Scott McTominay

Getty Images

How will Liverpool, Man United line up?

Leave a comment

Liverpool host Manchester United this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Premier League leaders welcome their bitter rivals to Anfield.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

With Jurgen Klopp‘s side 14 points clear at the top of the table, Man United would love to play the role of spoilers and they are the only team to take points from Liverpool so far this season as they are in a battle for a top four finish. And, just leaving this here, Man United have only lost one of their last 11 Premier League games against Liverpool…

The big team news surrounding this game is whether or not Marcus Rashford will be fit after coming on as a sub in the FA Cup replay against Wolves, then injuring his back and having to come off 16 minutes later.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make as it is certainly not worth risking Rashford’s long-term fitness, even for a game as important as this one. With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United’s midfield will likely be manned by Fred and Matic, with either Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira playing ahead of them and Mata starting in place of Rashford on the left. In defense it will be interesting to see if Brandon Williams gets the nod over Luke Shaw as he continues his impressive rise, while the rest of the back four picks itself.

The big worry for United is that if Rashford is out injured, they will lose a lot of their pace on the counter as their plan will likely be to sit back and look to hit Liverpool on the break. The gamble will then be whether or not it makes sense to play Mason Greenwood in attack to replace Rashford, with the teenager showing huge potential but an atmosphere like the one at Anfield may be too risky.

As for Klopp, things are very straightforward for him. Liverpool Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren back in training after their lengthy absences but it is unlikely the two center backs will start given Joe Gomez looks steady once again after a run of games alongside the silky brick wall that is Virgil Van Dijk. Oxlade-Chamberlain will play alongside Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield with Keita and Milner out injured, while Fabinho is also back in training but is unlikely to be rushed back. The front three and full backs pick themselves.

Below we share our potential starting lineups for both teams for the intense battle at Anfield this Sunday.


LIVERPOOL (4-3-3)

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Gomez — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Henderson —- Wijnaldum —- Chamberlain —-

—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-


MAN UNITED (4-2-3-1)

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Williams —

—- Fred —- Matic —-

—- James —- Pereira —- Mata —-

—– Martial —–

Chelsea, Man United set to battle for Soumare

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea and Manchester United will battle it out to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare in the January transfer window.

Our partners at Sky Sports report that Soumare will not be asked to make a decision before Lille’s game against PSG on Jan. 26 about where he will move and add that he will be the only Lille star to be sold this month.

The reported transfer fee for Soumare is in the region of $45 million and he is the latest star to be produced by Lille, as the former PSG academy product has made a name for himself in France’s top-flight. Per the report, Man United and Chelsea have both held talks with Soumare about a move.

Soumare, 20, is a box-to-box midfielder who played his part in their run to the second place in Ligue 1 last season and their qualification to the UEFA Champions League and he’s particularly flourished this season.

Arsenal, Real Madrid and Valencia were all interested in signing Soumare but two Premier League giants have jumped ahead of the pack and both are in need of midfield reinforcements.

Man United’s need for a box-to-box central midfielder is perhaps greater than Chelsea’s as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay out injured, while Fred and Nemanja Matic are his other central midfield options.

As for Chelsea, they have N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho in that area of the pitch and unless they plan on selling Kante, Frank Lampard is pretty set for midfield options.

Soumare, a French U21 international, has been praised for his defensive abilities and if United’s plan is to continue to sign young talent, then develop them into stars by giving them opportunities in the first team, signing Soumare would slot in well with their new philosophy. It’s also handy as they a need for a new midfielder alongside McTominay, as well as Fred has stepped up in recent months.

Solskjaer: ‘Warrior’ Maguire could play this weekend despite injury

Manchester United gets Maguire injury boost
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lifted the collective spirit of Manchester United supporters without signing a new player.

The Red Devils manager announced that fears of a long-term absence for Harry Maguire are overblown, saying the player has a minor injury.

The 26-year-old may even play at Norwich City on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“He’s got a chance for tomorrow, it was a minor thing, I don’t know where the reports are coming from,” Solskjaer said, via The Manchester Evening News. “(The media) might’ve mistaken it for Harry Kane. He’s got a chance. He will go through training today and see how he reacts for tomorrow.”

