Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Manchester United gets Maguire injury boost
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Solskjaer: ‘Warrior’ Maguire could play this weekend despite injury

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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.

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“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.

PL Preview: Man United v. Newcastle

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  • Manchester United (25 pts) sits 8th in PL table
  • Newcastle United (25 pts) sits 9th in PL table
  • Last meeting: Newcastle 1-0 Man United

Manchester United’s Boxing Day match could not be bigger for the club unless the Red Devils were fighting for a Premier League title. Which they aren’t. Which is exactly why it is imperative that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer engineers a victory at Old Trafford over Newcastle United, with kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday, live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Solskjaer has led the team to just two wins over its last six Premier League games, and with a host of potential slippery matches leading up to a date with Liverpool on January 19, all eyes will be on the Norwegian boss who most certainly is running out of rope. He could have reinforcements available soon, with Paul Pogba likely to start after he came off the bench against Watford, while Diogo Dalot could also make his return from a two-month injury and Eric Bailly is still out but getting closer.

Manchester United’s last result is just plain ugly – a 2-0 loss to bottom-feeders Watford that set alarm bells off all over the club. With games against plucky Burnley and Arsenal under new management coming up in the following days, this game against Newcastle feels like a turning point one way or another.

On the other side of the coin, Newcastle comes into the match sitting ninth in the Premier League table, level with Manchester United on points. That position marks a huge jump from where many expected the Magpies to be, a massive feather in Steve Bruce‘s cap. He has led the Magpies to three wins in their last four despite a host of injuries to the squad, sticking with Miguel Almiron through his early Newcastle struggles until he provided the winner against Crystal Palace last time out.

Even so, this match marks the start of a brutal festive fixture run for Newcastle, who still must navigate games against Everton, Wolves, and Chelsea through mid-January. A result at Old Trafford and potentially doing the double over Manchester United would give Newcastle some breathing room ahead of more difficult matches.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Eric Bailly (knee), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Diogo Dalot (groin).

Newcastle: OUT – Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Jamaal Lascelles (knee), Ciaran Clark (calf), Matt Ritchie (ankle), Ki Sung-Yeung (knock). QUESTIONABLE – Paul Dummett (groin), Jetro Willems (groin).


Projected lineups

Man United: de Gea; Shaw, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Pogba, Rashford, Mata, James; Martial.

Newcastle: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lejune, Fernandez, Schar, Manquillo; Shelvey, Hayden, Almiron, Atsu; Joelinton.


What they’re saying

Man United boss Solskjaer on loss v. Newcastle: “It’s going to be difficult to break Newcastle down. I expect that we’ll get the fair share of the possession. We were disappointed when we had more than 70% possession up there [at St. James Park] and we lost the game.”

Newcastle manager Bruce on next games: “You think you’ve done it all in the Premier League and then all of a sudden, we’ve got Manchester United, Everton and Leicester in a short period time, difficult games. We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve given ourselves a nice platform but we’re only halfway there, so we’ve got to show the same resilience and spirit that we’ve shown over the last few months and see where it takes us.”


Prediction

Newcastle is in good form, and that should boost them in this match. Still, Manchester United is the far more desperate team at Old Trafford and that should go a long way in the Boxing Day meeting. The Red Devils will find it difficult to break down a bunkered-in Newcastle looking to save its energy for multiple difficult games, but they will find a way through in a hard-fought 2-0 win for the home side.

PL Sunday Preview: Sheffield United v. Manchester United

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Highlighting Chris Wilder‘s successful season thus far (or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s underwhelming work at Old Trafford), Sheffield United head into Sunday’s game above  Manchester United in the standings (Watch Live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Since their soul-crushing 1-0 loss to Liverpool, Blades are unbeaten in their last five, making them the most consistent team outside of the top five. Throughout that span of games, the newly-promoted side have picked up wins against Arsenal and Burnley.

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Despite being only a win outside of the tope five, United have kept their distance from the concept of consistency. In 12, league games this season, the Red Devils have failed to pick up consecutive wins, meaning that a win at Bramall Lane would bring an end to such negative run.


Injuries/suspensions

Sheffield United: OUT — None QUESTIONABLE — John Egan (calf)

Manchester United: Scott McTominay (ankle), Marcos Rojo (calf, 7 Dec), Paul Pogba (ankle) QUESTIONABLE — Eric Bailly (knee), Diogo Dalot (groin), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee), Luke Shaw (thigh), Axel Tuanzebe (hip)


Probable lineups

Sheffield United: Moore; Stevens, O’Connell, Egan, Basham, Baldock; Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck; McGoldrick, Mousset

Manchester United: DeGea; Williams, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; Martial, Fred, Matic, Pereira, James; Rashford


What they’re saying

Chris Wilder on Manchester United’s greatness, despite current state: “Manchester United are one of the most iconic teams in the world, and there will always be an aura surrounding them. No matter how their fortunes on the pitch may fluctuate, it’s still one of football’s true powerhouses that we are talking about whenever we mention their name. They are an incredible football club who are just going through a spell right now where they are not having it all their own way. That happens in football. But fortunes can fluctuate very quickly in this game and they will find their way back to the top, that’s for certain.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the gap between Manchester United and the top four: “It’s a clear gap in the league between top four and I don’t know how many teams within a range of three or four points. It’s about consistency now. We turned a corner, we felt, performance-wise and with results after the last international break but it’s so tight I’m just looking forward to this game. We need to have a good performance and result.”


