The big match of the weekend may have ended goal-less, but there were plenty of goals elsewhere. It was a struggle to find forwards for the team of week seven, but the top seven players on this week’s leader board are all attackers, so our 4-3-3 is geared towards goals. But our Premier League Team of week 8 begins with a man whose team didn’t have a great weekend. Read More
Manchester United missed a chance to get a morale-boosting win as they drew 0-0 at home in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Not that they were the better side, but a win against Valencia would have dragged them from the toxic vortex in which they have been floundering for some time.
Though both teams responded well from their previous domestic clashes, the match ended goalless. United put in a better performance than in their 3-1 defeat against West Ham United, but the problems for Jose Mourinho’s men remain the same. Everything in the red half of Manchester seems irreparable.
The Portuguese coach is constantly under fire from various directions and everything suggests his time at the club is over. Following United’s latest poor performance, Mourinho was heavily criticized by club legends Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes.
The latter was “surprised that he survived after Saturday” and said that Mourinho is “embarrassing the club” at the moment. The whole situation is hugely debatable, as surely nobody can blame only Mourinho for this, nor the players alone either. The problems run far deeper and certainly include the board. As rumours of Zinedine Zidane becoming the new Manchester United coach are rising, Ed Woodward will soon have to make a final decision. Read More
Half a buck! The drinks (glasses of tap water) are on me! Jokes aside, as it was only $0.25 to enter this particular contest, that’s a pretty good return on investment, wouldn’t you say? Let’s see who Twelve’s algorithm has selected for week eight. Read More
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
It’s been a rough week for Manchester United. The building momentum I wrote about last time collapsed in the next 90 minutes of Premier League football. In between, José Mourinho’s men made a positive start to the Champions League season against Young Boys, but their domestic winning run came to a frustrating end with the 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Not once, but many times throughout the pre-season Mourinho pointed out this could be a difficult season for his team. It seems he was right. The Wolves draw was followed by an unexpected exit from the Carabao Cup as Frank Lampard’s Derby County won at Old Trafford on penalties. But that’s not the only problem United are facing at the moment. The most recent one is Paul Pogba losing his captaincy due to negative comments about the team’s tactics. Read More
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
Another weekend of pulsating Premier League action is done. Cardiff vs Newcastle happened too. But who made it into Twelve’s team of the week? Two players who were included last week made it in again, even though their teams lost. As a wise sage once opined, ‘it’s a funny old game.’
But of course we’re focusing on player performances here, and not team ones. It’s not Paul Pogba’s fault he plays for Manchester United, is it? Anyway, after matching four of Garth Crooks’ selections last week, we have just two in common this time around. Sorry, Garth.
While Manchester City have already won one trophy and beat Arsenal in their first match of the new season, the black clouds are hovering over Old Trafford. The red part of Manchester has still not been reconciled with the lack of transfers as United remain weak in some positions that need to be strengthened.
In spite of that, Jose Mourinho’s men delivered a 2-1 win against Leicester City in front of their own fans. It wasn’t a performance to remember, but three points with some positives meant fans could be proud in these days of negativity around the most crowned club in England.
Toby is not needed when you have Bailly-Lindelof pairing
It is obvious from the last season that the Manchester United back four requires changes. José Mourinho didn’t get what he wanted this summer and that was a new world-class central defender. Harry Maguire, Diego Godin, Yerry Mina and Toby Alderweireld were all very close to signing for United according to press speculation, but the first game of the season proved that the Portuguese boss has maybe found the perfect combination.
The young Swede has grown a lot in his first year at the club and seems ready to push on. Lindelof made a team-high nine clearances and was incredibly composed in defence and attack with some fantastic balls forward. That put him as the best United defender against Leicester as per Twelve’s algorithm. Just in front was Eric Bailly who walled the Foxes with his tackling, blocking and well-timed interceptions.
