All posts by Adam Stephens

How can Manchester United replace Marcus Rashford for the next few months?

Following this past weekend’s 2-0 defeat to fierce rivals Liverpool, Manchester United manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer confirmed every United fans worst fears, that Marcus Rashford could face a minimum of six weeks out.

 Solskjaer said during his post match press conference on Sunday:

“He has suffered a bad injury.  It’s a stress fracture, it happened against Wolverhampton during the FA Cup third round replay.”

This injury could hardly come at a worse time for the Red Devils with the return leg in the Carabao Cup looming against Manchester City at the end of the month where United somehow have to overturn a 3-1 deficit.

An FA Cup fourth round tie against either Watford or Tranmere Rovers is also on the horizon and not to mention the resumption of their Europa League campaign against Club Brugge in February.

Rashford himself has up to this point enjoyed his best ever goal-scoring season for the club to date having scored 19 goals in all competitions so far – making him the top goal scorer.

So how does Solskjaer go about replacing his main man for these up coming season defining games?

Strikers currently at United who could replace Rashford

Anthony Martial

The French international is the most senior fit forward currently at the club and is enjoying his best scoring return since his debut campaign for the team back in 2015/16.

Martial has scored 24 goals in all competitions this term however question marks still remain however about his consistency, he did also miss a crucial chance at weekend against Liverpool that could of altered the outcome.

Mason Greenwood

Greenwood has enjoyed a terrific start to his career at Old Trafford and has proven that he is a clinical finisher having reached 10 goals in all competitions. On top of that his left foot has been likened to Dutch forward Robin Van Persie.

He is only 18 and it is his first season playing Premier League football. This in mind, would it be worth Manchester United bringing in another striker to help fill the void that Rashford would leave?

Striker options in the Transfer Market

Former Manchester United right back Gary Neville has previously stressed that his old club needed to replace Romelu Lukaku following his move to Inter Milan in the summer and yesterday Neville said:

“United have to go into the transfer market. They need someone up there with a physical presence and a bit more maturity – they need another body.”

Solskjaer has also stated that they would be open to a short-term solution following their growing injury list.  So who is currently available?

Edinson Cavani

The Uruguayan forward’s name immediately jumps out following his transfer request that he has put in this week.  Cavani’s contract at Paris Saint German expires at the end of the season but the 32 year old wants to leave during the January transfer window.

Cavani has scored 195 goals in 269 appearances for PSG, however this season his game time has been limited due to injuries.

He is a proven international striker but could be a gamble due to his inexperience in the premier league and current injury record. So there is the danger of a repeat of Radamel Falcao’s disastrous loan move a few years ago.

Paco Alcacer

Following the arrival of Erling Haaland at Borussa Dortmund the Spanish international’s game time could be further limited so his game time could be further limited at the German side.

Despite his lack of game time Alcacer has still managed five goals in 11 games this campaign and has managed a good goal scoring return at his previous clubs, particularly Valencia.

The 26 year old is another one however that lacks Premier League experience. There would also be further competition for his signature from Atletico Madrid.

Fernando Llorente

Fernando Llorente, unlike the previous striking options has had experience of playing in the Premier League.

The Spanish international has previously appeared for Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur and would also give United a more physical presence up front that they currently lack with their current forward options.

Llorente is also not getting much game time at his current side, Napoli.

At 34 years old however he is the oldest striker on this list and he also is not scoring many goals having only managed three goals in his 16 appearances so far for the Italian club.

Callum Wilson

Another potential striker option is Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson. His style is similar to that of Rashford’s and he did score 25 goals in all competitions last season.

Wilson however has struggled for form this season scoring just five times but signing for Manchester United could prove beneficial for both player and club and inspire him to get back to that goal scoring form of the last campaign.

Moussa Dembele

The 23-year-old French forward is having a strong season for Lyon.  Dembele has scored 11 goals in 19 appearances in France Ligue 1 and has previously played for English club, Fulham and has impressed while at Scottish Champions Celtic.

Dembele has previously been linked with the 20 time premier league champions while he was at Fulham.   The French side however will unlikely want to part with their prized asset until the summer at the earliest and there would be the added competition from Premier League rivals such as Chelsea for his signature.

Raul Jimenez

Our final option is a striker already applying his trade in the top flight.  Jimenez has already proved to be an excellent acquisition for Wolverhampton Wanders and the 28 year old has led the line brilliantly for Nuno Espirto Santo’s team, scoring ten times and contributing six assists in 23 games.

