The Premier League Is Back! (United vs Leicester)

After an incredible World Cup in Russia, it is time for us to switch our attention back to club football and more specifically, the Premier League. Manchester United’s campaign kicks off on Friday with a home clash vs Leicester, and here are my thoughts ahead of the 2018/19 season.

In terms of signings, United made a quick start to the transfer window by snapping up promising Portugal right back Diogo Dalot from Porto and Samba star Fred from Shakthar Donetsk, before the start of the World Cup in June. Little did we know that these two would be the only new additions ahead of Jose’s third season. The lack of signings is a worry for both the manager and the fans, as there was a desperate need to strengthen positions including centre back and left wing. I feel this leaves the squad in a delicate position, especially when compared to rivals Liverpool and City, who have great squad depth. Mourinho must now look to make up for the lack of signings by utilising his existing squad, which is not going to be easy. I must say, I’m completely disappointed with Ed Woodward’s(the club’s CEO) attempts in this crucial window.

Despite only signing two players, United’s squad remains filled with talented individuals. Thus, it is still possible for the club to achieve results this season. Winning the PL might be a huge ask, but winning one of the domestic cups, progressing deep in the Champions League and finishing in the top three of the PL should not be impossible. As a fan desperately craving success, I hope Mourinho can now focus on bringing the best out of players such as Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, as they are more than capable of playing world class attacking football. As for our players, I hope they can step up and show their quality on the pitch.

Friday’s game vs Leicester represents a great chance for players like Marcus Rashford and Andreas Pereira to impress the boss. January signing Alexis will also look to hit the ground running in the red shirt. Due to the lack of match fitness, stars Pogba, Lingard and Lukaku will not be available for the season opener. Of course, getting the three points would be the perfect start to a long season, and I hope we can do so in style.

We might not be the favourites, but here’s to hoping we can achieve something special this season.

GGMU!đź”´đź”´

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Alexis Sanchez is Red!

Wow. Alexis Sanchez has just been unveiled as Manchester United’s newest number seven. It’s a huge day for all associated with the club as this signing is a significant one, for a number of reasons. The deal sees Alexis become United’s highest earning player, and also sees Europa League winner Mkhitaryan move to Sanchez’s former club Arsenal.

Going back to the summer of 2017, it looked certain Alexis would join his former boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Unfortunately for the Citizens, Arsenal pulled out of the deal at the last moment, and forced City to wait until January to make their move. Come January, the twenty nine year old was desperate to leave the Gunners and Arsene Wenger was willing to cash in on his star player who would leave for free anyway at the end of the season. And that was when United entered the picture, offering Sanchez a couple of things he wouldn’t get at City-guarenteed star status at a global scale and the chance to write his name into United’s rich tradition and history. And just like Van Persie, Alexis chose Red over Blue.

As a United fan, I am delighted and already dreaming of all the glory Sanchez can lead us to. At this moment, he will probably play on the right wing alongside Lingard, Martial and Lukaku. I am especially looking forward to seeing Martial and Alexis together. As for Mkhi, I am disappointed it didn’t work out at United, but wish him all the very best for his future at Arsenal.

Alexis provides a welcome boost for United, especially at this stage of the season. He will give the team a genuine chance of winning the Champions League and also the FA Cup. And next season, he will offer Mourinho the perfect platform to build a world class squad capable of challenging City for the Premier League title.

Here’s to hoping he can become the latest legendary number seven for Manchester United!!

Stylish September for Manchester United 

September is done and dusted, and Man United have coasted to convincing victories across the Premier League, Champions League and Carabao Cup. It has been a great month, and here is a small recap.

The month began with a difficult away trip to Stoke City in the league. United did not look their usual energetic self, and were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw after missing a couple of golden opportunities. Not the worst result, but a slightly disappointing one nevertheless.

United’s next game was the first group stage match in the Champions League, against Basel at Old Trafford. The Reds roared back to form with a convincing 3-0 victory that ensured maximum points on the opening day. The only blemish was a hamstring injury sustained by star man Paul Pogba, who could be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Get well soon Paul!