Solskjaer says that Maguire fought through pain to play in the FA Cup last weekend.

“It’s not a surprise.. He’s a warrior and he wants to play. And if there’s a minor problem he’ll put himself up to play and that’s what he did against Wolverhampton.”

The manager also updated the status of Scott McTominay, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and Eric Bailly. McTominay is out until February, while the other two are playing with the reserves Friday.

Man United’s Harry Maguire out injured

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Pepe, Arsenal impress in dispatching haggard Man Utd

Pepe drives Arteta to first Arsenal win
Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal gave Mikel Arteta his first win and it came against an age-old rival.

The Gunners controlled Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, riding an eye-opening show from Nicolas Pepe in the process.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored the goals as Arsenal moves 10th on 27 points. The Gunners are nine points back of the Top Four.

United whiffs in a bid to move within a win of fourth-place Chelsea, and remains fifth with 31 points.


Three things we learned

1. Arteta overwhelms injury-hit United midfield: The Red Devils midfield isn’t a league-winner at full strength, and not having Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay is a problem. The depth behind them is just not there, or too green. Nemanja Matic and Fred were easy starters, but Jesse Lingard‘s rough time continues and Andreas Pereira has been inconsistent.

Mikel Arteta knew this and was able to start Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, and Nicolas Pepe. It was less of a risk than usual because of the opposition. It became even less so given another fine showing from Granit Xhaka.

United should go shopping even if Pogba plans on staying, given Matic’s age. Both Matic and Fred were decent in a poor effort for United. Maybe Juan Mata was the play, as his cameo was okay.

2. Pepe embraces rare start, demanding more: Nicolas Pepe has been much more effective for Arsenal as a Premier League starter than a sub, and his first league start since Dec. 15 was right on the money. His first half: Goal, 25-of-25 passes, hit post, whipped-in corner that became 2nd goal, three dribbles, two aerials won, one tackle. 2-0 Arsenal. He was still subbed off in the 62nd minute, so, okay. He must be the worst training player on Earth, or hide everyone’s car keys.

To borrow Pep Guardiola‘s favorite phrase modifier, he was so, so good. And there’s room for more, as he’s a shade off when it comes to following his instincts in the final third. That’s something Mikel Arteta will have seen fine-tuned with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City.

3. Rashford runs out of steam: If we’re going to relentlessly praise Marcus Rashford‘s arrival, and deservedly so, we need to note when United’s key piece doesn’t quite have it. It’s understandable given the minutes and magnitude of contribution asked, but he won just one of nine first half duels. He didn’t get a shot on target during the frame and passed at less than 70 percent.

Man of the Match: Pepe only played the first hour, so we’ll give a nod to beleaguered goal scorer Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The ex-Borussia Dortmund man was the standout performer of a back four which seems to have a simplified plan under Arteta.


A bad Ainsley Maitland-Niles giveaway threatened to open up Arsenal, but Jesse Lingard didn’t handle the opportunity well.

Pepe put Arsenal ahead when Sead Kolasinac‘s cutback was deflected into his path. A clever adjustment later and the ball was in the back of the goal.

Aubameyang couldn’t side volley a Pepe cross home moments later.

The Gunners were all over the Red Devils, and Pepe slipped Lacazette into the box for the Frenchman to torch Harry Maguire but fire wide.

Pepe then curled an 18-yard shot off the far post.

The Gunners got a deserved second in the 43rd as De Gea saved Lacazette’s flick of Pepe’s corner, but Sokratis was at the ready to punch in the rebound.

Harry Maguire headed a free kick to Bernd Leno on the final play of the first half.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

United’s second half was improved at the outset, with Fred stinging Leno’s palms with a shot in the 55th but still no real threat on goal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer removed Daniel James and Jesse Lingard for Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira in the 58th minute.

Matic set up Pereira for a shot in the 59th, but the Brazilian smashed into the outside of the goal.

Leno beat Rashford to Juan Mata’s cross in stoppage time to keep the clean sheet.