About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Chelsea boss Lampard: Senior players still biggest influenceby Paul Vegas19 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea boss Frank Lampard is delighted with the influence of his senior players.Lampard says he has the right blend within his squad.”What you need is a strong group and then you see the leaders come from within it. Where we are quite young, the leaders are still going to come and come out of themselves more. That comes with a bit of confidence, probably with being around the first team even more,” he stated.”It seemed to have become a bit cut and dry [from outside], the young boys and the old boys, but I never saw it that way. I always trust in the players and in the squad, and you will rely on them.”Willian scored two in two, Jorginho’s influence and how he is, Azpilicueta club captain and N’Golo Kante, back in and 28 years of age. We need all those players and I expect them to deliver and take burdens throughout the season. Hopefully they’re doing that.”
Manchester United will begin their life post-Jose Mourinho when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns to Cardiff City on Saturday in the Premier League.The Red Devils legend took charge as interim manager following the Portuguese boss’s dismissal from his managerial post at Old Trafford, and Solskjaer’s first game in charge will be against the side that he briefly managed during an ill-fated spell in 2014.The visitors travel to Wales sixth in the table, 11 points off of a top-four spot and having registered just one win in their last five matches, while the Bluebirds sit in 16th in the table. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Game Cardiff City vs Manchester United Date Saturday, December 22 Time 5:30pm GMT / 12:30pm ET Stream (US) fubo TV (7-day free trial) TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser. US TV channel Online stream NBC fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on BT Sport 1 and live-streamed on BT Sport Live. UK TV channel Online stream BT Sport 1 BT Sport Live Squads & Team News Position Cardiff City players Goalkeepers Etheridge, Smithies, Murphy Defenders Peltier, Bennett, Morrison, Manga, Connolly, Cunningham, Bamba Midfielders Arter, Ralls, Murphy, Gunnarsson, Damour, Camarasa, Harris, Hoilett Forwards Ward, Paterson, Reid, Madine Cardiff City XI: Etheridge, Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Cunningham, Gunnarsson, Arter, Camarasa, Hoilett, Murphy, Paterson. Position Manchester United players Goalkeepers De Gea, Grant, Romero Defenders Smalling, Jones, Dalot, Shaw, Bailly, Young, Valencia, Darmian Midfielders Pogba, Mata, Matic, McTominay, Herrera, Lingard, Pereira, Fred, Fellaini, Gomes, Hamilton Forwards Rashford, Martial, Chong, Bohui Man Utd XI: De Gea; Young, Jones, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Herrera; Lingard, Pogba, Martial; Rashford.Betting & Match Odds Cardiff are priced at odds of 5/1 to win, according to bet 365, while a draw is available at 3/1. A win for the Red Devils is priced at 11/20.Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.Match Preview Last weekend’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League was the final nail in the coffin for Mourinho, as they dismissed the Portuguese just 48 hours after the defeat.The former Chelsea boss endured a miserable first half of the season with the club, having lost five matches in 17 Premier League games and already conceding as many goals by December as they did during the whole of last season.The defeat at Anfield ensured United are marooned in sixth place with Mourinho admitting that top-four – let alone challenging for the title – was going to be difficult.Solskjaer’s first game in charge as caretaker manager will be against Cardiff, whom he briefly managed in 2014 but could not save from relegation.The Norwegian’s appointment has been welcomed by many Red Devils fans following the toxic and turbulent reign of Mourinho, though he has been given the massive responsibility of trying to challenge for a Champions League spot for next season as well as lifting the spirits of the dressing room.All eyes will be on whether or not the Solskjaer will decide to slot Pogba into the starting XI straightaway, after the France international fell out of favour under Mourinho.He has, meanwhile, claimed that he will not be afraid to replicate Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous “hairdryer” treatment with the players, and told reporters that he would not hesitate to “lay down the law”.Solskjaer said: “We’ve spoken about what we expect, what standards we have on and off the pitch. You prepare for every game, I trust the lads to know what they’re doing to help the team. Everything we do is to help the team.”He’s [Pogba] a World Cup winner, Paul’s a terrific lad. When I had him as a kid as well, he was always the happy-go-lucky lad and he’s not changed personality-wise.”He’s a better player, and of course he’s one I want to get the best out of. You have so many quality players that I want to try to get the best out of and he’s no different to anybody else.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Cristiano Ronaldo “only wanted to play for Juventus”, claims his agent Jorge Mendes, with the decision taken to leave Real Madrid for Serie A in January.A big-money move for the Portuguese had been mooted for several years before a deal was finally done over the summer.Few clubs boasted the ambition and financial muscle to put an agreement in place, but Italian giants Juve formed part of an exclusive club. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ronaldo has made no secret of his admiration for the Bianconeri since joining their books, with the Turin outfit one he always hoped would form part of his illustrious career.Mendes was able to make that dream a reality, with there only one destination considered once a five-time Ballon d’Or winner made it clear that he wanted out of the Santiago Bernabeu.“In January 2018, I and the few people who knew what was happening thought it would be very difficult to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Juve,” Mendes told Rai Sport.“However, I want to make it clear that the idea started with the player himself. Ronaldo told me he only wanted to play for Juventus.“That’s where it began and I was in talks with the Bianconeri directors for months, so we all know how those negotiations ended up.“Now Cristiano is happy with the club and his team-mates, he is satisfied with Serie A and truly happy at Juventus.”Ronaldo has contributed 12 goals to the Juve cause this season, across 21 appearances in all competitions.Those efforts have helped to establish a standing back at the top of Serie A, while also progressing through to the last 16 of the Champions League.“Many have asked me about Juve and the Champions League. It will take a bit of luck to win it too, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival has certainly made Juventus stronger,” added Mendes.“I’d say all of Italian football has benefited from his presence.”Ronaldo will be back in action on Saturday against Roma, with Massimiliano Allegri having revealed that plans to rest the 33-year-old continue to be pushed back.
