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Manchester United beats Burnley to go fifth
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Manchester United beats Burnley to go fifth

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Manchester United seized a chance to go fifth with a 2-0 defeat of Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.

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The Red Devils sit one point back of fourth place Chelsea, who plays Arsenal on Sunday.

Burnley’s 24 points are six clear of the drop zone after 20 matches.

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Three things we learned

1. Wasteful Red Devils survive nonetheless: Anthony Martial should’ve had a hat trick, but will be one of the few Manchester United attackers able to live with his day considering he provided a goal. With 63 percent of the ball, United had plenty of time to produce chances but often made baffling choices in the final third.

United were without Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, and perhaps a bit fortunate to be playing a Burnley side who’s scored thrice in its last seven league matches.

2. Teen left back Williams impresses: Brandon Williams played left back in his first league start since Dec. 1, and was very lively going forward. He passed at 87 percent on the day. He has a goal and an assist in just under 800 first team minutes this season.

3. Rashford gets his goal (again): Rashford scrapped his way to a stoppage time marker and now has 16 goals and six assists in 26 matches after sliding the insurance tally over the line. He’s been held off the score sheet just four times in his last 11 league outings. It wasn’t an incredible night for Marcus Rashford, merely solid, but boy has it been a solid four months.

Man of the Match: Daniel James — It was a day without a ton of starring performances, but the ex-Swansea City man was rampant up and down the wing and assisted Rashford’s late insurance goal.


James Tarkowski knocked down a free kick that David De Gea rescued from a goal to spring a counter.

United worked down the left with Martial, the ball finding its way to Rashford for a shot that curled just wide of the frame.

Martial then saw a ball cleared off the line by Phil Bardsley after a Daniel James shot deflected onto his path.

United took the lead in the 44th through Martial. Andreas Pereira picked the pocket of Burnley left back Taylor, drawing a pass behind the Clarets back line for Martial to poke past Pope.

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Martial had the ball in the net again but saw his 51st minute marker whistled for a foul. Pope saved a Martial shot three minutes later.

Burnley had a couple of chances and grew into the game. Unlikely striker Phil Bardsley tore into a low effort that required a superb save from David De Gea.

Martial and Lingard combined to throw away an 83rd minute chance to make it 2-0. James and Rashford teamed up for a stoppage time goal after United held firm against a late Burnley set piece surge.

Blades, Red Devils engage in thrilling 3-3 draw

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A match with almost everything saw Sheffield United throw aside a 2-0 lead but rally for a 3-3 draw with Manchester United at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Oli McBurnie’s stoppage time goal withstood VAR review, joining a great performance from Lys Mousset in helping the Blades to another memorable result in their return to the Premier League.

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the changes that mattered at halftime, as his Red Devils rallied for the point.

The feckless first half Red Devils turned into a force through three second half goals from 19-year-old Brandon Williams, 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, and relatively ancient 22-year-old Marcus Rashford, who also recorded an assist.

Sheffield United moves into sixth place with 18 points, a point and three places above their visitors.


Three things we learned

1. Three kids give hope after Ole fixes formation: Brandon Williams scored his first senior goal for United with a quivering rocket in the 73rd minute. Daniel James was industrious all day if a bit sloppy, and helped set up the goal with a move down the right before Williams pounced on a ball at the back post. The behind the goal angle was sensational, showing a ball with only one destination.

Then Greenwood got on the end of a Rashford cross, one that Phil Jagiela was too slow to poke, as the Red Devils claimed an equalizer with 13 minutes to play. Greenwood turned 18 on Oct. 1, and Williams 19 on Sept. 3.

The subs fit in nicely, but the victory also came about after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the humility to change his miserable, porous first half game plan. Phil Jones was removed as the side went from something of a 3-4-2-1 to a 4-2-3-1. The payoff took 20 minutes to really arrived, but then it just kept coming until the Red Devils were in front.

2. Mousset, Blades cut through United’s miserable back line: David De Gea was standing on his head from moment one, as the Red Devils continuously got worked. And after the Red Devils took the lead, the back line gave it away.

Lys Mousset’s new lease on life continued to work wonders, as he destroyed Phil Jones en route to setting up the first goal and then cut into a danger area to slot a 22-yard shot past De Gea early in the second half.

I mean, this is staggering stuff.

