RelatedPosts Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U EPL: Red Devils attack Palace Man U vs Norwich City Venue: Old Trafford Kick off: 4PMManchester United will be looking to return to winning ways when they welcome struggling Norwich City to Old Trafford in the Premier League this afternoon. The Red Devils are without a victory in their last three matches in all competitions but are still fifth in the Premier League table and will fancy their chances of overcoming the Canaries this weekend. It has been a case of one step forward, two steps back for United this season, and it is difficult to imagine that pattern of results and performances changing between now and the summer. Back-to-back victories over Newcastle United and Burnley in their final two Premier League matches of 2019 would have seen the 20-time English champions arrive at Arsenal on New Year’s Day full of confidence. The performance at the Emirates Stadium was disappointing, though, as they suffered a 2-0 loss. Since then, they have drawn 0-0 with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup in addition to suffering a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final. The Red Devils were well beaten by Pep Guardiola’s side at Old Trafford and face a huge task to turn the tie around on January 29. When considering that United have only won eight of their 21 Premier League matches this season, it is a surprise that they are in a top-four race. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are fifth in the table as things stand, though, just five points off fourth-placed Chelsea, who have suffered seven league defeats this term. United are only four points above 10th-placed Arsenal, though, and could easily slide down the table with a couple of poor results. It would be a huge surprise if they fail to return to winning ways this weekend but breaking down sides that they are expected to beat has been a real issue. The Red Devils have only suffered one Premier League defeat at Old Trafford this season, though, and that came back in August against Crystal Palace. That said, Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Everton have all left the Theatre of Dreams with something to show for their efforts this term. At the time of writing, no new players have arrived at the club this month despite their injury problems. The absence of Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba have hurt them badly, while key centre-back Harry Maguire is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hip problem, leaving the team short in defence. There have been plenty of positives this season, though, with Marcus Rashford enjoying the finest campaign of his career. The England international has 17 goals in 29 appearances at club level this term and will surely be considered by Norwich to be the home side’s biggest threat this afternoon. Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial have also been impressive in the final third, but the lack of a provider from the number 10 spot has been a problem, with Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira all failing to convince in that area of the field during the 2019-20 campaign. It does appear that Solskjaer will be given time to make his mark regardless of what happens this season but anything other than a victory this weekend would lead to more discontent among the supporters. Norwich have lost their last two Premier League games against United, including a 3-1 defeat in the reverse match at Carrow Road earlier this season. That said, the Canaries famously recorded a 2-1 victory when they travelled to Old Trafford during the 2015-16 campaign. Cameron Jerome and Alexander Tettey scored the goals on that occasion, and it would be some story if the visitors could find a way of picking up all three points this afternoon. Daniel Farke’s side have only won three Premier League matches all season, though, collecting just 14 points in total to leave themselves bottom of the table heading into the next set of fixtures. Worryingly, they are now five points off 19th-placed Watford and sit seven points from Aston Villa in 17th. As it stands, last season’s Championship winners are the favourite to finish bottom of the pile, particularly when considering that they have not been victorious in the league since beating Everton on November 23. Norwich have overcome Manchester City this season, though, in addition to holding both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. All three of those results came at Carrow Road, however, and their away form has been disappointing. The Canaries will enter this match off the back of successive league draws with Tottenham and Crystal Palace, though, while they also recorded an impressive 4-2 victory over Preston North End in the FA Cup last Saturday. Farke’s side will not be the favourites to triumph this weekend, but they have a huge game at home to fellow strugglers Bournemouth on January 18 and sooner or later wins will have to arrive. The basement side is sweating on leading scorer Teemu Pukki’s fitness ahead of the clash at Old Trafford, meanwhile, and whether the in-form striker is available is likely to have a huge impact on the team’s confidence. Man U possible XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Jones, Williams, Matic, Fred, James, Pereira, Rashford, Martial. Norwich City possible XI: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley, Byram, Vrancic, Tettey, Buendia, McLean, Cantwell, Idah.Tags: Daniel FarkeEPLManchester UnitedNorwich CityOle Gunnar Solskjaer
