Emery planning for different United

Arsenal boss Unai Emery expects a different test from Manchester United when the pair meet on Friday in the FA Cup.

The duo played out a 2-2 draw in the Premier League at the start of December, a game in which the Gunners held sway for most of the match, only to be ground down by the Red Devils.

Since then it has been all change at Old Trafford, with Jose Mourinho leaving the club and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being installed until the end of the season.

The Norwegian has won all seven of his games in charge and the expansive manner in which he has set up his team has been in stark contrast to Mourinho.

A victory at the Emirates would further boost calls for him to get the job permanently and the Red Devils are 7/4 to win, with the draw 5/2 and the Gunners 7/5.

Emery himself seems to have weathered a storm and will have been pleased by his side's showing in Saturday's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

Winning the FA Cup would certainly buy him credit with the fans and the Gunners are 12/1 to lift the trophy.

The Spaniard knows they will need to repeat that performance to get the better of United, a team he admits are a different animal in comparison to last month's meeting.

"It's a different team," he said. "It's the same players but they're playing with a big performance now. I was watching their last matches and each player has a lot of confidence, with big performances, and now they are very dangerous.

"For us, it's good because it's a very big test for us in this competition."

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Dier: Spurs must cope without Kane

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier says he and his colleagues have to do their utmost to negate the loss to injury of star striker Harry Kane.

England captain Kane is expected back in action sometime in March, having sustained ankle ligament damage in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.

The first game he missed saw Spurs score right at the death to win 2-1 at Fulham on Sunday, with Dier insisting that the absence of Kane has to be put to one side while there are on-field matters to take care of.

He told Sky Sports: "It's not a question of if we can cope without Harry or not. Harry's one of the best strikers in the world, any team would feel the loss if he wasn't playing, so we have to find a solution and move on.

"Harry will be doing his best to get back as soon as possible and it's down to the team and the squad to rally and carry on."

Tottenham are currently priced at 2/9 to finish in the Premier League top four this season, while they are 8/1 to lift the FA Cup.

Meanwhile, England boss Gareth Southgate expects Kane to be pushing hard to return to action as soon as possible.

He added: "It's a disappointment for any player to miss matches and Harry especially wants to be available for every game and have the opportunity to score in every game.

"Knowing his mindset, there'll be a calendar on the wall and he'll be making sure he gets back ahead of where people are predicting he can be back."

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Emery fears Bellerin absence

Arsenal fear that right-back Hector Bellerin is facing a lengthy period out of action after he suffered a knee injury in the 2-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday.

The Spain international fell to the floor holding his left knee 18 minutes from time at the Emirates Stadium, before being stretchered from the field to be replaced by Mohamed Elneny.

And after the victory head coach Unai Emery was downbeat about the immediate future for Bellerin, telling reporters: "We are going to wait until Sunday. It is his knee and the first prediction maybe it can be an important injury.

"Tomorrow we will speak with the doctor. I hope not, but it is not very positive, our first impression.

"We have Ainsley (Maitland-Niles). He can help us by playing like a right-back or a right winger. Also, (Stephan) Lichtsteiner is another player for playing there and I think we have players.

"I don't forget (Carl) Jenkinson because he is with us, he played some matches and if we need him, he is okay to help us."

The win for the Gunners on Saturday moved them to within three points of Chelsea, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot, with Manchester United level on points with Arsenal after winning six consecutive league games.

Arsenal can be backed at 10/3 to finish in the top four come the end of the season, with Chelsea priced at 1/2 and United available at 6/4.

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Momentum key for Solskjaer

Interim Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is eager to keep the momentum going at Old Trafford, following seven consecutive victories under his charge.

The former Red Devils striker has quickly got United back on track and a top-four finish in the Premier League is now a very realistic target, with the club also still involved in the Champions League and the FA Cup.

Following a hard-fought 2-1 home win over Brighton, Solskjaer told his club's official website: "If we keep this momentum going, the train keeps rolling and we get loads of points on board, hopefully, that will take us up the table.

"The gaffer (Sir Alex Ferguson) used to challenge us at times – why can't you go and win 10 games on the bounce? As long as you take each game at a time, prepare well going into it, then every game is a winnable one.

"I have to say the players have to be proud of the form and momentum. It's seven games on the bounce now and wins create confidence.

"I don't think you can ever get calm at Manchester United, because you always look for the improvement, to get better, and we know that we can play better than we did today."

