Category Archive: English Premier League

English Premier League Football (Soccer) News

Apr 25

‘Man Utd express ‘most concrete’ interest in Griezmann, says agent

Manchester United have expressed the “most concrete” interest in signing Antoine Griezmann, says the Atletico Madrid striker’s agent.

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Apr 24

Ander Herrera says Champions League place is at stake in Manchester derby

• Midfielder says clash with Manchester City will be ‘the game of the season’
• Yaya Touré would prefer to ‘play without a referee’ after error at Wembley

Ander Herrera believes the Manchester derby on Thursday will be the biggest match of their season, with United and City separated by only a point in the Premier League table as they chase Champions League qualification for next season.

United go into the game at the Etihad Stadium on the back of three successive Premier League victories that have revived their hopes of finishing in the top four. Having starred in the 2-0 win against the leaders, Chelsea, last week, the Spain midfielder Herrera played a pivotal role in the 2-0 victory against Burnley at Turf Moor and he admitted the meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side could be make or break for both teams.

Related: Liverpool need flawless finish and a Manchester City favour, says Emre Can

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Apr 24

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte says Premier League title would be his ‘greatest’ feat

• Manager wants to build side into a ‘real power’ for the future
• Conte aims dig at Manchester City and United over lavish spending

Antonio Conte would consider winning the Premier League title this season with Chelsea as the greatest achievement of his managerial career to date, with the feat carrying greater weight in the context of the lavish sums spent by both Manchester clubs last summer.

While City and United prepare for the derby at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday with Champions League qualification their priority, Chelsea can move seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with victory against Southampton on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge. Re-establishing that imposing lead would potentially inflict further psychological damage on second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, whom they beat in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.

Related: Antonio Conte’s new guard maintain Chelsea’s fighting spirit of old | Jacob Steinberg

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Apr 24

Antonio Conte: Chelsea boss says big spending does not guarantee success

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says spending the most money on players is not the best way to win a Premier League title.

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Apr 24

Chelsea v Southampton – team news & stats

Preview followed by live coverage of Tuesday’s Premier League game between Chelsea and Southampton.

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Apr 24

FA Cup, Scottish Cup and Premier League: 10 talking points

Christian Benteke returns to haunt Liverpool, Wayne Rooney is up for the Manchester derby while Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers has a problem for next season

This is the first time Pep Guardiola has failed to win a trophy in any of his eight seasons as a manager and, however it is dressed up, that amounts to a crashing disappointing bearing in mind the level of expectation at Manchester City and their near-obsession with appointing him. A reasonable argument could be made that Guardiola would be facing the sack were it not for his record of 21 trophies in seven years at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and it will be intriguing to see what the club’s chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, makes of it in his usual end-of-season review. Mubarak described Manuel Pellegrini’s final season at the club, when City won the Capital One Cup, finished fourth in the Premier League and reached the semi‑finals of the Champions League, as the bare minimum. Guardiola’s team have accumulated more league points than the 32-game mark last season, 64 to 57, but they have regressed in every other way. “Next season we will be stronger,” Guardiola said. He had better be right because the people in charge in Abu Dhabi will not tolerate a repeat. Daniel Taylor

Related: Chelsea and France midfielder N’Golo Kanté voted PFA player of the year

Related: Imperial age of Manchester City yet to dawn despite Pep Guardiola’s arrival | Paul Doyle

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Apr 23

Which Chelsea player did pundits misjudge? Garth Crooks’ team of the week

Who earns praise for his modest goal celebrations? And who were pundits wrong to doubt in the FA Cup semi-finals? It’s Garth Crooks’ team of the week.

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Apr 23

Allardyce ‘breathing easier’ after Anfield win

Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce says he is “breathing a little easier” after Sunday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield.

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Apr 23

Guardiola must improve Man City’s mood quickly after Arsenal defeat – Jermaine Jenas

Pep Guardiola must lift his players quickly to ensure they qualify for next season’s Champions League, argues Jermaine Jenas,

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Apr 23

Christian Benteke shocks Liverpool to lift Crystal Palace’s hopes

The Kop gave Christian Benteke a round of applause when he exited the fray in the 88th minute at Anfield. Sporting in the extreme. The Crystal Palace forward left his former club bruised and battered on his return to Liverpool, scoring twice in a merited win for Sam Allardyce’s side, and may have had the same impact on Jürgen Klopp’s Champions League aspirations.

