Fred

Manchester United blanks Chelsea in VAR-heavy affair

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Manchester United took all three points from Stamford Bridge, but VAR was the star of the Red Devils’ 2-0 win on Monday.

[ MORE: JPW’s Three Things ]

Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire scored the goals, the latter getting his first PL goal for United after VAR declined to prosecute an unsavory incident by the center back on the touchline.

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United moves into seventh place with 38 points, three behind fourth-place Chelsea. It’s Manchester Unired’s first league double over Chelsea since 1987/88.


Three highlights

1. Bailly, Wan-Bissaka pass tests: Chelsea targeted the right side of United’s defense and, after an early mistake from returning center back Eric Bailly, the defenders on that side stood tall. Wan-Bissaka chipped in with an assist on Martial opener.

2. Maguire dodges VAR red card for a mindless move: There’s no debating that a prone Harry Maguire left his right foot extended and made a sneaky move to make sure he connected squarely with Michy Batshuayi‘s groin on the touchline. It wasn’t spotted by the ref, though the Chelsea bench sans Frank Lampard reacted angrily. VAR saw nothing, somehow, and perhaps was unwilling to award a yellow and not a red? Weird stuff (view video of the incident here).

3. VAR then overturns Zouma equalizer: Chelsea appeared to equalize through a Kurt Zouma header, but VAR spotted a foul on Brandon Williams that led to the goal. The problem? Manchester United’s Fred shoved Cesar Azpilicueta into the United youngster. It’s somehow more controversial given the fine margins in the race for Champions League places.

Man of the Match: It’s gotta be Wan-Bissaka for his two-way game, though Maguire was the No. 1 man of note in the contest.


Reece James belted a shot wide of the far post in the sixth minute, and Willian missed by more three minutes later.

Bruno Fernandes and Fred worked a 12th-minute exchange that led to an unproductive corner kick.

Mason Mount came on for an injured N’Golo Kante after a dozen minutes.

There was a bizarre lack of address when a prone Harry Maguire stuck his boot into Michy Batshuayi’s groin.

The first half was filled with near-misses. Willian couldn’t cue up Michy Batshuayi around the 20-minute mark. That one was the Belgian’s fault, but he was quite poor when Mason Mount set him up centrally in the 26th.

United’s Anthony Martial drove into the box and spun a shot wide 10 minutes later, but found his goal before halftime with a classy header of Wan-Bissaka’s tremendous cross.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea appeared to make it 1-1 in the 55th minute through a Kurt Zouma header, but it was ruled out by VAR. Cesar Azpilicueta knocked over Brandon Williams, but the Chelsea defender had been shoved into the defender by Fred. Stunning.

Bruno Fernandes smashed the post in the 64th minute, and United would find its second soon afterwards when Maguire got the better of Rudiger to head home.

Giroud gave Chelsea a shout with a 77th minute header, but his front foot was offside before he headed home a Mason Mount cross.

Odion Ighalo subbed into the match in stoppage time and was deprived of a debut goal by Willy Caballero.

Player Ratings from Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United

Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images
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Liverpool might’ve needed a stoppage time goal to put Manchester United away, but the Reds outclassed their rivals on Sunday at Anfield.

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It was a righteous beatdown of the visitors, who were without Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford but looked more like a relegated-threatened side than one of the most successful clubs in football history.

[ MORE: JPW’s Three Things ]


Liverpool

Alisson — 9 — One of the world’s best gets an extra point for assisting Mohamed Salah‘s insurance goal.

Andy Robertson — 7 — Typical strength from the hard-working Scot.

Joe Gomez — 7

Virgil Van Dijk — 8 — Scored the decisive goal and was almost imperious at the back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold — 7

Georginio Wijnaldum — 7

Jordan Henderson — 8 — One of his best days in the shirt, winning numerous tackles and deprived of a delightful goal by De Gea.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Out 66′) — 7

Sadio Mane (Out 83′) — 5 — If he’s anywhere near his average self, he has a first half hat trick.

Mohamed Salah — 7 — Tied for a match-high shots with Mane, but had more of an edge and found a deserved goal late.

Roberto Firmino (Out 83′) — 7 — A game-high six dribbles to go with plenty of industry.

Subs 

Adam Lallana (66′) — 7

Divock Origi (83′) — N/A

Fabinho (83′) — N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea — 7 — An incredible save on Jordan Henderson on a day he had so little help.