Next up for United is a Friday evening trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal in an FA Cup fourth round showdown.

Earlier this season the league meeting of the two sides at Old Trafford ended in a 2-2 draw.

United are 17/10 to win in 90 minutes on Friday and are 11/1 to claim a 1-0 victory, with the Red Devils 8/1 to lift the FA Cup this season.

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Premier League: Rashford Nets Winner as Ole Makes It Seven Out of Seven

Manchester United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Games like this matter.

Interim Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made that abundantly clear before kick-off when he said: “Now we are expected to entertain and dominate, and sometimes these are the games you really need to step up for.”

It was the Norwegian’s way of saying that no Premier League matches are a given and that there is no room for complacency if you want to be successful.

Solskjaer, winner of six Premier League titles as a player, knew that better than most as a spirited Brighton arrived at Old Trafford.

Highlights of the game

There was a late change to the team sheet when Luke Shaw fell ill during the warm-up and was replaced by Diogo Dalot. Surprisingly to this observer, the young Portuguese full-back actually started left-back rather than Ashley Young switching from right to left.

Once the action got going, both sides showed attacking intent.

Jurgen Locadia’s weak shot called David de Gea into action, and Marcus Rashford saw a shot cleared off the line by Shane Duffy.

There was a suggestion United were just starting to up the tempo midway through the first half when Paul Pogba saw an overhead kick deflected for a corner before Marcus Rashford saw his curling effort bend narrowly off target.

The breakthrough arrived in the 25th minute.

A diagonal ball from Nemanja Matic was controlled expertly by Paul Pogba who was fouled by Gaetan Bong in the penalty area. Referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot, and the Frenchman converted emphatically from 12 yards.

It was odd to hear a few groans as the Frenchman stepped up – fans remembering his penalty against Everton earlier in the season which he scored at the second attempt, somewhat fortuitously.

Yet there was no doubting his accuracy on this occasion as he scored his eighth league goal of the campaign – five have been in the past month.

To their credit, Brighton were keeping home chances to a premium and threatening themselves.

It took some dogged defending to keep them out while Glenn Murray lashed a half-volley wide when he may have done better.

They were on top when United scored their second three minutes before the break with a goal which is one of the Premier League 2019 highlights.

Dalot found his fellow youngster who had plenty to do, but his close control and trickery was a joy to watch before he found the top corner beyond a helpless David Button.

It was quite a way to mark his 150th appearance for the club.

The Seagulls had won the two most recent encounters with United (1-0 and 3-2 home triumphs in May and August last year).

However, despite not playing badly, they were suddenly up against it even more as they tried to become the first team to win three consecutive league games against a redemption-seeking United since Swansea in 2014 and 2015.

With Ander Herrera tireless and Rashford and Anthony Martial a constant threat, United looked to add to their tally after the break with the latter beating two defenders with arrogant ease before firing just too high.

Rashford then burst past Pascal Gross, but Jesse Lingard fired wide when it looked like he would score before Victor Lindelof flashed a header across goal.

Gross brought Brighton back into the game with 19 minutes remaining with a smart finish after he was allowed too much time following a superb ball into the danger zone with the outside of his foot from David Propper.

It was yet another goal which showed United’s defensive deficiencies that blighted their first half of the campaign have not disappeared.

It was also a goal which gave the visitors belief and the game was briefly end-to-end as the away fans chanted ‘we’re going to score in a minute’. They certainly caused the home side some nervous moments in the closing stages.

Fixtures like this, of course, will not define Brighton’s season. Ask any us pundit, and they will tell you Chris Hughton is working a minor miracle on the south coast.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue to make his mark in the Premier League after defeating Brighton & Hove Albion

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates his seventh victory for Manchester United

Solskjaer knows bigger tests await too and the Premier League 2019 betting odds on them securing a top-four finish are still a big ask.

But in becoming the first manager to win his first six league games in charge of the club, he can do no more than he has so far.

Key statistics

United have never lost at home to Brighton (won nine, drawn two).

Solskjær has equalled the longest Premier League winning streak by a manager from the beginning of his reign at a club: six by Carlo Ancelotti for Chelsea in 2009 and Pep Guardiola for Manchester City in 2016.

Pogba has been directly involved in more than half of United’s 17 Premier League goals since Solskjaer took charge with five goals and four assists.