The Mexican striker would certainly be an effective target man up front for Solskjaer’s side.  The chances of Wolves letting their prize asset go mid-season however are somewhat remote and United may have to splash out in access of 50 million for his signature.

Summary

The need for United to venture into the January transfer market for an additional striker is certainly apparent, particularly if they want to maintain a realistic challenge for the Champions League places and winning a Cup competition.

Otherwise the Red Devils and their fans could face yet again another season without featuring in Europe’s premier competition.

WSL Update: Week 10 round-up and Week 11 preview

The Robbins stun Casey Stoney’s United to record first league win, Sam Kerr makes a successful WSL debut for Chelsea and Nick Cushing’s Manchester City record a convincing victory against Tottenham

Bristol City enjoyed a fine start to the New Year as they secured their first league victory of the WSL season. City beat Manchester United 1-0 at United’s Leigh Valley Stadium. 

Former United player Ebony Salmon scored the only goal of the game in the first half by slotting the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Sophie Baggaley also performed a starring role for the West Country club in goal, as she pulled off a string of outstanding saves in the game’s closing stages.

Chelsea meanwhile had to come back from a goal down to see off Reading 3-1 at Kingsmeadow.

England’s most-capped international, Fara Williams had given the Royals an early lead before Reading keeper, Grace Moloney was sent off for a late challenge on Chelsea’s Australian debutant Sam Kerr.

Kerr is the Australian and American League record goal scorer who signed for the blues in November but was only available to make her first appearance for her new club in January.

Although she missed a few chances she was involved in the equaliser, producing a classy backheel to create the opening for Beth England to score.

Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert completed the scoring in the second half, securing the win for Emma Hayes’ side.

Elsewhere, two goals from Pauline Bremer helped Manchester City to a 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.  Rianna Dean managed to score a penalty for the home team, however further goals from Ellen White and Lauren Hemp put the result beyond any doubt.

The league leaders Arsenal were able to maintain their three point advantage by completing a 2-0 win over Birmingham City.  While Liverpool remained winless as they lost 1-0 to Hope Powell’s Brighton.

The final match between West Ham United and Everton was called off due to a flu outbreak within the East London side’s squad. A rescheduled date is to be confirmed.

Week 11 preview: Saturday 11thJanuary

Manchester City vs Everton (Kick-off 17:30) – BT Sport

The weekend kicks off with Nick Cushing’s team hosting an Everton side that have lost all of their six league matches against Manchester City.

It is set to be one of Cushing’s last games in charge of City as he is going off to take over as assistant manager at New York City in the MLS in February.

The Toffees will have to watch out for City’s top goal scorer Pauline Bremer, the German has scored three goals in her past two games.

Prediction City win 3-0

Predicting that Manchester City will maintain their strong start to 2020.

 Sunday 12thJanuary

Liverpool vs Manchester United (12:30)

Both of these sides are coming off the back off disappointing results last time out. Liverpool did manage a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in their last home game and are currently unbeaten in their last three home matches.

Manchester United however won the reverse fixture in the league back in September 2-0.  They will most likely be looking to their midfielder Lauren James to provide that spark.  James is currently United’s top league goal scorer with five goals.

Prediction: United win 2-1

Think that Manchester United will return to winning ways against Vicky Jepson’s team.

Brighton vs Arsenal (12:30)

Brighton have recently enjoyed an upturn in form in recent weeks aside from the 5-0 loss against Manchester City that is their only defeat in the past five matches.

The defending champions Arsenal meanwhile are on an even better run and have scored 28 goals in their last five games.

The Seagulls will have to pay close attention to Scottish international and Gunners captain Kim Little.  The midfielder has contributed three goals in her last three games and has been an integral part of the North London Club’s impressive run.

Prediction: Arsenal win 2-0

Anticipating that the Gunners will have too much for Seagulls.

Chelsea vs Bristol City (14:00)

The West Country side finally secured their first league win last time out against Manchester United.  They have also won their last two away games in all competitions that indicate that they are starting to turn a corner.

Chelsea however are the only unbeaten team left in the Women Super League and young English midfielder Beth England in particular has been impressive in recent weeks.

Prediction: Chelsea win 4-1

Reckon the blues will put on another strong showing in front of their own fans.

Reading vs Birmingham City (14:00)

Birmingham come into this game not in the best of form having lost three of their past four league matches.  The midlands side however have never lost to Reading in seven matches.