“You must be sick of us,” the Palace fans chanted after Benteke’s double took the Eagles closer to Premier League safety and left Liverpool at risk of being caught by Manchester United in the race for a top four finish. Palace’s third consecutive league win at Anfield punished a mediocre Liverpool display – one on which a growing injury list took a visible toll – and could have damaging repercussions for Klopp’s remaining target. Dejan Lovren was also forced off after taking an accidental blow to the face from Benteke’s elbow.

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Apr 23

Burnley 0-2 Man Utd: Sean Dyche frustrated to concede two ‘poor’ goals

Burnley boss Sean Dyche feels his side put in a good performance against Manchester United but is frustrated they let in two “poor” goals.

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Apr 23

Burnley 0-2 Man Utd: It was a great result that we deserved – Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho says Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Burnley was deserved as his side kept up the chase for the top four in the Premier League.

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Apr 23

Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney sink Burnley

Manchester United enter Thursday’s 174th derby with Manchester City knowing victory at the Etihad Stadium will leapfrog them over Pep Guardiola’s side into fourth place following this convincing win.

Yet José Mourinho suggested winning the Europa League, another route into the Champions League, is preferable. “If we beat Celta we go to the final and yes it is important to us to play in the Champions League but this club wants trophies. We have 25 per cent chance to win the Europa League.”

Related: Burnley v Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

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Apr 23

Liverpool v Crystal Palace: Premier League – as it happened

And that’s it. A great win for a very organised Palace against a very disorganised Liverpool, whose hold on the top four looks a lot more shaky now. It’s a testament to the quality of Liverpool’s ineptitude in defence that Palace set up for a draw and came away with a win. Palace are pretty much safe for the season now – they’re up to 12th. Liverpool meanwhile are three points ahead of Man Utd in fifth – but Mourinho’s side have two games in hand. Jurgen Klopp will watch this Thursday’s Manchester derby very intently indeed.

90min +5: Mignolet is playing sweeper now although Liverpool could do with him at centre forward – along with everyone else.

90 min + 4: Grujic gets up for a header but there’s no threat.

90 min + 3: Corner for Liverpool. Hennessey flaps at it too but Liverpool can’t latch on to the loose ball and Palace clear.

90 min +1: Palace have used all their subs and Tomkins is off the field injured.

89 min: Six minutes of added time – I’m not sure where they all came from. It makes the Liverpool fans happy anyway.

87 min: It’s coming down to Coutinho long shots now – it ends in a long headshake from the Brazilian. Benteke heads off for Campbell – I think we can say he did his job well today.

85 min: I had forgotten Origi was playing. “In your opinion who could defend better: Klopp’s Liverpool or Keegan’s Newcastle,” asks Mayur Gupta. Oh, Klopp’s Liverpool easily. Nothing touches Keegan’s Newcastle for ineptitude (but they were a better attacking side – because they had nothing else to do).

82 min: Milner is off for the oldest man on Liverpool’s subs bench: 24-year-old Moreno. For Palace, Cabaye is replaced by Delaney. Oh, and Liverpool also bring on Grujic in place of Clyne.

81 min: Can is allowed to jaunt down the left – perhaps because Palace know he will produce the filthiest the cross of the afternoon.

78 min: Van Aanholt comes on for Zaha, while Liverpool take off Lovren and bring on the 18-year-old Alexander-Arnold. Call me crazy but I think Palace are playing for 2-1 here.

77 min: Liverpool have produced a lot of pressure and very little threat in this second half- and most of their chances have come from Coutinho’s individual brilliance rather than any teamwork.

Benteke tones down his celebrations in front of his old team as Klopp chews his lip on the sidelines. It came from a corner and Liverpool were conspicuously absent as their former striker was able to finish from close range.

72 min: Clyne is forced into defensive duties for once and comes up with a foul, which gives Palace a free-kick in a decent position. There’s a messy melee after the ball is delivered and Cabaye squirms free. His shot goes over but that was a scary moment for Klopp and Co.

68 min: The two teams chasing Liverpool for a place in the top four – the Manchesters City and United – face each other on Thursday. Palace make a rare appearance in the Liverpool half but Lovren snuffs out the danger. I thought the Londoners may have pushed for a win after an encouraging end to the first half but they have defended very deep.

65 min: Firmino rakes a cross-shot across goal, it goes past the far post but a team-mate could have poked it in if anyone had bothered to follow it up.

62 min: Pretty tame stuff from both teams for the last few minutes.

59 min: A brilliant pass from Lucas through to Firmino, who spots the ball a little too late and can’t control it as he lunges into the area.

56 min: Clyne’s cross falls to – who else? – Coutinho but his header is deflected to safety. It also looks like that Coutinho blocked shot a few minutes back came off Tomkins’ hand.