RelatedPosts Kai Havertz takes Fikayo Tomori’s Chelsea shirt Sheyi Ojo joins Cardiff City on season-long loan Kompany retires as player to become manager Cardiff City have reportedly made an approach to take Watford striker Isaac Success on loan until the end of the season. Neil Harris has been clear in his desire to strengthen both up front and the full-back positions this month and is confident he can get some business done before the end of the window. And the Bluebirds are ramping up their efforts to bolster their attacking ranks before the January transfer window shuts at 11pm on Friday night. Latest reports from The Athletic claim the Welsh capital club have sounded out Watford about a loan deal for Success. The Athletic also report that Belgian giants Anderlecht are interested in acquiring his services. It is thought Success’ representatives are eager to find a suitor this week in order to get their client more game time, with the Nigeria international having played only six games in all competitions so far this season. He has struggled to really make an impact at Watford since moving from La Liga club Granada back in 2016, having scored just five times in 49 outings for the Hornets. Cardiff is in desperate need of a goalscorer at present, so a move for Success would appear to represent a bit of a gamble.Tags: AnderlechtCardiff CityIsaac SuccessNeil HarrisThe AthleticWatford
RelatedPosts Breaking: Oyo releases 2020/2021 academic calendar for primary, secondary schools Oyo approves N59.7m as take-off grant for Amotekun operations Oyo adjusts school calendar, lauds stakeholders’ adherence to COVID-19 guidelines The Oyo State Government has concluded plans to broadcast live all matches of the Shooting Stars Sports Club on its television and radio stations.The State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Wasiu Olatubosun, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Ibadan. Olatubosun said the State Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Seun Fakorede, disclosed this after a meeting with the management of Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State on Monday.He said: “Fakorede disclosed that the move was part of efforts to further change the fortunes of sports in the state for the better.“The state governor, Seyi Makinde, has invested in new broadcast technology which will enable both the BCOS radio and television stations to beam 3SC matches live.“The time has now come to raise the bar in sports activities, especially football.“3SC will get more followers with this arrangement to broadcast their matches live on BCOS radio and television stations. “It will give opportunity to the fans and lovers of the club to view their progress as well.”The commissioner said the support to 3SC would also assist the state-owned broadcast outfits to launch into beaming local content to the world at large and as well get more viewers.The statement also quoted Dotun Oyelade, the BCOS Chairman, as saying the corporation’s management had put in its best to ensure that the new arrangement works out.Oyelade said a committee would be constituted immediately to that effect.He then advised the Youths and Sports Commissioner to continue with the way he had started. “He should not derail from the good plans he has for the football clubs, as well as youths in the state,’’ Oyelade said.Tags: Oyo State GovernmentShooting Stars Sports ClubWasiu Olatunbosun
Robbie Keane labelled Michael Carrick the most under-rated player in England after seeing him help to deny Ireland a famous victory at Wembley. Keane added: “He sees the pass very, very quickly. When you see the pass that quickly, it creates so much space for other players and it takes three or four players out of the game. “You saw that tonight, the understanding that he has with players. He doesn’t need to take three, four, five touches, it’s one touch, two touches. “He has probably been the most under-rated player in England for such a long time. I never understand how he doesn’t get picked for the England squad on a regular basis. You saw him tonight – I saw that years ago.” Ireland enjoyed a dream start to their first encounter with England in 18 years when Shane Long powered a superb header past keeper Joe Hart from Seamus Coleman’s pinpoint cross. Long’s effort sparked delirious celebrations among the 11,000 or so Irish fans and reminded Keane of his former international strike partner Niall Quinn. He said with a smile: “It was a great ball by Seamus and it was a great leap by Longy – it was like Quinny in the day, wasn’t it? “It was good, it set the stall out for us. We were disappointed to concede the goal after that, but all in all, on reflection 1-1 is probably a good result for everybody.” Press Association The Manchester United midfielder was instrumental in dragging Roy Hodgson’s side back into their eagerly-anticipated friendly clash with Ireland as he fed Daniel Sturridge to set up Frank Lampard’s 23rd-minute equaliser. But Ireland skipper Keane witnessed at close hand his former Tottenham team-mate’s overall contribution, and it came as no surprise to him. He said: “Michael is a good friend of mine. I said it years and years ago, he is certainly one of the best midfielders I have played against.”
