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Manchester United

Man United’s midfield conundrum needs to be solved and this 26-year-old dynamo would be ideal for that

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Manchester United Opinion: Why Solskjaer should sign Abdoulaye Doucoure

Back in March 2018, the Daily Mirror claimed Manchester United were one of a host of Premier League clubs interested in signing Watford’s midfield powerhouse Abdoulaye Doucoure. However, a move didn’t happen and the Frenchman stayed put at Watford.

Abdoulaye Doucoure, 26, has been immense at Vicarage Road this season and bagged five goals and six assists in 35 Premier League games for the Hornets. He has been one of the chief reasons why the Javi Gracia-managed side are in the FA Cup final and did so well in the 2018/19 campaign, even though they finished 11th on the table, following three back-to-back losses.

Manchester United ended the season in sixth position after an embarrassing final day defeat against relegated Cardiff at Old Trafford. That has set the club for upheaval after a season in which the Reds finished 32 points behind champions Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side now face the prospect of playing in the Europa League next term after failing to qualify for the Champions League. The 46-year-old United manager faces a major rebuild this summer and will look to strengthen almost every area of the pitch.

One area Solskjaer should definitely address in the summer transfer window is the defence. Other than bringing in defensive reinforcements, he must also get a couple of central midfielders. Ander Herrera has left Old Trafford following the expiry of his contract.

Scott McTominay was the only rare bright spark during the business end of the campaign, as neither Fred nor Andreas Pereira, performed consistently. Herrera’s departure is likely to disturb the balance in midfield next season and Solskjaer should be wise to sign Abdoulaye Doucoure to replace the departed Spaniard.

Doucoure has been one of the most consistent players in the division this season, bossing games alongside Etienne Capoue with his power, passing range, tackling skills and strength. He has successfully managed to impose himself on games, with the midfielder being up to the mark from a technical and tactical point of view.

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The ex-Rennes star is a fearless player, never hesitant to fly into a challenge to break opposition’s play. He can dictate the tempo of the game, drive his team forward and take shots on goal from distance. That’s exactly the kind of signing Solskjaer needs to make to bolster his midfield. It’s easy to see Doucoure would blossom in the midfield trio with McTominay-Fred/Pogba.

Verdict

Watford will be keen to keep hold of their star midfielder, but they could give up on him if United table a sizeable offer. There’s no doubt Doucoure would also be attracted by the prospect of playing for a club of the stature of United as well.

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Leicester City

3 Talking points from Man United 1-0 Leicester City ahead of PL gameweek 6

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3 Talking points from Man United 1-0 Leicester ahead of PL gameweek 6

Man United triumphed 1-0 over Leicester City at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Red Devils ended the Foxes’ unbeaten run and registered their first victory in the league since the 4-0 hammering of Chelsea on the opening day of the campaign. 

The game, which was regarded as one of the main attractions of Round 5, turned out to be something of an anti-climax in the end, and the overall lack of creativity over the ninety minutes was quite ridiculous considering the quality of players in action. 

There was hardly anything to separate the two teams in what turned out to be a rather dull and boring game of pretty ordinary standards, with Marcus Rashford making all the difference with his goal from the penalty spot early in the first half. 

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Overall, it was a story of how both the teams failed to live up to the hype surrounding the game, with Man United lacking the composure to keep hold of the ball long for long enough to carve out anything meaningful and Leicester just not showing enough creativity to find a way through a stubborn United backline led by Harry Maguire.

Nevertheless, Ole Gunnar Solskajer should be happy with those three valuable points and more importantly, against a side that has been tipped to overtake them in the race for the top-six. Here are 3 talking points from the dull 1-0 encounter:

1. Maguire gets the better of Vardy

This was the first time that Harry Maguire was facing his old club in the Premier League since his move to Man United earlier in the summer and the Englishman was always going to be Solskajer’s best bet in trying to keep an in-form Jamie Vardy at bay. 

