Fred

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Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves eye qualification

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Manchester United midfielder Fred wants to get Europa League knockout round qualification done and dusted on the double.

United hosts Partizan Belgrade at 3 p.m. ET Thursday, and a win would boost them six points clear of their visitors with two matches to play.

Fred said he’s hopeful not just for the place in the next round, but to help more of the squad get playing time.#UEL

“It will also provide more opportunities for players to get a run of games, which is very important as we have a lot of games coming up and will need the entire squad, so to have already achieved qualification is important,” said Fred. “With this run of games coming up, we’ll be gradually putting the pieces together over these fixtures.”

[ MORE: Atalanta 1-1 Man City | Red Star 0-4 Spurs ]

The Red Devils will bid to achieve that goal without Victor Lindelof, who was an unused sub for the 1-0 win in Serbia.

Meanwhile, Wolves are home to face Slovan Bratislava in a Group K which is anything but straightforward.

The Premier League side is a point back of Braga’s seven, and sits two clear of Thursday’s visitors. Besiktas, stunningly, is without a point through three matches.

Nuno Espirito Santo said the advantage is not enough, and Wolves cannot expect to be safe for the knockout rounds.

“We are always confident, we cannot expect things to happen, we have to make them happen,” he said. “We have to play the game, we are ready to compete and Slovan are a very tough team. Competing well is more important (than thinking about qualifying).”

Arsenal failed in its early bid to earn a place in the Europa League knockout rounds, but an Eintracht Frankfurt defeat of Standard Liege in Belgium could send both the Gunners and Eintracht there.

Other notable UEL Thursday fixtures

Lazio v. Celtic — 12:55 p.m. ET

Rangers v. Porto — 3 p.m. ET

Wolfsburg v. Gent — 3 p.m. ET

Borussia Monchengladbach v. Roma — 3 p.m. ET

Braga v. Besiktas — 3 p.m. ET

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men meet Braga at the Molineux, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow

Biggest flops of the Premier League season

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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We’ll try not to be too harsh as our review of the Premier League season continues with the most disappointing performances of 2018-19.

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal ]

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham ]


— Fulham — You can’t pin it on any single manager, nor a single transfer flop. There was just something around Craven Cottage that didn’t allow the men to mesh on the big stage. Andre Schurrle petered out, Alfie Mawson stumbled when healthy, Jean-Michael Seri wasn’t as advertised, and Claudio Ranieri couldn’t summon any saviors after Slavisa Jokanovic also failed to find the right chemistry.

— Max Meyer, Crystal Palace — The 23-year-old just couldn’t quite adapt after being hailed by many including us as a remarkable free transfer from Schalke.

— Gonzalo Higuain, Chelsea — Part of this blame lives with us: The expectation that came with Maurizio Sarri‘s favored man arriving to make good on the failures of Alvaro Morata was too high; Higuain finished with five goals in 1100 minutes.

— Mohamed Elyounoussi, Southampton — Maybe his Premier League adjustment will come in Season Two, but zero goals and plenty of days outside the Saints’ 18 hardly make for good value.

Fred, Manchester United — Cost the Red Devils about $3.5 million per league appearance. Shoulder shrug emoji, as Pep Guardiola also reportedly viewed the Brazilian as a fix for his midfield.

— David De Gea, Manchester United — While not a new signing, the Red Devils’ perennial savior was not close to his standards in 2018-19. In fact, the Spaniard was basically league average and couldn’t bail out his defenders (which underscores Jose Mourinho’s assertion regarding their quality).

Lukaku leads Manchester United in thrilling comeback win

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  • Lukaku scores twice in 2nd half
  • Saints lead twice on two beauties
  • Pereira, Valery score 1st PL goals

An absolute classic at Old Trafford saw Manchester United comeback twice against visiting Southampton, as the sides only scored thrilling goals in a 3-2 match on Saturday.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice including the last of the stunners, taking a Fred flick and ripping past a flying Angus Gunn.

Andreas Pereira also scored for United, while James Ward-Prowse and Yan Valery are on the score sheet for Southampton.

Four of the five goals were Goal of the Week contenders, with Lukaku’s first quite lovely but not in that category. Gunn stopped Pogba’s penalty late, as Lukaku did not get a chance at his hat trick.

United moves fourth, three points behind Tottenham, while Saints remain 17th with 27 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brilliant goals were the name of the game, the first being Valery’s absolute terror from better than 20 yards away from goal.

The Southampton youngster laced a right-footed shot which beat David De Gea to the near post; The gorgeous would’ve been stopped by De Gea at his best.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Saints continued to work for a surprise three points at Old Trafford, but that notion was spoiled by Pereira and Lukaku.

Pereira’s goal, like Valery’s his first in the Premier League, was sensational. The Brazilian cut in from the left and took a step before curling a pearler around Angus Gunn and into the goal.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Gunn had been sensational himself over the course of the match, making numerous first half stops for Saints.

He wasn’t able to get to Lukaku’s 10-yards low drive inside the far post, as United took the lead with about a half-hour remaining in the game.

Ward-Prowse got his free kick in the 75th minute, and boy did he get full body on his strike. De Gea was left flying through the air as the ball tore into the upper 90. 2-2.

Lukaku then took Fred’s feed to score a stunner of a winner, and Stuart Armstrong fouled Marcus Rashford to allow Pogba his chance to score from the spot. The French star was saved by Gunn.

Matic misses Liverpool fight, out for weeks

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic suffered “a nasty knock” in training Saturday and will miss 2-4 weeks of action

Matic, 30, has started every match since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the reins at United.

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He’s been replaced by Scott McTominay for Sunday’s match versus Liverpool, with Fred joining the bench to provide cover.

Ander Herrera could also slide into a more defensive role, but the Spaniard has been very good with increased attacking freedom under Solskjaer.

In addition to the Liverpool visit, United’s next month of fixtures includes the second leg of a UEFA Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain as well as league tests from Crystal Palace, Southampton, Arsenal and Wolves.