Chelsea host Leicester City in their final match before Christmas on Saturday as they aim to further cement their place in the top four.Maurizio Sarri’s side were boosted by their qualification for the Carabao Cup semi-finals in midweek, with a late goal from Eden Hazard enough to see off Bournemouth in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.The Blues bounced back from the disappointment of an away loss to Wolves earlier this month by winning their last two league encounters against Manchester City and Brighton. 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? Leicester were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, however, after losing to Pep Guardiola’s Man City on penalties.The Foxes have failed to win any of their last three league matches and fell to a 1-0 defeat away at Crystal Palace last weekend, a result which saw them slip to 12th in the table.The last Premier League encounter between these two sides at Stamford Bridge ended in a 0-0 draw last January. Game Chelsea vs Leicester Date Saturday, December 22 Time 3:00pm GMT / 10:00am 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 NBCSN fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be shown live as it will be played during the blackout period. UK TV channel Online stream N/A N/A Squads & Team News Position Chelsea players Goalkeepers Arrizabalaga, Caballero, Green Defenders Azpilicueta, Zappacosta, Rudiger, Luiz, Cahill, Ampadu, Emerson Midfielders Fabregas, Jorginho, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic Forwards Willian, Pedro, Hazard, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Morata Eden Hazard continues in a central striking role for Chelsea after picking up one goal and three assists in his last two appearances in that position.Centre-back Andreas Christensen was forced off with a hamstring injury against Bournemouth and Maurizio Sarri instead picks David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger at centre-back.Alvaro Morata has returned to training after recovering from a twisted knee, but he is not even on the bench.Possible Chelsea starting XI: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Hazard, Willian. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Giroud. Position Leicester players Goalkeepers Schmeichel, Ward, Jakupovic Defenders Simpson, Pereira, Morgan, Soyuncu, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Fuchs Midfielders Iborra, Silva, Mendy, Ndidi, Choudhury, Albrighton, Maddison, Diabate, Gray, Ghezzal Forwards Vardy, Okazaki, Ihenacho Jamie Vardy returns to the Leicester XI having been rested against Manchester City in midweek.There had been concerns over the fitness of Ben Chilwell and Wilfred Ndidi, who are both struggling with knee injuries and are likely to face late fitness tests, but both are deemed fit to start.Matty James and Daniel Amartey remain out.Possible Leicester starting XI: Schmeichel; Ricardo, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Choudhury, Mendy, Ndidi, Albrighton; Maddison; Vardy. Subs: Ward, Fuchs, Evans, Iborra, Gray, Okazaki, Iheanacho.Betting & Match Odds Chelsea’s odds of winning are priced at 1/3 according to bet 365, while a draw is available at 9/2. A win for Leicester is priced at 10/1.Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more. Match Preview A win for Chelsea here would see them leapfog Spurs into third place for at least a day, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side not playing until Sunday.It would also be a great boost for Sarri’s side to cement their spot in the top four for Christmas, with the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League set to intensify during the second half of the season.There are also signs that star man Hazard is approaching his best form again after various injury issues in recent weeks. When asked whether he felt playing the Belgian as a forward could be a long-term solution, Sarri said: “I don’t know. I was sure about City in that position we could do a good match. Against Brighton I started to see this situation in different matches.”Now I want to see it against a team very compact, in low density. We have to see.”Claude Puel will know that his side must pick up some positive results over the festive period to avoid speculation over his own future at the club.It’s been a difficult season for the Foxes on and off the pitch, but with just one win in their last eight matches, Leicester will know that points on the board are a must over the coming weeks. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
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.