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And the towering central defender, who seemed to be fully aware of Vardy’s tricks and strengths in the final third, didn’t allow his former teammate to even get a sniff of the goal on Saturday.

Maguire’s flawless reading of the game and his knowledge of Vardy’s strengths were instrumental in United’s efforts to drag the ultimate opportunist out of the game and though it wasn’t a very creative display from the Red Devils, they certainly deserve plenty of credit for a clean-sheet against one of the most potent attacking units in the division.

2. Soyuncu’s bubble finally bursts 

Caglar Soyuncu, who has taken over the reins from Maguire at the heart of Leicester’s defence, was showered with praises for his performances in the first four league games heading into the international break but the youngster turned into a villain at Old Trafford this weekend.

Manchester United 1-0 Leicester City

Soyuncu’s needless clip on Marcus Rashford’s heels inside the box early in the first half allowed United to open the scoring from the penalty spot and that, ultimately, would go on to be the decisive moment of the game.

Indeed, he has done a fair job at the back but his sudden rush of blood on Saturday, which eventually cost the Foxes the game, would have reminded Rodgers that the Turk is still quite young and relatively inexperienced at the Premier League level. 

3. Scott McTominay the standout performer for Man United

On a day where both the teams lacked creativity and finesse in the middle of the park, Scott McTominay put in arguably his best performance of the season so far and repaid Solskjaer’s faith in his abilities. 

Playing alongside Nemanja Matic as a part of a double pivot in the midfield, the Scottish international completely bossed the midfield with his tireless running up and down the pitch, while his physical presence put off the likes of Hamza Choudhury and Youri Tielemans. 

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McTominay broke down the play really well with his tackles and interceptions, carried the ball forward with intent and was always at the right place and at the right time to safeguard United from Leicester’s forays. 

The 22-year-old won 9 out of 16 duels on the ground, 3 out of 3 duels in the air, completed 2 out of his 2 attempted tackles and chipped in with 2 interceptions and 3 clearances.  

Apart from that, he was instrumental in circulating possession in the midfield and switching the play, with the youngster registering 60 touches on the ball and completing 31 passes (accuracy rate of 79.5), including 6 successful long balls. 

McTominay has shown signs of maturing into a powerful defensive midfielder this term and Man United have every reason to be pleased with his rapid development. 

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Arsenal

[Image] Premier League Team of the Week for gameweek 5 featuring Chelsea duo and Norwich star

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2019-20 Premier League: Team of the Week Round 5

Premier League returned to action with a bang this weekend after the end of the international break and Round 5 witnessed plenty of turnarounds in fortunes for some of the big-six clubs.

Liverpool beat Newcastle to preserve their perfect record, Spurs and Chelsea returned to winning ways after a lacklustre start and Arsenal played out an enthralling 2-2 draw away at Watford.

Wolves continued their losing habits and Everton stumbled against Bournemouth, while newcomers Norwich City grabbed the headlines with a shock 3-2 victory over Man City at Carrow Road.  

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There were plenty of individual performances that got the crowd off their seats and it is now time to assemble the standout performers from Round 5 in our Team of the Week.

Premier League Team of the Week

Tim Krul (GK)

The Dutchman showed a tremendous level of calmness and composure between the sticks against a world-class Man City attack and made several key saves to propel his team to an upset victory. 

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Serge Aurier (RB)

Perhaps a rather surprise inclusion in the list, the Ivorian announced his return to Spurs’ starting eleven in an emphatic manner and stole the show against Crystal Palace with a superb all-round display. 

Harry Maguire (CB)

The England international returned to face his former club Leicester City and did ever so well to keep Jamie Vardy at bay in the Red Devils’ 1-0 victory at Old Trafford. 

Fikayo Tomori (CB)

He might not have done an awful lot defensively in Chelsea’s 5-2 victory over Wolves but his 35-yeard screamer is likely to be one of the top contenders for the Goal of the Season award.