Luke Shaw (Off 87′) — 5

Harry Maguire — 4 — Tried to do too much in his first match as full-time United captain.

Victor Lindelof — 4

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — 6 — One of few standouts on the day, with loads of energy and few ready to meet his level.

Brandon Williams (Out 75′) — 6

Nemanja Matic — 6

Fred — 7 — One of the few United players to bring effort and sharpness, but his shooting was off. Only Van Dijk attempted more passes.

Andreas Pereira (Out 75′) — 3 — Don’t let his ability to produce an edge of your seat moment detract from 16-of-26 passing and dreadful inconsistency.

Daniel James — 5

Anthony Martial — 4 — Blazed a perfect chance to tie the match over the bar, and effort wasn’t there.

Subs 

Juan Mata (In 75′) — N/A

Mason Greenwood (In 75′) — N/A

Diogo Dalot (In 87′) — N/A

Pepe, Arsenal impress in dispatching haggard Man Utd

Pepe drives Arteta to first Arsenal win
Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images
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Arsenal gave Mikel Arteta his first win and it came against an age-old rival.

The Gunners controlled Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, riding an eye-opening show from Nicolas Pepe in the process.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored the goals as Arsenal moves 10th on 27 points. The Gunners are nine points back of the Top Four.

United whiffs in a bid to move within a win of fourth-place Chelsea, and remains fifth with 31 points.


Three things we learned

1. Arteta overwhelms injury-hit United midfield: The Red Devils midfield isn’t a league-winner at full strength, and not having Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay is a problem. The depth behind them is just not there, or too green. Nemanja Matic and Fred were easy starters, but Jesse Lingard‘s rough time continues and Andreas Pereira has been inconsistent.

Mikel Arteta knew this and was able to start Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, and Nicolas Pepe. It was less of a risk than usual because of the opposition. It became even less so given another fine showing from Granit Xhaka.

United should go shopping even if Pogba plans on staying, given Matic’s age. Both Matic and Fred were decent in a poor effort for United. Maybe Juan Mata was the play, as his cameo was okay.

2. Pepe embraces rare start, demanding more: Nicolas Pepe has been much more effective for Arsenal as a Premier League starter than a sub, and his first league start since Dec. 15 was right on the money. His first half: Goal, 25-of-25 passes, hit post, whipped-in corner that became 2nd goal, three dribbles, two aerials won, one tackle. 2-0 Arsenal. He was still subbed off in the 62nd minute, so, okay. He must be the worst training player on Earth, or hide everyone’s car keys.

To borrow Pep Guardiola‘s favorite phrase modifier, he was so, so good. And there’s room for more, as he’s a shade off when it comes to following his instincts in the final third. That’s something Mikel Arteta will have seen fine-tuned with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City.

3. Rashford runs out of steam: If we’re going to relentlessly praise Marcus Rashford‘s arrival, and deservedly so, we need to note when United’s key piece doesn’t quite have it. It’s understandable given the minutes and magnitude of contribution asked, but he won just one of nine first half duels. He didn’t get a shot on target during the frame and passed at less than 70 percent.

Man of the Match: Pepe only played the first hour, so we’ll give a nod to beleaguered goal scorer Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The ex-Borussia Dortmund man was the standout performer of a back four which seems to have a simplified plan under Arteta.


A bad Ainsley Maitland-Niles giveaway threatened to open up Arsenal, but Jesse Lingard didn’t handle the opportunity well.

Pepe put Arsenal ahead when Sead Kolasinac‘s cutback was deflected into his path. A clever adjustment later and the ball was in the back of the goal.

Aubameyang couldn’t side volley a Pepe cross home moments later.

The Gunners were all over the Red Devils, and Pepe slipped Lacazette into the box for the Frenchman to torch Harry Maguire but fire wide.

Pepe then curled an 18-yard shot off the far post.

The Gunners got a deserved second in the 43rd as De Gea saved Lacazette’s flick of Pepe’s corner, but Sokratis was at the ready to punch in the rebound.

Harry Maguire headed a free kick to Bernd Leno on the final play of the first half.

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United’s second half was improved at the outset, with Fred stinging Leno’s palms with a shot in the 55th but still no real threat on goal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer removed Daniel James and Jesse Lingard for Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira in the 58th minute.

Matic set up Pereira for a shot in the 59th, but the Brazilian smashed into the outside of the goal.

Leno beat Rashford to Juan Mata’s cross in stoppage time to keep the clean sheet.