Antoine Griezmann’s penalty was enough as Atletico Madrid moved up to second in LaLiga after claiming an unremarkable 1-0 win over Espanyol, as the Frenchman reached 200 career goals for club and country.Espanyol produced a fine performance given their wretched form, but Atletico just about managed to earn the victory which moves them back above Sevilla at least until Sunday thanks to Griezmann.The visitors looked considerably more threatening in the first half, with Jan Oblak having to be at his best to deny Borja Iglesias and one-time Atletico striker Leo Baptistao. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? But Espanyol’s attacking threat fizzled out somewhat after the break and Atletico made the most of that, with Griezmann’s penalty proving decisive and inflicting a sixth successive league defeat on Espanyol, their worst run since 2003. 94′ | 1-0 | ¡FINAAAAL! ¡Cerramos el 2018 con tres puntos en el Wanda @Metropolitano!#AtletiEspanyol#AúpaAtleti pic.twitter.com/vMfkhSoMDq— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) December 22, 2018Espanyol looked the more creative of the two sides early on and went close twice in the first 15 minutes, as Esteban Granero sent a chip just wide of the top-left corner, before Oblak had to be alert to tip a similar effort from Iglesias over.Oblak made another vital stop in the 28th minute when parrying Baptistao’s fierce 20-yard volley, though he had to rely on his left-hand post to stop the Brazilian’s follow-up effort.Atletico finally tested Diego Lopez just before the break – the former Real Madrid goalkeeper pushing a Griezmann volley wide.The hosts looked more solid defensively after the interval and then found themselves ahead in the 56th minute, as Griezmann emphatically slammed a penalty into the roof of the net as a consequence of Koke being felled by a wild Granero kick.Atletico should have rounded things off when Gelson Martins was tackled in the penalty area on the counter, though it had no impact on the score as the hosts held on at the other end.200 – @atletienglish’s Antoine Griezmann has scored his 200th goal in his professional career (club and country). Milestone. pic.twitter.com/2vi3bWhw6f— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 22, 2018 What does it mean? Atletico ride their luckAtletico were again guilty of producing an unimpressive performance, finding themselves under pressure a lot in the first half. Although they weathered the storm and came out unscathed, one has to assume their luck will run out eventually against better – more ruthless – opposition.Oblak proves his worth, againHaving an immense goalkeeper really does make a difference, as Oblak showed on Saturday. Not only did he produce some vital saves, he dealt particularly well when put under physical pressure at set-pieces, somehow managing to routinely clear his lines despite being surrounded.Kalinic kept quietCroatian striker Nikola Kalinic was hoping to score in a third successive LaLiga game, but he offered very little before the interval, with Naldo generally bossing him. He was then replaced by Vitolo, who injected more urgency into Atletico’s attack.Key Opta Facts- No side has kept more clean sheets than Atletico Madrid in the top five European leagues in 2018 (21, level with Juventus). – Griezmann has scored 40 goals in 2018 for club and country, more than in any other calendar year.- Atletico have picked up 50 points at Wanda Metropolitano in La Liga in 2018 (W15 D5 L1), more than any other side at home in the competition.- Antoine Griezmann has been involved in 11 goals in his last 10 games for Atletico de Madrid in all competitions (seven goals and four assists).- Espanyol have lost their last six LaLiga games, their worst run in the competition since October 2003 (also six).- Atletico faced more shots in the first half against Espanyol (10) than in any other first half of a league game at Wanda Metropolitano. What’s next?After the winter break, Atletico face a trip to fellow high-flyers Sevilla in what promises to be a feisty encounter at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, while Espanyol host Leganes. read more