Andros Townsend scored a sensational goal-of-the-season contender as Crystal Palace dealt Manchester City’s Premier League title defence a body blow with a stunning 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium.City enjoyed a regal dominance up until Ilkay Gundogan’s 26th-minute opener but Jeffrey Schlupp levelled six minutes later before Townsend turned the contest on its head with an outstanding long-range volley.Luka Milivojevic increased City’s misery and delight at Anfield with a 51st-minute penalty that means Liverpool will celebrate Christmas with a four-point lead at the Premier League summit. 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? Kevin De Bruyne’s overhit cross sailed in five minutes from time but Pep Guardiola’s side were unable to undo the damage in the late rally that followed.Gundogan was involved alongside Bernardo Silva in carving through Palace for Leroy Sane to shoot wastefully into the side-netting in the 10th minute.The Germany midfielder showed his countryman how it was done when he eased into the box to head home Fabian Delph’s searching cross.Schlupp allowed Gundogan to run off him for the opener but more than atoned by shifting outside a tired Kyle Walker challenge and arrowing a strike into the bottom right corner.If that finish was impressive, Townsend’s remarkable goal 10 minutes before half-time was something else altogether as he put his left foot sweetly through an audacious volley, leaving Ederson with no [email protected]_townsend #MCICRY pic.twitter.com/Tu80gBXpMC— Premier League (@premierleague) December 22, 2018Pep Guardiola introduced City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero for centre-back Nicolas Otamendi early in the second half but the reshuffle led to confused defending as Townsend headed Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross against the post.Walker made a dreadfully rash challenge as Max Meyer sought to retrieve the rebound to concede a penalty and Milivojevic, who had a penalty saved by Ederson in a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park last season, made no mistake.City’s response was disjointed before Sane cracked the outside of the right post with a 77th-minute free-kick.De Bruyne’s freak goal then set nerves jangling and Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus spurned free-headed chances for Palace to hold on.What does it mean? Advantage LiverpoolThere is still a long way to go in the title race but City now have two defeats to set against Liverpool’s unbeaten record. Back-to-back away games are on the horizon and they cannot afford to lose any more ground before hosting Jurgen Klopp’s men in a blockbuster clash on January 3. The “can City be stopped?” fatalism of a couple of weeks ago now feels preposterous. Talking of fatalism, many Palace fans would have dismissed the notion of sitting six points clear of the drop zone at Christmas. Combative and composed Wan-Bissaka stars for PalaceTownsend will rightfully hog the headlines but Wan-Bissaka did much to enhance his burgeoning reputation, keeping the in-form Sane on a short leash and making a succession of brave challenges. The 21-year-old’s teasing cross also paved the way for Palace’s game-sealing third goal.Landmark 2018 takes toll on ragged WalkerA key figure in City’s record-breaking Premier League campaign last season and England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals, Walker looked to be running on empty as he was at fault for the two avoidable Palace goals. Danilo is back to fitness as an unused substitute and it feels like time for Guardiola to take an often excellent performer out of the firing line.Key Opta Facts- City have lost two of their last three Premier League games (W1) – as many as in their previous 61 combined.- Palace registered their first away league win at City since December 1990, having drawn three and lost nine since then before today.2010 – Roy Hodgson is the first English manager to win a Premier League game at the Etihad since Harry Redknapp in May 2010 (P39 W0 D3 L36, before today). Jungle. pic.twitter.com/Txlw2eKNVz— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018- This was City’s first home Premier League defeat against a non-big six side since February 2016, when they lost 1-3 to Leicester City under Manuel Pellegrini.- Townsend has scored 17 Premier League goals – with 10 of those coming from outside the box.- Since his Premier League debut, Milivojevic has scored 13 penalties – five more than any other player in that time.What’s nextGuardiola’s men travel to Leicester City on Boxing Day, a week on from winning a penalty shoot-out in the EFL Cup quarter-final at the King Power Stadium. Palace return to Selhurst Park for a potentially pivotal clash against Cardiff City. read more
