Solskjaer plotting United future

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his players that they are still playing for their futures in the closing weeks of the Premier League season.

Having enjoyed initial success after taking over at Old Trafford just before Christmas, Solskjaer has seen his side's form dip in recent weeks, with the Red Devils having lost five of the last seven games they have played in all competitions.

And the former United striker says he will be monitoring things very closely in the coming weeks, with the club expected to be big movers in the transfer market in the summer.

He told reporters ahead of a Sunday trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton: "There's no hiding place and everyone can see what your level is at. The performance on the pitch will determine where they're at – if it's short term or long term.

"I've learnt a lot about them over the months I've been here. Most of them have really impressed in their attitude and some need to get a reality check of where they're at.

"But most of the players know they can improve if they keep working as they do."

United are currently in sixth place in the Premier League standings, but they are just two points behind Arsenal, who currently occupy the all-important final Champions League spot of fourth.

The Red Devils are priced at 11/4 to finish in the top four, with the Gunners available at 4/9 and Chelsea 13/8.

Meanwhile, Solskjaer also confirmed that both striker Alexis Sanchez and midfielder Nemanja Matic are back in contention for the clash with the Toffees.

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Solskjaer ready to make changes

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows that he faces a major rebuilding job as he attempts to strengthen a Manchester United side that exited the Champions League on Tuesday.

United slumped to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the second leg of their quarter-final clash as they suffered a 4-0 aggregate defeat to the La Liga leaders.

Lionel Messi scored twice before Philippe Coutinho added a superb third goal in the 61st minute for a Barcelona side that are now 15/8 to win the Champions League outright.

In contrast United are struggling to secure a top-four spot in the Premier League and may miss out on a place in the Champions League for the third time in six seasons.

The likes of Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia could all leave Old Trafford this summer, although Solskjaer has suggested there may be more departures.

The Norwegian said: "We did well to get here [the quarter-finals] and you could see the difference between the two teams.

"We know there's work to be done. I've said all along this isn't going to change overnight and the next few years are going to be massive for us to get to the level where Barcelona and other teams are at the moment.

"We've done really, really well to get to the quarters and challenge for the top four. So we've got a rebuilding job but it starts with the coaches and players, and of course one or two additions to the squad will happen in the summer."

United, 11/4 to finish in the top four, are 6/5 to beat Everton at Goodison Park this weekend.

Gracia defends players

Watford boss Javi Gracia has defended Ben Foster and Troy Deeney after his team lost at home to Arsenal 1-0 in the Premier League.

Despite being the better team for long spells at Vicarage Road, the Hornets were undone by a goal after just ten minutes when Foster took too long in goal when receiving a backpass, allowing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang to get the ball and tap home.

Watford's chances of getting back into the game were reduced further just a minute later when skipper Deeney was sent off for violent conduct.

The home side would have moved up to seventh with three points, with that position guaranteeing Europa League football next season if Watford lose to Manchester City in the FA Cup final next month.

However, despite what could be a costly defeat, Gracia after the game, refused to blame either player.

He said: "When we win and one player scores a goal, every player is happy and all the team is happy.

"We are a team. We enjoy together and suffer together, it's not only about one player, it's about the team and we are not waiting for the moment to point to one player.

"It's the moment to be together and to know, with ten players, with the circumstances we've had today, we were able to compete really well against this team."

The loss means Watford stay 10th in the table but are just one point off seventh with Leicester, Wolves and Everton also in the race for seventh spot and the possibility of European football.

The result moved Arsenal back into the top four, above Chelsea. With Manchester City and Liverpool guaranteed Champions League football next season, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are competing for the other two spots.

Watford attempt to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to already relegated Huddersfield. They are 8/11 for the win with the Terriers 7/2 and the draw is priced at 11/4.

The Hornets are 4/1 to win the FA Cup next month while Manchester City can be backed at 1/6.

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Momentum the key for Liverpool

Trent Alexander-Arnold says that momentum will be the key for Liverpool as they aim to go one better than last season in the Champions League.

Top of the table in the Premier League, the Reds turn their attentions to European football on Wednesday night with the second-leg of their Champions League quarter-final with FC Porto.

Goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino at Anfield last week ensure that Jurgen Klopp's side travel to Portugal with the advantage and the teams met in the competition last year too, Liverpool winning 5-0 in Porto.

They eventually reached the final, losing out to Real Madrid and Alexander-Arnold says momentum is crucial this season as they bid to win the Premier League and Champions League double.

He told Liverpoolfc.com: "When you're in amongst the wins and grinding out the results, you can't wait to get to the next game.

