All posts by oasis1711

Mission Impossible: Can United beat PSG?

13 wins. 2 Draws. 1 loss.

The results of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first 16 games in charge of Manchester United have been stupendous. One stands out, one is different to the rest. The 0-2 loss at home to Paris Saint-Germain is the only loss the Norwegian has suffered so far through his impressive run.

I don’t subscribe to the same opinion on that game as a lot of other people, waxing lyrical on PSG’s quality and supposedly being a step too far for this current Manchester United side. Yes, Veratti was excellent all night, shifting the play effortlessly and conducting play. Yes, Marquinhos was making tackles all over the Old Trafford pitch and keeping United quiet, but other than an uncharacteristic lack of judgement by De Gea not coming to collect Di Maria’s deep corner to the back post, allowing Kimpembe to score his first PSG goal and a moment of brilliance from Kylian Mbappe – the apparent heir to Messi and Ronaldo – PSG threatened very little and looked stifled in any attempt to play flowing football.

United started the game the better side despite not causing any real harm, but it was at the end of the first half that they suffered through the loss of Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial to injury at almost the same time. This knocked their rhythm and they were never really able to recover.

So, to Wednesday night at the Parc de Princes where only Napoli and Ligue 1 punching-bag Guingamp have taken anything from the French champions, United must score at least twice with a squad missing Martial, Lingard, Matic, Herrera, Sanchez and the suspended Paul Pogba.

No chance right? Wrong.

Arguably the best work done by United in Solskjaer’s 16 games has come in the last 2 games. A 3-1 away win at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace and Saturday’s very old-school Manchester United 3-2 comeback win over Southampton.

Ole has shrugged off the doom and gloom and taken injury issues in his stride. He’s used the so-called crisis as a chance to give some less used squad players and youth team players a chance. McTominay has brilliantly stepped in for Matic as well as Fred and Perreira getting valuable game time, with the latter scoring a beautiful curled effort on Saturday and securing an assist. James Garner earned his first senior appearance and Tahith Chong added another first team opportunity to his C.V., but it could be the form of Romelu Lukaku in the past few games that’s been the real highlight. The Belgian has been in and out of form this season and caught the brunt of United fans’ anger for below-par performances, but under the Guidance of Solskjaer, Lukaku has been rejuvenated, showing confidence and proving his quality. Lukaku has scored 4 goals in the last 2 games, could he be springing to life at just the right time?

Solskjaer is proving he has more than just the ability to motivate, showing his tactical qualities by getting United winning in different ways when the time calls for it.

So is it impossible? No, will it be extremely hard work? Of course. Needing 2 goals against a team of PSG’s quality away from home with a depleted squad is obviously an uphill struggle but Ole’s never-say-die attitude guarantees United will give it a real go.

It’s Arsenal next up in the Premier League on Sunday, a vital game if United are to cement themselves in the Champions League places. You could forgive Solskjaer for playing an under strength side to save legs for the weekend but it’s just not in his nature. If United could grab an early goal then it’s very much game on, but ultimately if PSG score first then it’s more than likely going to be a long evening for the Red Devils.

It’s a fascinating tie and could be another triumph in an already heroic run by United’s Champions League hero, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Wayne Edge @oasis1711

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American dreams: Top 5 MLS to EPL signings

Not really known for it’s exports, Major League Soccer has been more accustomed to big named stars from European football Gracing their presence in the twilight of their careers, players like Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Thierry Henry and most recently Zlatan Ibrahimovic and our own Wayne Rooney. However with Newcastle United signing Miguel Almiron from one of the MLS’s newest outfits Atlanta United its changed this trend. With the MLS being back underway this weekend we take a look at the top 5 signings to make their way across the Atlantic to these shores.

  1. Clint Dempsey

Signed by Fulham from the New England Revolution in 2007, Dempsey went on to score 50 goals for the Cottagers in his 5 years in West London where he helped guide Fulham to the UEFA Cup final in 2010, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid. He still remains the club’s highest Premier League goalscorer ahead of fellow American Brian McBride. In 2012, the Texan was transferred to Tottenham where he scored 7 goals before he returned home to the U.S. the following season with the Seattle Sounders. In 2014 Dempsey returned to Fulham on loan but failed to add to his goal tally in England. With 57 goals in England, Clint Dempsey is the highest scoring American in any of Europe’s top leagues and showed that American players could be relied upon to score goals, something that hadn’t been seen at that time.

2. Brad Friedel

The American moved across the pond after he was signed by Liverpool in 1997 and had a tremendous 18-year stint in the Premier League also playing for Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham, where he collectively racked up 479 appearances. Friedel originally had 3 failed transfers to the Premier League with Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United and Sunderland due to work permit issues. He was finally cleared to move following a successful appeal to play for Liverpool after signing from Columbus Crew. Blackburn’s League Cup victory against Spurs in 2002 was the only trophy Friedel won during his time in England, that same season he made the PFA team of the year. While at Blackburn he also scored a goal in a 3-3 draw with Charlton, which he remains only 1 of 5 keepers to do this in the league. One of Friedel’s greatest attributes was his fitness, the keeper went on to play 310 consecutive games in the Premier League, which is still a record to this day.