Success in the CL was followed up by three games in the space of six days. First, Everton were dispatched 4-0 at OT on Wayne Rooney’s return. This was followed up with an easy 4-1 win versus Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup, with Marcus Rashford putting in a fine performance. Three days later United made the trip to the south coast to face Southampton. This was not an easy game for the Red Devils, but the lads showed great commitment to defend the 1-0 lead right till the end, despite being outplayed in the second half.

The month’s fixtures ended with United’s first away trip of the CL season and a home League game against rock bottom Crystal Palace. United first tore CSKA Moscow apart in the Champions League, with Anthony Martial producing a masterclass display in the 4-1 victory. The Reds then made light work of the Eagles, winning 4-0 after a fine brace from Marouane Fellaini.

All in all, it has been a great month for United, filled with plenty of positives. I was impressed by the way Fellaini stepped up in Pogba’s absence—he was exceptional against Basel and Crystal Palace. Up front, it looks like Rashford and Martial are both set for a brilliant, competitive season—both are playing world class football and giving Jose Mourinho a selection headache before each game. It is great to see both our young attackers brimming with confidence and enthusiasm. And Romelu Lukaku has been scoring goals for fun-11 goals in 10 games! What a bargain and what a start to the season for Big Rom. 

While it has been a great start to the season, the real tests lie ahead, beginning with a visit to Anfield to take on Liverpool on October 14th. And we can’t forget City who are level on points with us at the top of the table and in great form themselves. United’s goalscoring form has been brilliant to watch, and I’m sure we will be fighting for the title throughout the season. Hopefully, we can keep up this awesome run of form. GGMU!

I hate International Breaks!

It’s the first week of September, and we have no Premier League football to watch after an action-packed August. The international break has arrived to irritate most football fans, and to potentially wreck a club’s season. Let me give you a brief recap of what happened last week in the PL and also tell you a bit about why I hate international breaks so much.

United’s superb start to the campaign continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Leicester City at OT. What I really enjoyed about this performance was our patience, persistence and determination that saw us finally break the deadlock in the 70th minute. The determination we showed to score a second was again a testament to how we have evolved from last season. The same game would have probably ended 1-1 last season, as we would have sat back as soon as we had scored and tried to protect our lead. So far this campaign, we have showed a desire to kill teams off which is really great to see. With ten goals scored and zero conceded, we’re looking ominously good ATM as we sit on the top of the table.

Elsewhere, the highlight of game week 3 was Liverpool’s 4-0 demolition of Arsenal. The latter looked shambolic, and were exposed big time in this game. Wenger took a few gambles and they backfired spectacularly. Even worse for the Londoners, they lost midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool on Deadline Day, and it also looks like they are set to lose star man Alexis Sanchez on a free to Man City next season. Will Wenger finally quit? Probably not.

Spurs once again failed to win at Wembley stadium, drawing 1-1 with Burnley (Kane still can’t score in August), while Chelsea were impressive in a 2-0 victory over Everton. City were made to work hard against Bournemouth, with Raheem Sterling rescuing Guardiola’s side with an added-time winner, before getting sent off for a second booking. 

Now the International break. I really dislike them because they break the continuity a squad gains by playing a run of fixtures and also vastly increase the chances of key players getting injured-as they have to travel long distances and adapt to different training methods. This is why I mentioned at the beginning that they have the potential to wreck a club’s season. Due to these factors, I feel that international qualifiers and friendlies should not be played in the middle of the club season and should instead be played at the end of the season, before the players go on holiday. That said, I guess things won’t be changing in the foreseeable future, and I’m completely ready for the return of PL football next week.

That’s about it for this post, hope you enjoyed reading!

The Premier League is off to a flier!!

This is exactly why we missed the Premier League so much. Goals, drama, upsets and so many emotions—and we’re just a week in!

It all began on Friday, with Arsenal taking on Leicester City in the season opener. While both teams defended shockingly, fans were thoroughly entertained, as Arsenal came from 3-2 down to win 4-3. New signing Lacazette scored on his league debut, while Jamie Vardy bagged a double for the Foxes.

The action didn’t end there, as Saturday saw the goalfest continue:

Watford and Liverpool played out a 3-3 draw in which both teams’ defence was exposed spectacularly; thankfully this made it another interesting game for the neutrals.

