Sergio Romero

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Is it time for Man United drop David de Gea for Sergio Romero?

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Manchester United’s 0-0 FA Cup draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers was a net negative in many ways. They mustered zero shots on target from 12 total efforts and were ultimately forced into a replay, adding another fixture to an already clogged month that now has zero free midweeks.

However, there may be some positives to take from the match that otherwise left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with another disappointing result.

Goalkeeper Sergio Romero, standing in for David De Gea as Cup netminder, played excellently, making a number of big saves to keep the game scoreless. The standout highlight was an absolute stunner on Matthew Doherty early in the match where he poked his right hand out to stop a point-blank hit.

Couple Romero’s performance in Cup play with David de Gea’s spotty showings this season, and suddenly the Manchester United goalkeeping job appears up for grabs.

De Gea, once the most dominant goalkeeper in the Premier League, has been off his best for some time now. He showed signs of decline in the 2018 World Cup as Spain was dumped in the Round of 16 by hosts Russia, and that has continued into the last two Premier League seasons. He has committed six errors leading directly to a goal over the last two seasons, the most in the English top flight. His most recent howler came against bottom-dwellers Watford as a ball slipped right through his hands in what would ultimately result in an embarrassing 2-0 defeat.

And it’s not just the errors that have become an issue. De Gea’s shot-stopping in general has seriously declined. Per Statsbomb, de Gea is underperforming his expected goals allowed this season by about 0.2 xG per 90, which doesn’t sound like much, but adds up to a significant 7.6 extra goals conceded over the course of the year.

He also has conceded the most direct free-kicks in Premier League play since the 2011/12 season, although that has just as much to do with his comparatively large sample size over that timespan as his struggles against set-pieces.

While Manchester United has pressing issues up and down the pitch (especially up front where they also happen to be underperforming their expected goals) would a switch between the sticks provide the Red Devils with some much-needed consistency at the back? At the very least it may give de Gea a breather; he’d be far from the first starting goalkeeper boosted by a spell on the bench.

FA Cup: Wolves and Man United draw as Man City, Leicester advance

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Premier League clubs like Aston Villa and Brighton Hove & Albion were dumped out of the FA Cup earlier in the day, but top flight sides had no troubles in the late slate as Manchester City, Bournemouth, and Leicester City all progressed to the fourth round of the competition, while Manchester United and Wolverhampton slogged through a scoreless draw that will require a replay at Old Trafford to decide.

[ FA CUP: Villa & Brighton fall | Newcastle held ]

Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers both had a few chances, but produced an otherwise cagey match at Monlieux in a 0-0 draw. Sergio Romero made his presence known with a fabulous reflex save on Matt Doherty on an effort that seemed to wrong-foot the Argentina goalkeeper, but he poked out his right hand to palm away the shot. Manchester United had a penalty shout, but Leander Dendoncker‘s tackle of Brandon Williams was waved off by both the on-field referee and by VAR despite replay showing some dubious contact.

Both teams had big chances in the second half. Manchester United nearly went in front with 20 minutes to go but substitute Marcus Rashford‘s effort was blocked by Connor Coady and while the looping deflection got over John Ruddy, it clanged harmlessly away off the crossbar. In the 77th minute Ruben Neves off the bench headed into the back of the net but was correctly ruled out as the effort came first off his head then his arm. Raul Jimenez then hit the post from an incredibly tight angle with nine minutes to go.

[ FA CUP: Norwich cruises | Burnley rolls ]

Manchester City survived a slight scare to top Port Vale 4-1. The defending Premier League champs scored first, with Oleksandr Zinchenko firing in via a huge deflection off Leon Legge that helped an otherwise speculative long-range effort. Despite the sudden ejection of life for the visitors at the Etihad, Sergio Aguero restored the lead with a tap-in at the far post, and Phil Foden‘s work in the build-up survived a VAR review.

17-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis put Man City 3-1 up in the 58th minute that also passed a VAR check, and Foden was the man to cap off the scoreline with City’s fourth goal.

[ FA CUP: Watford gacks 3-0 lead to Tranmere ]

Leicester City benefitted from a weird early own-goal to take the lead on Wigan Athletic, and that provided the springboard for a 2-0 win as Harvey Barnes found the back of the net for some breathing room before halftime. Wigan’s Tom Pearce somehow bungled in a Marc Albrighton cross with what looked like a striker’s finish to put Leicester City 1-0 up 19 minutes in. Barnes doubled the lead before halftime on the counter thanks again to a deflection, this time off Cheyenne Dunkley.

Philip Billing volleyed home a whipped Diego Rico cross to give the Cherries the early lead eight minutes in, and they finished with a storming 4-0 victory after it was all said and done. Callum Wilson put the game away on 67 minutes after a Luton defensive mistake as the hosts had no issues at Dean Court, with Billing grabbing a second and Dominic Solanke putting the cherry on top.

In an all-League One matchup, Portsmouth got a pair of goals from James Bolton and Marcus Myers-Harness in a five-minute span to down Fleetwood Town 2-1 on the road.

