Juan Mata

Manchester United's Solskjaer talks Rashford injury
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Solskjaer talks Rashford injury, ‘finally’ beating Wolves

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was going to give Marcus Rashford his first match day off since Dec. 12.

He didn’t, and he regrets it.

Solskjaer plucked his star striker off the bench in the 64th minute and removed him 16 minutes later after a back injury hobbled the 22-year-old.

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“Yes, it backfired,” Solskjaer said, via the BBC. “You got to take them once in a while. He’ll be tested in the next few days – we have to see for Sunday. He couldn’t run. He struggled a little bit with his back and got another knock. It didn’t help.”

Rashford played just 20 minutes in the first meeting between the two on Jan. 4, but started eight other matches in the last 34 days. He went 90 minutes in five of those outings.

The injury, possibly minor, threatens to overshadow a terrific Juan Mata goal as Manchester United earned a date with either Watford and Tranmere Rovers in the fourth round.

The 1-0 win is United’s first over Wolves in six tries since the latter was promoted in 2018 (three draws, two losses).

“I think you can see it was two teams towards the end that were tired. End to end and an open game – sometimes that doesn’t suit us,” Solskjaer said. “We’re delighted to beat Wolves finally. Juan Mata is different class. He’s got the skill, composure and even pace.”

Mata’s looked great in consecutive matches, and he’s gonna need to do it more often if Rashford is unable to go for any prolonged period.

FA Cup: Mata leads Man Utd win as Rashford hurt; Cardiff wins 7-goal thriller

Manchester United advances in FA Cup
Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images
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The FA Cup’s fourth round fixture list is complete, pending one water-logged reschedule, after Manchester United and Cardiff City picked up wins on Wednesday.

United’s win came at a cost, as Marcus Rashford limped off with a back injury.

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Watford and Tranmere Rovers face a replay next week after seeing their Tuesday match moved due to an unplayable pitch.

Spurs outlasted Middlesbrough on Tuesday to headline a host of replays.

As for Wednesday…

Manchester United v. Wolves

The visitors thought that they’d gone ahead early, but an inadvertent handball was caught by VAR to keep the score 0-0.

Red-hot Juan Mata made the difference with a delightful run to meet Anthony Martial‘s through ball, dinking the ball over John Ruddy in the 67th minute.

What a goal from one of the serially underappreciated players of his generation.

Carlisle United 3-4 Cardiff City

League Two relegation candidates Carlisle showed well against their Championship visitors, taking a lead through Nathan Thomas.

Cardiff scored the next three goals of the match, but Harry McKirdy twice pulled the hosts back within a goal at 3-2 and 4-3.

It was just too big an ask of the Cumbrians, though, as Aden Flint’s double joined goals from Josh Murphy and Danny Ward to make it 4-2 before the hour mark.

FA Cup fourth round schedule

Jan. 24
Northampton Town v. Derby County
QPR v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 25
Brentford v. Leicester City
Southampton v. Tottenham Hotspur
Millwall v. Sheffield United
Reading v. Cardiff City
West Ham v. West Brom
Burnley v. Norwich City
Coventry City v. Birmingham City
Newcastle United v. Oxford United
Portsmouth v. Barnsley
Hull City v. Chelsea

Jan. 26
Man City v. Fulham
Watford or Tranmere Rovers v. Manchester United
Shrewsbury Town v. Liverpool

Jan. 27
Bournemouth v. Arsenal

Manchester United’s Mata ‘still hungry’ after making case for more time

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Juan Mata would like the world to know he still wants to compete, and on Saturday he showed that class is permanent.

The Manchester United midfielder picked two assists in his first league start since Dec. 1, the first a sensational set-up of Marcus Rashford.

“It is frustrating when I don’t play,” Mata said after the 4-0 defeat of Norwich City. “I am still hungry to help my team with goals and assists. Like every player, when I don’t play I am not happy. But I have to always be available for the team.”

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Mata, 31, has been an unused sub for nine PL matches this season, and played less than 10 minutes in five others. His two assists, however, were his first notches on the score sheet in Premier League play.

The Spaniard’s been around the block, and says Saturday’s show highlights the Top Four capabilities of United. From The Manchester Evening News:

“It is a good example of how good we can play. We need to play like this on a consistent basis if we want to get a Champions League spot.”

As for Mata’s manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was please with this performance. United rebounded from a poor performance in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal versus rivals Man City.

“Very happy,” he said. “We started on the front foot. When you can walk off, and I am sure the opposition are talking about Man Utd as a very hard working team, that is what I want from my team.”

Manchester United smashes Norwich City

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Marcus Rashford scored twice and Juan Mata had two assists as Manchester United blasted Norwich City 4-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

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Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood also scored for the Red Devils, who pull into fifth with 34 points.

Norwich City remains dead last with 14 points and a league-worst 45 conceded goals.


Three things we learned

1. Rashford’s arrival unquestioned: The hype surrounding United’s 22-year-old forward beat him to stardom by at least two years, but he’s here now. Rashford goes to the dirty places to get goals, but is also capable of conjuring the sublime. He now has 19 goals across all competitions including 14 of 35 in league play. It’s a marvelous season as the Englishman has justified United’s willingness to sell Romelu Lukaku.

2. No Pukki, no party: Teemu Pukki hasn’t been as electric as his early season showings, but the Finn brings a threat. United didn’t need to account for that with prospect Adam Idah leading the line, which allowed the defenders to worry more about Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell out wide. Norwich remains very much in for it and will finish the weekend at least seven points clear of safety.

3. Williams takes another step toward long-term left back spot: Brandon Williams isn’t consistently starring at left back for Manchester United, but the 19-year-old has been average on his worst days. Believe it or not, we wrote this before he run a penalty with a surging run into the box.

Man of the Match: Rashford.


United wanted a penalty when Christoph Zimmermann and Anthony Martial had a moment, but VAR saw the Frenchman stumble and nothing more.

A rare start for Juan Mata was a wise choice, the Spaniard setting up Rashford for the match’s first goal with a delightful cross.

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The Red Devils broke open the dam with quickfire goals from Rashford and Martial, as Norwich City’s basement status was reinforced via goal differential.

Greenwood came off the bench to round out the scoring, United successfully continuing its pursuit of the Top Four.

PL AT HALF: Mata’s sweet assist put Man Utd up; Chelsea, Everton lead

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We’ve seen eight goals in five 10 a.m. ET kickoffs across the Premier League, refreshed players giving refreshed performances.

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Wolves 1-1 Newcastle United [STREAM]

Miguel Almiron gave the Magpies an early lead — WATCH HERE — but Leander Dendoncker answered quickly to put it level at the Molineux.

Chelsea 2-0 Burnley [STREAM]

Willian won a penalty that Jorginho converted, and Reece James set up Tammy Abraham for the Blues’ second goal at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United 1-0 Norwich City [STREAM]

A gorgeous, vintage Juan Mata pass found Marcus Rashford for the loan goal at Old Trafford.

Everton 1-0 Brighton and Hove Albion [STREAM]

Richarlison is the man on the score sheet at Goodison Park, his eighth league goal of the season.

Leicester City 1-1 Southampton [STREAM]

Dennis Praet put the hosts ahead but it’s been all Saints since, with Stuart Armstrong leveling the score and Danny Ings twice hitting the frame of the goal.