Prediction

The Blades have been decent at home this season, picking up wins against Burnley, Arsenal and Crystal Palace. With positive inertia powering them, it feels that Wilder and company may spoil Harry Maguire‘s return to Bramall Lane. That said, with both Wolves and Burnley picking up wins, United are more than obliged to go for the jugular, especially if they want to go into the most taxing part of the season with some hope and positivity. Manchester United, 3-1.

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.

Manchester United, Arsenal both desperate at Old Trafford

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Two teams with Top Four expectations meet sitting mid-table in an Old Trafford clash on Monday at 3 p.m. ET live on NBCSN and live online at NBCSports.com.

There is a different feeling surrounding this meeting of bitter Premier League enemies. They are both immeasurably desperate.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Unai Emery are in very precarious positions as they guide two fallen giants hoping to avoid further depths of despair. A loss here could doom one of these squads to a long, hard season of little gain, while a draw would confirm the equal plights of both rival clubs that long for a return to glory that seems so far out of reach.

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The future is now for Manchester United, as Mason Greenwood could see his first Premier League start with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial both sidelined with injuries. Paul Pogba‘s status is questionable thanks to an ankle injury he re-aggrivated midweek in cup action, the same ailment bothering Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette who will likely miss out. The Gunners will, however, have Kieran Tierney available for selection having yet to make his Premier League debut.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Marcus Rashford (hip), Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Paul Pogba (ankle).
Arsenal: OUT – Alexandre Lacazette (ankle), Emile Smith-Rowe (concussion).


Projected Lineups:

Man United: De Gea; Shaw, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Matic, Mata; James, Greenwood, Pereira.

Arsenal: Leno; Tierney, Luiz, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Saka, Ceballos, Pepe; Aubameyang.


What they’re saying

Man United manager Solskjaer on struggles thus far: “You evaluate every single game and look through the games, but I’m not doubting myself, no. If I doubt myself, then the rest of the world would as well. We have loads of discussions, so we believe in what we’re doing.”

Arsenal manager Emery on rivalry:  “Each match when I watched in Spain, Arsenal v Manchester United, Manchester United v Arsenal, was a special moment. I think Monday at eight o’clock, all around the world, if someone wants to watch a football match, it’s this one. We really want to play matches where we can do something important. We are preparing well. The players are wishing to play the next match – we know it’s a very big opportunity for us to get three points.”


Three key battles

  1. Daniel James v. Ainsley Maitland-Niles – The young Arsenal right-back was sent off last time out against Aston Villa with two yellow cards, and should he get a chance to start and redeem himself, he will need to bounce right back against one of the more in-form wingers in the league. Daniel James has been one of the few bright spots in attack for Manchester United this season, and Maitland-Niles will have his hands full. Should Emery decide against going with the 22-year-old at right-back, he could give Hector Bellerin a chance to return to favor, leading even more intrigue to this matchup on the Manchester United left flank.
  2. Dani Cabellos v. Nemanja Matic – Manchester United fans won’t be worried about Scott McTominay holding his own in front of the Red Devils back line, as the 22-year-old has been fantastic for the club since earning a starting place in the middle of last year. Instead, if Cabellos is to trouble the Man United midfield it will likely be at the expense of Nemanja Matic who has looked off the pace at times this season, both on the ball and off it. If Cabellos gets a hold of the midfield and has room to make magic, the Manchester United back line could be forced to pick up the slack, which means good news for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who would clean up the scraps.
  3. Mason Greenwood v. David Luiz/Sokratis – The 17-year-old Manchester United striker has earned praise from all corners of Red Devil land for his performances in other competitions, and it is time for his first Premier League start. The Arsenal defense, meanwhile, hasn’t done much to cover itself in glory this season, and that could mean a feast for the teenager at the Theater of Dreams. Will Greenwood reward the faith Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown in his young talent?

Prediction

These two teams are hungry for a result, and when desperate sides meet, the neutrals benefit from what could likely become an electric affair. Goals and big moments are to be expected, and that makes for an exciting matchup. Ultimately the fear of losing could outweigh the glory of victory, which could lead to a lack of attacking mentality late, but I like Arsenal to shock the hosts in their fortress thanks to the host of injuries Manchester United is dealing with at the moment; the loss of Paul Pogba is more troubling than most Red Devil fans care to admit. Look for Dani Cabellos to shine as Arsenal takes it in an exciting 2-1 affair that goes down to the wire with Mason Greenwood finding the back of the net in a losing effort.