Arsenal vs Manchester United Preview

Arsenal vs Manchester United Preview: Another big away win for Ole?

Arsenal vs Manchester United used to be the biggest match in the Premier League. And while it still carries importance, it’s more relevant in the race for Champions League qualification rather than for the championship itself.

When Jose Mourinho was sacked, the Gunners were eight points ahead of United. When the sides clashed in the FA Cup in January, they had identical W-D-L records in the league. Now the Red Devils are a point ahead, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s magic touch has given them a power rarely seen under José Mourinho: they’ve won several big matches away from home. But have they deserved to? Read More

Manchester United vs Liverpool Preview

Manchester United vs Liverpool Preview: Will the fixture flops come good?

Manchester United vs Liverpool is still arguably the biggest match in English football, even if it’s been rare that they’ve been competing with each other for the title in the last quarter of a century.

Jürgen Klopp’s side will hope history repeats itself. Liverpool victories at Old Trafford are rare events – there have been just 13 in history – but they have won in each of the last two seasons where they were embroiled in the title tussle. As this is their game in hand on Manchester City, three points here would do Liverpool’s championship challenge the power of good.

The most fascinating match up in this game is between two players who probably won’t come into much direct contact during the match. But according to our algorithm they’ve been the top man for each side, so will surely have key parts to play on Sunday. Read More

Fulham vs Manchester United

Fulham vs Manchester United Preview: Can we get an Olé for Ole?

As much as it hurts me as a Liverpool fan, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserves a tip of the hat for all he’s done in little over two months at Manchester United.

The Norwegian has dramatically turned the tables around at Old Trafford. Not only has Ole improved the results but he also picked up the pieces of United’s wrecked confidence and rebuilt the atmosphere, team spirit and the overall attitude within the squad.

Feel free to call me out for stating the obvious but I find it rather appropriate to focus my first-ever post about Manchester United on Twelve’s blog on the effect United’s former striker has had in such a short time since replacing the obsolete, antediluvian, vieux jeu, ________ (choose your own attribute) Portuguese back in December. Read More

Newcastle vs Manchester United Preview: Revitalised Red Devils roll on

A few weeks ago Manchester United supporters may have been looking at their trip to Newcastle as a tricky fixture, which illustrates how much the club had struggled under Jose Mourinho this season, that an away fixture against a bottom half of the table team may be considered a difficult match.

However, there’s is a new sense of optimism now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has joined the club, with three wins out of three since he was appointed.

Still, while United may be scoring more goals these days, giving them the best goal difference now than at any point previously, the defensive issues continue. There were things that Mourinho got wrong during his time as United boss but insisting that the club needed to follow in the footsteps of their rivals, and spend big on an experienced central defender, was not one of them. Read More

Premier League team of week 19

Premier League Team of Week 19: Pogba Boxes Clever

Boxing Day often provides a feast of football; if you haven’t seen that image of the scores from 1963, where have you been? Enjoying your Christmas as you should be, nice one. Here’s our Premier League team of week 19.

Goalkeeper: Neil Etheridge. Crystal Palace 0-0 Cardiff City.

Cardiff are unlikely to pick up many points on the road – this was just their second in nine games this season – so Etheridge’s contribution to this one shouldn’t be underestimated. Read More

José Mourinho

Stats suggest where José Mourinho went wrong with team selections

It’s looked inevitable for quite some time, but José Mourinho has finally gone. There’s a certain symmetry with his second Chelsea tenure, as he has today been sacked three years and a day after that job came to a grisly end.

Rumoured to be leaving prior to the Newcastle match, Mourinho clung onto his job thanks to turning a 0-2 half time score line into a 3-2 win. United nearly won at Chelsea, fought back twice against Arsenal, but the 3-1 loss at Anfield was the final straw.

And deservedly so. Liverpool out shot the visitors by 36 shots to six, which is the kind of one sided affair you see when a relegation side travels to face one of the big guns. Not Manchester United. Their performance was an embarrassment, where they’d have been lucky to get nil, never mind one, as the saying goes.

We would never suggest that our statistics are the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to assessing players, but in the eyes of our algorithm, José Mourinho did not use his best players enough recently. Here are United’s top five Premier League performers on a points-per-minute basis. Read More

Manchester City vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview: Key men to the left?

Go back seven months to the last Manchester derby and Manchester United ruined Manchester City’s coronation. Pep Guardiola’s side were 2-0 up at half-time, set to be crowned champions in front of their neighbours. What followed was irrelevant in one respect – they clinched the Premier League title the following weekend – but not in others. If it spared United the ignominy of seeing City celebrate and got Jose Mourinho a rare win over Guardiola, it also showed Paul Pogba’s catalytic impact.

The Frenchman scored twice in United’s comeback that day. If his performances this season have attracted decidedly mixed reviews, the numbers offer another picture. Pogba ranks second in Twelve’s Premier League leader board for the season, behind only Leicester’s Harry Maguire.

Examine the different coloured bars and it shows how his contribution stretches across the pitch, underlying his abilities as a box-to-box midfielder. It suggests he is the best all-round player in the division (at least while City’s Kevin de Bruyne is injured). If he does not have as many attacking points as City’s David Silva, he has delivered more in defence and off the ball. Read More

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

Bournemouth vs Manchester United

Bournemouth vs Manchester United: A turning point for both sides

Manchester United successfully recovered from their midweek Champions League defeat against Juventus as they recorded a 2-1 win against Everton in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. That win put the 20-time English champions above the Toffees into the eighth position in the table ahead of their trip to in-form Bournemouth this weekend.

The French connection worked well as Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial both got on the score sheet. The latter once again proved to be one of the best, if not the best, attacking option of Jose Mourinho’s side. Martial has got a chance because of Mourinho’s decision to axe the struggling Romelu Lukaku from his starting line-up which saw a somehow different United on the pitch.

Still, not for the first time this season, it was a far from convincing performance from United as a late Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty left the hosts with a nervy final fifteen minutes. Ultimately, Everton hadn’t picked their chances as United improved on a miserable run that had brought just one win from their previous seven games. Read More