53 min: Coutinho again – he has now produced 98.98% of the highlights of this game. He manages to dance sideways across the area – and past half of the Palace team but his shot is blocked. Liverpool win a corner and Lucas’s attempt to score his first Premier League goal in eight years ends as you may have predicted.

51 min: Coutinho confuses the hell out of Kelly on the edge of the area, with some ridiculous skill before unleashing a shot high into the Kop. Nice of him to get the crowd involved though.

48 min: Clyne’s cross is cut out by Palace. “Would you please do me a favour and start a #sakhoOUT for me,” writes Teja “Enough is enough. All that sympathy over the week is out of the window.” Well, I think Sakho did the job himself with that little celebration on the sideline.

46 min: And we’re back. One concern for Liverpool is that if they do need to chase this game late on, their bench consists of a few teenagers and your kid brother. Anyway, no changes during the break.

The teams trail off for a nice sit down. For most of the first 45 minutes Liverpool dominated and Palace were happy to let them do so. Then again, it didn’t take too much pressure for them to come back.

45 min: Benteke has another chance to round out the half. He chests down a cross but his swivelled shot is straight at Mignolet. Palace may well rethink that tactic of sitting back in the second half if slicing Liverpool open is this easy.

44 min: Interesting post-script to that goal: Benteke goes to the sideline to celebrate with Sakho, who is currently on loan from Liverpool. Sakho seems happy enough to join in the festivities too.

Inevitably, Benteke scores against his former team – and in front of the Kop. Cabaye’s cross skids across the six-yard area where Benteke charges in to nudge the ball past Mignolet.

42 min: Origi is down with an injury but after a brief trot to the sideline is fit to continue.

40 min: Ummmm … Wijnaldum taps the ball to Can, who is eight yards out and unmarked. Can does make contact but seems to be trying to win Palace a throw-in. Although he doesn’t even manage that.

38 min: Clyne has been excellent in attack this afternoon. I’ve no idea how he would have coped defensively against Palace as he hasn’t had to defend. “‘So that’s our squad and everything is fine’. Dripping with bathos, those words from Jurgen Klopp perfectly sum up what it is to be a Liverpool fan,” chuckles Matt Dony.

35 min: Palace’s first corner of the game and their first shot on target, if we’re considering 4mph headers straight at the keeper as shots on target. We are? Then Palace have a shot on target!

32 min: Very muted calls for a Liverpool penalty (mostly from the crowd) but everyone else it happy to amble on towards halftime.

29 min: Palace have a jaunt up the pitch but Cabaye’s cross is cut out easily enough. Palace are still letting Liverpool hog the ball and it’s not a terrible tactic this early on – it took a brilliant effort from Liverpool to take the lead.

26 min: Hennessey was perhaps too far to the left when the free-kick was taken but it would be unfair to blame him too much for the goal – Countinho’s shot was excellent.

Free-kick to Liverpool after Coutinho is taken down around 30 yards from goal in the middle of the pitch. Hennessey has to cope with the sun in his eyes but even in ideal conditions he wouldn’t have stopped a brilliant free-kick from Coutinho – it was curled round the wall and into the far corner.

21 min: There are four teenagers on the Liverpool bench today and not one of them is on their phone. Excellent discipline. Meanwhile, Benteke slaloms and hustles his way through the Liverpool defence before sending a skidding shot just wide. That’s the closest we’ve had to a goal.

17 min: Firmino has another surging run for Liverpool and lays it off to Coutinho, who backheels to Milner. But the pass may have been a little too clever for Milner who is slow to react and gives the ball back to Palace.

15 min: Liverpool have 70% of the possession so far, not that Palace have been chasing the ball too much. Both teams appear happy enough to maintain that state of affairs: while Liverpool have a lot of the ball, Palace have contained them easily enough.

12 min: It’s a lovely turn from Wijnaldum on the edge of the area and it buys him some room for a shot or pass, but he doesn’t really do either and Palace clear.

10 min: Better from Palace, in that they’re not pinned in their own half. Mignolet gets his first touch of the game after a pinged pass goes out for a goal kick.

7 min: Firmino bombs down the right – Liverpool are having plenty of joy there – but his cross is a little off.

5 min: Corner to Liverpool, taken by Coutinho but it’s hit too hard and Palace can clear. Peter Oh, who I am beginning to suspect works for World Book Day, has emailed in his favorite quote from a football biography. Big Sam’s off all people: “I squeezed into some very tight black pants and nailed the Moonwalk. I’ve even dressed up as Cheryl Cole.”

