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October 20, 2019240

The much anticipated match up between league leaders Liverpool and Manchester United ended in a one all draw.

Goals by Marcus Rashfold on the 36th minute and Adam Lallana on the 85th minute ended Liverpool’s endless streak, one short record 18.

Liverpool’s winning run ends at 17, one short of the record, but they will be happy enough after Adam Lallana’s late equaliser put them six points clear at the top.

Although it was a scruffy game of few chances, there was always something going on and it was fascinating tactically. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set United up expertly in the first half, with a 3-4-1-2 formation and split strikers, but they ran out of steam in the second. And although Liverpool were nowhere near their awesome best, they deserved a draw for their persistence and territorial dominance.

There was VAR controversy, inevitably, and a soupçon of needle. United look deflated because of the late equaliser. When the dust settles, they will reflect on a pretty good day. Marcus Rashford.

 


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October 7, 2019140

Steve Bruce hopes Newcastle’s victory over Manchester United “is the turning point” as his side moved out of the Premier League relegation zone and continued his former club’s troublesome season.

Matty Longstaff, 19, capped an impressive top-flight debut with the winning goal, drilling home a low finish from outside the box to leave the Red Devils just two points above the bottom three and with two wins this season.

Longstaff, playing in midfield alongside brother Sean, could have scored in the first half but rattled the crossbar with a thunderous 25-yard drive, while Fabian Schar flicked a header narrowly over from a corner.

On his 400th game in charge in the Premier League, the result ended Bruce’s long wait for a win over Manchester United, with whom he won three top-flight titles as a player.

Bruce said: “All you can do is answer your critics by getting a result. We knew this run was going to be difficult. I hope this is the turning point.

“I have waited something like 20 years for a result against United.

“To beat a club of Manchester United’s size is always a special thing. Considering the start we’ve had and the teams we’ve played, eight points – we’ll accept it.”

Bruce was unhappy that his team had been leaked in the newspapers before the game, adding: “I know I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but the nonsense that flies around is insulting. Hopefully this helps the cause.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looked bereft of ideas in front of goal: Andreas Pereira’s curling strike was comfortable for Martin Dubravka, while Harry Maguire nodded a free header wide from four yards.

The visitors’ tally of nine points after eight games is their lowest since the 1989-90 season, when they were a point worse off.

These two Uniteds had some tremendous title tussles during the 1990s, but the situation is much different these days with both sets of fans deeply unhappy with their respective owners.

Though big money was spent in the summer – Newcastle signing striker Joelinton for a club record £40m and their opponents bringing in defender Maguire for £80m – both face the prospect of a difficult season.

The Magpies are fighting to remain in the top flight and while the Red Devils are attempting to claim a European place, they find themselves in 12th place in the table.

They last won away from home in the league in February and extended that run to eight games with another lifeless and uninspiring showing.

Their defence has improved from last term, conceding eight times so far which is the third-best record in the division, but it is in attack where the major problems lie.

Solskjaer’s men failed to get a single shot on target against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday and again struggled to carve out clear-cut chances in the final third, the best opportunity falling to Maguire, who should have converted his close-range header in the first half.

Playmaker Juan Mata contributed little, while in attack Marcus Rashford received no service in a side that has not scored more than one goal in a game since hitting four against Chelsea on the opening weekend.

 

 


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October 7, 201980

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea says the team’s performances this season have been “unacceptable” and this is the “most difficult” period he has experienced since joining the club.

The Red Devils lost 1-0 at Newcastle Unitedon Sunday to extend their worst start to a league season for 30 years.

They are 12th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone.

“The game isn’t acceptable,” said Spain international De Gea, 28. “The whole season isn’t acceptable for us.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: “We didn’t create any proper chances. We have a lot to improve. I don’t know what to say. We need to step up.

“We have injuries but it’s not an excuse. We are Manchester United. We need to train hard to keep fighting and to get back to winning games.”

