Juventus vs Manchester United

Juventus vs Manchester United Preview: Will United turn up this time?

The reason why both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were sacked by Manchester United was their inability to guide Manchester United to the Champions League. The former was sacked two days after it became mathematically impossible for the team to finish in the top four, even though the reality was that it had been confirmed much earlier.

Van Gaal was sacked two days after winning the FA Cup with United in 2016. They finished fifth that season and therefore missed out on qualification for the elite European competition.

In contrast, Jose Mourinho booked United’s place in the Champions League at the end of his first season in charge after winning the Europa League. United bowed out in the first knock-out round following the group stage though, after putting up very little fight against Sevilla.

Still, in the following season, United finished second and again qualified for the competition, and supporters will be hoping for improved performances in this campaign. Read More

Chelsea vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Manchester United Preview: Can outcasts make a difference?

Manchester United went in to the international break on the back of a dramatic win against Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle. Despite finding themselves 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez sealed the three points.

Jose Mourinho could be pleased that his squad went in to the break on a high, rather than allowing any bad feelings to fester. This is especially important with the tough run they have ahead of them, starting with Chelsea on Saturday.

Mourinho has beaten Chelsea in both of the games he’s played against them at Old Trafford, but has lost every time he has faced them at Stamford Bridge with his current side.

The manager shouldn’t beat himself up too badly about this though, as United’s record away to Chelsea has been atrocious for years. Going back to 2002, United have won just one of the 16 league encounters between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge, and that came against nine men. They lost 10 of the remaining clashes, drawing five, which all in all spells an awful return, whether it was Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes or Louis van Gaal in the dugout. Read More

Manchester United vs Valencia Champions League Preview

Manchester United vs Valencia Preview: José on the brink?

José Mourinho may already be in the last chance saloon at Manchester United following a disastrous week that saw the club knocked out of the League Cup at the hands of Derby, before suffering a humiliating 3-1 defeat against West Ham. Tuesday night provides the manager with the opportunity for some redemption when the team face Valencia in the Champions League.

Having won their opening game in the tournament 3-0 away to Young Boys, a home game against the Spanish side, who have won just one of their seven league games this season, should present an easy opportunity for Mourinho to win back some of his pride. Nobody will be betting on it being as simple as it looks on paper though, given United’s woes recently.

One positive from the recent trip to the London Stadium was the performance of substitute Marcus Rashford. Initially deployed on the right, before swapping to the left flank, the young forward brought more energy to United’s attack. He wanted to get involved in everything, having missed out on the last three games following his red card against Burnley, and was rewarded for his efforts with an excellent backheeled goal. Read More

Manchester United vs Wolves Premier League Preview

Manchester United vs Wolves Preview: United on the rise?

Manchester United take on Wolves this weekend on the back of some improved form and results following their rocky start to the season. Having lost 3-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur, United supporters were worried about their chances of picking up all three points away to Watford, considering the Hornets had just beaten Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Yet their fears were eased on the back of a first half performance that saw them deservedly go 2-0 up thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling. United were less impressive in the second half but still managed to hang on to the win, courtesy of some excellent late stops from the ever reliable David de Gea.

This weekend’s fixture against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side should be less of a struggle, even if they are currently just one point worse off than United this season. Still, when you consider they’ve averaged just one goal per game so far, even United’s less than impressive defence should be able to ensure they keep a clean sheet. Read More

Watford vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Watford vs Manchester United Preview: A tricky test for unsound United

After a poor start to the season, Manchester United redeemed themselves somewhat with a good performance and a result against Burnley before the international break. They will be looking to pick up where they left off when they face Watford at the weekend, although that may well be easier said than done, given how Javi Garcia’s team have played so far this season.

Watford have beaten every team they’ve faced, including Tottenham Hotspur, and will be hoping to keep their 100% record when United travel down to Vicarage Road on Saturday.

United will be without Marcus Rashford, who scored two goals in two games for England against Spain and Switzerland during the break, as he was shown a red card in his last appearance for his club.

Thankfully they will have Romelu Lukaku, who again added to his tally for Belgium this week by scoring three goals in two games. He is now 10 goals clear of any player who has ever represented Belgium before, which is quite a feat when you consider he has only just turned 25. Read More

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Can United lift the gloom?

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night is perhaps the earliest ‘must win’ game the Red Devils have ever played.

After an opening day victory over Leicester, United suffered an embarrassing 3-2 defeat away to Brighton the following weekend, and depressing stories about the club have filled the back pages pretty much every day since.

The biggest question mark lies over the defence, with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof putting in a woeful performance last Sunday. Their shocking errors cost their team the points and José Mourinho has a big decision to make over whether to back them once more for the Spurs game.

To further raise the stakes, World Cup top scorer Harry Kane has broken his infamous August goal-scoring curse and will look to add to his tally at Old Trafford. Alongside Dele Alli, the pair have made a promising start to this Premier League campaign and won’t be overawed by the prospect of facing United away. Read More

Manchester United

Manchester United vs. Leicester City Preview: Fred to make debut?

Manchester United kick off their Premier League season against Leicester City on Friday evening, with the hopes of getting off to a good start in a bid to challenge Manchester City for the title.

After finishing second last season, a long way behind their rivals who had more or less sewn up the title by the turn of the year, United need to raise their game this campaign. A good performance against Leicester would be a great place to start.

