Nemanja Matic

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Man United trigger Matic contract extension

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Nemanja Matic has been an unsung hero of Man United’s recent revival and he’s been rewarded with an extension as talks over a new contract are also said to be lined up.

Matic, 31, has had a clause in his contract triggered by Man United as his stay at the club will now be extended until the summer of 2021.

The Serbian midfielder joined United from Chelsea in the summer of 2017 as he linked up with his former manager Jose Mourinho.

Matic became somewhat of a scapegoat among United fans during the 2018-19 season but in recent months he has been influential alongside Fred in midfield as he filled in admirably for the injured duo of Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.

Man United are unbeaten in their last 11 games in all competitions and Matic has started nine of their last 10 outings in the Premier League, providing composure and tenacity in midfield as he and Fred have provided a valuable shield to United’s back line amid a string of improved defensive displays.

At 31 years old he provides valuable experience among this very young Man United side and you could certainly understand why Solskjaer wants to keep Matic around for another few seasons, especially because the future of Pogba is uncertain in central midfield.

This turnaround in form from Matic has been quite sensational but there’s no doubting his quality after he starred at Benfica before heading to Chelsea in 2014 and helped them to win two titles in three seasons before heading to Man United.

He’s not a player who will steal the headlines but he’s quietly become a key cog at Man United and they obviously want him to stick around.

Report: Nemanja Matic to sign new Manchester United deal

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According to a report by Manchester Evening News reporter Tyrone Marshall, Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is set to sign a new contract at the club that will keep him at Old Trafford for the forseable future.

While Matic’s current contract expires this summer, Manchester United has the option to extend the deal for an additional season, but instead it appears they will reward the 31-year-old with a contract that extends beyond next summer.

The Serbian international has been a constant figure in the Red Devils midfield since joining from Chelsea in 2017, following Jose Mourinho from Stamford Bridge to Old Trafford. While it appeared at the beginning of this season that he would be reduced to a substitute role, injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay have seen Matic return to the starting lineup after recovering from a groin injury of his own.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby, “We have agreed with him so he will stay, 100 per cent.”

The news presents a quick turnaround from the situation in January, which per Matic’s own comments seemed like talks had not yet begun. “We will see,” Matic said back in late January. “I’m at Carrington every day open to talk if they think I can help. If not, life will go on.”

How will Man City, Man Utd line up in Sunday’s derby?

Manchester derby
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The Manchester derby will be missing some key pieces when City visits United on Sunday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Harry Maguire is doubtful for the Red Devils, likely to join Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford as key pieces unable to tangle with the “noisy neighbors.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

City’s banged up, too, as Kevin De Bruyne is in doubt to play while Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain absent.

It will likely be City’s first look at Bruno Fernandes, who has three goals and two assists in seven appearances for the Red Devils.

Both teams played at midweek against Championship competition, City outlasting Sheffield Wednesday and United taking care of Derby County.

How the managers respond to derby stakes but fixture congestion is interesting, especially for City; The two-time reigning league champions have a rescheduled match with Arsenal on Wednesday.

Manchester United projected XI

De Gea

 Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Bailly — Williams

McTominay — Matic —  Fred

Fernandes

Martial — Greenwood

Why: Solskjaer will bring his hard men to the midfield and hope Fernandes, Martial, Greenwood, and his fullbacks can carve up City on the counter. He’ll save Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira to come off the bench.

Manchester City projected XI

Ederson

Walker — Otamendi — Fernandinho — Mendy

Rodri — Gundogan

Mahrez — Foden — Sterling

Aguero

This could see Bernardo Silva played centrally for Foden and Jesus over Aguero, but we have Guardiola rewarding Foden for his sensational League Cup Final.

Wasteful Man City advances to Carabao Cup final past Man United

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Manchester United won the battle, but Manchester City won the war.

Looking to overcome a 3-1 first-leg deficit, Manchester United got a fabulous first-half goal from Nemanja Matic but that was all, earning a 1-0 victory in the game but failing to keep Man City from advancing to the Carabao Cup final via a 3-2 aggregate score. Man City was dreadful in front of net in a game they likely could have scored three or more goals, but after Matic was sent off with 15 minutes remaining, it wasn’t to be for the Red Devils.

The hosts had a big chance early on as Sergio Aguero got through behind the United defense and headed on frame inside the opening 10 minutes, but David De Gea made a spectacular diving save to keep out the Premier League’s second-leading scorer. Aguero tested de Gea again in the 17th minute with a shot destined for the top-right corner, but the Spaniard got up to his left this time for another fingertip save.

Manchester United struck first in the 35th minute as Nemanja Matic delivered a venomous volley off a free-kick, burying the chance on the Red Devils’ first shot of the game. The set-piece delivery from Fred came from the left flank and swung out, coming off the head of the first man Bernardo Silva and falling right to Matic near the top of the box who leg-whipped the ball off the inside of the post.

City had the equalizer in the back of the net before halftime as Raheem Sterling latched onto a Kevin De Bruyne cross, but Sterling and Aguero behind him were both offside by a significant margin and the flag correctly went up to nullify the strike.

After halftime, Sterling again had a massive opportunity but couldn’t cash in on the hour mark. Charging on the break, Sterling got past Victor Lindelof and could have taken an early shot, but with de Gea charging and closing him down, Sterling panicked and failed to pinch off an effort. Instead, with de Gea crawling along the ground and defenders scrambling back, there was no room to shoot and eventually his effort was much too late and skied over the bar.

Manchester United looked compact after the halftime break, often packing in and preventing Man City shots from good areas just by sheer numbers behind the ball. De Gea was forced into another good save as he kept out a vicious long-distance Kyle Walker effort, punching it away against his body diving to the right. Somehow, City again came up empty in the 73rd minute after forcing a bad Harry Maguire turnover, but David Silva didn’t take the blatant wide-open chance, instead passing to Ilkay Gundogan who was closed down by two scrambling defenders and unable to get a shot off.

While it seemed United was right in the match, they fell down to 10 men after Nemanja Matic – already on a yellow card – chopped down Gundogan on the break and earned himself an early shower. Referee Kevin Friend had clearly already spoken to Harry Maguire about Matic, saying he was on his last warning. It was all City from there, and while Aguero couldn’t finish their best chance on 84 minutes thanks to the offside flag, they saw out the match to advance on aggregate.

Man City fails to score for the first time in 26 games across all competitions, but despite that they still advance to take on Aston Villa at Wembley, hoping to earn its fourth League Cup title in the last five years.

Pepe, Arsenal impress in dispatching haggard Man Utd

Pepe drives Arteta to first Arsenal win
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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.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

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.