‘I don’t know what is happening’

Midfielder Matty Longstaff, 19, scored the only goal on his Premier League debut to secure the points for Newcastle at St James’ Park.

It extends Manchester United’s winless away run in the league to eight matches, going back to a 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace on 27 February. It is their worst run on the road since September 1989.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side host league leaders Liverpool on 20 October, after the international break.

For De Gea, it is the most difficult spell he has endured since joining the Old Trafford club from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

The Spaniard won the Premier League in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in 2013. Since then, they have finished second once but failed to mount a serious title challenge.

He has also worked with four permanent bosses and two caretakers during that time – including Solskjaer, who was appointed manager in March after a successful spell in temporary charge.

When asked what the team needed to do to improve, De Gea replied: “Everything. A lot of things to improve.

“Keep trying, keep trying, keep fighting every day. It’s a hard moment for us – but we are United and we need to keep fighting.

“It’s probably the most difficult time since I’ve been here. I don’t know what is happening. We cannot score even one goal in two games. Sorry to the fans. We will keep fighting, for sure. We will come back, but at the moment we’re in a difficult situation.”

Speaking last month, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said “it is important we are patient” in order to give Solskjaer the time to turn things around.

When asked how long that will take and whether everyone at the club is still behind him, Norwegian Solskjaer said: “It will take however long it will have to take.

“It’s a journey we’ve started on and the culture is getting there. I can’t give you any time but we’re getting there. We’ve given ourselves a big, big uphill challenge to get among the top four – but it’s tight and we need to get a run together.

“We’ve come together and discussed the direction we’re going. If you only work on sunny days you’ll never get to your destination. We’ll have these days but we know where we want to get to.”

The former Molde and Cardiff boss said the two-week gap between now and their game against Liverpool has come at a good time because it gives him the chance to “sort the players’ heads out”.

“Luckily for us it’s now the international break. We get time to evaluate what’s gone on over these eight games,” the 46-year-old former Old Trafford striker told Sky Sports. “It’s my responsibility.

“Young boys lacking confidence – they need some help from experienced players and staff.

“They’re human and they want to do well. They need to see the results of their hard work and we’re not getting those results, so that’s going to affect them.”

Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: “That [Liverpool] is a perfect game for us. It doesn’t help having a meeting tomorrow. They will go away with their national teams, meet their team-mates and come back fresh.” (BBC).


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October 7, 201990

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says “the distance is big” but still believes his team can catch Liverpool in the Premier League title race.

City’s 2-0 defeat by Wolves means they are now eight points behind the Reds.

It is the biggest lead any side has had after eight games in the Premier League era – the previous biggest was Chelsea in 2014, who went on to win the title.

“I know these guys,” said Guardiola. “They are still incredibly involved and they can still do it.”

The defeat means City are experiencing their worst start since the 2013-14 campaign under Manuel Pellegrini, when they went on to win the title.

Liverpool preserved their 100% record on Saturday thanks to James Milner’s controversial injury-time penalty against Leicester.

“The distance is big, I know that,” said Guardiola. “For many circumstances, they [Liverpool] didn’t drop points. It is better not to think one team is eight points ahead. It is only October. There are still a lot of games.”

The biggest gap City had to make up on Liverpool last season was seven points, although that was after 20 games, and they only had to play each other once. The two sides meet for the first time at Anfield on 10 November.

City are aiming to become the first team to win three successive league titles since Manchester United between 2007-09. Last term they became the first team to retain the title since then. Chelsea are the only other side to win back-to-back titles in the Premier League era.

“Most of the teams who won in the past, the year after, they don’t win,” said Guardiola.

City have failed to win two of their opening four home league games for the first time since 2014. They have already dropped five points at home, two more than the whole of last season. The year before, when they reached a record 100 points, they dropped seven at the Etihad Stadium in the entire campaign.