The Royals will most likely look to their England midfielder, Fara Williams to make the difference.  Williams made two assists in Reading’s last home win against Tottenham Hotspur back in December.

Prediction: Reading win 1-0

Believe that home advantage will give The Royals the edge against Birmingham this time around.

Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United (14:00)

Tottenham are going through a bit of a tricky period as they have lost their last two league games.  They did however win the reverse fixture against the Hammers 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium in September.

West Ham meanwhile is going through a frustrating time as well as their last two league matches have been postponed for various reasons and they will hope that their squad has recovered from the flu they suffered last week.

Prediction: Draw 2-2

This is a difficult one to predict. So we are going with an entertaining score draw between these sides.

Who is Takumi Minamino and how will he fit in at Liverpool?

Takumi Minamino made history this week when he became Liverpool’s first Japanese signing in their history. 

The reds bought Minamino from Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg for just £7.25 million.

This is widely considered a bargain in today’s transfer market and he will arrive on Merseyside when the January transfer window officially opens on January 1st2020.

This in mind, 24/7 Football has decided to take a look at who he is and what he will bring to the Premier League leaders.

When did Liverpool become aware of Minamino

The Japanese international is just the latest Liverpool signing in recent times to have worked with high profile German coach Ralf Rangnick, the current RB Salzburg head of sport and development.

Rangnick had a hand in the development of Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, who had both played for the Austrian club.

The Merseyside club first became aware of Minamino’s talents when he played against them in the Group Stage in the Champions League this season, the reds full back Andy Robertson said:

“It was difficult to play against RB Salzburg full stop, but I thought he was their main man,” the Scottish international told the Liverpool Echo.

Robertson continued:

“He was the one, especially at Anfield, who caused us problems.

“When we went 3-0 up, he started to dictate the game. He started to run at us a wee bit and he got a goal and an assist.”

RB Salzburg would end up losing that game 4-3 but came back from 3-0 down in impressive fashion with the Japanese international very much at the heart of the Austrian club’s impressive showing.

Previous clubs and current form this season

Minamino began his career in the J League for Cerezo Osaka and became the league’s youngest ever scorer at the age of 18 back in 2013. In that season he was awarded the J League Rookie of the year prize.

In 2015 Minamino moved to RB Salzburg and has also been involved in more goals than any other player in the Austrian Bundesliga since his making his debut for the club.

During this campaign so far, Minamino has managed five goals and six assists in just 11 appearances this season despite having problems with injury.

While in the Champions League group stage he scored two goals and provided three assists, including scoring against Liverpool at Anfield.

Finally for his international side Japan, he has maintained his impressive form by scoring 11 goals in 22 games.

What is his best position?

Positionally Minamino is very adaptable however his regular position tends to be on the right wing.

The new Liverpool man has also played in an attacking midfield role, where he particularly impressed against Jurgen Klopp’s team in Austria.

Tom Middler, the host of the other Bundesliga podcast that is devoted to the Austrian league said:

“He naturally fits the three-up front style that Klopp plays.  He could be good cover for somebody like Roberto Firmino.”

German football expert, Raphael Honigstein said:

“I was probably expecting Liverpool to make a move for Leipzig’s Timo Werner.  Minamino is a lot cheaper but also perhaps has more value in terms of improvement and the places he can go.

“Again, Liverpool have learned as a club that you don’t buy the finished article for £100 million.”

 Summary

 If Minamino proves to be even half as good as the likes of Mane then Klopp would certainly be onto another winner.  

 The Premier league leaders will hope that the Japanese international will help ease the burden on the front three and give them another much needed attacking option. 

 

 

WSL Update: Gameweek nine review and preview of the last Super League matches of 2019

Chelsea defeat title rivals, Arsenal return to the top of the table and teenager Lauren James fires United to victory

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side scored twice in three second half minutes to secure an important 2-1 victory over fellow title contenders Manchester City.

 Manchester City’s England midfielder, Caroline Weir had opened the scoring for Nick Cushing’s team, volleying in Keira Walsh’s cross.  The Blues top scorer Beth England equalised in the 79thminute, heading in a rebound after Ji So-Yun’s effort was palmed away by Manchester City goalkeeper, Ellie Roebuck. Three minutes later England turned provider as she set up Norwegian midfielder, Maren Mjelde for what proved to be the winner.

