Sanchez completes United swap move

Alexis Sanchez has completed his transfer to Manchester United with Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving in the opposite direction to Arsenal.

The 29-year-old Chile international forward, Sanchez, who almost joined Manchester City in the summer before the deal broke down late in the transfer window, has penned a four-and-a-half year deal at Old Trafford.

Sanchez, who scored 80 goals in 165 appearances during his time at the Emirates Stadium, will wear the famous number seven shirt at United.

On completion of the deal, the former Barcelona man told the United official website: "I am thrilled to be joining the biggest club in the world. I have spent three-and-a-half wonderful years at Arsenal and I bring with me very positive memories of that great club and its fans.

"The chance to play in this historic stadium and to work with Jose Mourinho was something I could not turn down.

"I am very proud to be the first Chilean player ever to play for United's first team and I hope I can show our fans all around the world why the club wanted to bring me here."

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Armenia international, Mkhitaryan, is delighted to join Arsenal on a three-and-a-half-year deal after scoring 13 goals in 63 appearances for United since joining from Borussia Dortmund for £26.3million in July 2016.

"I'm very happy that we could finish this deal and I'm very happy to be here," he said. "It's a dream come true because I've always dreamed of playing for Arsenal.

"Now that I'm here, I’ll do my best for this club to create history."

United are 6/4 to win the Premier League without Manchester City, while Arsenal are priced at 11/2 to secure a top-four finish.

Carrick to call it quits – Mourinho

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says Michael Carrick will retire at the end of the season and join the club's coaching staff.

The 36-year-old has only made one appearance for the Red Devils this term and has since been on the sidelines having been diagnosed with an irregular heart rhythm.

The ex-England midfielder has only recently returned to training having undergone a procedure to correct the problem and Mourinho has indicated he will be part of the first-team squad once up to full speed.

However, this will be the midfielder's last season as a player, Mourinho revealing that United have made an offer for him to take up a first-team coaching role come the end of the campaign.

"The club would be very happy for him to do that. I would be very happy also for him to do that," Mourinho said.

"I expect him to join," he added.

"[He had] a few months without even training so now he is in his second week of training with the team. He is a very important player for us.

"I think it is a good decision for the team and a good decision for him to finish playing football and not injured or with some problem."

Carrick made the move to Old Trafford from Tottenham in 2006 and has gone on to win five Premier League titles, the Champions League, one FA Cup, three League Cups, the Europa League and Club World Cup.

Carrick will hope he can add to his haul this season with United currently 9/2 to win the FA Cup.

The Red Devils are in Premier League action on Saturday when they travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley.

Mourinho's men are 3/5 for the win while the Clarets are 6/1 and the draw 29/10.

Dyche confirms Walters woe

Burnley boss Sean Dyche fears that veteran striker Jon Walters will not be able to return to action until mid-March.

The 34-year-old, who moved to Turf Moor from Stoke City in the summer, could be sidelined for up to eight weeks after undergoing minor knee surgery,

Walters has only made three substitute appearances in the Premier League for the Clarets this season.
 
"Jon Walters has had a minor tidy-up in his knee," Dyche said ahead of Saturday's Premier League game against second-placed Manchester United, which Burnley are 13/2 to win.

"There was a very small split in the cartilage. It was annoying him, so the decision was made, from himself as well, because he's old and wise enough, to get that tidied up.

"At his age he knows when it's right or wrong, so he and the surgeon decided it was best to do it."

Dyche will also be without injured duo Chris Wood and Stephen Ward this weekend but Scott Arfield could return after missing two games with a hamstring problem.

Burnley, without a victory in six league games, are 29/10 to draw with United at Turf Moor and 1/8 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this term.

Wenger open to starting Sanchez

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed he would have no issue starting Alexis Sanchez against Crystal Palace on Saturday despite the player edging towards a January exit.

Having seen Manchester City pull out of the race to sign the 29-year-old, Manchester United are in pole position to land the Chilean international.

Talks are thought to be ongoing with Sanchez and United but for the moment the player is still on the books at Arsenal and manager Wenger is adamant he would be happy to start the South American against Palace this weekend.

He told reporters: "As long as it's not over the line you have to accept it may not happen. These kind of things are not guaranteed.

"I have no problem with Sanchez's attitude. He was in training yesterday fully committed. He is 29 years old and the next contract will of course be very important to him."

Speaking about the possibility of United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading in the opposite direction as part of the deal, Wenger added: "I like the player. We played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He appreciated the quality of our games. The wages would not be a problem."

The Gunners are 1/2 to win, 7/2 to draw and 19/4 to lose to the Eagles at the Emirates Stadium.

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Betting Tips on United Need Pogba to Perform

Burnley vs Manchester United

Manchester United make the short trip to Burnley on Saturday in search of three points. And there’s one man who, if on form, can make their victory certain.

The Red Devils are a different team when Paul Pogba is fit, and the big Frenchman will aim to dominate a tough Burnley outfit to ensure United come away from Turf Moor with a result.