Manchester United cruised to an impressive 5-1 Premier League victory over Cardiff City on Saturday in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match in charge.Three goals in the first half from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial and a brace from Jesse Lingard earned all three points at Cardiff City Stadium, with Victor Camaras’ penalty proving little consolation.United stay sixth in the table, but the manner of the performance, as well as the result – the first time the side have scored five times in the league since Alex Ferguson’s final game – will have been a welcome sight for the travelling fans at the end of a week that saw Jose Mourinho’s contentious time in charge come to an end. 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 new United era got off to a stunning start when Rashford blasted home a free-kick from 30 yards out that left goalkeeper Neil Etheridge rooted to the spot.Almost 81 per cent of possession underlined United’s early control, and the scoreline reflected their dominance when Herrera’s strike looped off Greg Cunningham’s shoulder and into the net 29 minutes in.Cardiff were gifted a lifeline when Camarasa fired high into the net from the spot, but United’s two-goal lead was restored three minutes later, when Martial slotted beneath Etheridge after a sublime one-touch passing move involving Lingard and Paul Pogba, restored to the starting line-up.3 – Man Utd have scored three first half goals in a Premier League away game for the first time since November 2017 v Watford. Reaction. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/ENU4COALZJ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018And any hope of a Cardiff comeback was promptly extinguished 11 minutes into the second half, when Lingard dispatched a confident penalty after he had been bundled to the ground by Sol Bamba.Pogba and Phil Jones were each denied by good Etheridge saves, while David de Gea kept out a good Kenneth Zohore attempt. It was 5-1 when Lingard rounded the keeper and slotted home from Pogba’s pass in the 90th minute to secure a first away league win since November 3 in style and give Solskjaer extra cause for celebration against the club he used the manage. 500/100 – Anthony Martial’s strike vs Cardiff was the 500th goal scored in the Premier League this season, in what was his 100th league game for Man Utd. Milestones. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/y8fs7lJ9En— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Solskjaer has lifted the gloom’You make me happy, when skies are grey’ goes the song sung in Solskjaer’s honour by United fans, and that certainly seems to be the case at the end of a week that started with Mourinho apparently looking likely to stay in the job.United looked liberated in south Wales, playing expressive, attacking football and scoring the goals to go with it, while much-maligned players like Victor Lindelof seemed to exude confidence.Yes, Cardiff were undeniably poor and, yes, United are still sixth, but this was a match where the manner of the performance was arguably more important for the visitors than the result itself.Lingard given a licence to thrillLingard epitomised the freedom with which United’s attacking players performed. His assist for Martial’s goal and his well-taken penalty were the high points of a display full of verve, and Cardiff never quite got to grips with him.Bumbling Bamba a burdenBamba was dispossessed too easily by Pogba in the build-up to Herrera’s goal, his clumsy foul allowed Lingard to make it 4-1 and he missed a good chance for a goal. It was not his finest outing.Key Opta Facts- Since Alex Ferguson left the club, four of the five different managers to take charge of Manchester United have seen their side score 3+ goals in their first Premier League game (Moyes 4, Mourinho 3, Giggs 4 and Solskjaer 5). – Cardiff manager Neil Warnock suffered his 50th Premier League defeat, in what was his 92nd game in the competition – only Mick McCarthy (79), Danny Wilson (87) and Gary Megson (91) have reached 50 defeats in fewer games managed.- Anthony Martial has been directly involved in 70 goals for Manchester United in all competitions (45 goals, 25 assists); the most of any player for the club since his debut in September 2015.- Manchester United’s third goal against Cardiff – scored by Anthony Martial – was the 500th netted in the Premier League this season. What’s next?Huddersfield Town visit Old Trafford for the first home game of the Solskjaer era, while Cardiff head to Crystal Palace, both on December 26. read more
Luka Modric’s wonderful goal helped seal Club World Cup history as Real Madrid beat Al Ain 4-1 to become the first team to win the tournament three years in a row.Santiago Solari’s first silverware since being appointed as Julen Lopetegui’s successor was set up by Modric’s first-half strike as Madrid comfortably triumphed in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, moving past rivals Barcelona with their fourth title in the competition.The Croatia midfielder, who added the Ballon d’Or crown to his World Cup Golden Ball this month, bent the opener into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards, with Marcos Llorente also drilling home from outside the box before a Sergio Ramos header extended Madrid’s lead. 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? Al Ain had a goal from Caio Fernandes ruled out for offside when they only trailed by one and Zoran Mamic’s side – who replied through an excellent Tsukasa Shiotani header – can be proud of their efforts on home soil as massive underdogs against the European champions, despite Madrid adding a late fourth through Yahia Nader’s own goal.The perfect way to cap off #TheBest year for @lukamodric10? He has @realmadriden in front in the #ClubWC final pic.twitter.com/VmlslWFoxG— #ClubWC (@FIFAcom) December 22, 2018Madrid hit the post in the third minute when Llorente got clear in the left channel, his cutback deflected on to the woodwork by fortunate defender Ismail Ahmed.Al Ain should have taken the lead when Marcelo’s mistake let in Hussein El Shahat but captain Ramos made a miraculous goal-line clearance to deny the winger, then