This was the Blues first Super League success over Manchester City since July 2014, since then there have been five defeats and five draws for the West London side.

The Champions, Arsenal meanwhile secured a comfortable 3-0 over Reading.  Vivianne Miedema continued where she left off against Bristol City last week as she scored twice, either side of brilliant looping volley from the Gunners captain, Kim Little.

Casey Stoney’s Manchester United recovered from conceding an early second minute goal thanks to 18-year-old forward, Lauren James, who scored twice and drew the foul that won the penalty that captain, Katie Zelem converted.

Liverpool score first WSL goal from open play

Niamh Charles scored the reds first goal from open play to earn a second point for Vicky Jepson’s team this season.  Canadian forward, Adriana Leon had opened the scoring for West Ham in the first half before Charles equalised to ensure the match finished 1-1.

Spurs and Birmingham return to winning ways

Elsewhere Tottenham secured a 1-0 victory against Hope Powell’s Brighton thanks to a Victoria Williams own goal and goals from Lucy Whipp and Abbi Grant ensured a 2-0 for Birmingham at Bristol City.

Gameweek Ten Preview: Sunday 15thDecember

Manchester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion (Kick-off 12:30)

Manchester City will be looking to bounce back from their disappointment at Chelsea last time out.  Nick Cushing’s team have yet to concede a goal at home this season and have also won both their encounters with the seagulls last season.  Brighton meanwhile is still to win away in this WSL campaign, so the signs do not look good for Hope Powell’s team.

Prediction: Manchester City 5-0 win

We predict that the Manchester club get back on the winning trail and will score a few goals in the process.

Everton vs Arsenal (12:30)

The Gunners head into this encounter having scored 14 goals in their past two games, against Bristol City and Reading. They also have a good record against the Toffees having won all four of their Super League meetings, including a 4-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season.

Following a strong start to their WSL campaign Everton’s form has been very up and down in recent weeks. The Toffees defence will also have the unenviable task of trying to keep prolific Dutch striker, Vivianne Miedema, who has scored eight goals in her past two WSL matches.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 win

Everton will prove a tougher opposition for the defending champions however ultimately we think they will get the win.

Reading vs Tottenham Hotspur (14:00)

The Royals have struggled in front of their own fans this season and have only managed one win at home all season in the WSL that was against Everton back in October.  Tottenham meanwhile got back to winning ways last time out but have only won twice away in the league in this campaign.  The only previous meeting between the sides ended in a 4-0 Tottenham win.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 win

Both of these sides are very closely matched in terms of league position, we reckon that Spurs will just about edge this one.

Liverpool vs Chelsea (14:00)

In terms of performances, Vicky Jepson’s side have been steadily improving in the past few weeks.  The reds got a draw last week and only lost 1-0 against the other two title contenders, Arsenal and Manchester City in the last few weeks.

Chelsea meanwhile picked up a huge win against Manchester City last week and has still yet to lose a game in the WSL this season. The out look for the Merseyside club in terms of the head to head with Emma Hayes’ team does look bleak as they have lost all seven encounters between the two teams.

Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 win

Despite Liverpool’s recent improvement we can’t see anything other than another Chelsea win to keep their unbeaten record in the league intact. 

Birmingham City vs Manchester United (14:00)

The Blues picked up an important victory last week against Bristol City to end a run of four games without a win.  Manchester United also picked up three points as well to continue their impressive WSL home form, where they have only lost once at home all season.

Casey Stoney’s form on the road however has been less impressive, they have lost their last two away games against West Ham and Chelsea.  This is the first time these sides have met in the WSL.

Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 win

We reckon this will be another close game with the Red Devils ultimately coming away with the three points.

Bristol City vs West Ham United (15:00)

The out of form Robins head into this game on the back of four consecutive defeats, three of those defeats were by five goals or more, two against Arsenal 11-1 and 7-0 and one against Manchester City, 5-0.

The Hammers meanwhile head into this game in slightly better form having drawn 1-1 against Liverpool in their last match.  They also did the league double over the West Midlands club last season that included a 2-1 win in the corresponding fixture back in April of this year.

Prediction: West Ham United 3-1 win

We predict it will be another difficult afternoon for Bristol City. 

 

 

 

WSL Update: Gameweek eight review and week nine preview

Arsenal break top-flight winning margin, the Hammers earn dramatic victory and the Royals secure last minute draw

 The Gunners were in phenomenal form last weekend, securing a record 11-1 victory over struggling Bristol City at Meadow Park. 