With six goals and five assists, Rashford has been directly involved in 11 goals in his last 10 league appearances.

Gross has scored in his last three games against United.

United have secured six consecutive Premier League victories for the first time since January 2017.

Since winning 3-2 at Man City on the final day of the 2012-13 season with Norwich City, Brighton manager Hughton has lost his last 15 away matches against the ‘big six’ in all competitions by an aggregate score of 4-43.

Brighton have lost a Premier League-high 20 away games since the start of last season.

Hughton has lost all six away matches as a manager against United by an aggregate scoreline of 1-16.

Murray has gone eight Premier League appearances without a goal, his longest barren run for Brighton in the division.Top of Form

What’s next?

It’s FA Cup fourth-round action for both sides.

United travel to Arsenal in the tie of the round next Friday (January 25), while Brighton entertain West Brom the following day.

They then complete their January schedule on the 29th when Brighton travel to strugglers Fulham and United host Burnley.

 

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Solskjaer talks up Lukaku role

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is adamant Romelu Lukaku has a massive role to play for the club this season.

The Belgian international, who joined United from Everton in a deal with £75m, has started just one match since Jose Mourinho left Old Trafford and there has been some speculation about the 25-year-old's future.

Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial have been favoured in recent games, as United have seen a turn in fortunes since Solskjaer took charge.

The Norwegian tactician, who played for 11 seasons at Old Trafford after his move to the club in 1996, claims Lukaku has a key role to play and must just takes his opportunities when they present themselves.

Solskjaer said: "I used to be one of four strikers when we played with two. Now we have six forwards and we play with three.

"There are enough games. It is about taking your chances when you get them.

"No-one is scoring as many as Romelu in training."

United are 7/4 to finish in the top four this season, while their old rivals Arsenal are 13/2 to achieve the same feat.

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No rapid return for Fellaini

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has indicated that Marouane Fellaini will not be able to play for Manchester United for several more weeks because of a calf injury.

The 31-year-old Belgium international missed last weekend's 1-0 victory at Tottenham and looks set to be sidelined until mid-February.

Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo will also sit out Saturday's match against Brighton but Alexis Sanchez is available.

The Chile international has struggled with several niggling injuries in the last two months and had to be substituted in the FA Cup clash against Reading earlier this month.

However, Solskjaer said: "Alexis has trained all week, so hopefully he comes through the session today [Friday] and will be available.

"Chris and Marcos have just started running lightly so they're not fit yet. Felli is the long-term one who is out. He'll be out for a few weeks.

"There are not many issues. I think there are some small niggles as there always are at this time of the season."

United have won their last five Premier League matches and can now be backed at 7/4 to finish in the top four this season. They are available at 3/10 to beat Brighton at Old Trafford this weekend and 8/1 to edge to a 2-1 victory against Chris Hughton's team.

Premier League: Red Devils Redemption?

Manchester United vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton & Hove Albion won their first Premier League meeting with Manchester United this season, but they know they can’t look too much in the past. Not against these awakened and much-better Red Devils, at least.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has overseen the best start for a new manager in United history, and he will be looking to extend that record as he further solidifies his case to be the permanent manager of the club after this campaign.

There’s renewed hope and a change of energy surrounding the organisation as well, and while Brighton have proven they can hold their ground against top teams, they might be biting off more than they can chew against this Manchester United squad.

Talking Points

Six wins in six games in all competitions have United flying high again. They remain sixth in the standings, but they are now level on points with fifth-placed Arsenal.

The Red Devils, in fact, could surpass the Gunners with a victory against Brighton this weekend, especially with Unai Emery’s men up for a tough challenge against Chelsea.

Perhaps, the biggest difference with Manchester United is their offence. The shackles called ‘Park the Bus’ by Jose Mourinho had been removed with the departure of The Special One and the arrival of Solskjaer.

Manchester United are playing with more freedom now, and that is clear with the 15 league goals (17 overall) they have scored so far under Solskjaer. That’s a rate of three goals per game!

In comparison, United made just 29 goals in the 17 matches that Mourinho managed—a production that saw them make less than two goals per contest. Even more disturbing is the fact that they also conceded 29 during that poor stretch.

Solskjaer has undoubtedly brought out the best in his players, particularly from Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.