Rule changes brought in this season will still not allow retrospective action to be taken against players if they have already been booked for the incident, the Football Association has stressed. The new rule change does allow for retrospective action in cases where the referee’s view of an incident has been obstructed and the assistant referees or fourth official are not in a position to judge the challenge. It was brought in following a tackle by Wigan’s Callum McManaman on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara last season where the referee’s view of the incident was blocked and the other match officials were not in a position to judge exactly what had occurred. An FA statement said: “From the start of the 2013-14 campaign, where the referee’s view of an incident has been completely obstructed and the assistant referees or fourth official are not in a position such that they could be expected to judge the challenge, based on factors such as their distance from or line of sight to an incident, the FA will be able to take retrospective action. “Prior to this change, the FA was only able to take retrospective action when none of the match officials had seen the ‘coming together’ or when the incident was truly exceptional, for example, in the case of Ben Thatcher’s challenge on Pedro Mendes.” Press Association There have been suggestions that Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic could face further disciplinary action after he was booked for catching Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke with his arm in midweek. The FA said that is not the case – only in “truly exceptional” incidents such as Ben Thatcher’s challenge on Pedro Mendes in 2006 can further action be taken on incidents where yellow cards have been shown.
Press Association The 42-year-old former Sunderland and Ipswich boss had been out of the game since January 2011 when he got the call from O’Neill, and he revealed the offer to work with his country once again was one he could not refuse. Keane said: “I know people think I am a little bit crazy, but I would have been crazy to have turned it down, it was just too good an opportunity. He said: “We have signed a contract for the next couple of years, and that’s the focus. “It’s always dangerous to sign any kind of contract thinking of some sort of get-out or what might happen further down the road. That’s not in the mindset.” Keane is confident he can improve the players in the Ireland squad, and particularly the midfielders, although he was mystified by reports that he had told former international Ray Houghton that there are bigger talents in the current set-up than he was in his day. He said: “I don’t think I said that, no. I don’t remember saying that. I don’t know if Ray had a few pints in him. “Maybe I said something along the lines of maybe there is more potential, and sometimes the players are the last to think that. “Maybe there has been a mentality that when they play for Ireland or even at club level that sometimes they don’t realise how good they are.” “There wasn’t one bone in my body that said, ‘No, this is not for me’. As soon as I met Martin and we discussed it, I thought, ‘yes’. There was nothing to discuss. I just said, ‘Yes, let’s go for it’.” Keane took his first managerial job at the Stadium of Light at the age of just 35 back in August 2006, and guided the Black Cats to promotion back to the Barclays Premier League in his first season. He departed in December 2008 with the club languishing in the lower reaches of the table, and he spent a little more than 20 months at Ipswich before his reign was brought to an untimely conclusion. However, the former Manchester United star is convinced he should have had more chances than he had to return to football before O’Neill brought him in from the cold. He said: “I have had two opportunities to get back into football – one was working abroad, another was an international job – and it didn’t quite fall into place, but there are certainly clubs in England I feel should have given me an opportunity. “But a lot of coaches say that, so yes, it was frustrating, but also you need to be patient and wait for the right opportunity. “I am just glad that someone like Martin O’Neill said, ‘Listen, do you fancy coming and working with me?’, and really with the Irish team, it seemed like such a good fit, I couldn’t say no.” O’Neill revealed as he was unveiled on Saturday that there was no clause in his two-year contract that would allow him to leave for another job, and Keane is not even thinking along those lines. Roy Keane has admitted he would have been “crazy” to turn down the chance to become Ireland manager Martin O’Neill’s assistant.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper started the season as the Potters’ third choice but with Asmir Begovic having broken a finger and Thomas Sorensen suffering an Achilles injury, he made his Barclays Premier League debut against Everton on New Year’s Day. He then played 90 minutes in the FA Cup third-round win over Leicester and is in contention to line up against Liverpool on Sunday. Stoke manager Mark Hughes insists he cannot allow Jack Butland’s World Cup ambitions to affect his team selection. Sorensen has returned to training and may be passed fit for the match, but Butland has done little to warrant being dropped. Whatever decision Hughes makes, though, he has no intention of allowing Butland’s international prospects to come into the equation. Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and John Ruddy are the current England keepers, but a run of games in the top flight could easily see Butland, who earned one cap in 2012, move into contention. “My intention is to make the right decisions for Stoke City – the World Cup doesn’t come into my thinking,” said Hughes. “Jack understands and accepts that – I’ll always do my best for Stoke first and foremost. “And so will Jack, although he has ambitions to go to the World Cup, he knows he has to establish himself at this level.” Despite Hughes’ words, he would have no qualms about pitching the former Birmingham stopper into action against a Liverpool side who have scored 44 goals in 20 matches this term. As well as his solitary England appearance against Italy, Butland also played for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics and Hughes is confident he is ready to compete at the highest level. Press Association “I have no worries about Jack – given how he acquitted himself when he came on at half-time for Thomas against Everton,” said Hughes. “He showed a lot of confidence and presence in the box, and against Leicester in the FA Cup what he had to do, he did really well. “Jack is more than capable even though this would be his first start against an attack like Liverpool’s. “With a player like Luis Suarez, you have to accept that, with the talent he has, he will have an opportunity at some point in the game to test the keeper. “That goes without saying. The team will create a chance for him, or he’ll create it out of nothing. “When that happens, then you need your keeper to earn his corn and make sure he doesn’t capitalise.”
