Harry Maguire

Maguire doubtful for Manchester derby

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Harry Maguire is doubtful to play in the Manchester derby this Sunday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) as the Man United captain suffered an ankle injury in training.

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Man United host Man City on Sunday and not having their best central defender will be far from ideal.

Following United’s comfortable FA Cup win at Derby County on Thursday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed the following update on Maguire’s fitness.

“It is touch and go because he rolled his ankle and twisted his ankle. But hopefully he will recover quickly,” Solskjaer said. “I wasn’t going to rest him today. I didn’t give him the day off birthday wise. So I hope he will be fit.”

If Maguire isn’t fit to play then that leaves a huge hole in the heart of United’s defense. Victor Lindeelof and Eric Bailly will likely play alongside one another and then it is all about what formation United play.

In some of their bigger recent games against Chelsea and Liverpool they’ve deployed a 3-4-3 formation with Luke Shaw as a left-sided center back and Brandon Williams as a left wing-back to provide some more defensive stability. It is likely they will do that against Man City as they aim to sit back, soak up pressure and hit City on the counter. With City playing two false nines against United in a recent League Cup win, Pep Guardiola has plenty of options to try and bamboozle this United defense.

Maguire has really stepped up his game in the second half of the season following his $90 million arrival from Leicester City in the summer. He had a surprisingly slow start to life at United (we are talking 6/10 stuff, not bad but not great) but since he was handed the captains armband in January his performances have improved and he’s even becoming more dangerous at the other end of the pitch from set piece situations.

Defensively United have improved this season and that has been a big reason why they sit in fifth place in the Premier League table, three points behind Chelsea. They have kept seven clean sheets in their last nine games in all competitions and Maguire’s form has been a big part of that.

Let’s see how United’s backline copes without their main man against Man City.

Player ratings from Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United

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Manchester United defeated Chelsea 2-0 on Monday at Stamford Bridge, moving the Red Devils to within three points of their fourth-place hosts.

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Who were the stars and the duds? Read on…

Chelsea

Willy Caballero — 6 — Just one save on the day.

Reece James — 5 — A miserable in 50/50s for a promising player.

Antonio Rudiger — 6 — Lost Maguire on United’s second goal but was otherwise strong

Andreas Christensen — 6.5 — Strong and fought through a bloodied nose before succumbing to the injury at halftime, but couldn’t stop Martial from making it 1-0.

Cesar Azpilicueta — 6 — Okay day, but rightly or wrongly his shove cost Chelsea a goal (Probably wrongly).

Mateo Kovacic — 8 — He was everywhere. According to Sofascore, Kovacic had over 100 touches, 87 percent passing, two key passes, four of five dribbles and 8-of-14 in duels to go with an interception, three clearances, and three tackles.

Jorginho — 8 — Exceptional. Nailed eight of his nine long balls and passed at 94 percent. A maestro.

N’Golo Kante — N/A — Only a dozen minutes before his injury-riddled season met February head-on.

Willian — 7 — Couldn’t get Chelsea on the board, so we shouldn’t praise him too much, but the Brazilian doesn’t get enough love for his willingness and adeptness in tackling.

Pedro — 7 — Three key passes highlight an active day.

Michy Batshuayi — 5 — Couldn’t finish some prime chances, and caught an unpunished boot to the groin. Insult meet injury. Zero shots on target.

Subs

Mason Mount — 6 — Nearly had an assist if not for Olivier Giroud‘s offside toes.

Kurt Zouma — 7 — Came off the bench to score, though it was pulled off the board by VAR. Won six of seven duels, and was steady at the back.

Olivier Giroud — 6 — Nearly had a goal if not for his toes and the timing of a freeze frame.


Manchester United

David De Gea — 6 — Hardly-tested, but did have one fine save.

Luke Shaw — 6 — Not bad.

Harry Maguire — 8 — How do you rate a man who should’ve been sent off but was otherwise a beast and scored a terrific insurance goal? I guess we’re saying you rate him as if he wasn’t sent off, which he wasn’t.

Eric Bailly — 7 — One really poor moment early, but rebounded and showed terrific skill in recovery, tackling, and even moving the ball forward via dribble.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — 8 — He may end up being the best signing of the summer (Sorry Harry). Terrific assist, four clearances, three blocked shots, two interceptions, and a tackle.

Brandon Williams — 7 — Steadier than his 19 years would have you imagine.

Nemanja Matic — 7 — Busy in the middle, albeit quieter than usual.

Fred — 7 — Got away with one thanks to VAR.

Bruno Fernandes — 7 — Continued to flash his supreme talent, though the end product eluded him.

Daniel James — 5 — Looked busy, but not productive.

Anthony Martial — 7 — Terrific header on the goal, and was industrious in trying to produce. more.

Subs

Andreas Pereira — N/A

Odion Ighalo — N/A

Diogo Dalot — N/A

Maguire on Batshuayi incident: ‘No intent to hurt him or kick him’

Harry Maguire
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Manchester United center back Harry Maguire says he was just trying to help Michy Batshuayi from falling when he kicked the forward in the groin.

Maguire wasn’t disciplined for the incident by Video Assistant Referee, and later scored United’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 Things from London ]

The Red Devils’ admitted he thought he could get sent off, because he had studs on his boots and it looked bad.

But really, he was just trying to keep ol’ Michy upright (view video of the incident here).

“I can see why. I knew I caught him but I felt like he was gonna fall on me. My natural reaction was to straighten my leg to try and hold him up. I’ve got some studs on my boots and it probably looks worse than it was on TV. It wasn’t a kick out. I knew at the time, but I think it’s the right decision.

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He was asked whether he was nervous during the review.

“I knew at the time I didn’t have no intent to hurt him or kick him. It wasn’t a kick. I apologized to him, but it was nice that the referee seen it.”

We’ll let the quotes speak for themselves. Supplemental discipline seems likely considering Heung-Min Son‘s red card was not overturned after the fact.

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.

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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.

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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.

Was VAR wrong in not sending off Maguire for Batshuayi foul?

VAR
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VAR continues to do the unthinkable, as it’s now uniting supporters of Spurs and Chelsea.

The latter trailed Manchester United at halftime after Harry Maguire was not disciplined for sticking his foot into the groin of Michy Batshuayi.

The former will join Chelsea in wondering why Maguire wasn’t sent off given it saw forward Heung-Min Son sent off for a similar incident against the Blues’ Antonio Rudiger late last year. The punishment was not reversed by supplemental review.

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It’s understandable that the referee didn’t see it, but when you consider that VAR had all of the above angles? Well, you understand why some believe in conspiracy theories.

What do you think?

Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher felt Maguire should be counting his blessings, and said so via our partners Sky Sports.

Social media was at-the-ready, too.