Man United, Wolves seal key Europa League wins

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Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers both secured narrow wins away from home in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule, table

United beat Partizan Belgrade 1-0 in Serbia to stay top of Group L as a win in their next game, at home against Partizan, will seal their qualification to the knockout stage. Anthony Martial‘s penalty kick was enough to get the win in Belgrade in a tough environment as an inexperienced United side struggled to get going in attack.

As for Wolves, they fought back from 1-0 down to beat Slovan Bratislava 2-1 in Slovakia as they breathed new life into their Europa League campaign in Group K. Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men now have two of their final three group games at home and will fancy their chances of extending their first European journey in almost 40 years.

Here’s a look at both games, with video and analysis of a very decent night for both clubs in Europe.


Partizan Belgrade 0-1 Man United

Man United should have led early but Scott McTominay nodded wide after a great free kick from Juan Mata. Partizan battled their way back into the game as the heavy pitch didn’t suit Martial and others.

Lingard hit the post in the first half as United looked dangerous on the break, but Partizan’s top goalscorer Sadiq also smashed the post as the game developed into an open encounter. Asano went close with an effort which flew wide but Brandon Williams won a penalty kick at the end of the first half which Martial dispatched to make it 1-0.

In the second half Seydouba Soumah went close as Marcus Rashford and Daniel James came on for the final 30 minutes. Williams looked to have handled the ball but the referee waved away calls from the home fans as they continued to appeal for penalty kicks.

Sadiq flashed a shot wide as Partizan pushed a late leveller but Sergio Romero saved Asano’s effort and Bibras Natcho fired just over as a young United side held on for a big win away from home. The win was United’s first victory away from home in 12 games in all competitions.


Slovan Bratislava 1-2 Wolves

Wolves went 1-0 down early as Andraz Sporar put Slovan ahead, as he raced clear and smashed home at the near post past Rui Patricio.

A poor start for Wolves in Slovakia.

The home side were fairly comfortable until the final 30 minutes when Wolves equalized as Romain Saiss had a shot from distance which somehow went in.

Slovan’s goalkeeper Dominik Greif will not want to see this one again.

After that it was all Wolves and they took the lead from the penalty spot just five minutes after equalizing.

Jimenez was pushed to the ground in the box and the Mexican striker picked himself up to slot home the winner as Willy Boly came close to adding another.

Substitute Diogo Jota was sent off late on as he picked up a second yellow for a foul on Slovan captain Vasil Bozhikov, but Wolves held on for a crucial victory in their quest to reach the knockout rounds.

Pogba, De Gea miss Man United training

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It doesn’t seem like either David De Gea or Paul Pogba will play in the UEFA Europa League for Manchester United on Thursday.

Neither stars were training with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side on Wednesday, ahead of the Red Devils playing at Partizan Belgrade.

It is likely both will be saved for their Premier League clash at Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com), with Pogba in a race against time to be ready.

Pogba has missed United’s last three games after a reoccurrence of foot and ankle issues, as he travelled to Dubai over the international break to try and get himself fit as soon as possible.

De Gea wasn’t expected to play against Liverpool on Sunday after suffering a thigh injury playing for Spain, but the goalkeeper rushed back and will likely be rested with Sergio Romero set to start on Thursday.

Solskjaer’s injury woes are easing a little with Jesse Lingard returning, while Anthony Martial and Aaron Wan-Bissaka played against Liverpool to give the Red Devils a boost.

Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic are closing in on a return from injury, while Diogo Dalot, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Eric Bailly and now Axel Tuanzebe are out.

With four-straight away games coming up in all competitions, United have reached a pivotal stage of their season after their worst PL start for 30 years.

They play Partizan (Europa League), Norwich, Chelsea (League Cup) and Bournemouth in the next 10 days, and after a morale-boosting performance and draw against Liverpool, Solskjaer is hoping the treatment room continues to empty and confidence continues to build.

Pogba, De Gea ruled out for Man United v. Liverpool

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According to our partners at Sky Sports, Manchester United’s David De Gea and Paul Pogba will not play against Liverpool this Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

This is far from ideal for a United side already low in confidence after a dreadful start to the season.

De Gea injured his groin while on international duty with Spain on Tuesday as he injured an abductor while kicking a ball against Sweden in a EURO 2020 qualifier. He is expected to have a full assessment in Manchester on Thursday but isn’t expected to be available to play against Liverpool.

As for Pogba, he suffered a reoccurrence of his foot injury before the international break and has been training in Dubai on his own during the past week to try and speed up his recovery.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already been without Pogba, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for large chunks of the season so far, as Man United sit in 12th place in the Premier League table.

“No chance,” Solskjaer said of Pogba’s availability for the weekend. “Paul had an injury, then came back, worked really hard, played a couple of games. Maybe played through the pain barrier. We had a scan after the Arsenal game and he needed a few weeks rest in the boot. Hopefully he won’t be too long but he won’t make this game, no.”

Not having their star goalkeeper and central midfielder available for this clash with bitter rivals Liverpool is another huge setback for Solskjaer, as Sergio Romero and Fred will likely start in their place.

Martial, Shaw and Wan-Bissaka are all expected to miss the game against Liverpool too as Solskjaer will at least have a valid excuse if the Premier League leaders give United a hiding on Sunday.