1 min: And we’re off. Clyne makes a early foray down the right before spreading it out to Lucas and Countinho but the resulting shot is blocked by Palace legs.

“Hi Tom,” writes Peter Oh. “Sakho is on loan like a library book, which reminds me. Happy World Book Day! It would be great if you could pepper your commentary with the occasional literary reference.” Luckily we have a whole gallery dedicated to footballers’ favourite books:

Related: Premier League footballers’ favourite books – in pictures

Man Utd’s win against Burnley earlier puts them within three points of Liverpool, you can see the full Premier League table here. The teams are out on the pitch now, under clear blue skies in Liverpool.

Related: Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney sink Burnley

Just one change for Palace, with Sakho unable to play against Liverpool seeing as he is on loan from Anfield. Tomkins takes his place “[Tomkins] has other qualities and is a good communicator,” says Sam Allardyce with a nice bit of faint praise. They should have got Tomkins to do the pre-match interview – apparently, he’s a good communicator. And he has other qualities too.

Rhian Brewster is on the bench today for Liverpool, should they need a ridiculously talented 17-year-old to come on later to add some attacking threat. It would be his Premier League debut if he does come on, although it sounds like Jurgen Klopp has stamped Save For A Later Date on Brewster’s forehead: “Rhian Brewster did really well last week and he is a natural striker, if we need it,” he told the Liverpool website. “It is not sure that we will bring him [on] because Marko Grujic can play this position also, but we don’t have a lot of options so that’s our squad and everything is fine.” Joel Matip and Lucas Leiva have both passed fitness tests and will start.

Brewster could today become the first player born after the year 2000 to make a Premier League appearance.

Let’s hope he does!

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner, Wijnaldum, Lucas, Can, Firmino, Origi, Coutinho. Subs: Karius, Gomez, Grujic, Moreno, Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold, Brewster.

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins, Kelly, Schlupp, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha, Christian Benteke. Subs: Speroni, Van Aanholt, Flamini, Campbell, McArthur, Sako, Delaney.

Tom will be here shortly, in the meantime why not read Dominic Fifeld’s excellent interview with Mamadou Sakho:

For Mamadou Sakho, there is no satisfaction to be had in vindication. He has known for over a year he had done nothing wrong, and that the fat burner containing higenamine, for which he tested positive after helping Liverpool to Europa League progress beyond Manchester United, was not included on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list. Uefa had admitted as much last July before, in the first section of a 104-page dossier released this weekby its control, ethics and disciplinary body, the blame game over the player’s ban degenerated into petty finger-pointing between the governing body and Wada.

The real victim, the man who had been denied involvement in a cup final and a place in the host nation’s squad at Euro 2016, can only watch as the bickering shames the authorities. “I worked so hard to prepare myself for the European Championship, to help my country, to wear the France shirt in a tournament on home soil,” says Sakho. “Now I’ll never do that. Whatever they say or do, they cannot replace what they took away from me. My lawyer can see what happens next but, for me, I focus on other things. I have learned in life you should never look back over your shoulder, wondering what might have been. That is the past. Always look forward, at the next challenge. It’s life. Good and bad things happen, but my mentality is always to try and find a positive. It is the only way to be and, today, I am really happy.”

Related: Mamadou Sakho: ‘Whatever they say or do, they cannot replace what they took away from me’

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Apr 23

Burnley v Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

A professional performance from United puts them a point behind Manchester City, whom the meet on Thursday night, while Burnley, though nearly safe, are still not safe yet

So, bye – thanks all for your company and comments, sorry I couldn’t use them all.

You can now join Jacob Steinberg for what’s left of Arsenal-Manchester City:

Related: Arsenal v Manchester City: FA Cup semi-final – live!

Related: Liverpool v Crystal Palace: Premier League – live!

All of this means that United stay fifth, but move three points behind Liverpool, who play Palace shortly, and one behind City, whom the meet on Thursday.

Burnley remain 15th, five points ahead of Swansea in 18th.

Mourinhoesque from United, who were always in control of the game, organised at the back, sharp in midfield and dangerous in attack. Burnley, meanwhile, couldn’t quite find the necessary spark or intensity, nor the bounce of the ball on set-pieces. They remain probably safe, but not necessarily safe.

90+3 min You’ve got to laugh: Eric Bailly goes down, and for a second looks injured. But he’s quickly up, and the game proceeds.