Juventus retain a firm grip on first place in Serie A , with Roma the next side to challenge the apparently untouchable Turin giants as they visit the Allianz Stadium on Saturday.Juve boast 15 wins and one draw from their opening 16 matches of the campaign, which is the best record of any club in Europe’s top five leagues. They were pushed a week ago by Torino, but a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty gave them a 1-0 win over their neighbours. Roma, meanwhile, are in the race for a Champions League spot but are not hitting the heights expected of them and will have to raise their level substantially to challenge Italy’s top dogs. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Game Juventus vs Roma Date Saturday, December 22 Time 7:30pm BST / 2:30pm ET TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game will be shown on Rai Italia America and live-streamed through ESPN+. US TV channel Online stream Rai Italia America ESPN+ In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be streamed via Eleven Sports 1. UK TV channel Online stream N/A Eleven Sports 1 Squads & Team News Position Juventus players Goalkeepers Szczesny, Pinsoglio, Perin Defenders De Sciglio, Chiellini, Benatia, Bonucci, Cancelo, Rugani, Sandro, Barzagli Midfielders Pjanic, Matuidi, Can, Bentancur, Bernardeschi, Spinazzola, Khedira Forwards Ronaldo, Dybala, Costa, Cuadrado, Mandzukic Juventus have seen Sami Khedira return to regular training this week, but it is too early for the midfielder to see action.Joao Cancelo and Juan Cuadrado remain the key injury problems for the Turin giants.Juventus starting XI: Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala; Mandzukic, Ronaldo. Position Roma players Goalkeepers Olsen, Mirant Defenders Karsdorp, Pellegrini, Juan Jesus, Kolarov, Marcano, Santon, Fazio, Manolas Midfielders Cristante, Pellegrini, De Rossi, Coric, Zaniolo, Florenzi, Pastore, N’Zonzi Forwards Perotti, Dzeko, Schick, Cengiz Under, Kluivert, Celar, El Shaarawy Daniele De Rossi has been out since October with knee trouble and is missing once again. Edin Dzeko is fit enough to play some part, but only from the bench.Roma starting XI: Olsen; Santon, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Cristante, Nzonzi; Under, Zaniolo, Florenzi; Schick.Betting & Match Odds Juventus are 4/9 favourites with bet365 , while Roma can be backed at 9/1. A draw, meanwhile, is priced at 10/3.Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more. Match Preview It has been another thoroughly satisfactory week for Juventus, who lead Serie A by eight points over second-placed Napoli with a virtually unblemished record approaching their final match before Christmas.Star summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo proved the difference from the penalty spot as Torino were seen off 1-0 last weekend in a competitive local derby, while away from the field they have been heartened by Alex Sandro penning a new deal and Daniele Rugani closing in on one. Certainly, the Portuguese’s presence seems to have boosted spirits in the camp, with Moise Kean explaining to RMC : “I had only seen him on the PlayStation before! Playing with him has improved me a lot, I learn a lot from him as well as from the other champions with the Bianconeri.”Perhaps the only concern for Juve came in Monday’s Champions League draw, in which they were paired with Atletico Madrid, despite beating Manchester United to finish top of their pool.“We didn’t have much luck,” vice-chairman Pavel Nedved lamented.But Juve can worry about Atleti in February, particularly as they have a challenging Serie A match forthcoming against Roma.With only six wins from 16 league matches this season, Eusebio Di Francesco finds himself a man under pressure.They have conceded two goals in each of their last five outings in all competitions and had to twice come from behind to beat Genoa 3-2 at the Stadio Olimpico last weekend.“We have so much pressure on us that the wait for the next match has been really hard,” captain De Rossi explained. “We have a lot of pressure on our shoulders. We’re in a delicate period because we know we have to do better than we have been doing.“We are all under observation, including the coach, and we know it. We want to have a great match, more for ourselves than for the importance of the game. Against the strongest of them all.”A massive 22 points behind Juve, it is abundantly clear how daunting their task is.