Swansea also revealed they were hoping to get permission from the Premier League to allow Ngog to play in the home game against Fulham on Tuesday night. Ngog arrives at the Liberty Stadium having scored three goals in his final four appearances for Bolton, whom he joined from Liverpool in 2011. However, Dougie Freedman’s side have been keen to trim their wage bill as they adjust to life in the Sky Bet Championship after last year’s accounts showed their net debt surpassing £160million. Ngog could be followed to Swansea by Tom Ince, who is set to hold talks with the Premier League club over an initial loan move from Blackpool, Press Association Sport understands. The winger is expected to arrive in south Wales on Monday afternoon after the Seasiders gave the England Under-21 international permission to discuss a switch to the Liberty Stadium. Other clubs are also keen to sign Ince, with Crystal Palace believed to be among them, who is out of contract in the summer. Any deal would see a fee paid to take Ince on loan until the end of the season, when a permanent switch could be completed once his Blackpool contract comes to an end. Ince, whose father Paul was sacked as Blackpool manager last week, had been reportedly set to join Monaco earlier in the January transfer window, but a move to the Ligue 1 club did not materialise. Swansea have confirmed the signing of Bolton striker David Ngog for an undisclosed fee. Press Association The 24-year-old, whose contract at the Reebok Stadium was due to expire in the summer, missed Wanderers’ FA Cup clash with Cardiff at the weekend and completed a medical in south Wales on Monday afternoon before penning terms until the end of the season. Swans boss Michael Laudrup has been keen to add more attacking options to ease the burden on Wilfried Bony with last season’s top scorer Michu still nursing an ankle problem. The Seasiders had confirmed Ince would hold talks over a move to the top-flight in a club statement which read: “Blackpool Football Club can confirm that, following discussions with Thomas Ince and his representative, permission has been given for Thomas to discuss a loan move to a Premier League club. “Thomas has expressed his ambition to play in the Premier League for the remainder of the season, a decision that the club fully understands and supports.” Swansea’s Welsh rivals Cardiff agreed an £8million fee for Ince last summer, but the player eventually turned down a move to Cardiff City Stadium.