Player Ratings from Man City 1-2 Manchester United

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It was even closer than it looked, but Manchester United held on to defeat Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: RecapJPW’s 3 things ]

It’s a significant jolt for the Red Devils and boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who bewildered City’s backs with lightning quick counters.

Were it not for Ederson, it might’ve been the sort of result that raised worldwide eyebrows. Heck, it probably is, anyway.

Here’s how the players fared as City out shot its guests 22-11 and held onto 71 percent of the ball only to lose the match.

Manchester City

Ederson — 7 — Kept City in the match early, but would’ve liked to have gotten his paw to Martial’s goal.

Kyle Walker — 7 — Quite effective at both ends, including a great intervention in the first half.

John Stones (Off 59′) — 6 — Not involved in either conceded goal before leaving with injury.

Fernandinho — 5 — Not his day.

Angelino — 6 — Lively, but will have wanted to do better on Martial’s goal.

Rodri (Off 86′)– 7 — City’s best player, with four interceptions, more tidy passing, and decisive wins in some big 50-50 challenges.

David Silva — 7 — Four key passes and two shots on target as a promising part of the attack.

Kevin De Bruyne — 7 — A fairly brilliant performance that would normally have netted an assist or two; Five key passes to go with 117 touches.

Bernardo Silva (Off 65′) — 5 — Conceded a poor penalty to Rashford; Won some duels but didn’t manage shot on target.

Raheem Sterling — 6 — Lively, but not his starring self.

Gabriel Jesus — 5 — A pretty terrible day filling in for Sergio Aguero.

Subs

Pep’s subs made a difference, led by goal scorer Nicolas Otamendi (59′). who gets an 8.

Riyad Mahrez (65′) — 7. Ilkay Gundogan (86′) — N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea — 6 — Four saves, one of them great, but failed to claim the corner that became Otamendi’s goal.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — 8 — United got it right when they splashed the cash to bring this one from Crystal Palace. Might’ve saved a goal off a bad Lindelof giveaway.

Victor Lindelof — 7 — A couple of very dicey moments including a bad giveaway, but overall played his part.

Harry Maguire — 7 — Eight clearances, three interceptions, two tackles, and a blocked shot but to blame along with De Gea for the goal.

Luke Shaw (Off 89′) — 6 — A little wobbly and weary as the match wore on, but credited with six clearances.

Fred — 7 — Had a banner day offensively, dribbling well in tight spaces (4-for-4). Amazing he kept his composure while being racially abused and pelted with objects. Reprehensible.

Scott McTominay — 9 — Outstanding. Won 12 of 15 duels, drew five fouls, and made three interceptions to go with three tackles.

Daniel James — 7 — An efficient day, with some early moments of attacking power.

Marcus Rashford — 7 — Coming into his own.

Jesse Lingard (Off 89′) — 5 — Did very little on the day, one of the only odd and unrewarded decisions from Solskjaer

Anthony Martial (Off 74′) — 7 — Did well to get his shot away for United’s second goal, but that really his only moment of influence on the match.

Subs 

Andreas Pereira (74′) — 5 — Pretty poor from the Brazilian, who had a petulant foul or two on the day.

Ashley Young (89′) — N/A; Axel Tuanzebe (89′) — N/A.

Allegations of racial abuse as Fred hit by objects in Manchester Derby

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Manchester City fans were caught on camera physically and racially abusing Manchester United players during the Manchester Derby on Saturday, according to reports.

United was leading 2-0 in the match when Fred was temporarily unable to take a corner kick due to lighters, bottles, and other items being thrown at him.

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The NBC Sports Soccer broadcast team was able to confirm that a man on the film below was yelling racial epithets at United midfielders Jesse Lingard and Fred.

Here’s what Man City said in a club statement:

Manchester City FC are aware of a video circulating on social media which appears to show a supporter making racial gestures during the second half of the match against Manchester United this evening.
Officials from the Club are working with Greater Manchester Police in order to help them identify any individuals concerned and assist with their enquiries.

The Club are also working with GMP regarding an instance of objects being thrown onto the field of play.

The Club operates a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination of any kind, and anyone found guilty of racial abuse will be banned from the club for life.

Here’s Marcus Rashford, via the BBC:

“I wasn’t aware of it during the game but it can happen and we’ve seen it happen lately. The fact it is still happening is not good enough.”

More to come…