Softly spoken and self-effacing almost to a fault, not even being crowned the world’s best player could inflate Luka Modric’s ego.The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner ended a decade of tyrannical domination of the award by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who had shared out equally – if not always uncontroversially – the last 10 awards. Modric, however, saw his triumph as a win for the ‘little guy’.“Nobody has the right to compare themselves to [Messi and Ronaldo] the Real Madrid star told France Football upon receiving his new prize. “They are the best in the history of this sport. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? “I am happy that someone normal is able to win the Ballon d’Or.”Do not be fooled by Modric’s diffidence, however. Beneath that unassuming exterior is a truly magnificent playmaker who fully deserves to have finished ahead of two footballing behemoths – a fact he underlined with a match-winning performance to crown Madrid world champions on Saturday.Santiago Solari’s men could have been forgiven for taking the Club World Cup final rather lightly. On the opposite side of the pitch were unheralded Al Ain, the local heroes in Abu Dhabi who had ejected Wellington, Esperance de Tunis and River Plate on the road to the decider but who were surely outmatched against the winners of the last three Champions League titles.Part of River’s downfall was underestimating that rival, though, and Madrid almost paid for the same mistake early on. A dreadful error from Marcelo just 12 minutes into the final sent Hussein El Shahat bursting through on goal and only Sergio Ramos’ miraculous stop on the line stopped the favourites going behind after Al Ain’s dangerman had danced past a flailing Thibaut Courtois.That near-miss was a show of the absent-mindedness and apparent lack of focus that has hurt Madrid time and again in this desperately disappointing start to the season. Luckily for the Liga side, they had an ace up their sleeve in the shape of their Croatian genius.Minutes after Ramos’ intervention Modric was given an inch of space on the edge of the Al Ain box. He does not need much more. The midfielder whipped the ball past goalkeeper Eisa with an unstoppable effort, a near-mirror image of the strike that finished off Argentina in this summer’s World Cup as this time round he opted to use his left boot.From that point onwards, and despite another scare when the brilliant Caio scooped over Courtois’ head only to be called back for a marginal offside, the game was Madrid’s to lose.In the second half Marcos Llorente stepped up to take a leaf out of Modric’s and fire home a cracking volley, his first-ever Madrid goal effectively ending the final as a contest. Modric stepped up once again with a perfect corner to allow Ramos to extend the scoreline, before Al Ain grabbed a late consolation. An even later own goal meant that Madrid ran out 4-1 winners.After all the strife of the last few months, the Merengue received some welcome breathing space in the shape of silverware as Solari takes his first trophy in the hotseat. What is clear is that this team, dishevelled as it has been recently, still depend heavily on their No. 10, who once more has responded when it most counts.Perhaps Modric does not have the scintillating natural talent of Messi (but then who does?) or Ronaldo’s irrepressible eye for goal. But the facts speak for themselves. At 33 he continues to pull the strings in the team that have been crowned European and world champions for the last three years. He shows no sign of slowing down.When his heroics in leading unfancied Croatia to the World Cup final are taken into consideration there can be no doubt that he was the right man for the Ballon d’Or, a feat only made more exceptional by the fact he overthrew those two monsters to take the prize. Those who gripe and moan about the decision, often on social media with avatars depicting one of the pair above, miss the point about what these awards are supposed to signify.To put it simply, Modric was the outstanding star of the past 12 months, bringing his game to new heights to lead Madrid to further silverware and Croatia to the brink of glory. Like Andres Iniesta before him, he cannot be judged solely on goals, assists and other dry statistics; watching him glide across the pitch and making his side tick is a work of art that needs no numerical support.Perhaps one can only fault his own perceptions of himself, particularly when it comes to speaking to reporters. Normal? There is absolutely nothing normal about Modric and his marvellous 2018.
Juventus dealt a fresh blow to Eusebio Di Francesco’s job security in a routine 1-0 win over an outclassed Roma at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.Champions League semi-finalists last season, Roma have been a shadow of their former selves this term and were no match for the Serie A champions despite the narrow final scoreline.Mario Mandzukic’s commanding header, his eighth league goal of the campaign, gave Juve a deserved half-time lead and they were rarely troubled in restoring an eight-point gap to second-placed Napoli, who earlier beat SPAL 1-0. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Robin Olsen’s string of stellar saves ultimately achieved little more than keeping the score down as the under-pressure Di Francesco was left to defend a run of just one victory in seven competitive matches.How did you celebrate this moment from @MarioMandzukic9? #JuveRoma #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve pic.twitter.com/QdEqdHOq11— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 22, 2018Roma encountered intense early pressure and only an in-form Olsen prevented them from slipping to an earlier deficit.The Sweden goalkeeper brilliantly denied Alex Sandro in the seventh minute and was at his athletic best in turning a Cristiano Ronaldo shot around the upright.His saves only prolonged the inevitable as Juve’s opener arrived in the 35th minute, Mandzukic towering above Davide Santon and heading in Mattia De Sciglio’s cross.Ronaldo must have felt a sense of deja vu when Olsen frustrated him with two fine saves in quick succession prior to the hour, causing the Portugal attacker to kick out at the post in irritation.Massimiliano Allegri’s men twice had late goals disallowed on their way to sealing