3. David De Gea keeps gauze on a deep wound: While United was getting run off the pitch — really this could’ve been 3 or 4-0 at halftime — its Spanish keeper was his best self, making a number of phenomenal saves and commanding his area. Without him, the second half outcome isn’t remotely possible.

Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford might just be coming into his own. The English striker has shown himself quite the passer of late, and there are plenty of reasons to think he’s starting to fulfill his potential. Rashford has 10 goals and 4 assists in 18 matches across all competitions.


David De Gea made two incredible saves in the 11th minute, the second an acrobatic palming of David McGoldrick‘s header.

The Blades also had a pair of penalty shouts in the first quarter hour, both unheard.

Lys Mousset was lively, and bodied Phil Jones to set up John Lundstram for a chance well-saved by De Gea only to see another John, Fleck, pop the rebound inside the far post.

McGoldrick kept coming in a bid for the second, drilling a ball to De Gea.

Manchester United had some moments in counter attack, but overall everyone short of Fred an De Gea were extremely sloppy.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Red Devils snapped to life at halftime, with Rashford using a couple deft moves to create space for a swirling shot over the frame in the 48th.

Mousset made it 2-0 when a run dragged Harry Maguire away from the Frenchman’s dribble, allowing the players to tear into a shot from 22 yards.

Manchester United got one back in the 73rd through Williams’ vicious finish, and the wall was broken down. Greenwood got to Rashford’s cross to make it 2-2, and Rashford reaped the rewards of Anthony Martial and James’ playmaking to make it 3-2.

McBurnie then settled a cross calmly, somehow avoiding a handball before smashing home for a stoppage time equalizer.

Liverpool equalizes, denied history by Manchester United

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Adam Lallana‘s late goal denied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a statement win as Liverpool came back to take a point from Manchester United in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marcus Rashford scored the goal, which was upheld by VAR despite a seeming foul in the build-up, while VAR also took a Liverpool goal off the board for handball.

Liverpool was bidding to move to 9-0 on the Premier League season by claiming its ninth-straight away league win and 18th consecutive win overall, but they’ll take the point.

Liverpool leads the league with 25 points, six more than Man City, while United rises 14th with 10 points.


Three stars of the match

1. Marcus Rashford — He didn’t look right over the first 20 minutes, but kept working until he found the opening goal. The effort didn’t stop there, as he managed four successful dribbles and wasn’t credited with a single time dispossessed.

2. Adam Lallana — Jurgen Klopp‘s 71st minute sub scored his first goal since May 2017, coming off the bench and slipping behind United’s defense to punish with an equalizer.

3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — Credit where it’s due, especially when we’ve been critical of the Manchester United boss, but Liverpool never found an answer for the Red Devils’ back three. Perhaps more credit to Solskjaer for not going away from it when Axel Tuanzebe went down in warm-ups.

Honorable mention: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fabinho, Scott McTominay, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

United held the ball for much of the first 10 minutes, but didn’t bother Alisson Becker.

The Reds, on the other hand, saw a 13th minute dribble and shot from Georginio Wijnaldum turn into a David De Gea save.

Cagey and tight, the next shot on target was a 25th minute low effort from Scott McTominay to Alisson.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was probably the best player on the pitch in the opening half hour, and saw a strong cross cut out by Virgil Van Dijk in the 28th.

Joel Matip spotted a streaking Sadio Mane for a lightning counter out of nothing, but Divock Origi couldn’t make much out of Mane’s feed and De Gea collected the shot.

That’s when United took its lead with one of two first half goals to go to VAR.

Rashford got on the business end of a Daniel James cross, which came two moves after Victor Lindelof kicked Divock Origi as the Belgian lost possession with a sloppy touch. A foul if it’s called, but it wasn’t and VAR did not overrule it.

Mane then had a goal chalked off for a handball, VAR catching a touch most refs wouldn’t.

Liverpool took hold of the game shortly after halftime, but physical United continued its tight marking and heavy tackling.

Daniel James was waylaid on a 50/50 ball with Fabinho and play questionably went on as James lay on the turf with an apparent head injury.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a deflected effort go wide in the 64th, as Jurgen Klopp took off Divock Origi and tried to find an answer to United’s back three.

The next sub was Adam Lallana for Jordan Henderson, as Liverpool had 20 minutes plus stoppage to find an equalizer.