Chelsea lost 3-2 to Burnley at home—trailing 3-0 at halftime and down to nine men at the end of Ninety minutes. A poor performance that served to expose Chelsea’s lousy dealings in the transfer market, where they failed to increase the depth of their squad and also sold directly to PL rivals. With the added pressure of playing Champions League football, looks like the Blues won’t be champions for long.

Newly promoted Huddersfield Town had no such problems and began their campaign in style, beating Crystal Palace 3-0 away from home. A great start for the Terriers, while Palace fans will be worried about their future under new boss Frank De Boer. 

While Huddersfield began with a bang, Brighton and Hove Albion, another newly promoted side, fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to title favourites Man City. The seagulls put in a very decent performance, but City proved to be too strong for them over ninety minutes.

West Brom and Everton claimed 1-0 wins against Bournemouth and Stoke respectively, with Wayne Rooney marking his second Everton debut with the winning goal in the first half. Certainly an emotional return for the United legend.

Southampton and Swansea somehow both failed to score in a crazy goal fest opening weekend, drawing 0-0 at St. Mary’s.

Man United fans were made to wait until Sunday to see the team take on West Ham, and boy oh boy, it was certainly worth waiting for. United won 4-0, playing some of the most fluid and confident football I have seen since Sir Alex retired. We were in control throughout, and laid down a serious title marker. I was very impressed by Nemanja Matic, who played a brilliant game at CDM—winning tackles, and starting off attacks. Looks like Chelsea have made a terrible mistake letting him go, and I’m not complaining one bit. Romelu Lukaku was fantastic as well, bagging two goals on his PL debut for United. Overall, a great performance and result ensuring we go into the second week as league leaders. I’m not going to get carried away, but it looks like we have a good chance to finally win the title again.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Spurs beat a spirited Newcastle 2-0 at St. James’ Park. A reckless and unnecessary challenge from Jonjo Shelvey earned him a straight red card, contributing massively to the Magpies’ defeat in their first game of the season.

So, that’s week one for ya. Let’s hope for another action packed weekend, beginning of course with United’s trip to Swansea, on the 19th of August. Until then, goodbye and GGMU!
This week’s results in brief:

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester

Watford 3-3 Liverpool

Chelsea 2-3 Burnley

Crystal Palace 0-3 Huddersfield 

Everton 1-0 Stoke

Southampton 0-0 Swansea

West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth 

Brighton 0-2 Man City

Newcastle 0-2 Spurs

Man United 4-0 West Ham

Bring on the new season!

It’s finally upon us. After two and a half excruciating months without football, United’s season will officially kick off on Tuesday night. The UEFA super cup tie against Real Madrid will present us with the first chance to win silverware for the campaign, making it an important game. The PL season begins on the 13th, with a game against West Ham at the theatre of dreams (fan favourite Chicharito will return for the first time, sporting claret and blue). And don’t forget, Champions League football will be back at Old Trafford as well! I’m really excited for the season ahead, and here are my thoughts on what Manchester United must be out to achieve this year.

The pre season has gone very well for us—seven training sessions with ample game time for all our squad members, and more importantly, no injuries. We also made three signings—Romelu Lukaku from Everton, Victor Lindelof from Benfica and Nemanja Matic from Chelsea for a combined £140 million. All three look to be quality additions to the squad; I hope they can enable us to challenge for trophies this season and beyond. The squad also appears to have great chemistry, which will be beneficial to the club’s ambitions. Based on our performances, we look well prepared—both physically and tactically.

Last season was a mixed one. While we won the Europa League (qualifying for the Champions League in the process), EFL cup and Community Shield, a dismal 6th place finish in the Premier League combined with some questionable performances at various stages of the season ensured it wasn’t perfect. Jose Mourinho will know that the club must play far better and also be serious contenders for the PL this season. In the PL, I feel United can make a strong challenge, but might fall short due to the crazy competition from the likes of City and Spurs, and the consistency required over the course of 38 games. Our form at home will be crucial in determining our position at the end of the season. A top three finish is definitely possible, and must be accomplished at all costs.