a record 16th victory in 17 Serie A fixtures. Giorgio Chiellini was adjudged to have fouled the Giallorossi goalkeeper, before substitute Douglas Costa’s stoppage-time strike was overturned on VAR due to Blaise Matuidi’s crude challenge on Nicolo Zaniolo in the build-up.What does it mean? Di Francesco in dangerThe goodwill Roma boss Di Francesco built up during an excellent 2017-18 campaign could soon evaporate if results do not turn.There are just two points separating his team and 12th-placed Parma after 17 matches, with considerable January investment seemingly the only antidote to a sub-par run of results.Brilliant Bentancur makes seamless comebackRodrigo Bentancur returned to Juve’s starting XI following a one-match suspension and got straight back to dominating the midfield.Though still only 21, the midfielder is a key cog for Allegri and demonstrated as such by topping the match count for tackles while rarely wasting possession.Santon switches offGranted, there was a mismatch in size at the far post, but Roma needed right-back Santon to be more than a mere step ladder for Mandzukic’s opener.The former Newcastle United defender paid the price for not assessing his surroundings and his regular turnovers impeded Roma’s attempts to rescue a result.Key Opta Facts- Juventus have gained 49 points in the first 17 games of the season – a joint-record in the top five European leagues.- Juve have also won 31 league games in 2018, more than any other team in the top five European leagues.- Ronaldo was responsible for 10 of his team’s 20 shots in this game.What’s next?Both clubs are back in action on December 26 as Juve head to mid-table Atalanta and Roma entertain Sassuolo. read more
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told his players to “be Manchester United” before their rousing 5-1 win against Cardiff on Saturday.Jesse Lingard scored twice to add to goals from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial at the Cardiff City Stadium as United put on an electrifying performance to blow away the cobwebs that had collected during the final sorry weeks of Jose Mourinho’s reign.Caretaker boss Solskjaer, installed until the end of the season after the Portuguese was sacked on Tuesday, restored Paul Pogba to the starting line-up after the World Cup winner was left out of Mourinho’s team for last weekend’s 3-1 capitulation to Liverpool, and he wasted little time in re-finding the form that once made him the most expensive player in world football. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? And the Norwegian revealed after the game that he has received advice from United’s record goal-scorer Wayne Rooney on how to re-ignite the attacking energy that been lost under the Portuguese.“Football is easy if you’ve got good players,” Solskjaer told BT Sport . “They are a great bunch of players and their quality is unbelievable.”I arrived on Wednesday night and only had Thursday and Friday with the players. Wayne Rooney texted me and gave me some advice – so it must be down to him! He told me to make them play football, enjoy themselves and be Manchester United.”United impressed on all fronts going forward, and their dominance was threatened only briefly when Victor Camasara’s penalty pegged them back to 2-1 midway through the first half.It was in stark contrast to the lifelessness of the team’s final performances under Mourinho – United had gone into the game with the fewest goals scored of any side in the top six and more goals conceded than 15th-place Newcastle.”We had a session yesterday about patterns of play and we wanted Ashley Young and Luke Shaw to push on more,” said Solskjaer. “It worked out well today.”Your work-rate is the easiest thing to work on. It is free. It is the attitude and application of the boys.”If we approach all the games like this – and we want them to approach them all like this – with combination play and playing the ball forward then I’ll be happy.”The foundation was in the defending today. I thought the two centre-backs and two full-backs were brilliant today.”
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri labelled Mario Mandzukic “extraordinary” after the forward struck again against Roma on Saturday. Mandzukic’s first-half goal was enough for Juve to claim a 1-0 win, marking their 16th victory in 17 Serie A games. The Croatian has now scored in his last three home games for Juve, and in total has netted six goals in front of the Bianconeri faithful in 2018-19 – both personal season bests. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? He also broke his duck against Roma, against whom he had never previously scored in the teams’ Serie A bouts. The Croatian is already up to eight league goals for Juve this season – bettering his previous two campaigns – and Allegri hailed the forward. “Mario is a key player. His combination of technical and physical attributes make him an extraordinary player,” he said. Allegri also praised Paulo Dybala after Juve retained an eight-point lead atop the table. “Paulo fared well too. He allowed us to bring the ball out of our half,” he said.How did you celebrate this moment from @MarioMandzukic9 ? #JuveRoma #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve pic.twitter.com/QdEqdHOq11 — JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 22, 2018 The result put further pressure on Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco, whose team slipped to 10th in the table. Di Francesco was pleased with the way his team finished the game, although he rued their first half. “In the first 45 minutes we saw the same fear and insecurity of recent games, but after the break we overcame that,” he said. “We battled with determination and used the ball a lot better.” The result keeps the Juve eight points clear of Napoli, who beat SPAL 1-0, at the top, while Roma languish in 10th place. And the win saw Juventus set a couple of records along the way, including matching the best start for any team in the top five European leagues. They’ll have a chance to improve that record before the close of the year with two matches still on tap. They’ll play Atalanta on Boxing Day before closing out their 2018 schedule with a clash against Sampdoria on Decemeber 29.