Prior to this game, City were the only ‘big six’ side Wolves had failed to beat since the start of last season, having beaten the others in the league and having knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

“It was a bad day,” said Guardiola. “I had a feeling today would be the day when we created less. We have faced many teams defending deep and more or less we found a way to do it but today we had a problem. BBC published this story under the headline

Manchester City: Pep Guardiola still believes his side can catch Liverpool).


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October 7, 201960

Luis Suarez scored a sublime overhead kick as champions Barcelona climbed to second in La Liga with a convincing win over Sevilla at the Nou Camp.

Ernesto Valverde’s side swept Julen Lopetegui’s visitors away with three goals in eight first-half minutes.

Suarez opened the scoring with an acrobatic finish after 27 minutes, before Arturo Vidal and Ousmane Dembele put the hosts in complete control.

Lionel Messi completed the scoring with a delightful free-kick late on.

Barcelona had 20-year-old debutant Ronald Araujo and Ousmane Dembele sent off in the closing stages, after Araujo brought down Javier Hernandez when last man – and Dembele was shown a second yellow card for dissent in the aftermath.

They move to within two points of leaders Real Madrid heading into the international break, after Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Granada 4-2 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid were held to a third goalless draw in four league matches against Real Valladolid earlier on Sunday.


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October 7, 2019100

Substitute Gonzalo Higuain scored a late winner as champions Juventus ended Inter Milan’s perfect league start to move top of Serie A.

Higuain struck powerfully past Samir Handanovic with 10 minutes remaining to send Maurizio Sarri’s side one point above their opponents at the San Siro.

Juventus had led after just four minutes through Paulo Dybala.

But Inter levelled 14 minutes later as Lautaro Martinez converted a penalty after a handball by Matthijs de Ligt.

Advantage Juventus in Serie A

A highly anticipated 236th Derby d’Italia between the league’s top two sides saw former Chelsea managers Sarri and Antonio Conte go head to head for the first time since their respective summer appointments.

Conte’s Inter had won all six league games leading into game – and their previous five home Serie A fixtures – but Juventus were rewarded for their early intent as Dybala cut in from the left and curled into the opposite corner for the opener.

Inter, beaten 2-1 by Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday, were not behind for long as Martinez struck confidently from the spot after Nicolo Barella’s cross had struck De Ligt on the arm.

A tense second half saw action at both ends of the pitch, as Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny denied Matias Vecino at close range and Handanovic did well to block Cristiano Ronaldo’s low strike.

But the champions, whose only blip so far was a goalless draw against Fiorentina last month, were rewarded for their persistence as Higuain latched on to Rodrigo Bentancur’s pass to secure all three points. (BBC).


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September 21, 2019220

A rout initiated by David Silva after 52 seconds showed one way Manchester City can negotiate having Aymeric Laporte and John Stones missing because of injury: simply make it 5-0 inside 18 minutes and so nullify any concerns regarding being weakened in central defence.

Pep Guardiola’s side will, of course, have tougher challenges than bottom-placed Watford, who are yet to win this season. But when in this imperious mood most teams would struggle to contain the champions of the past two campaigns, who ended with a record league victory under the manager.

After Silva’s opener, Sergio Agüero (who has now scored in all opening six league games), Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Nicolás Otamendi all placed their name on the scoresheet in a start to the opening half that will be recalled for a while.

Following the break Bernardo scored twice more to make it 7-0 and Kevin De Bruyne hit a rocket past Ben Foster near the end, and that made it a 35-3 aggregate to City in their past eight meetings with Watford. So comfortable were the home side that Eric García was handed a Premier League debut after the seventh strike, the 18-year-old in effect the third-choice centre-back behind Otamendi, whom he replaced, and Fernandinho.

This had been only the second match of Quique Sánchez Flores’s second Watford tenure. It would be interesting to know what Javi Gracia, sacked despite taking them to the FA Cup final, will think when seeing this scoreline. (Guardian.Uk)



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