"Obviously we have fond memories of Porto last season, so we're looking to go there and hopefully replicate what we've done."

Liverpool are 11/10 to win Wednesday night's game with Porto 14/5 and the draw 5/2.

While the focus is on progression in Europe on Wednesday night, Liverpool's league position is healthy too and they sit top of the Premier League table, two points clear of Manchester City who have a game in hand.

They beat Chelsea 2-0 at the weekend and Alexander-Arnold says their patience was rewarded in the end.

"A few weeks ago we would have got frustrated, been a bit too forward and left ourselves vulnerable," he added.

"But we took our time, we closed them out and never gave them too many chances. The second half we came out all guns blazing and finished them off."

Liverpool are 11/10 to win the Premier League title with Manchester City priced at 8/11.

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League remains priority for Pep

Pep Guardiola says the Premier League title remains the biggest prize on offer this season despite their Champions League campaign.

Manchester City, having already won the League Cup, are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple this season.

Second in the Premier League, they are in the FA Cup final next month and, this week, attempt to reach the last four of the Champions League.

They play Tottenham in the quarter-finals, trailing 1-0 after the first-leg in London.

Having already won the Premier League title with City last season, Guardiola says retaining the trophy remains the priority this campaign.

At a press conference ahead of Wednesday night's game with Spurs, the City boss said: "A lot of big clubs are not here now in these stages, so what is important is how you handle things for 11 months.

"That is why I have said many times the Premier League, for me, is the most important title, showing every three days that you are there. Being there every time sends out a good message.

"What we need to do tomorrow is put our hurt on the pitch, our desire and after we will see."

City are 3/10 to win Wednesday's game with Spurs 10/1 and the draw 5/1. City are 7/1 to win the game 2-0.

City and Spurs meet again in the Premier League on Saturday and Guardiola's side then travel to face local rivals United at Old Trafford in games which will have a big say in whether they will be in a position to retain the league title.

They are two points behind Liverpool in the table but have a game in hand. City are 8/11 to win the title while Liverpool are priced at 11/10.

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Liverpool regain top spot

Liverpool spent part of Sunday afternoon in second place in the Premier League but ended the day as they started it, at the top of the table.

Manchester City had temporarily replaced them after they beat Crystal Palace 3-1 but, with the pressure back on Jurgen Klopp's team, they beat Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield and, having played a game more than City, are two points ahead of them thanks in part to a superb strike from Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool were the first to go close in the game, Sadio Mane crossing for Salah but his volley was saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.

Chelsea threatened on 20 minutes when Willian fed Eden Hazard but Joel Matip forced the Belgian out and his shot was comfortably saved by Alisson.

Liverpool were dominating possession and looking the more dangerous although Chelsea were threatening on the break.

However, the home side were pressing as the game meandered towards half-time, Roberto Firmino finding Salah whose pass was met by Sane but his smart shot went wide of the left post.

It was possibly a nervy Anfield with the match goalless at the break, but the home crowd erupted five minutes into the second half, Jordan Henderson getting a cross into the box and slack marking allowed Mane to head home.

Two minutes later Liverpool doubled their lead and this time it was a goal to savour, Salah letting fly from 25 yards out, a swerving shot going into the top corner, a goal worthy of winning any game.

Chelsea did respond to the double blow, going desperately close to getting a goal back shortly afterwards when Hazard found himself through on goal but hit the woodwork;, he got another shot in just a minute later but Alisson made a good save to keep the score 2-0.

However, those alarms aside Liverpool saw the remainder of the game out fairly comfortably to return to the top of the Premier League.

Liverpool are back in action in midweek when they hope to make it through to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

They have a 2-0 lead after the first-leg of their quarter-final against FC Porto and are 21/20 to win the match in Portugal with Porto 11/4 and the draw 9/4.

Liverpool are 7/2 to win the Champions League this year with Manchester City 10/3 and Barcelona 5/2.

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City pile pressure on Reds

Manchester City ensured Liverpool were playing catch-up as the Premier League title race took another twist.

With both teams playing on Sunday, City were in action first, away at Crystal Palace and came away with a 3-1 victory, taking them back to the top of the table.

Raheem Sterling scored twice for the champions, Palace pulled one back with about 10 minutes remaining but a third just before the close ensured another three points for Pep Guardiola's side.

They took the lead after quarter of an hour at Selhurst Park, Sterling latching onto a perfect pass from Kevin de Bruyne and finishing well past Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal.

That was the only goal of the first half but Sterling scored his and City's second after an hour, from a pass by Leroy Sane.

Roy Hodgson's side gave themselves hope with a late Luka Milivojevic free-kick but substitute Gabriel Jesus scored City's third to return them to the top of the Premier League table.