Madrid nudged in front.Neat build-up play from Karim Benzema set up Modric and the Ballon d’Or winner curled home a beauty from 25 yards, Caio then seeing a rapid reply ruled out for offside.Benzema missed a brilliant chance to extend Madrid’s lead before goalkeeper Khalid Eisa made outstanding saves to deny both Gareth Bale and Modric before the break.Madrid effectively clinched the trophy in the 60th minute when a cleared corner fell kindly to Llorente, his thumping half-volley giving Eisa no chance and opening his professional account in some style.Ramos powered home a Modric corner to make certain of Madrid’s victory, celebrating the goal with unused substitute Isco, although Al Ain scored a deserved consolation through Shiotani with four minutes left.Madrid had the final say, though, as a cross from substitute Vinicius Jr was turned into his own goal by Nader in the first minute of stoppage time. WHAT A [email protected] pic.twitter.com/wsel09O91H— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Solari up and runningThis was not always completely convincing from Madrid, but they did not need to get out of second gear. Solari’s side left too many gaps at the back and more clinical opponents may have punished them, but the coach will be relieved to collect the first trophy of his reign.Modric the man of the moment There were few arguments about Modric ending Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance of the Ballon d’Or and he ended 2018 on another high note. His opening goal was superbly struck and the midfielder also forced a scrambling save from Eisa with a stunning volley as well as crossing for Ramos’ goal.Madrid survive Benzema’s baffling missRonaldo’s sale to Juventus meant Benzema would have to hugely increase his meagre goalscoring returns from last season to address the deficit. But the former France striker has struggled to step up, with an atrocious miss from Lucas Vazquez’s cross particularly worrying. Benzema – who has six league goals this season – did set up Modric’s opener, yet he is ultimately in the Madrid team to score goals, not make them.Key Opta Facts- Madrid have won the Club World Cup four times (2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018), surpassing Barcelona (2009, 2011 and 2015) to become the competition’s most successful team.- Solari is the first Argentinian manager to win the Club World Cup. The previous five Argentinians to manage in a Club World Cup final lost the game, all in charge of teams from South America.- Madrid captain Ramos is the third player to score in different Club World Cup finals, after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.What’s next?Madrid can enjoy a brief break before returning to LaLiga action at Villarreal on January 3. read more
Inter missed the chance to significantly strengthen their grip on a Champions League place as a stoppage-time equaliser saw them held to a 1-1 draw at Serie A’s bottom club Chievo.Luciano Spalletti’s men were presented with an opportunity to increase the gap between themselves and fifth-placed AC Milan, who were beaten 1-0 at home by Fiorentina earlier on Saturday.The visitors were never at their best, but looked set to claim all three points thanks to Ivan Perisic’s close-range 39th-minute strike, which marked his first league goal since September. 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? However, a Chievo side that offered scant resistance provided a late sting in the tail thanks to Sergio Pellissier as the captain dinked over Samir Handanovic, meaning third-placed Inter are just six points clear of Milan in the fifth.112 & 33 – Ivan #Perisic has found the net in Serie A after 112 days and 33 shots his previous one. Recover. #ChievoInter pic.twitter.com/J7OuWfV38f— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 22, 2018Chievo forced Handanovic into action in the first minute, the Inter goalkeeper dealing with an awkward bounce after Riccardo Meggiorini let fly with a long-range volley.Inter slowly took control of the game and only a fine reaction save from Stefano Sorrentino prevented him from turning home Danilo D’Ambrosio’s left-wing cross.Mauro Icardi and D’Ambrosio were involved as Inter broke the deadlock, though, combining down the left to set up Perisic to lash Inter into a lead that should have been doubled when Joao Mario shot wide from the Croatia international’s low delivery.Excellent build-up between Perisic and Icardi ended with the latter thwarted again by Sorrentino at the near post before a rare threatening Chievo attack saw Handanovic brilliantly turn Pellissier’s effort behind.It was Perisic who appeared the most likely to add to Inter’s tally in a game that always looked in hand, but his inability to do so proved costly as Mariusz Stepinski headed on for Pellissier to earn Chievo’s fifth point of a miserable season.| FT Chievo 1-1 InterIt ends all square here in Verona. #ChievoInter pic.twitter.com/n69wqUgLaN— Inter (@Inter_en) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Inferior foe again troubles Inter An inability to beat inferior opposition was Inter’s undoing in the Champions League as a 1-1 draw with PSV saw them knocked out, and that failing reared its head again as their defence was breached at the last. Worryingly for Spalletti, who saw penalty claims for a challenge on Borja Valero rejected by VAR late on, a much tougher test lies in wait.D’Ambrosio a delight Inter’s main threat came down the left from full-back D’Ambrosio, whose lack of a test defensively gave him the freedom to create the opener and set Icardi up for his first-half chance, which would have been decisive had it been taken.Joao Mario makes a meal of it Joao Mario had to stretch to meet Perisic’s centre on the stroke of half-time, but he still had the goal at his mercy from close range and should have found the net. Instead, his miss was one of many chances Inter will reflect on after dropping points to Serie A’s worst team.Key Opta Facts- Inter have failed to win any of their last four away Serie A games (2D 2L).