Return of the Shaw
Another big reason for United fans to be optimistic this season is the return of Luke Shaw. He provided a really good performance last weekend, and made it into Twelve’s team of the week. Apart from scoring a goal to double the lead, Shaw constantly bombed up the left flank and recovered well. Most people already dismissed the 23-year-old because of his not-so-good pre-season performances, and because a lack of options in his position was a big cause of frustration.
Mourinho wanted to replace Shaw with Alex Sandro this summer, but we never saw that deal happening, so the England international has got a new chance to shine. He made a couple of mistakes defensively but also had the most touches of the ball (99) which is something on which he can build his form.
Did Andreas Pereira show he can be Carrick’s heir?
Against Leicester, United set up in a 4-3-3 variation with Andreas Pereira as the single pivot with Fred and Pogba in front of him. It was the 22-year-old Belgian’s first Premier League start for the Red Devils. It seems the talented midfielder finally persuaded Mourinho that he’s capable of playing at the highest level.
Of course, Pereira only started because Nemanja Matic is injured, but José still entrusted him in an important role. Pereira, who is a more creative player than the defensively-minded Serbian, was primarily tasked to begin attacks from deeper positions.
He was very comfortable in possession, especially in situations where he needed to avoid the opposition press with his quick and vertical passes.
Twelve’s algorithm rewarded his performance against Leicester as the third best when looking overall, but what’s worth mentioning is that Pereira scored the most defence points (904), leaving Bailly and Pogba behind by almost 200 points.
Also, with Pereira’s deep and static positioning, Fred and Pogba were able to push forward more, allowing the latter to be at his best when playing with more freedom deeper in the opposing half. Yes, Pogba showed us he can play in a deeper role as France lifted the World Cup, but with United he struggled and was often disputed last season when playing in double pivot in 4-2-3-1 variance.
Can Pereira fill Michael Carrick’s boots? It would be ridiculous to expect that in full, but a very promising future lies ahead of him.
What’s for United against Brighton & Hove Albion, and vice versa?
Among all the negativity and moaning, Mourinho was still man enough to praise a „monstrously” good performance by Paul Pogba. The World Cup winner will still be the key player for the Red Devils against Brighton this weekend. We will also expect Luke Shaw to build upon his excellent performance against Leicester. There is a lot in front of Alexis Sanchez who again didn’t show any magic but wasn’t either the worst player in the team. It could just be that Mourinho’s men need more time playing together.
The Seagulls, who finished 15th last year, were downed by a deadly Roberto Pereyra double last weekend. They lost 2-0 at Watford, in the first game of their second season in the top flight since earning promotion. It’s been a busy summer on the south coast, with 16 new players arriving and 18 players departing.
Among the arrivals, it could be Iranian winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh who can pose a threat to the Red Devils. The Iranian international was directly involved in more goals than any other player in the 2017/18 Eredivisie season. Jahanbakhsh netted 21 goals while adding 14 assists to his tally. At the World Cup he created danger on the right flank where Carlos Quieroz deployed him as a winger.
If he starts here it will be a big test for him, as United comfortably denied Leicester on that side. It could also be a double-edged sword because United mainly attacked through their left side and Shaw’s forward runs often left acres of space behind him.
It will be very interesting to see how Chris Hughton copes with the pressure from last week’s defeat and a lot of new faces in the dressing room. On the other hand, Manchester United will be eager to get their revenge for last May’s 1-0 defeat. It will all be decided on Sunday.
Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 1–3 Manchester United
Three hundred and sixty players were named in match day squads this weekend. Two hundred and seventy-nine of them saw some action (with David Wagner the only manager who didn’t use all three available substitutions), but who made it into our inaugural team of the week?
At this point we could just throw up an image of the top 11 players on this week’s leader board and have done with it. But of course they don’t make a ‘team’ in the conventional sense. Granted, nine of the top ten performers do fit into a recognisable formation and feature here, but the best rated goalkeeper is at number 39, and there’s no right-back in the top 50.
It’s not easy to pick a formation for this team either. According to football-lineups.com, nine different tactical set ups were deployed in the Premier League this weekend. I’ve gone for a 4-3-3, as it seems to work best with the players available. Read More
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.