Scott McTominay

Rashford ruins Mourinho’s Old Trafford return

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Marcus Rashford scored twice to ruin Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford, as Manchester United topped Spurs 2-1 on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The win propelled United ahead of Spurs and into sixth place, eight points back of the Top Four.

Dele Alli scored a wonderful goal for Tottenham, who drops into eight with 20 points.


Three things we learned

1. Rashford ruins reunion in eye-popping fashion: Put simply, Rashford was everywhere. The English center forward scored twice, the second a conversion of a penalty he won. He also smashed a distance shot that Paulo Gazzaniga saved in outstanding fashion, and completed five dribbles. A forceful day.

2. McTominay all important to banner moment for under-fire Solskjaer: Mourinho brought Scott McTominay into United’s first team, and will rue how influential the Scottish international was in marshaling the hosts’ midfield. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s future has been in question, but his game plan worked despite the absences of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. It’s a very good moment for the Norwegian’s hopes of extending life at Old Trafford.

3. Maguire, Lindelof put clamps on Kane : Tottenham’s star center forward had an awful day at the office, completing under 60 percent of his passes and managing two shots: one off target and another blocked by United.

Man of the Match: Rashford.


United took the lead when Jesse Lingard back heeled the ball to Rashford, who was wide open thanks to the laissez-faire marking of Serge Aurier. Rashford beat Paulo Gazzaniga to the near post for 1-0 in the sixth minute. The keeper will have wanted to do much better.

Spurs seemed to snap awake after the concession, and the next big moment was a slide from Daniel James that felled Mourinho on the touch line and left the United attacker requiring medical treatment.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Fred won a dangerous free kick in the 17th minute, and Rashford spun it just wide of the upper 90.

Gazzaniga made a fine low save on Mason Greenwood in the 23rd, a slight bit of redemption.

Rashford was feeling it, and tore into a 30-yard shot that Gazzaniga somehow pushed off the cross bar.

Dele continued his resurgence with a gorgeous flick in traffic to fool Fred and Ashley Young before lashing past De Gea for 1-1.

Moussa Sissoko conceded a penalty to give Rashford a chance to put United in front, and the Englishman delivered the goods after a stuttering run-up.

Gazzaniga stopped a James shot in the 69th minute to keep it 2-1. Spurs kept pressing, and De Gea made a fine denial of a Dele shot deep in stoppage time.

Report: Martial to miss Man United’s clash with Spurs; McTominay returns

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Anthony Martial is expected to miss Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) due to injury, according to multiple reports out of the UK.

[ MORE: Spurs’ Mourinho quotes Mandela in discussing Man United return ]

Martial was subbed off late during Man United’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Sunday. Now, the 23-year-old French attacker is reportedly struggling with an injury which was come to light as the reason he was forced off.

Martial was reportedly absent from the rest of the squad at the team hotel on Wednesday, seemingly confirming his omission from the team with Tottenham visit Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Agents made $650 million from player transfers in 2019 ]

Midfielder Paul Pogba, who was also not seen at the team hotel, is nearing a return to action in the next week or two, but will once again be unavailable due to the ankle injury he suffered at the end of September.

On the bright side for United, midfielder Scott McTominay was spotted at the team hotel is expected to return after missing the last two PL games with an ankle injury.

Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Tottenham Hotspur

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Intrigue is at a very high level for Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday (Watch Live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

For one thing, there are table implications as United enters the day two points back of their visitors with the Top Four still in sight but in danger of slipping out of focus.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

But the bigger interest comes in the form of Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who held the position for a combustible tenure at Old Trafford which included a Europa League and FA Cup title.

Mourinho’s been somewhat validated for the work he did at United since he was fired, with chairman Ed Woodward and new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having trouble finding flagship moments in their first full year working together.

And with United staring at a Manchester Derby this weekend, a loss on Wednesday could set the stage for more significant tumult in Manchester.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester United: OUT —  Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial. QUESTIONABLE — Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic.

Tottenham Hotspur: OUT — Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm, Erik Lamela, Ben Davies. QUESTIONABLE — None.


Probable lineups

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pereira, Mata, James, Rashford.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Ndombele, Dier, Lo Celso, Dele, Son, Kane


What they’re saying

Man Utd’s Solskjaer on job uncertainty: “I’m just focusing on my job and that’s doing as well as I can, looking forward to the next game, but also look long term, plan things with board. It’s that time of year, it’s never nice to see your colleagues lose your jobs, three in a very short space of time. Some of them, you can talk about this VAR all day long, I don’t know what the reasons are behind the sackings at different clubs, but one result — Southampton-Watford — with the handball, and we’re talking about something completely different.”