As far as the Champions League goes, I expect United to at least make it till the round of 16. Anything beyond that will be considered a bonus, as we are yet to establish our presence in the competition annually. United will also take part in the EFL Cup (as defending champions) and in the FA Cup. For these competitions, I expect us to utilise our squad and give chances to youngsters and players who don’t play often, and enjoy a good run and try to win them both.

In addition to winning trophies, United must also look to improve the quality of football played. The main problem last season was being unable to finish chances and put the ball in the back of the net, which resulted in far too many draws (especially at Old Trafford). I am hopeful that the likes of Lukaku and Rashford can convert our chances this time around. Paul Pogba, United’s record signing, will also be expected to flourish—hopefully the arrival of Matic at CDM will facilitate this. Overall, our team looks well balanced and full of energy and enthusiasm.

Therefore, the focus for United is to challenge for trophies this season and show intent and consistency, especially in the PL. I hope we enjoy a great, trophy laden campaign this year, GGMU!

Season finale: All or nothing for United!

A lengthy season will reach its conclusion on Wednesday, and the game will determine whether the season has been a success or failure for Man United. Victory over Ajax in the Europa League final would mask the poor performance in the Premier League(a 6th place finish) and give United Champions League football, while defeat would serve to expose our shortcomings, and also cost the club 70 million pounds for missing out on a place amongst Europe’s elite.

I’m back after a lengthy absence, and here are my thoughts ahead of this season defining game of football. It’s Manchester United vs Ajax Amsterdam for the Europa League title.

Manager Jose Mourinho has been focused on this game for three weeks now, as highlighted by the teams he selected in United’s final three games of the League season. In our last game, we played our youngest squad ever in PL history against Crystal Palace, and even gave 16 year old Angel Gomes his senior debut. After the game, the gaffer didn’t hang around for his press conference—the minute he saw no journalists were present, he made a dash straight to home, to prepare for the trip to Stockholm. All he told MUTV was “I’m in the final. Let me go!”. His behaviour is certainly justified, as United need to be fully prepared for a game that will make or break our season.

I believe this is United’s biggest game since Fergie left. Not only is it a European final, it is also a game that offers a route straight to the group stages of the Champions League.  And as our player of the season Ander Herrera mentioned, it is a great opportunity to win a trophy the club has never won before. While Jose has certainly improved key aspects of the team, such as the mentality not to lose games(highlighted by a 25 game unbeaten run in the league) and the improved style of football, I expected better in the Premier League. 15 draws and 6th place is unacceptable for a club of United’s stature, and I really hope next season will be a substantial improvement. I’ve also been disappointed by the manager’s conservative and defensive approach in some of the most important games of the season—games I feel Ferguson would have grabbed by the scruff of the neck. An example is the second leg of the EL semi-final—despite having a 2-0 aggregate lead, the manager chose to sit back instead of kill the game, and it nearly cost us as Celta Vigo went dangerously close to scoring a second away goal which would have seen us eliminated from the competition.

But, the game’s importance can once again be highlighted by mentioning how a win would ensure Mourinho wins his second trophy of the season along with the EFL cup, which would make it a very successful campaign overall. Along with the return of CL football, Mourinho will have an encouraging platform to build on next season, and the UEFA super cup will present another opportunity to win a trophy in the new campaign.

Our opponents Ajax are no pushovers. Having missed out on the Eredevisie title in agonising fashion, they will be looking to win the EL and re-establish themselves as one of the top European sides. And with a group of young and talented players, they will be playing to win. The Dutch side have also not played in 10 days, which will only aid their preparations. The lengthy injury list we possess is also a concern for many fans, and United’s task is  going to be tricky to say the least.

As it is a final, I would like to see us attack from the first minute and put our opponent on the back foot. Hopefully, we don’t “park the bus” from the off and invite the pressure, as Ajax will most certainly score against our weakened defence. It is time for the lads to play fearless football. All of this aside, all the fans must support the team regardless of who starts and how the manager decides to play.

While I cannot wait for the game, I am also really nervous. I will end this post on that note, and begin praying to god for a United victory!

GGMU!