3. Tim Howard

Another goalkeeper on this list, something the United States has had great success with over the years. Tim Howard signed for Manchester United from the New York Red Bulls (formally known as the New York/Jersey MetroStars) in 2003, winning the Community Shield and the FA Cup in his first season and adding the League cup in 2006. With the addition of Dutch master Edwin Van Der Sar in 2005, Howard’s chances became limited. This provoked a loan to Everton before he completed a transfer to the Toffees in 2007, where he made 354 total appearances. Like his compatriot Brad Friedel, he also scored a goal in the league, against Bolton Wanderers. Howard ended his career as the highest capped U.S national team goalkeeper of all time.

4. Brian McBride

In the 2000/2001 season, while at Columbus Crew, McBride was sent out on loan to Preston North End, then managed by David Moyes. Moyes took the American born forward with him when he moved from the Second Division club to Premier league Everton where the striker scored 4 goals in 8 appearances. The following season McBride secured a move to Fulham, playing 140 games and scoring 33 goals making him the club’s second highest Premier League goalscorer behind fellow American and Fulham legend Clint Dempsey. The striker’s no-nonsense play and maximum effort made him a fan favourite at craven cottage.

5. Miguel Almiron

The Paraguayan only moved to the Premier League in January, breaking Newcastle United’s transfer record with his move from Atlanta United for £20m, the highest fee paid for an MLS player. With only a small sample size of just 4 games so far it’s premature for Almiron to make this list but the potential the attacking midfielder has is breathtaking, his pace, running quality, passing and eye for goal will delight the Geordie faithful and help the club push on to better things in the future.

Almiron is just one of a host of exciting MLS players developed in the league who could find their way to the Premier League very soon. Can Almiron live up to the hype and reach the potential set by his predecessors?

Wayne Edge @oasis1711

Steel City chasers: as both United and Wednesday look to make the cut for promotion

Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday conjure classic memories from over the years, Chris Morgans tackling, brighty’s goal in the FA Cup semi final, Neil Warnock’s gesticulations, Billy Sharp’s Mr Socko Celebration, John sheridan and of course Sean bean in when Saturday comes…just me?

Chris Wilder’s side are flying high in 3rd place and are very much in the fight with Leeds and Norwich City for the Championship trophy. If results go their way the Blades could be top of the league with a win over their bitter rivals on Monday night.

The Blades are unbeaten in their last 3 matches and have won 4 of the last 5, only the crazy 3-3 draw with Aston Villa after Billy Sharps hattrick had United 3 up stops it being 5 in 5.

Star striker Billy Sharp will hope for a happier day out against the Owls Having failed to score against them in his last 5 games for Sheffield United.

Sheffield United will hopefully have defenders Jack O’Connell and George Baldock back with the former having missed the last 3 with a hamstring problem.

Form Guide WWWDW

Star man: Billy Sharp

Sheffield Wednesday are 12th in the table, getting into the playoffs looks a stretch as they are currently 6 points away with Derby, Bristol City and Middlesbrough all with a game in hand. This won’t stop them trying though as the Owls are in great form since Championship specialist Steve Bruce took over with 3 wins and 3 draws in his first 6 games. Steve Bruce has won 7 of the last 9 games against the Blades.

Bruce faces the club where he began his managerial career over 20 years ago, he’s a man who knows what this fixture means and he will have his players suitably up for the task, knowing a win for the Hillsborough club could put a massive dent in the blades automatic promotion hopes, an easy team talk for Bruce.

Wednesday could have defenders Morgan Fox and Jordan Thorniley Back fit after back and concussion problems.

Form Guide WWDDD

Star man: Adam Reach

The last 5 Steel City Derby results

Sheffield United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Sheffield United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2 Sheffield united 4 Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sheffield United 0 Sheffield United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2

The last 2 meetings between the 2 have ended in 0-0 draws, they haven’t had 3 straight league draws since 1993, so hopefully a passionate encounter at Hillsborough will end with a win .

Wayne Edge @oasis1711

Number 200: is this the biggest Merseyside derby yet ?

Everton have won only 2 of their last 7 games in all competitions and manager Marco Silva is already said to be under pressure in his first season with the toffees. Despite the poor form, Everton are still in 9th place and outside of the ‘big 6’ only Wolves and surprise package Watford are ahead of them.

The Blues won their last game 3-0 against Cardiff City so come into the 200th Merseyside derby with confidence. Last time out only a 96th minute winner from Divock Origi separated the two teams in December, and this time Everton would love nothing more than to get the victory and derail Liverpool’s title hopes.

The Toffees have no fresh injury worries, with defenders Kurt Zouma and Phil Jagielka both included in the squad last time out, Leighton Baines is also back in training and could be in contention.

Liverpool’s race for their first Premier League title is in the final furlong, the Anfield club has wobbled recently winning only 3 of their last 7 games, drawing 4 and allowing Manchester City to cut the gap down to just 1 point. Now any slip up could see Guardiola’s side swap places at the top of the league.