With five games remaining they are a point ahead of Liverpool and have a vastly superior goal difference.

Liverpool are in action later on Sunday, taking on Chelsea at Anfield and needing a win to return to the top.

Match-winner Sterling said afterwards that he believes the title race will go down to the last game of the season.

He told the BBC: "100 percent the way Liverpool have been playing. It will go down to the wire. I don't see us slowing down now. Liverpool have a great squad, great self-belief, but so do we."

City, fresh from this victory have a crucial three matches ahead in the next 10 days. They play Tottenham twice at home, in the Champions League in midweek and then the league next weekend before a trip across Manchester to play rivals United at Old Trafford on 24th April.

City, 1-0 down from the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final, are 2/7 to win the return leg on Wednesday night while Spurs are 9/1 with the draw 19/4.

Vity are 10/3 to win the Champions League this season while Spurs are priced at 16/1.

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Emery hails Ramsey displays

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has won high praise from head coach Unai Emery for his attitude since agreeing a summer move to Italian giants Juventus.

The 28-year-old Wales international has scored three goals in his last seven games, helping the Gunners to maintain a challenge for a top-four finish in the Premier League and also progress in the Europa League.

Next up is a Monday evening trip to Watford, with Arsenal hoping to make amends for a 1-0 defeat at Everton last time out in the league.

And Emery is delighted to see Ramsey contribute so well for his side and not lose focus ahead of a change of scenery at the end of the season.

He told reporters: "It's not easy for him after he signed for Juventus, but his focus is to help us and his attitude is a very amazing attitude towards each training session.

"I continued speaking with him about doing something very important in the last matches here in two competitions that are very important for us.

"He wants to do something important for the supporters and I want to do something important with for him in his last matches here."

Ramsey has scored 64 goals in 364 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners, having joined them from Cardiff City in the summer of 2008.

He can be backed at 13/5 to score at any time at Vicarage Road on Monday evening, with Arsenal 5/4 to win the game and 1/1 to eventually secure a top-four finish.

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Sarri aims to stun Anfield

Maurizio Sarri accepts that every game between now and the end of the season will be difficult for his top-four chasing Chelsea team to win.

The Blues, 5/6 to finish in the top four, face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday and are 9/2 to cause a surprise by beating Jurgen Klopp's team.

Liverpool have not lost any of their last 37 home Premier League matches and are unbeaten at Anfield in all competitions since Sarri's team knocked them out of the League Cup seven months ago.

Chelsea have a Europa League quarter-final second-leg clash withy Slavia Prague coming up on Thursday but Sarri is focused on the trip to Merseyside.

The former Napoli boss said: "To face Liverpool is going to be difficult for us but every game now is difficult. Liverpool are one of the best teams in England right now, they reached the final of the Champions League last year, and at Anfield it is always difficult.

"We know well the risks of this match but we also know that when we are able to play at 100 per cent of our potential, we can gain points anywhere. We are in a very good physical and mental condition right now.

"They are under pressure but that's normal. If you want to win the Premier League, you have to play under pressure for a long period of time but it is pressure for something positive. You can be nervous but also with a great level of motivation so the positive is more than the negative.

"In this moment we are fighting for the top four so we need points. We know it will be difficult to gain points in Liverpool but we have to try in every way."

Sarri fears huge Hazard impact

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has admitted that it could be a 'disaster' for his club if star forward Eden Hazard decides to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.

The 28-year-old Belgium international continues to be heavily linked with a big-money move to Real Madrid, with Sarri accepting that he has to wait for Hazard to make up his mind about what his future holds.

And Sarri is under no illusions about how big an impact an exit for Hazard would have, having seen the Belgian dazzle in scoring both goals in a 2-0 Premier League win over West Ham which boosted the Blues' top-four hopes.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live after a solid victory at Stamford Bridge: "Every coach wants to keep a player like him. It's a disaster when a player like Eden decides to change team.

"It's very difficult to find another player at the same level, because in the world there are only two or three players at the same level.

"We have to try something different (if he goes), not find another Hazard. In this moment he is unique."

Meanwhile, Hazard himself vowed to remain focused on the job in hand of helping Chelsea secure a top-four finish and challenge for glory in the Europa League.

He told Sky Sports: "I'm just focused with Chelsea until the end of the season. I just want to finish in the top four and win the Europa League.

"We still have a lot to do, and then we will see. Top four is our target, winning the Europa League is our challenge, so we have to keep fighting on both fronts."

Chelsea are priced at 10/11 to finish in the Premier League top four this season, while they are 7/4 to triumph in the Europa League.

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