90+2 min “Though we won’t know definitively until later in their careers at United (or elsewhere) whether Mourinho has man-managed some of his players in the best way,” emails Matt Loten, “ultimately, Martial has played very well today, and Shaw had an excellent game against Anderlecht on Thursday. This following criticism that many were quick to suggest was overboard. Wayne Rooney, as well, has been eased out with the minimum of fuss, Fellaini is no longer booed onto the pitch, and Juan Mata – who most thought would be the recipient of a one-way ticket out of Manchester upon Mourinho’s arrival – remains an important, and seemingly happy, member of the squad when fit. Throw in the fact that Mkhitaryan has improved as the season has progressed, and it seems to me that whilst you might question Mourinho’s selection policy at times, his handling of players has been pretty spot-on. Every player he has dropped or criticised has come back into the team and given him the performances for which he has asked.”

That’s one way of looking at things, I guess, and there’s certainly some truth in it. On the other hand, he ought to have got more from Mkhitaryan and Martial earlier in the season, and if he had, United would be happily ensconced in third or fourth.

90+1 min There shall be four added minutes.

90 min The ref books Hendrick for an earlier scythe on Fellaini, and Carrick replaces Pogba.

88 min Rooney seizes on a loose clearance to swing a low shot wide from just outside the box, then Pogba breaks from midfield and curls another low shot just wide of the near post. I was about to wonder why he’s still on – I guess because United haven’t scored a third – and he’s now down getting treatment.

87 min Gary Nev points out the job that Fellaini has done in protecting Blind from any physical contact which is fair in a way – Fellaini has played well, as he did off the bench on Thursday. But Blind can also take care of himself, most of the time.

85 min Eric Bailly loves a scrap, so gets involves in a tangle of legs with Agyei, kicking through his, wrapping them up, all that kind of thing, before eventually conniving a free-kick.

83 min Herrera, who’s “in a good moment”, slides a lovely pass down the line for Rashford, and with Heaton coming then backpeddling, he takes the shot early. But he goes for the near post when he should go across goal, allowing Heaton to shove behind fairly easily. Goalkick, apparently.

82 min Martial takes a blow after a very decent effort, replaced by Mkhitaryan.

81 min That’s six goals and six bookings for dissent, as per

@Fino76 on Twitter/

79 min And there it is! Wayne Rooney is booked for dissent after Pogba is penalised for a foul! Brady takes the free-kick, clipped flat towards the back post, where Keane is up first but can only head wide. “Made too good a contact,” reckons Gary Nev.

78 min Martial has made 77 sprints today, more than any other player. That’ll be what Mourinho is after from him, and it’s shown. Turns out the double European champion and multiple league winner knows something about the old association football, even more than folk on and doers of the Guardian MBM.

77 min Nice from Agyei, a deft touch moving the ball away from Young, but then he leaves it behind and Bailly moves in to snaffle.

75 min Agyei replaces Barnes.

74 min Looking again, Ward probably managed him into touch with two hands to the shoulder. But it was on the ref’s blind side, so nothing to see really.

73 min Rashford puts himself in a race with Ward, putting the ball in behind and setting off. Ward does really well to “manage him into touch,” as Gary Neville puts it.

71 min “There seems to be this prevailing idea that Martial’s best position is as a striker,” emails Rajiv. “While this could turn out to be true he has played the entirety of his Monaco, Man Utd and France career as a winger. All his best performances for Man Utd have come as a winger, and I’m not sure why there’s a huge need (baring injury) to keep trying him as a striker?”

I guess because a player of his quality is worth more in the middle of the pitch. But today, I imagine he was used there because Mourinho wanted pace in that position and also wanted to rest Rashford.

70 min It’s Lingard who departs – I’d wondered if it’s be Rooney as he’s come back from injury, but also to give what might be Thursday’s front three a run together. But Lingard, whose played a fair bit lately, is rested.

69 min And again – Ward raps in a low cross, turned away by Bailly. He’s had a very good ten minutes.

68 min Super cross from the right, swung over by Lowton, but Bailly is up again to head clear.

67 min Marcus Rashford will shortly be upon us – for Rooney, I imagine.

65 min Lowton is late catches Rooney late on halfway, ploughing through the back of him, and is booked.

64 min Burnley seem to have run out of ideas, such that they ever had any, but then, finally, Gray manages to drag and isolate Blind out wide, skipping clear and skimming over a nasty low cross. Bailly, though, is on his mettle, and clears dextrously as Barnes threatens.

63 min Lingard stretches through the middle and finds Rooney to his left, who slips. As you’d expect, everyone laughs.

62 min Change for Burnley: Gudmundsson replaces Boyd.

60 min Jose Mourinho has an interesting decision to make on Thursday night when United visit the Etihad. Marcus Rashford will come back in, but at the same time, it makes little sense to wait all season for Anthony Martial to do the necessary and then drop him as soon as he does. Both could play, but Jesse Lingard has earnt a spot too and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the kind of player able to compete with City’s close-passing midfield.