” I’m under no illusions whatsoever,” McGinley said at a press conference ahead of the ISPS Handa Wales Open, where team members Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher will complete their preparations this week. “If we don’t win this Ryder Cup, it won’t be because of complacency, I can assure you that. We are very motivated. We know it’s going to be a very strong American team. We know it’s going to be a very strongly motivated team and a very strongly-led American team, as well. “We are under no illusions how big this task is. It’s not a case of turning up and the Americans are going to roll over. It is going to be very, very difficult to win this Ryder Cup. I think we’ve got a slightly different threat from America than we’ve had in the past, as far as they really feel like they are underdogs and they are up against it.” McGinley also feels question marks over Watson’s wild card selections – with the in-form Chris Kirk and FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel missing out – can galvanise the American side, adding: ” We’ve seen that in the past, certainly from a European perspective, how not being on form and questions marks being made about the team can really galvanise them. “We will not be underestimating America, I can assure you of that. We will be absolutely ready for this.” McGinley, who has played on three winning teams and been vice-captain on two others, added: “My one worry is that you’re at the very pinnacle of world sport here. You’ve got 12 of the best players from Europe playing 12 of the best from America. This is top level sport and anything can happen.” The 47-year-old Dubliner at least insists he has no concerns over the relationship between McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, who are currently involved, directly and indirectly, in a court case with McIlroy’s former management company. McIlroy’s legal battle with Horizon Sports Management also involves the affairs of McDowell and the judge hearing the case said on Tuesday it involved such sensitive matters that the sides should engage in mediation. European captain Paul McGinley believes his side faces a “different threat” from the United States as they look to defend the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles next week. Press Association “It’s not a concern,” McGinley added. “It has been going for a year and both have had very strong years. Rory’s had arguably his best year ever and Graeme won the French Open. It has not affected their performance and both of them have assured me it’s not going to affect anything in the team room. “I would be very surprised if they don’t play together, although I’m not going to write it in stone.” McGinley said he has a “skeleton plan” in place for his pairings and is happy with the different preparation methods of his team. He was having dinner with Donaldson, Westwood, Gallacher and Bjorn on Wednesday evening, when he will hand over a booklet with information and pictures of what to expect in terms of infrastructure at Gleneagles. He also “endorsed” Victor Dubuisson’s decision to withdraw from the tournament and prepare in France, with the players involved in the latter stages of the FedEx Cup play-offs having a rest. “I’m delighted the guys who played in America are having a week off,” McGinley said. “We did not have that in Medinah and I think we suffered. Graeme McDowell has gone on record saying he felt unprepared physically and mentally.” The course at Celtic Manor has been set up to replicate the challenge posed by Gleneagles, where McGinley said the three rookies on his team – Dubuisson, Donaldson and Gallacher – will definitely play at least one match before the singles. Despite needing a wild card, Westwood will expect to play in most sessions in his ninth Ryder Cup and revealed he has lost 23lb in six weeks with two gym sessions a day. Europe have won seven of the last nine contests and go into the 40th Ryder Cup as odds-on favourites with a side containing four of the world’s top six players, including world number one and Open and US PGA champion Rory McIlroy. However, McGinley is well aware that the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 has provided the American side with extra motivation to regain the trophy, along with that supplied by captain Tom Watson, who led the US to their last win on European soil in 1993.
With Jose Mourinho’s history of claiming titles from the front, some are suggesting the Blues’ position is ominous for the rest of the division, but 31 games still remain. “Clearly it (the title race) is not over,” Terry said. “Other teams have been in this position. It’s nice to have the lead but when you’re at the top everyone wants to shoot you down. “That’s the good thing about the Premier League and why everyone loves it. “Teams are out to get us because we are at the top and playing well. “The international break is here and we need to come back and maintain our form after that as well. It’s very important we do that.” Chelsea are chasing a first Premier League title since 2010 – their only championship since two-time winner Mourinho’s first spell ended in September 2007 – and Terry wants the Blues to ruthlessly exploit any slips by their rivals. He added: “You’re just hoping when you’re at the top and have a five-point cushion and more on certain teams, a couple of them slip up again and that increases. The Blues have taken a five-point lead over Manchester City into the international break after Sunday’s 2-0 win over Arsenal, their sixth victory from seven games. Manchester United are eight points behind, with the Gunners and Liverpool nine adrift. “If that happens, it’s a lot of points to give up early on. All we can do is keep winning and wait for those teams to slip up.” Chelsea finished four points behind champions City last term, but in Diego Costa now have the “killer” striker Mourinho has craved. The Spain striker netted his ninth Premier League goal on his seventh appearance, despite Mourinho insisting he is barely training as a result of a hamstring problem. Terry questioned where talk of Costa’s fitness travails arose, insisting the £32million summer signing from Atletico Madrid was causing him no end of problems in training. “I’m not sure where that’s coming from,” Terry said. “He isn’t showing that in training. He looks sharp, he looks angry, he looks aggressive. “He’s fit and that’s the main thing. Diego has been a nightmare for defenders. He popped up with another great finish.” A delightful pass from Cesc Fabregas set up Costa and the former Arsenal captain was praised by Terry. “When it’s quiet and tight like that you need someone to open up the defence,” the Blues skipper added. “He’s not only shown it against Arsenal but from day one.” John Terry is thrilled with Chelsea’s fine start to the Premier League season, but insists it is just that – the beginning. Press Association