 Dutch record goal scorer, Vivianne Miedema, played a pivotal role in the outcome of the game by scoring six times and provided four assists.

 This result moves Arsenal to the top of the table, level on points with Manchester City, who secured a 1-0 win over bottom side Liverpool thanks to a headed goal from former reds captain, Gemma Bonner.

Fellow title contenders Chelsea meanwhile had their game with Everton postponed due to a frozen pitch meaning that they dropped to third.  A date for the rearranged match is yet to be confirmed.

Reading meanwhile secured a dramatic draw with Hope Powell’s Brighton thanks to a goal from their midfielder Remi Allen, who converted the last kick of the match in a goalmouth scramble that secured a 2-2 draw for the Royals.

There was also drama in West Ham’s match with Manchester United.  The Hammers overturned a 2-1 deficit to secure a 3-2 victory at their Rush Green Stadium. Two free kicks in the last ten minutes from German midfielder Katharina Baunach helped complete a thrilling comeback.

The final game of the round saw Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City play out a 1-1 draw at the Blues’ Damson Park Stadium. Abbi Grant gave the midlands club the lead in the first half before the North London side hit back through Kit Graham, 17 minutes from time that earned Spurs their first top flight draw.

Gameweek nine preview: Sunday 8th December

Chelsea vs Manchester City (Kick-Off 12:00) – Match on TV BT Sport 3

Undoubtedly the match of the weekend, only two points and one place separates these two sides heading into this encounter.

Emma Hayes’ blues are currently the only unbeaten team in the league while Manchester City have only lost once in the league all season.

The last four league meetings between these two teams have ended in draws, with Chelsea needing a 89thminute goal from So-yun Ji in the last match between the sides, to secure a 2-2 draw at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium.

Prediction: Draw 1-1

Think this will be a high quality match, both sides are in terrific form heading into this one but we predict that the encounter will ultimately end up as a draw. Both teams will be happy with at this stage.

Manchester United vs Everton (12:00)

Both of these sides have met once already this season with Casey Stoney’s Manchester United winning 3-0 on that occasion in the WSL Cup.  They have also both enjoyed decent starts to the campaign, just three points currently separates Everton in fourth from Manchester United in fifth.

The Red Devils however have been very strong at home this season having only lost on one occasion in all competitions and that was against defending champions Arsenal.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 win

Anticipating a much tighter match than their only previous meeting in the cup, we think that United will just come out on top in this one due to their strong home form so far this season.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Brighton & Hove Albion (14:00)

This is the first time either of these sides have met in the Women Super League and both are coming into this game not in the best of form, having drawn against Birmingham City and Reading respectively last time out.

Tottenham have only won once at home all season and that was against bottom side Liverpool in their first home match of the campaign, while Brighton has not won an away match all season.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 win

I fancy Spurs to get back to winning ways.

Liverpool vs West Ham United (14:00)

Last season the reds did the league double over the Hammers and the Merseyside club desperately need a win to kick-start their campaign.  They put in an improved display against Manchester City in their last match and could of perhaps nicked something.

The Hammers meanwhile have been very up and down this season, reflected by their current league position of eight. They did secure an important 3-2 win against Manchester United last weekend.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 win

I have a feeling that the Vicky Jepson’s side will finally secure that elusive first win of the campaign in this one.

Reading vs Arsenal (14:30)

Reading has never beaten the Gunners in their seven encounters with the current champions. The Royals however did manage a draw in the corresponding fixture last season, 0-0.

Kelly Chambers’ team will however be forgiven for approaching this match with trepidation having witnessed the Gunners put 11 past a struggling Bristol City team last weekend.

They will particularly have to keep an eye on the leagues’ current top scorer, Vivianne Miedema if they hope to get anything from this match.

Prediction: Arsenal 4-1 win

Predicting a comfortable victory for the league leaders.

Bristol City vs Birmingham City (15:00)

Both sides are heading into this match short on confidence and are struggling near the bottom of the table.

Tanya Oxtoby’s west midlands team in particular will still be recovering from their record defeat against the Gunners last time out.

The Blues meanwhile are fairing slightly better and do have a good record against Bristol City having won four of their five encounters, however the Robins only victory over Birmingham did come earlier this year.

Prediction: Birmingham City 2-0 win

I think that Bristol City will still not have fully recovered from their heavy defeat to Arsenal last weekend and anticipating the blues to come away with the points.