The last five league football games between Burnley and Manchester United have yielded three draws, with the Reds winning the other two. So while betting odds suggest an away win, it’s by no means certain. The Boxing Day fixture at Old Trafford was a close encounter: Jesse Lingard equalised in injury time to grab a 2-2 draw, so Sean Dyche’s team, characteristically, will show no fear.

Defender James Tarkowski is back alongside Ben Mee to form a formidable partnership, as Burnley conceded less than a goal a game in the climb to seventh. But the Red Devils arrive at Turf Moor in some form with back-to-back wins, beating Stoke comfortably on Monday, while the Clarets are without a win in six.

Burnley have taken tricky Spurs winger Georges-Kevin N’koudou on loan, and he could make a start. But while the Clarets will try to take the game to United, they have a mighty job to keep the Red Devils at bay. In addition to Lingard, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial provide a cutting edge.

But Paul Pogba is the man. United are vulnerable when he is absent or has an off day, so there’ll be fingers crossed in Burnley.

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Pogba: Title race is still alive

Paul Pogba is confident that Manchester United can still push rivals Manchester City for the Premier League title this season.

The 24-year-old France international put in a man-of-the-match performance on Monday night as goals from Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku eased the Red Devils to a comfortable 3-0 Premier League win against struggling Stoke City at Old Trafford.

The win moved Jose Mourinho's side to within 12 points of runaway leaders City and they could cut that gap to nine points if they win at Burnley on Saturday ahead of City's later kick-off against Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.

It still looks a tall order for United to usurp their neighbours between now and the end of the season, but Pogba is adamant that nobody in their camp is giving up, especially after City lost their unbeaten record in Sunday's 4-3 defeat at Liverpool.

He told Sky Sports: "Obviously we see Manchester City in front of us and they lost.

"They are first so we always want to catch them, so it was good that they lost, so for us we have to think about ourselves.

"It's good that they lose points but we have to go back to winning because we want to catch them again."

Pogba added: "We're just looking to the future and the next games.

"We just want to catch City. We just have to focus on ourselves, keep winning and I think we will be OK."

United could have added reinforcements in the shape of Arsenal playmaker Alexis Sanchez before the end of the January transfer window.

City pulled out of the race on Monday night because of the finances involved, but Chelsea are also said to be in the running and Mourinho was playing his cards close to his chest when quizzed about the possibility of a deal for the Chile international coming off for United.

"I'm not confident, but also not unconfident, just relaxed with the feeling that he is an Arsenal player," he told a press conference.

"With a feeling that he can stay there and also with the feeling that he can move. If he moves, I think we have a chance but I think most probably a player like him has other big clubs interested and who knows?

"I think Mr Wenger and Mr Gazidis are the ones that know really what is going to happen."

United are now 50/1 to win the Premier League this season, while Sanchez is priced at 2/5 to be a United player at the end of the January transfer window and Chelsea are available at 5/1 to win the race for his signature.

Stoke Can Be a Sports Betting Survivor!

Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City

First, the bad news.

Stoke City are in the danger zone and, judging by events of the past week, sacked Mark Hughes without foolishly having a replacement lined up.

Now, the good news.

They won’t have to face football games like this every week and are more than capable of climbing out of the drop zone and being a sports betting survivor.

Indeed, a significant bonus could await new boss Paul Lambert should he guide the Potters to Premier League safety.

After the club suffered a number of setbacks with Martin O’Neill, Quique Sanchez Flores and Gary Rowett all reportedly rejecting the job, Lambert watched his new charges from the stands at Old Trafford before he officially takes the reins in the next 24 hours.

Then the real work begins.

What he will have learned from this encounter – in which United opened up a three-point lead over Liverpool and Chelsea – is that he has inherited some talented footballers who should not be involved in a relegation battle.

That they are is because half a dozen or so underperformed for Hughes, and Lambert has to ensure they improve their efforts for him.

In this regard, it was hard to gauge any telling signs from a contest in which Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial scored with impressive long-range strikes in the first half before Romelu Lukaku capped off a 3-0 triumph to ultimately make light work of the Potters.

What he will also have learned is that he needs defenders back quickly.

This was a match in which Stoke became the first side in Europe’s top five leagues to concede 50 goals this season.

If Lambert has the misfortune which affected Hughes, their cause certainly won’t be helped.

While Kevin Wimmer came back into the squad at Old Trafford and new signing Moritz Bauer made his debut, injured duo Ryan Shawcross and Erik Pieters were still missing.

Again, on the plus side, Lambert will have seen that Stoke did create chances which, if taken, would have made this a much closer game – proof they are more than capable of troubling even the top sides and firing their way out of trouble.

So all in all, it’s a mixed bag for a manager who has a proven top-flight experience, has never been relegated (keeping both Norwich and Aston Villa in the Premier League) and has extensive knowledge of English football.

He may not have been the club’s first, second or even third choice but should he guide Stoke to safety – and there is no reason why he shouldn’t – then perhaps this proud club will be smiling again.