59 min Martial has played more as an inside-left than a centre-forward, but he takes possession in a more central position then suddenly steps on the gas, sliding a pass through the middle for Rooney. He can’t quite gather it, and is spluttering away when the ref gives a goalkick, not the corner he felt was his due after Keane came across to challenge.

57 min Corner to Brunley down the right, and again United cope well, Fellaini nutting clear.

55 min Martial is so hard to defend when he’s in this mood, quick and able to go off either foot. He isolates Keane, opts to diddle him on the outside, and shoves a square pass across the six-yard box that’s smuggled behind for a corner. It’s quickly cleared, but then Herrera slings over another very presentable ball that no one can quite reach.

54 min Pogba finds space outside the box, left of centre, and rattles a low heat-seeker towards the far post which Heaton pushes away.

53 min It’s worth noting that Daley Blind has been quietly impressive at centre-back so far, all the more so given how Mourinho disparaged him recently when bemoaning his ill-luck in having only Rojo and Bailly for that position. Blind has inalienable flaws, it’s true, but had many fine games last season.

51 min Already, Burnley are finding more time and space in midfield, United sitting deep and actually looking relatively organised. Ah, and there’s Mourinho on the touchline frantically gesturing at his players to get up, while the home crowd voices its frustration at the number of sideways passes attempted.

49 min United have switched off in more than a handful of games this season; if they do so this afternoon, they might well get punished. Talking of which, is a handful more than five, or just more than any amount that reasonably fill one’s hand – tricky when the currency is football matches.

47 min Boyd finds space out on his left for the first time, but with men in the middle can only sling a floaty cross behind.

46 min Oh dear. Ben Mee has an ankle injury, so he’s been replaced by James Tarkowski.

46 min United set us off once more.

It’s taken a while, but United finally appear to be on a roll. They’ve not been dazzling, but they’ve defended well and attacked with enterprise and speed; Martial in particular has been very good, with Pogba, Lingard and Herrera also making crucial contributions. Burnley, meanwhile, need to try and gang up on Bailly and Blind a little more, because there are errors there; the problem is they’re finding it hard to get decent possession, though both Barton and Hendricks have delivered two or three clever moments each.

In short, it’s both easy and hard to see how Burnley get back into this.

45+2 min The rest of the half disappears; Hendrick has one run at the heart of United’s defence, but Pogba pulls alongside and takes the ball away.

45 min There shall be two additional minutes.

43 min Couple of moments for Burnley: they win a second ball off another free-kick launched from halfway, and Gray does really well to turn free of Fellaini, lashing a shot goalwards that’s blocked by Bailly. Then, from the corner, Mee again handles Herrera, but Gray misses his kick, swivelling on the knockdown.

42 min Gary Neville seems to have Mourinho on a no-loser, here: if Martial plays well, dragging him is great management; if Martial plays badly, the manager was right all along. Might it also be possible that he should’ve got this performance from him sooner?

As I was saying. Lingard’s pace and movement stretch Burnley before Pogba pounces on Brady’s poor header just outside the box, turning to simultaneously outskill and outmuscle both him and Barton. He then slides a straight pass into Martial’s stride, gathered nicely to lose Mee, and though Heaton is out sharply to block him off, the ball breaks for Rooney, who scuffs a sidefooter against Keane’s inside calf, through his legs, and just over the line.

37 min If Rooney gets the caution for mouth that’s coming to him – he spent a fair while whinging about the penalty he didn’t get – that’ll be more cards for dissent than goals this season.

35 min United give away another free-kick, about 40 yards away from goal, left of centre. Brady goes to whip it in, but is interrupted by the ref, drawn to some argé-barge between Pogba and Lowton. When, eventually, the the ball arrives, it’s hit flat towards the far post, where Blind does really well to get between Mee and it, diving in to shepherd behind for a goalkick.

33 min A lull.

30 min Rooney accepts possession on the edge of the box and Barton bumps him over from behind. This could easily be a penalty, but there’s a little room for doubt, so the ref says no, and just about legitimately.

29 min “Lloris?! I expect that you support Conte or Poch over Dyche as manager of the season,” retorts Astra Lee, “which Dyche deserves if Burnley stay up.”

Definitely not Pochettino, but it’s hard to look beyond Conte. Not because he looks likely to win the league, but because he took a team on its arse, taught them how to play a particular way, and put together a ridiculous run that burned off the other challengers even before spring. Rarely has a team been so obviously defined by managerial brilliance – Conte should be player of the year as well.