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has admitted that former star Cristiano Ronaldo is “irreplaceable” at the club, but challenged his team-mates to pick up the baton in the wake of the Portuguese’s exit.The 33-year-old left Madrid for Juventus in July following a long and illustrious career with Los Blancos, with his departure coinciding with the exit of manager Zinedine Zidane.While the Champions League holders subsequently struggled to cope, with former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui fired following only a few months at the helm as the Frenchman’s replacement, they have since stabilised since Santiago Solari took the helm. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? The former academy coach secured his first trophy this weekend with a 4-1 win over Al Ain in the Club World Cup final on Saturday, to ensure silverware for another season.Speaking to reporters, goalkeeper Courtois, who joined ahead of the campaign from Premier League giants Chelsea, stated that he believes it is up to the other key forwards to carry the goalscoring burden going forward.Karim Benzema has managed 11 so far this season, with Welshman Gareth Bale overcoming a rough patch to sit one behind that tally with 10.“Cristiano Ronaldo is irreplaceable, you cannot forget what he did,” Courtois said.“But he is not here anymore, so it’s time for other players, like Bale did in the semi-finals [of the Club World Cup], to score the goals he [Ronaldo] used to score.“If we are able to do so, it’ll be fine.”Madrid’s victory over Al Ain assured them a third successive Club World Cup title in a row and means that the trophy will return to Spain for the fifth time in a row.Los Blancos previously defeated Japan’s Kashima Antlers in 2016 and Brazil’s Gremio in 2017, following their respective Champions League triumphs.They also claimed the crown in 2014, against Argentina’s San Lorenzo, while rivals Barcelona prevailed victoriously in 2015 against River Plate.Solari’s side sit fourth in La Liga, eight points behind the Catalan club, though they do have a game in hand.They do not play again until 2019 though, when they make the trip to Villarreal on January 3.
Tottenham produced a devastating display of attacking football as Son Heung-min and Harry Kane inspired the 6-2 hammering of Everton in a Premier League Christmas cracker, moving Spurs to within two points of Manchester City.The past week had been dominated by speculation linking Mauricio Pochettino with the Manchester United manager’s job, and Spurs’ attack-minded showing at Goodison Park showed exactly why the Argentinian is a front-runner.A thrilling first half started positively for Everton and they went ahead through former Arsenal man Theo Walcott, but they gifted Son an equaliser, and Dele Alli and Kane made things worse before the break. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Fine goals from Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson came early in the second half as the entertainment value continued to grow, but Son and Kane got their second goals in the final 30 minutes to emphatically finish the Toffees off.Walcott put Everton ahead 21 minutes in, rounding off a well-worked move by slamming home Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s cut-back.But they soon shot themselves in the foot, as Kurt Zouma and Jordan Pickford collided when trying to deal with Kane’s long pass and Son converted into an empty net.Alli netted in the 35th minute to move Spurs in front, drilling a fierce strike in from just inside the area after Pickford parried a Son strike.And Kane opened a two-goal lead just before the break, knocking into an open goal when Kieran Trippier’s free-kick came back off the post.Spurs continued to look rampant at the start of the second period – Eriksen finding the bottom-right corner with a gorgeous 20-yard volley.But Everton swiftly hit back through Sigurdsson, whose solo run ended with a smart finish from the edge of the box.The hosts’ chances were effectively ended in the 61st minute, however – Son sweeping through Pickford’s legs when released by Erik Lamela.Kane rounded things off late on, turning in Son’s cross to complete the crushing of Everton and give the visitors their first points of the season from a losing position. Technique: #COYS pic.twitter.com/AReN1M9Dxt— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 23, 2018What does it mean? Spurs hot on City’s heelsSpurs have hardly been mentioned at all with respect to the title race this term, but not only does Sunday’s result see them close to within just two points of City, it highlighted just how ruthless they can be in attack. If Kane – who has now scored in a brace in each of his last four appearances against Everton – and Son carry on like this, Liverpool might just have another team to keep an eye on.Son shines brightEveryone in Spurs’ attack and midfield impressed at Goodison, but Son was particularly effective, with his movement and ability on the ball constantly troubling Everton’s defence. On top of that, he got two goals and an assist in an all-round excellent showing.A day to forget for PickfordEngland’s goalkeeper will want to move on quickly from this showing, as he played a pivotal role in Spurs’ equaliser, parrying the ball straight to Alli for their second and was bailed out by the offside flag when he clattered into his international team-mate with an ugly challenge just before half-time.Key Opta Facts- Tottenham have won nine of their 11 Premier League away games this season – only in three completed seasons in the competition have they won more (10 in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2017-18).- This was the third time Everton conceded six goals in a Premier League home game, with all of those coming against London clubs (1-6 vs Arsenal in August 2009, 3-6 vs Chelsea in August 2014).- This was the fourth time Tottenham have scored six or more goals in a Premier League away game, with three of those coming in the last three seasons, and twice against a side managed by Marco Silva.- Under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham have won more games (18) and more points (70) from losing positions than any other side in the Premier League.- Tottenham’s Harry Kane has scored in nine different Premier League games this season – no player has scored in more (level with Mohamed Salah).What’s next?Everton’s Boxing Day outing sees them travel to struggling Burnley, while Spurs host a Bournemouth side boosted by Saturday’s 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion. read more