The real work starts tomorrow and then, with games against fellow strugglers Huddersfield, Watford, Bournemouth and Brighton to come, the destiny is in their own hands.

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Lambert takes up Stoke post

Stoke City have appointed Paul Lambert as their new manager, handing the former Scotland midfielder a two-and-half-year contract.

The 48-year-old has been out of the game since leaving Wolves at the end of last season and arrives in the Potteries to succeed Mark Hughes.

Lambert has enjoyed spells in charge of Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Norwich City, Colchester United and Wycombe Wanderers, having begun his managerial career in his homeland with Livingston.

Of the appointment, vice-chairman John Coates told the club's official website: "Paul has been successful in management at clubs with a strong and stable background and with local ownership – the kind of foundation we are able to give to our managers.

"We were determined to appoint someone with Premier League experience, or an extensive knowledge of English football. We look forward to working with Paul and supporting him to help achieve our goals."

Lambert will take on a watching brief on Monday evening when the Potters take on Manchester United at Old Trafford, with Eddie Niedzwiecki in charge of team affairs, assisted by Kevin Russell and Andy Quy.

New signing, Austrian defender Moritz Bauer, could be handed a debut for the visitors, having recently completed a move from Russian club Rubin Kazan.

City also hope to have Erik Pieters (hamstring), Bruno Martins Indi (groin) and Ryan Shawcross (calf) available to boost their defensive options.

Stoke, who have drawn each of their last three meetings with the Red Devils, are 6/1 to secure a draw on Monday evening, with a 1-1 final scoreline priced at 14/1 and a goalless draw 16/1.

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Pep looking for Citizens reaction

Pep Guardiola has told his Manchester City players to re-focus quickly after their unbeaten Premier League record was ended by a 4-3 loss to an inspired Liverpool.

The Citizens had previously not been beaten in 22 league games this season, but they were taken apart at Anfield on Sunday, with two late goals making the final scoreline look a little more respectable for the visitors.

Head coach Guardiola refused to be too downbeat after the setback, but admitted that a big reaction will be needed when City play host to Newcastle United at teatime next Saturday.

He told BBC Match of the Day: "The bad news is we lost so congratulations to Liverpool for their performance. We tried and now we recover.

"People asked if everything was over and done before Christmas and now it's January and it's not. We have a lot of games to win to be champions and will try for the next game against Newcastle."

The Spaniard played a similar tune when interviewed by Sky Sports soon after the final whistle at Anfield, adding: "In every press conference for the last few months you have said that the Premier League us done and I always said no. It is still to be done.

"We will defend our position game by game."

City could see their Premier League lead cut to 12 points if neighbours Manchester United win at home to Stoke City on Monday evening.

United are a 8/5 shot to top the Premier League without City this season, with Liverpool available at 7/4 and defending champion Chelsea priced at 5/2.

The Red Devils, Reds and Blues all have 47 points ahead of the game at Old Trafford on Monday.

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City suffer first defeat

Manchester City have been beaten for the first time in the league this season, losing a thriller 4-3 at Liverpool.

They went into half-time level, Leroy Sane equalising after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had given the home side an early lead.

City then hit the crossbar early in the second half but were then blown away by three goals inside 10 minutes. That was not the end of the drama, with City getting the score back to 4-3, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan getting City back into it.

However they couldn't find a fourth and Liverpool held on for a priceless win which boosts their top four credentials but also gives a little hope to City's other challengers at the top of the Premier League table.

It was the home side who started on top and they got an early reward, Oxlade-Chamberlain surging forward and striking well, from 20 yards out to beat Ederson.

He could have had a second, going close later in the first half but City threatened too, notably from Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling.

They drew level towards the end of the half and Sane did brilliantly to control the ball and fire home though first Joe Gomez and then keeper Loris Karius could have done better for Liverpool.

City could have gone ahead five minutes after the restart, Nicolas Otamendi's header hitting the top of the bar with the keeper beaten.

However, that was their last chance of victory with Liverpool then scoring three. Robert Firmino got the better of John Stones to chip past Ederson for Liverpool's second, then, after Sadio Mane hit the post, two minutes later he went one better, smashing a shot into the top corner after good work from Mohamed Salah.

Then Salah scored himself, capitalising on a poor clearance from Ederson to chip over the keeper's head and into the empty net.

That was 4-1 and it looked game over but two goals in the last 10 minutes gave City hope and sent shivers through the Anfield home support.

First Gundogan's shot was deflected into the path of Silva and then, in the final minute Gundogan scored after good work from Aguero.

That left time added on but City weren't able to find an equaliser and they will not go through the league season unbeaten.

City still have a 15-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with Liverpool one of three teams now on 47 points.

However Manchester United have a game in hand and can cut the gap to 12 points if they beat Stoke City at Old Trafford on Monday night. They are 1/5 to win with Stoke 16/1.

City are 1/80 to win the Premier League with United priced at 66/1.

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