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Andrew Robertson (LB)

The Scotsman assisted Sadio Mane’s equaliser in the 3-1 triumph over Newcastle and put in yet another lion-hearted performance down the left-hand side of the pitch.

Scott McTominay (CDM)

The youngster was one of the brightest sparks in United’s victory over Leicester this weekend, thwarting the Foxes with numerous interventions in the middle of the park. 

Emiliano Buendia (LM)

Norwich City, as a unit, completely outplayed Man City in the 3-1 win at home and the Argentinian was one of the standout performers with his creativity and uncompromised work rate. 

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Heung-min Son (RM)

The Korean hasn’t had the best start to the season but he finally rose to the occasion and bagged a brace in the 4-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace, including a stunning volley that rattled the net. 

Roberto Firmino (CAM)

The only inclusion in the elite eleven who came on as a substitute, the Brazilian changed the whole complexion of the game in favour of Liverpool and completely bamboozled the Magpies with his guile, craft and work rate. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST)

One of the sure contenders for the Golden Boot this season, the Gabonese international took his tally up to 5 goals with a well-taken brace against Watford. 

Tammy Abraham (ST)

The Chelsea academy graduate just can’t stop scoring at the moment. The youngster bagged a hat-trick in the Blues’ 5-2 triumph over Wolves and took his tally up to 7, becoming Chelsea youngest-ever player to score a Premier League hat-trick. 

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Manchester United

[Image] Predicted 4-2-3-1 Man United XI to face FC Astana – can the Red Devils begin Europa League journey with a win?

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Manchester United vs FC Astana prediction: Manchester United line-up

Manchester United begin their Europa League campaign with a home encounter against Kazakhstan side FC Astana on Thursday.

While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have endured a mixed start to the Premier League season, they still sit fourth on the table with eight points from five games. The Red Devils narrowly defeated Leicester City at the weekend and Solskjaer will look to achieve some momentum now.

With a relatively thin squad this time around, the Norwegian tactician could use the Europa League by giving the academy stars a chance to impress. In fact, it is the perfect time for some of the Manchester United fringe players to make a lasting impact.

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Team News

Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are unlikely to feature on Thursday but they’ll be ready for Sunday’s trip to West Ham. Diogo Dalot is a doubt but Solskjaer could have Jesse Lingard back for the FC Astana test.

Probable Manchester United XI

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Sergio Romero (GK)

Romero has often featured in this competition in the past and the experienced Argentinean could start between the sticks on Thursday.

Ashley Young (RB)

With Wan-Bissaka expected to be rested and Dalot still out, Young is likely to be deployed at right-back.

Axel Tuanzebe (CB)

Tuanzebe made his first appearance of the season coming off the bench against Leicester on Saturday. He should get his first start of the season against Astana.

Phil Jones (CB)

Partnering Tuanzebe at the heart of United’s defence could be Jones, whose experience will come handy in such a tricky game.

Marcos Rojo (LB)

With Shaw out injured, Solskjaer could hand Rojo his first start of the campaign at left-back.

Nemanja Matic (CM)

Matic may not have played much this season but he is likely to start this game and help United get a solid start in the Europa League.

Fred (CM)

Fred looked lively in his first appearance of the season against Leicester, impressing after coming off the bench. This could be the perfect opportunity for Fred to get some minutes under his belt and impress the manager.

Jesse Lingard (RW)

Lingard hasn’t been able to make much of an impact for the Red Devils this season. So, he’ll look to seize the chance on Thursday against FC Astana.

Tahith Chong (LW)

Chong was very impressive in his cameo against Leicester, adding plenty of pace, energy and dynamism to the attack. He is in line to start his first game for Manchester United.

Angel Gomes (CAM)

Gomes is a special talent, who could provide some much-needed creativity and spark to United’s attack. He has been knocking on the door for some time now and is likely to start in the no.10 role.

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Mason Greenwood (ST)

Needless to say, Greenwood needs a run of games in the number 9 role. No starts have come his way yet, but the first could come on Thursday.

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