28 min Gary Neville can’t believe Barton didn’t foul Martial in the build-up to the goal, but here he is back in the game, a clever pass releasing Lowton down the right. His cross is low and hard, a pearler, but no one’s attacking the near post and De Gea claims easily enough.

26 min Heavy touch from Fellaini, so Barnes confiscates possession and Fellaini flicks out a boot at roughly knee-height. Ouch. Somehow, Fellaini escapes a card, and then Brady’s free-kick is too close to De Gea, who snatches well before Mee arrives.

25 min So, what do Burnley have? They’ve not offered much in open play so far, and will be wary of committing men forward given what’s just happened to them. As for United, it’s a fair old while since they’ve scored a goal like that against a tea not chasing the game.

25 min Pace, movement and numbers up front make a difference. Who knew?

23 min It is probably fair to say that with Zlatan in the side, United don’t score that goal.

Rooney scrambles the ball out to Martial who megs and eases free of Barton, who amazingly eschews the chance to

stub a cigar out on his eye
pull him down. Martial then goes right to Herrera, whose cross – it’s more of a pass, actually – is typically studied, slid into stride. Martial then takes a clever touch when he might have thrashed, before sliding home a brilliant goal.

20 min Fellaini is late on Barnes for no reason, but the free-kick is wasted and eventually united break…

18 min United break, Lingard rinsing through the middle and snapping wide to Rooney once the Burnley defence narrows. Martial is in the middle and Rooney looks for him, so it’s not entirely surprising when he nearly scores with a cross that floats towards the far top corner.

17 min Again, within 12 mins, Tom Heaton’s two great saves showing why De Gea’s position in the PFA team of the year is utter nonsense,” vexes Astra Lee on Twitter, and I agree – at least in part. De Gea certainly has no business in that team, but I might have gone with Ser Lloris.

15 min Superb from Hendrick, taking Barton’s clever pass and bursting past Fellaini into the box, whereupon he nutmegs Herrera. Swivelling into a cross, Blind slides in ahead of Gray to concede the corner, hit to the back post, where Mee escapes the over-matched Herrera … but can only head over the top.

13 min United have started to play a little, Pogba allowing a pass from Darmian across his body before floating forward. He tries a shot, but it’s blocked and then Brady unfurls a fantastic pass for Gray, whose shot is blocked by Fellaini.

11 min Darmian goes down the left and slaps a pass inside to no one, but United quickly recover possession and Herrera finds Young on the opposite flank then accepts a return and tosses in a brilliant cross. Lowton is forced to concede the corner, which Fellaini meets well, only to head close enough to Heaton such that he can smother.

9 min Great block Ben Mee! Martial finds himself in space on the left side of the box and drags the ball past Ward before clipping back for Herrera. He does really well to take a touch and move on one for Rooney who, from six yards out, looks set to score. But Mee goes down on both knees in front of him, smothering a tame shot which allows Heaton to catch easily enough. That was a chance.

8 min “For readers without Alessandro Del Piero images, please find attached pictures of Mr Dyche’s sideburns in both home and away kits,” emails William Hargreaves.

6 min Burnley win a free-kick on halfway, which, naturally, Heaton tosses into yon mixer. Fellaini doesn’t bother jumping, so Keane flicks-on, and from an acute angle, Brady lashes a left-footer over the top.

5 min Gray runs at Darmian, who does really well to intercede just as he looks certain to be done for pace. He’s actually played pretty well in recent weeks, though remains nowhere near the standard of the players who’ve preceded him.

3 min Heavy touch from Gray down the right, and he’s forced to turn and run towards his own goal. This allows Pogba to nick the ball of him, but before he’s even mid-lank, a tackle raps his ankle. Gray does well to avoid a card for that.

2 min “There’s nothing worse than a Wayne Rooney who is eager to prove a point and make an impression,” emails David Flynn. “Today he’ll no doubt task himself with the role of out-and-out striker/deep-lying playmaker/end-to-end winger/in everybody’s way. The headless chicken role.”

Tangentially, has there ever been a player whose nightmares were as intense as Wayne Rooney? With a bigger gap between highest and lowest level?

1 min “A loose one from Joey Barton”. Ctrl C, Ctrl V.

1 min Burnley set us away!

Mourinho maintaining his record of having Ibrahimovic on the pitch somehow for every second of the season.

Sky have Martial playing through the middle, with Rooney on the left.

Out come the players!



Can’t they just tell them?

In today’s warm-up, #MUFC are wearing t-shirts to show their support for @Ibra_official & Marcos Rojo, following their injuries on Thursday.