One positive is that their best outfield player, Paul Pogba, returns to Manchester as a world champion. The renewed confidence and swagger this will give the Frenchman should work in United’s favour over the course of the season, but with his holiday starting later than his teammates’, it’s unlikely he will feature in the opening game.

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Manchester United’s Top Six Players

David de Gea
Without question, Manchester United’s best performing player of the 2017-18 season was David de Gea. He finished the season without any medals but claimed a couple of personal accolades. De Gea won the Golden Glove after picking up 18 clean sheets over the course of the season. He was also voted in the PFA Team of the Year and was named the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Season by the fans for a record-breaking fourth time.

He made 115 saves over the course of the season with an 80% success rate with the shots he faced. He made zero errors that lead to goals, compared to the 24 made by Petr Cech, 15 by Hugo Loris and three by Thibaut Courtois.

There are a few games that stand out, with his excellent saves winning United games and enabling them to finish second in the league, but none more so than the 3-1 over Arsenal at the Emirates.

 

De Gea doesn’t make it in to the top five using Twelve Football’s scoring system though, limited by his position in goal making it unlikely for him to gain any points for off ball action or shots. But he was head and shoulders above every player at the club this season.

Romelu Lukaku
The Belgian striker ended his first season at United as the club’s top scorer with 27 goals in all competitions.

When you consider that United created 70 fewer chances than any other top six team, Lukaku’s goal return is pretty impressive.

The striker wasn’t just a scorer though, but a creator of goals too, with Paul Pogba the only United player to assist more than him. Lukaku claimed more assists than the likes of Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard.

Having been criticised for failing to impress against the teams at the top, Lukaku was in fine form as United beat his former club Chelsea at Old Trafford. Having gone a goal down, Lukaku scored the equaliser before assisting Jesse Lingard’s winner. United will be left to rue his absence from the starting line-up in the FA Cup final against the same team through injury.

 

Lukaku is ranked the third best player by Twelve Football with over half his points coming from his contribution with shots, which should come as no surprise, given he’s largely been the only player Mourinho has used as a centre-forward this season.

Paul Pogba
The Frenchman has been strongly criticised this season, from pundits, the media and his own manager alike. That likely has more to do with how short of his potential he is currently performing, rather than his general contribution. For the most part, he did OK for United this season, with the odd poor performance.

When he plays well, United tend to follow suit, such is his influence on the team. Despite going off the boil for chunks of the season, only four players have more assists than him in the league this season, and all four of them had more playing time than him.

When played on the left of a midfield three against Everton at Goodison Park he stole the show. His stand out performance was against Manchester City at the Etihad, when he denied United’s hated rivals from being the team to win the Premier League after the fewest number of games.

After a disappointing first half, he came back in the second looking like a totally different player, scoring twice to draw the game level before Chris Smalling bagged the winner.


Per minute, Pogba is ranked the best player of the season by Twelve Football, with his influence on the attack his greatest strength. But he is still a long way from playing the way on a consistent basis the supporters believe he is capable of.

Jesse Lingard
Having joined the club as a seven-year-old, Lingard has plenty of United supporters who have been willing for him to do well. Before this season, he had claimed crucial goals in two Wembley cup finals, but had failed to play consistently well over the course of a season.

Under Jose Mourinho, Lingard has performed well, with the manager a clear fan of the forward. He claimed 13 goals and 5 assists in all competitions, a return of a goal or assist every 119 minutes he was on the pitch.

However, his most memorable performance of the season was in the aforementioned game against Arsenal when he scored two goals in United’s 3-1 win and Milly Rocked in celebration.

 

Lingard is ranked the 12th best player for United, with his attacking scores his best asset. Yet what comes as a surprise is how low his score is for off the ball action, given this is widely regarded as one of his greatest strengths. His pace and ability to run behind the defence drags players out of position and creates space for his teammates but this isn’t recognised by his off the ball score, where he is deemed less effective than the likes of Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones.

Nemanja Matic
The Serbian midfielder was reunited with his former manager Mourinho at United this season, after Chelsea made the mistake of letting him leave with the hopeless Tiémoué Bakayoko his replacement.

Matic started the season exceptionally well but went through periods where his lack of mobility was exposed and he failed to have the impact he made at the start of the season.

His campaign will be best remembered for his 91st minute winner against Crystal Palace after United had gone 2-0 down, where he blasted the ball in to the net from outside the box.

The best performance of the season from him came against Chelsea though when he totally bossed the midfield.

 

The midfielder was ranked United’s best player of the season by Twelve Football, with, surprisingly, his contribution to the attack his biggest strength.

Ashley Young
Some United fans can hardly believe that Ashley Young is still at the club but he can owe his lengthier stay to his ability to reinvent himself as a full-back, having played most of his career on the wing.

While his defensive game does have flaws, with pacey and tricky wingers his downfall, he is always ready to put in a crunching tackle and crosses the ball better than anyone at the club (which, admittedly, doesn’t mean an awful lot).

Young claimed four assists this season, which is as many as Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Alexandre Lacazette, and more than Gabriel Jesus, Marcos Alonso and Harry Kane.

His best performance came against former club Watford when he scored two brilliant goals in United’s 4-2 win.

 

Young’s greatest strength, according to Twelve Football, is his work in attack, which paints an accurate picture. He is ranked third behind Matic and Paul Pogba.