. Upon closer inspection and slo-motion replay, which Neymar didn’t have, the ball did ricochet off Presnel Kimpembe’s arm.

Speaking with reporters, PSG manager Thomas Tuchel urged reporters to understand it was just something posted in the heat of the moment.

It’s not clear yet when Neymar will be back on the field. He only recently returned to Paris from a trip home to Brazil to celebrate Carnivale in Rio de Janeiro. Neymar has 20 goals in 22 games in all competitions this season for PSG.