Jamie Carragher thinks that Michael Keane should leave Burnley but not go back to United, on the basis that he’ll still be known as the kid who came through. He also mentions that Jones and Smalling will consider him thus, though I’m far from certain both will still be at Old Trafford next season. If a centre-back arrives, one will definitely have to go.

Anyway, what was Louis van Gaal thinking, selling Keane but keeping Paddy McNair? Dearie me.

“The last time Manchester United beat Burnley at Turf Moor (19th April 1976), Apple Computers had just been founded, the Ramones had just released their first album and videogames were barely starting out,” emails Christopher Flaherty. “Don’t see us ending that run today to be honest.”

Looking at that United side, it’s hard to see who’ll take responsibility, if Pogba doesn’t. But, on the other hand, there are a fair few players who can make the difference in a single moment of quality.

Sean Dyche has diagonally-pointing sidies, just like Alessandro Del Piero in the late-90s. He is as cosmopolitan sartorially as he is tactically.

Of Burnley’s 36 points this season, 32 have come at Turf Moor. Sky are now showing us the game between the teams at the start of 2009-10, won by Robbie Blake’s brilliant goal. That night, Wayne Rooney allowed Michael Carrick to take – and miss – a penalty which, with United losing the league by a point, was a crucial oversight.

Also on Martial, Neville says he was pleased to hear Mourinho call him out for not working hard enough, as he thinks it too. That’s a shame, as he’s a brilliant talent, though you wonder if harder work ought to have been coaxed from him by now.

Gary Neville says he’s heard that Rooney won’t be playing up front today. If so, that’s a big chance for Anthony Martial, though I’m not convinced he has the instinct, or at least makes the runs of a centre-forward.

In that connection, Marcus Rashford is left out, and with good reason. He gave everything in midweek and last Sunday, and will be needed in more important games. You’d not trust his team-mates to get it done without him, mind.

Mourinho is sad for his players as individuals, not for his team – what compassion! Zlatan, he explains, is close to the end of his career, and Rojo was playing as well as he ever had, having finally won a spot at centre-back in the Argentina side. Geoff Shreeves decides to ask whether Zlatan will play again, and is given microscopic shrift.

The obligatory question about Rooney follows – “is he at the top of his game and raring to go?” That too is batted away, and what comes next is telling: Mourinho says that rather than the home game against Burnley, when United had 43,986 shots without scoring, today he’s expecting two shots and two goals.

Talking of Martial, it might just be that Zlatan’s injury saves his United career. He looked certain for the off this time last week, but he ought to now get games; if he can play as he did last season, he’ll be a hard man to shift.

So, about that team news, then. Burnley make one change, and it’s up front: Gray replaces the injured Vokes. As for United, out go Romero, Valencia, Rojo, Shaw, Carrick, Mkhitaryan, Rashford and Ibrahimovic; in come De Gea, Darmian, Blind, Young, Herrera, Fellaini, Rooney and Martial.

A team who’re safe against a team who make eight changes, and two of whom played 120 sapping minutes in midweek: yes, we’re in for a cracker this afternoon, alright.

I say Burnley are safe; I say Burnley are safe; and they are. But they’d not mind just a couple more points, and whatever happens, they’re not the sort to toss it off.

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Barton, Hendrick, Brady, Gray, Barnes. Subs: Flanagan, Defour, Westwood, Gudmundsson, Tarkowski, Pope, Agyei.

Man Utd: De Gea, Young, Bailly, Blind, Darmian, Ander Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba, Lingard, Rooney, Martial. Subs: Carrick, Rashford, Romero, Mkhitaryan, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe.

Daniel will be here soon. In the meantime, here’s José Mourinho on Manchester United’s injuries.:

José Mourinho has admitted Manchester United “are in trouble” due to an injury crisis after Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo suffered what are feared to be season-ending injuries in Thursday’s Europa League victory over Anderlecht.

United have been drawn to face Celta Vigo in the semi-finals of the tournament after beating Anderlecht 3-2 on aggregate. Lyon will play Ajax in the other semi. Mourinho, whose side play Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday, said: “We are in trouble. In this moment, Eric Bailly played six matches in a row, and we lost Marcos Rojo, we don’t have [Phil] Jones or [Chris] Smalling, we are in trouble and now we lose Zlatan too.

Related: Mourinho running out of options after latest Manchester United injuries

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Apr 23

Harry Kane: Tottenham want Premier League title for Ugo Ehiogu

Striker Harry Kane says Tottenham want to win the Premier League for Ugo Ehiogu, who died on Friday at the age of 44.

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