Marcus Rashford has been tearing up the Premier League as he is now one of the primary attacking options of the Red Devils

Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring Manchester United’s lone goal against Tottenham Hotspur

Rashford, who was seemingly falling out of Mourinho’s favour, had a sudden resurgence and is now one of the primary attacking options of the team. The 21-year-old has brought his tally to eight, last scoring the lone goal in their win versus Tottenham Hotspur.

Meanwhile, Pogba is finally being used correctly. Often the subject of criticisms for his poor performances—which was not helped by his highly-publicised disagreements with Mourinho—the 25-year-old star midfielder appears to be back to his old, usual self.

The French World Cup champion has contributed four goals and four assists in five Premier League games since Solskjaer took over.

Brighton will be wary of the new threat that Manchester United offer. Unfortunately, their prospects of winning look dim considering their recent struggles. The Seagulls have taken only five points out of a possible 21 in their last seven fixtures, winning just once in that period.

If there is one positive thing about Chris Hughton’s outfit, it that they are a pretty decent team defensively. They limited the high-octane attack of Liverpool to just one goal in both of their encounters this year and played out a 1-1 stalemate with Arsenal late last month.

History

Manchester United couldn’t wish for better Premier League 2019 results, having won their two league matches at the start of the New Year. Nonetheless, they still have plenty to prove, with the top four a little far away.

As mentioned, this match with Brighton is like a revenge game for the Red Devils. They lost 3-2 to the Seagulls at Sussex the last time out, behind goals from Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and Pascal Gross.

Last year, Brighton also won their home game versus United, bagging a 1-0 victory after the 27-year-old Gross fired them through with a 57th-minute winner.

It should be noted, however, that United haven’t lost against Brighton at Old Trafford since their promotion in the 2017-18 season. They met twice at the famed stadium—one in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup—and United won both fixtures while keeping Brighton scoreless.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester United vs Brighton & Hove Albion First Half 1X2 Draw @ 2.41
January 19, 23:00 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2019 odds at us unsurprisingly lean in favour of Manchester United…and by a HUGE MARGIN!

It’s quite difficult to bet against the Red Devils given the way they are playing right now. Winning consistently has a positive effect on the confidence of the players and the team as a whole, and Manchester United are showing that.

Brighton can only hope to limit the expected damage Manchester United will cause, and I think they will do just that.

I think the Seagulls will employ a defensive-minded approach to neutralise the free-flowing United attack. Although I believe the home team will come out on top, a first-half draw is a plausible outcome.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Pogba: I’m always smiling now

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba says he has "come out of the shadows" and is loving life at Old Trafford again.

The France international crossed swords with former United boss Jose Mourinho and struggled to recapture his international form in the Premier League in the first half of the 2018/19 campaign.

However, he has thrived since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was named caretaker manager last month.

United made it five Premier League victories in a row by beating Tottenham 1-0 at Wembley on Sunday, with Pogba providing a sublime pass for Marcus Rashford to score the winner.

Pogba said: "Before the coach arrived I was in the shadows, on the bench, and I accepted that. It is a pleasure to play again. That's normal. Now I am always smiling.

"It's a pleasure to be reunited with him [Solskjaer]. I knew him from the academy and the reserves, when his nickname was 'Super Sub'.

"He is doing a really good job. As a player he knew the mentality of this club. He has come back to help us and it is going very well. The season is long so let's see how it goes.

"I am playing a bit further forward. I have more security behind me, it gives me the freedom to go forwards to try to get into the box and support the strikers."

United's improved recent form means they can now be backed at 9/4 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season while Chelsea are available at 1/3, Arsenal at 11/2 and Tottenham at 2/11.

Pochettino reveals Kane fears

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has admitted to being "worried" about the ankle injury Harry Kane picked up against Manchester United on Sunday.

The England international captain was left needing treatment on the pitch at the end of Spurs' 1-0 defeat to United at Wembley after he was caught on the ankle by Phil Jones.

Kane has been blighted by similar injury issues in the past two seasons and Pochettino revealed that he fears another possible lay-off for his influential striker.

The Argentinian, who also lost midfielder Moussa Sissoko to injury during the game and has Son Heung-min set to go away on international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup, said: "I think I am worried because we will see what happens with Harry Kane.

"I think Moussa is only a small thing but we will see, we need to assess Harry Kane.

"At the end I think he suffered a big tackle and twisted his ankle and now we need to assess him over the next few days, hoping it is not a big issue."

Spurs' defeat to United has left them nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool and 66/1 to win the title, while they remain 2/11 to secure a top-four finish.

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