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must influence Manchester United’s future transfer dealings, according to former defender Gary Neville.The interim boss made the perfect start to life back at Old Trafford with a 5-1 win over Cardiff City, to end a week which included Jose Mourinho’s sacking.Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane are reportedly being lined up by the United hierarchy to take over on a long-term basis. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Solskjaer does have an agreement in place to stay on if his six-month spell in charge is a success but regardless of whether he remains, Neville says the Norwegian has a major role to play.”Ole’s job in the next six months is to be head coach, head scout, head of recruitment and making sure he feeds back really good information into the recruitment department of what the club needs,” he told Sky Sports’ Gary Neville Podcast of his former team-mate.”My concern over the last three to four years is who has been signing the players. “That needs cleaning up and I am certain the club in the next six months will appoint the right people who are best in class to run that side of things.”Manchester United have to start getting it right otherwise they will struggle, but it was a good start yesterday.”Having never managed to score five times in any of Mourinho’s 144 games in charge, United reached the landmark in the opening 90 minutes of Solskjaer’s tenure.Though United showed a greater amount of freedom in their first game since the exit of the Portuguese boss, Neville insists the 19-time English champions are far from out of the woods.He added: “The hard work starts now for United. Anybody who thinks sacking Jose Mourinho is the answer, it is not, the hard work starts now and I am sure the people in the club are wise enough and knowledgeable to know that.”There was an immediate bounce and impact from Ole, however it was Cardiff and we need to see if they can do it over six months.”If they can do that then they will get the opportunity to play for the club next season. “If they do it over six games and then drop back they won’t play for the club next season.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Gareth Southgate insists he has had no offers to leave England and return to club management.The 48-year-old enjoyed a memorable 2018, leading the Three Lions to the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990 before sealing a spot in the inaugural Nations League Finals, being held next year.Those achievements saw him awarded the BBC Sports Personality Coach of the Year prize earlier this month. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Southgate’s efforts saw him linked as a possible long-term replacement for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer only in charge of the Red Devils on a caretaker basis.However, the former Middlesbrough manager, who signed a new four-year deal with England in October, has not been given any reason to quit his post with the national team.”I think at the moment that’s very easy: I don’t have anything to consider,” he told Sky Sports when asked about possible interest from club teams. “We’ve just had our best year in about the last 28 years, we’re in another semi-final next summer and I signed a new contract three months ago.”I’m incredibly proud to be the England manager and I’ve the opportunity to lead England into a European Championship where so many of the matches are at Wembley, so for me it’s a very simple situation at the moment.”Cheeky flicks Free-kicks Long-rangers Back-heeled lobs Watch the best #YoungLions goals from 2018: https://t.co/WAl8eN0wX6 pic.twitter.com/tydgJsfDat— England (@England) December 21, 2018
The news cycle this week was dominated by Manchester United, who sacked manager Jose Mourinho, and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, who has seemingly been chosen by everyone as the best fit to replace the Portuguese manager. Those two clubs did little to shake the spotlight this weekend either as both dominated their opposition, scoring five or more goals.Four players, two from each of those clubs, were involved in at least three goals on the pitch, and each of them were able to secure a spot in our Goal Team of the Week. You can find out who, and the other best performers of the week below. GK: Ben Foster – Watford – 1 Game, 7 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 PointsDEF: Virgil Van Dijk – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Van Dijk’s ability in defence is well established but, all of a sudden, he’s becoming a threat in attack as well. Having never been involved in more than three goals in a Premier League season, the Dutchman has now been involved in three in just the last five matches (1g, 2a). Whether or not he will be able to keep up this rate of production remains to be seen but, considering the rate at which Liverpool are keeping clean sheets, Van Dijk is a must own regardless.DEF: Jose Holebas – Watford – 1 Game, 1 Clean Sheet = 7 PointsDEF: Nathan Ake – Bournemouth – 1 Game, 1 Clean Sheet = 7 PointsMID: Son Heung-Min – Tottenham – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 2 Assists = 20 PointsA massive two goal, two assist performance from Son not only ensured his side the win, but also was enough to see him crowned our Goal Fantasy Player of the Week. While it would be hard to expect anyone to regularly put up these kinds of numbers, the South Korean international has suddenly become a consistent and reliable Fantasy asset, having scored or assisted in every start since October.There is always a risk of rotation from Pochettino, but in our game you can wait until lineups are announced to set yours, making Son wholly viable going forward.MID: Jesse Lingard – Manchester United – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 17 PointsMID: David Brooks – Bournemouth – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 PointsMID: Paul Pogba – Manchester United – 1 Game, 3 Assists = 11 Points Well, that’s certainly one way to impress your new manager. After months of disappointment and underperformance under Jose Mourinho, Pogba put on a creative masterclass this week, posting three assists in Manchester United’s 5-1 win against Cardiff. That