The reds smashed 5 past Watford on Wednesday in a fantastic display, showing their doubters that the pressure won’t hold them back. They will also be buoyed by the fact that it’s now 8 years since Everton last won against them, also no club has won more games at Goodison Park than Liverpool.

The Reds defence has been vital to their form this season and in arguably the world’s best defender Virgil Van Dijk they have a threat at both ends of the field with the Dutchman scoring twice last time out, this is ominous for an Everton side top among the teams that have conceded the most goals from set pieces.

Liverpool will be without defenders Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, forward Roberto Firmino should return after his injury in the Manchester United game.

With all these stats in mind it looks like a hard day at the office for Everton but keep this in mind that 5 of the last 10 Merseyside derbies have ended in a draw, couple this with a chance to potentially knock their City rivals off the premier league summit the old cliche rings true, all form goes out the window in a derby.

Wayne Edge @oasis1711

Race for the top 4

The Premier League is now a 2 horse race. Most may argue that it always has been, and Tottenham’s midweek meltdown at Chelsea ended any hopes the North London club had of being included in that esteemed group.

With just 10 games left to go, and 2 crucial Champions League spots up for grabs, a look at the remaining fixtures of Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea could provide valuable insight over who will consolidate their place in the top 4.

Tottenham

Spurs look to prevent a 3rd loss in a row in the league when they play Arsenal tomorrow. It could be the first time they’ve lost 3 in a row since 2012 when they lost to… Arsenal. Spurs will want to gain ground on their North London rivals and try to cement their position in 3rd place and try to avoid being dragged into the fight for 4th place. Tottenham have 6 of their last 10 remaining games at home, although 3 of those are London derbies where current form has no relevance. Spurs will also have a big say on where the Premier League title could end up as they still have to travel to Liverpool and City before the end of the season. Spurs getting Harry Kane and Dele Alli back to full fitness will be key to their run in.

Key games: Liverpool, Manchester City

Arsenal

In contrast to Tottenham, Arsenal has just 4 of their remaining 10 fixtures at home, one of which sees the North London side face up against a resurgent Manchester United. If the Gunners were to lose that game it would see them lose ground to one of their top 4 rivals. Their next 2 fixtures are the North London derby followed by Manchester United’s trip to the Emirates. If Unai Emery’s men can come out of those 2 games still in the hunt, they will be encouraged by their remaining games as ‘on paper’ they have the most favourable run-in of the 4 sides. With the upturn in form of Ozil and Mkhitaryan, along with the always dangerous duo of Lacazette and Aubameyang, Arsenal will fancy their chances of a return to the Champions League for the first time in 3 years.

Key games: Tottenham, Manchester United

Manchester United

The Red Devils have six of their remaining fixtures at home starting with Southampton tomorrow afternoon. United will be hoping to build on their incredible run of form since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho. They currently have the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League and have just broken Sir Alex Ferguson’s record for consecutive away wins with their 8th in a row coming via a comfortable 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park despite having an injury-ravaged squad. Confidence is obviously high and will need to be as United still have massive games on the horizon with Arsenal, Chelsea and a Manchester derby still to play. With noisy neighbours City still to play, that could have huge ramifications on their quest for a top 4 place. United will relish the challenge, seeing as though Solskjaer’s men have recently beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in cup competitions. The reverse league fixture against Sarri’s blues was frustrating for the North West giants after an undeserved last-minute equaliser from Ross Barkley stopped the Red Devils taking home all three points. United finish the season with 2 bottom-table sides in the shape of Huddersfield and Cardiff that barring a dramatic turn of events will already be relegated. They still have an array of talent to return, including Martial, Herrera, Mata and Jesse Lingard. Ole will hope this caps off his resurrection of the team and consolidate his push for the managerial position.

Key games: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City

Chelsea

The Blues, like Arsenal, only have 4 home games left, the first of those being this weekend against a Wolves team that won the reverse fixture in December. However, the West-Midlands side lost midweek to struggling Huddersfield, whereas Chelsea go into the game after a big win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. After the embarrassing scenes in the Carabao Cup final, Maurizio Sarri will be hoping to get Chelsea back in the right mood and push for a spot in the top 4. Chelsea kicked off the season in extraordinary form but as time has gone on the future of the manager has been called into question with many Blues fans fed up with the Italian’s ‘Sarriball’ style of football and the placement of Ngolo Kante in the wrong position. Chelsea still has big games remaining, with trips to Liverpool and Manchester United still to play, and with their involvement in the Europa League, this could make their chances of securing a top 4 place difficult. However, should Chelsea win those games, everything looks good for the Blues. If the West London side could win the Europa League, it would grant Sarri’s side automatic Champions League qualification, rendering any Premier League slip-ups irrelevant.

Key games: Liverpool, Manchester United

An exciting end to the season is virtually guaranteed, and the race for those final Champions League places begins tomorrow!

Wayne Edge @oasis1711