Mourinho on facing his former club: “This is a closed chapter for me. I left the club and took my time to process everything that happened and to prepare myself for the next challenge. Manchester United for me is in my book of experiences. A little bit like Mr (Nelson) Mandela was saying: ‘You never lose. You win or you learn,’.”


Prediction

Oh, wouldn’t it just be very Jose to show up to his old home and deliver a victory with his new men? Although he was smashed at Chelsea in his first return as United boss, the teams feel a bit further apart in this scenario and neither Paul Pogba nor Anthony Martial will play for the hosts. 3-1, Spurs.

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.

PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s post-Emery era; Man Utd host Villa

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features four games, including (but not limited to) the first game of the post-Unai Emery era at Arsenal, Manchester United with a chance to climb into fifth place, and what could be the final game of Marco Silva‘s tenure at Everton.

[ MORE: Mourinho praises “phenomenal” Dele Alli, Spurs supporters ]

Arsenal v. Norwich City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal on Friday, making way for the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era to begin on Sunday. With no obvious candidate standing out from all the others, Ljungberg, a long-time favorite as a Gunners player, could be given the chance to impress and have the “interim” tag removed, a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a year ago. After taking just three points from their last five PL games, Arsenal have fallen to ninth place, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea, and could finish the weekend as low as 10th place. On the other hand, a win over 19th-place Norwich would see them climb up to fifth, a point ahead of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, who took the PL by storm with five goals in his first three games, hasn’t found the back of the net since Sept. 14, a run of eight straight goal-less games for the Fininish forward.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Dani Ceballos (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (hamstring), David Luiz (ribs), Shkodran Mustafi (foot) | Norwich  — OUT: Alexander Tettey (personal), Grant Hanley (groin), Timm Klose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jamal Lewis (knee), Josip Drmic (hamstring)


Wolves v. Sheffield United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Through 13 games of their debut season in the PL, Sheffield United are threatening to “do a Wolves,” in so much that the newly promoted side currently sits seventh — where Wolves finished last season — following a red-hot start. Following a poor start of their own (zero wins from their first six games), Wolves have rebounded nicely (unbeaten in their last eight, including four wins) and climbed all the way up to sixth (each side sat a place higher coming into the weekend).

INJURIES: Wolves —  OUT: Willy Boly (ankle), Ryan Bennett (groin), Romain Saiss (suspension), Morgan Gibbs-White (back) | Sheffield United  — OUT: None


Man United v. Aston Villa — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Nearly four months into the season, Man United are still without back-to-back PL victories. In fact, they’ve not repeated the same result — win, loss or draw — in consecutive league games all season. The Red Devils ave been, if anything, consistently inconsistent. After drawing Sheffield United 3-3 last time out, the best Solskjaer’s side can do on Sunday is get halfway there ahead of Tottenham’s blockbuster visit, and Jose Mourinho’s return, on Wednesday. United’s injury list remains extensive — and expensive — as Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly remain out, with Nemanja Matic perhaps set to return on Sunday. As for Villa, Dean Smith‘s side snapped a three-game losing skid last time out by thoroughly besting Newcastle United at Villa Park to put four points between themselves and the relegation zone. Following Southampton’s victory on Saturday, that gap is already down to two points.

INJURIES: Man United —  OUT: Paul Pogba (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Nemanja Matic (groin), Scott McTominay (ankle) | Aston Villa  — OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Bjorn Engels (hip)


Leicester City v. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Every defeat in the coming days could prove to be the final day of Silva’s employment as Everton manager, with the Toffees entering Sunday’s trip to the King Power Stadium in 17th place. It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (seven) on the season thus far, but the sides to which they’ve lost (Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich, to name most of them) that stands out as most embarrassing for a club that thought it would be competing for the top-six this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have happily and swiftly taken their place as the side most likely to break up the monotony of the same clubs finishing atop the table every season. The Foxes entered the weekend in second place (they have since fallen to second), eight points back of Liverpool (now 11), on the back of five straight league victories. Jamie Vardy‘s 12 goals have garnered most of the headlines, but the play-making duo of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been arguably more enjoyable to watch

INJURIES: Leicester —  OUT: Matty James (achilles) | Everton  — OUT: Andre Gomes (ankle), Theo Walcott (knock), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (knock), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Bernard (knee)