is the most assists anyone has recorded in a single Premier League match thus far this season.Considering he also ranks top five in shots on target, Pogba could be about to bounce back in a big way both on the pitch and in Fantasy.MID: Nathan Redmond – Southampton – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 PointsFOR: Harry Kane – Tottenham – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 15 PointsHarry Kane has absolutely tormented Everton over the past few years, having now scored a brace in his last four outings against the Toffees. The rest of the league hasn’t fared much better against the Englishman of late either, as he’s had six goals and four assists in the last 10 matches, re-establishing himself as an elite Fantasy forward. With four bottom 10 defences in his next five matches, Kane is a must own over the winter period.FOR: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Arsenal have confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has a metatarsal fracture and is expected to return to training in six weeks.The Armenia international has featured sporadically for Unai Emery’s side thus far this season, making 14 Premier League appearances but completing 90 minutes just six times.He has scored four goals and provided one assist domestically, however. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Mkhitaryan played the first half of the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in the League Cup, but was substituted at half-time and was subsequently missing from the Premier League clash with Burnley.The 29-year-old received treatment following a tackle from Lucas Moura in the 30th minute but saw out the rest of the half.However, Mkhitaryan sat out the Gunners’ 3-1 victory over Burnley on Saturday and is not anticipated to return until February.The midfielder will miss clashes with Premier League leaders Liverpool and Chelsea, while Arsenal’s meeting with Manchester City on February 3 is likely to come too soon.Unai Emery’s defensive troubles continue with Nacho Monreal a doubt to face Brighton and Hove Albion on Boxing Day due to a right hamstring issue that forced him off in the first half against Burnley.However, Shkodran Mustafi is expected to return to full training this week, having missed Arsenal’s last four outings due to a hamstring injury.The Gunners are currently fifth in the Premier League, though they sit level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea, with only goal difference separating the two teams.They are, however, 11 points behind league leaders Liverpool. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Sacred Games 2 (Netflix): Based on Vikram Chandra’s best-selling novel, ‘Sacred Games’ is a cop drama around Sartaj and Ganesh Gaitonde. The much awaited second season of the series has been announced.Mirzapur 2 (Amazon Prime): An Indian crime thriller web series, Mirzapur revolves around drugs, guns, and lawlessness. Left on a cliffhanger for viewers, Mirzapur has a lot more to reveal in its next season.Inside Edge 2 (Amazon Prime): Inside Edge is an Indian-American web television series based on a fictional T20 cricket team. The second season is confirmed, but the dates have not been revealed yet. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainBreathe 2 (Amazon Prime): Eight episodes of the first season explore the lives of ordinary men who face extraordinary circumstances. If you haven’t seen the first part yet, binge watch it before the second one comes.Damaged 2 (Hungama): A psychological crime drama, ‘Damaged’ is India’s first ground-breaking show about a female serial killer. There are a lot of factors which make the show thrilling. Just wait for the second season to come.
London: Former One Direction member Louis Tomlinson believes the group will reunite at some point in future. The popular British boy band, featuring Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Liam Payne, went on an hiatus in March 2016 with an aim to focus on their individual careers. ”I do think it will happen. I’d certainly have something to say about it if it didn’t. I think it’s inevitable. When is the big question. That’s something none of us really know the answer to at the moment. Also Read – ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ has James Cameron’s fingerprints all over it: Arnold Schwarzenegger”I feel like what’s most important is that when we do get back together, we’re all on the same page and we’ve all done what we want to do individually. That’s vitally important for when we get back,” Tomlinson told Independent Television News. The singer added that he is ”really proud” of his time in the boy band. ”When I look back on ‘One Direction’ and the memories that we had, it’s only incredible memories. I think we got to a place musically, especially on the last two albums, that we felt really proud of. We started off as a boy band and where we ended up musically was a very different place. I’m really proud of those times, definitely.”
GENEVA – The UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will on Saturday visit Egypt as he kicks off a regional tour to prepare for peace talks on Syria dubbed Geneva 2, his spokesman said.Brahimi will meet Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy as well as the Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi, spokesman Khawla Mattar said in Geneva on Friday.The rest of his schedule is uncertain due to various governments being on holiday because of the main Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, but Mattar said “the tour will cover several countries of the region”. This will include visits to Damascus and Tehran.The international community has for months been pushing Syria’s rebels and the regime to participate in talks on a negotiated solution to the conflict, which has killed an estimated 115,000 people since March 2011.Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said proposed peace talks in Geneva could take place on November 23-24.However Mattar said the date for the long awaited peace conference will be announced by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “in due time”.She said the meeting was likely to place in the “second half of November”.Prospects for the Geneva 2 conference remain unclear, with the Syrian opposition divided and due to vote next week on whether to take part.