He was the difference maker, as Robertson’s cross bounded through a sea of United defenders to meet him at the back post.

Premier League Preview: Man Utd v. Liverpool

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It’s been a while since a Liverpool trip to Manchester United felt like such a heavy lift for the home team, but that’s precisely the case when Old Trafford is our scene for one of the biggest rivalries in the Premier League (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

United sits 15 points behind the unblemished visitors, and will be without Paul Pogba and David De Gea for the event.

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Still, all is not lost; The Red Devils’ poor attack may see the return of Anthony Martial, who had a goal or an assist in all three of his PL matches this season before a hamstring injury cost him six weeks.

And Liverpool will be tasked with breaking down a United defense which has only allowed multiple goals twice this season (Crystal Palace, West Ham).

They’ll be confident of doing that, especially knowing that a win would match two Premier League records:

  • Most consecutive matches unbeaten in league play (18)
  • Most wins to start a PL season (9)

Those numbers also mean the Reds have won a remarkable nine-consecutive away matches in the Premier League. Not bad.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester United: OUT — Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, David De Gea, Diogo Dalot. QUESTIONABLE — Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard

Liverpool: OUT — Nathaniel Clyne. QUESTIONABLE — Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker, Joel Matip


Probable lineups

Manchester United: Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; Fred, McTominay; Pereira, James, Martial; Rashford.

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Salah.


What they’re saying

United’s Daniel James on his regular playing time: “When I joined that’s what I wanted to do. I wasn’t coming here just to be a squad player, but for the gaffer to believe in me and play me from the start, that’s something I want to continue to do.”

Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool’s status as heavy favorites“Sky made a combined line-up and had 11 Liverpool players. That’s like a joke, like building a banana skin. The world in the moment is a circus, and we are at the center: a couple of people want us to win, a couple want us to lose. I’m not influenced by it.”


Prediction

The ball is in Liverpool’s court here, though the possible but unlikely absence of Salah would loom large. The Pogba loss won’t be as glaring if Martial is able to return. Still, this has big Liverpool win written all over it, and asks the question of how much heart the Red Devils will show on behalf of its embattled manager? Even if it’s a lot, we expect something like 2-0 to Liverpool.

James says he was not knocked unconscious in Wales draw

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Head injury awareness again rose to the forefront in the 1-1 draw between Wales and Croatia in Cardiff when Daniel James went down after colliding with a pair of opponents.

The Manchester United winger looked to almost sure have been knocked unconscious when Domagoj Vida’s knee appeared to tap the back of his head while challenging for a ball in the air. Vida went toppling over the back of teammate Borna Barisic who ducked out of the way, but it was James who many were concerned for as he lay motionless on his back with his eyes closed.

Yet James was allowed to come back onto the field and completed the full 90 minutes, sparking criticism from injury advocates and fans who were concerned for James’ safety on the field, at potential risk for even more serious consequences should he indeed have suffered a concussion.

After the game however, despite what fans saw as James lie on the turf, the 21-year-old insisted he was not knocked unconscious. “I’m fine,” James claimed after the match, speaking to Sky Sports. “I think he just caught me in the head but I didn’t get knocked out fortunately.”

Wales boss Ryan Giggs backed up the decision as well, calling James’ motionless display “a bit of acting.”

“The medical staff went over, he was compos mentis and we did all the checks at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said, referring to the latin phrase for “of sound mind.”

If James was indeed faking unconsciousness, it’s natural to wonder if he should face a fine from UEFA for looking to con referees, and in the process possibly confusing the independent neurologists on site assigned to assess head injuries.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who has been outspoken over the past few years advocating for head injury awareness after his career was cut short by concussions, took to Twitter to criticize Wales for allowing James back into the game. Twellman, who was on the ESPN call of the broadcast with Ian Darke, said more needs to be done to prevent players from being able to force their way back onto the field, lest someone be killed by second impact syndrome.

Former Hull City player Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after a serious skull fracture saw him fighting for his life, was also seriously concerned about the incident.

Interestingly enough, later in the match just seconds after the second half restart, young Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu was whalloped from behind by Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic in a wild and reckless aerial challenge. Petkovic’s elbow went clattering into the back of Ampadu’s head, and the was left writhing on the ground holding his head. The Chelsea youngster was taken off the field and immediately replaced by Joe Morrell, while Petkovic was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.