- Chievo are unbeaten under Di Carlo in Serie A current season (5D).- Ivan Perisic found the net in Serie A some 112 days and 33 shots after his previous one.What’s next? An enticing and crucial clash awaits Inter at San Siro on Wednesday when Napoli are the visitors. Chievo travel to take on Sampdoria on the same day. read more
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has opened his Manchester United reign with the club’s most productive attacking performance in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson.The Red Devils have endured a rather humbling fall from grace since an iconic manager slipped into retirement back in 2013.David Moyes struggled to fill the shoes of a fellow Scot, while Louis van Gaal won few admirers with his brand of 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? Jose Mourinho briefly threatened to return former glories to Old Trafford, as he landed three trophies in his debut campaign, but the Portuguese soon lost his Midas touch.He was relieved of his managerial duties earlier this week, with Solskjaer appointed in his place on an interim basis through to the end of the season.The Norwegian saw his tenure get off to a dream start on Saturday as United swept to a 5-1 victory over Cardiff .Marcus Rashford set the tone with an opening goal inside three minutes , and the Red Devils did not look back from there.Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, who bagged a brace, also got in on the act against the Bluebirds.Not since Ferguson’s final game in charge over five years ago have United been so prolific in the final third, with Solskjaer laying down an impressive early marker as he seeks to follow in the footsteps of a coach he tasted Treble success under in 1999.5 – Man Utd have scored 5+ goals in a Premier League game for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match in charge in May 2013 versus West Brom (5-5). Gunnar. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/uc9jYCKv0C — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018 United and Solskjaer still have plenty of work to do if they are to salvage their season, but they could not have got a new era off to a better start.They remain sixth in the Premier League table for now, but belief and positivity is flooding back.An eight-point gap will need to be bridged if they are to force their way back into the top four, but that challenge now looks slightly less daunting.This is, however, not the first time that a United boss has burst out of the blocks.In fact, four of the five men to have taken the reins since Ferguson left have enjoyed goal-laden openings.Moyes saw United hit four on his bow, Mourinho three, Ryan Giggs four during a brief spell as caretaker and Solskjaer now has five to his name.The Red Devils will be looking to prove that their performance in South Wales was no flash in the pan, while building further momentum, when they play host to Huddersfield on Boxing Day. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
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.
Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane praised Virgil van Dijk for his impact at the club, saying the Dutchman had proven to be one of the world’s best defenders.Van Dijk was signed by Liverpool from Southampton for a reported £75million in January, putting him under pressure to deliver.But the 27-year-old has starred under Jurgen Klopp, whose team hold a four-point lead atop the Premier League. 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? Mane, who has seven league goals and an assist this season, said Van Dijk’s fee had been forgotten thanks to his performances.”It’s been a big, big impact. We’ve all seen it. Of course at the time he signed people were thinking that the club had overpaid for Virgil,” he told reporters.”But since then everyone has forgotten about the fee because his form has been so good.”He’s done such a great job for us back there. I am so happy to have him as a team-mate.”He’s one of the leaders. You can see it in every single game. He has proved he’s one of the best defenders in the world.”Passion. pic.twitter.com/wLAObDoa5P — Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 22, 2018 Van Dijk scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool during their 2-0 win over Wolves on Friday and Mane was quick to top fun at his team-mate. “I said to Virgil: ‘Finally, you have scored in the Premier League for us!’” Mane joked.“It had been a long time. Everyone is happy for him and he’s such a good player that I’m sure that more goals will follow for him.”Liverpool got a bit of help on Saturday with Crystal Palace taking a win over Manchester City, and Jurgen Klopp’s men now hold a four-point lead atop the Premier League. They’ll be back in action quickly, with Newcastle up next on Boxing Day and a clash with Arsenal to come on December 29 to close out 2018. Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web