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Man United’s Harry Maguire out injured

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When it rains it pours. Manchester United’s club-record signing Harry Maguire could be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, just as the Red Devils face a key spell in their battle to finish in the Premier League’s top four.

Maguire injured his hip in United’s 0-0 FA Cup third round draw at Wolves on Saturday and didn’t feature in their 3-1 defeat at home to Man City in the League Cup semifinal first leg on Wednesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believed the injury was only minor as Maguire will miss United’s clash against Norwich City this Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) but per a report from The Telegraph it is believed the injury is worse than first feared and Maguire could be out for some time as he’s suffered a muscle tear at the top of his hip.

This would be terrible news for United, as their other center backs haven’t stepped up to the plate this season and $100 million signing Maguire has done his best to hold things together ahead of an oft-shaky David De Gea.

Victor Lindelof has formed a decent partnership with Maguire but Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have both struggled when they’ve come into the team, and maybe this is a chance for academy product Axel Tuanzebe to finally get a run of games in the team but he has also struggled with a hip injury this season too.

It remains to be seen how long Maguire is out for but such is his importance to the team, on and off the pitch, any time out is too long given United’s current predicament as they sit five points off the top four.

Adding to the injuries to Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba, Solskjaer is without three key men at the heart of his team.

League Cup: Man City rolls past Man United

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There’s no doubt anymore as to which color Manchester is these days.

Manchester City extended its bragging rights over their now not so noisy neighbors, with a 3-1 first leg win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday in the League Cup semifinals. Bernardo Silva opened the scoring early with a wicked strike from outside the box and it was all up from there for the visitors. Man United showed some brief sparks in the second half, but despite Marcus Rashford’s goal, couldn’t find enough quality to get closer to Man City.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The action moves to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg on January 29, though Man United will have a two-goal deficit to dig out of.

Manchester City mananger Pep Guardiola made the decision not to play a recognizable striker, leaving both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero out of the starting lineup. And yet, it quickly paid dividends as Man United’s backline of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, and Brandon Williams struggled to stay with players like Raheem Sterling and Silva.

Indeed, in the 17th minute, it was Silva who found a pocket of space off a short pass from Kevin De Bruyne and unleashed a blast from 28 yards out that had eyes for the upper corner. As good as the strike was, it was also noticeable that Silva easily took the ball past Fred while Jones didn’t jump forward to cover the space, leaving Silva with plenty of room to uncork the shot.

The goal was just what Man City was expecting and afterwards it confidently pinged the ball around midfield and into Man United’s defensive third of the field, threatening to score again. In the 33rd minute, Man City did just that, as Silva found Riyad Mahrez open in the box before Mahrez rounded de Gea and scored into an empty net to put his side up 2-0.

Man City made it 3-0 five minutes later as again Silva was the architect. He played Mahrez into space in the middle before the ball made its way out left to de Bruyne. His shot on goal was parried by de Gea but it went right into the body of Andreas Pereira, which ricocheted into the goal. Even before firing, de Bruyne’s switch to the left sent Jones flying, adding to his rough night.

After being played off the park in the first half, there was only one way to go in the second half for Man United, and it started to get a few minutes of possession on the ball at a time.

After Man City could have made it 4-0 through Mahrez, Rashford pulled one back for the hosts. In the 70th minute after a turnover, Mason Greenwood played a great pass into the run of Rashford, who lashed a strike past Claudio Bravo to make it 3-1.

This story will be updated. 

FOLLOW LIVE: Manchester derby in League Cup semifinals

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Manchester City meets Manchester United in a heavyweight Carabao Cup semifinal clash as the two do battle at Old Trafford in the first leg of their League Cup tie.

[ MORE: Follow League Cup scores live ]

Both teams have started a strong lineup, although it’s Manchester City that has gone completely full-strength with Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, and Bernardo Silva all starting up front without a main striker. Both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are on the bench to start, while Ilkay Gundogan, Rodrigo, and Kevin De Bruyne control the midfield and Phil Foden starts on the bench.

For Manchester United, Morgan Greenwood looks to continue his excellent Cup form up front supported by Marcus Rashford wearing the captain’s armband. The injured Harry Maguire misses out completely with Phil Jones in his place at center-back. Fred looks to continue his good performances in midfield and the warrior Aaron Wan-Bissaka starts at full-back.

Manchester United came out victorious in their last meeting, back in December in Premier League play. They also have gotten the better of City in each of their last two League Cup meetings, in 2016/17 and 2010/11. They will need to contend with a world-class Raheem Sterling who leads the EFL Cup in goals involved since the start of the 2012/13 season with eight goals and six assists.

Woodward insinuates new contracts at Man United down to transfer struggles

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Ed Woodward rarely speaks publicly as he leads Manchester United through a season of struggles, but his most recent words have given further ammunition to those who criticize the squad talent level.

Speaking after the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa while piled more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Woodward was asked about the multitude of new contracts given to players at Manchester United rather than attempting to upgrade positions of weakness. His answer seemed to admit transfer window failings and that contract extensions were fallback options.

“It’s hard enough to get three players done in a transfer window,” Woodward said. “To get six or seven done is extremely difficult if you are getting proper talent. If you choose to churn every player because they are not good enough and you’re not extending contracts, you are putting yourself at risk of execution. Sometimes you have to take a broader view.”

Manchester United has signed players like Phil Jones, Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, and Ashley Young were all extended in the past calendar year, and all those players have at times heard noise about their Red Devils’ futures. Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo also received new contracts last fall. The club has also given extensions to David De Gea, Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, and Victor Lindelof, although those players have been far less criticized for their performances on the pitch.

It doesn’t help that the few players offloaded this summer have performed well overseas, as Romelu Lukaku has built a strong partnership with Lautaro Martinez at Inter Milan while Chris Smalling has helped Roma to one of the best defenses in Serie A.

“It’s a multi-year squad evolution analysis,” Woodward said, seeming to brush squad decisions off as more than just the struggles faced this season.

Report: Phil Jones turned down Manchester United testimonial

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According to a report by Daniel Taylor of The Athletic, Phil Jones has turned down the option for a Manchester United testimonial despite the likelihood he will reach the required 10 years at the club.

Taylor’s article waxed lyrical about Jones’ ability on the field defensively versus his fame as an internet sensation, but one tidbit near the top stood out. According to the report, Jones turned down the option to have a testimonial included in his recent contract extension, believing that his popularity has waned to the point where he may not deserve one.

Jones’ career has been a fascinating one, owning 220 Manchester United appearances across all competitions since joining from Blackburn Rovers in 2011. He has won a Premier League title, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and a Europa League title.

Still, with the majority of his Red Devils career coming after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, he has become more of a symbol to represent the mediocrity the club has been mired in since. He has made more than 22 league appearances in just two of his eight full seasons to date and made his first appearance of the current campaign against Sheffield United over the weekend, yanked at halftime after being culpable of the first Blades goal, scenes that left Jones “devastated” according to the Taylor report.

Taylor says that when asked about a testimonial, Jones would reply, “Apart from my mum and dad, who else would turn up?”

For a player who has spent nearly his entire career with one of the largest clubs in Europe, this remains a tough story to swallow. It’s hard not to feel for a player who gives his heart and soul to a club and gets nothing but laughs in return.