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2 things we learnt from Man Utd’s dramatic draw against Sheff Utd

Man Utd Rashford

Man Utd was held to a dramatic draw yesterday at Bramhall Lane, with Sheffield United dominating for long periods of time.

For 70 minutes against the Blades, the headlines were written. Man Utd in crisis once again. Pochettino in, Ole out, players that need selling etc. In a stunning eight-minute period, Man Utd rolled back the years.

A stunning strike from the ever impressing Brandon Williams on 72 minutes and another goal for Mason Greenwood five minutes later, seen the Red Devils draw level.

Two minutes after that James and Martial combined for Rashford to score, making it 3-2.

Solskjaer’s men started to pop it about like a team flowing in confidence, not one that had been battered for 70 minutes.

McBurnie equalised late on to cap off a great match. The result leaves United 9th on 17 points. A win would have seen them jump up to 5th, in a tight scrap for the Europa League place.

Three things were evident yesterday…

Man Utd’s inconsistency needs to be addressed

Man United’s average point tally so far is 1.30 per game. It leaves them with a projected 50 points come to the end of the season. This point tally would see them finish around 9th position going off the last 5 years Premier League tables.

Now some may make the argument that this team is in a rebuild and blooding young stars. It may take time to get back to even being a regular top-four team.

However, many fans are not as patient as they use to be. We live in a world of instant actions, fans want instant success. The years of giving a manager time have gone. Solskjaer has one window to improve the squad, a window that will possibly make or break Solskjaer’s Man Utd future.

Solskjaer’s substitutions changed the game

Three at the back was simply not working, Phil Jones was not working out, Fred and Pereira in midfield were not working out.

Solskjaer made the call at half time, Jones off, Lingard on. This changed the game. Lingard made 13 passes in 45 minutes in the final third compared to Pereira’s 9 in 72 minutes. He created 4 chances, the most by any Man United player in the match.

By playing in the hole, Lingard changed the flow of the game. Alongside Greenwood coming on and scoring within minutes. The substitute game was strong.

However, bringing off Martial for Tuanzebe when United was looking likely to claim a fourth and kill the game off, was a blunder in hindsight.

Many Man Utd fans seem to point at Solskjaer’s tactical naivety at times.

In conclusion, yesterday we saw the worst and best of Solskjaer men. Something that is a reoccurring theme under his leadership.

Oldham Athletic make it 4 unbeaten as they continue to paper the cracks

Oldham Athletic's Mills

Oldham Athletic pulled themselves five points clear of the singular relegation place, with a 1-0 win over Newport County yesterday.

It takes Latics to two wins and two draws in their past four League 2 fixtures.

Furthermore, there has been an overall improvement under Dino Maamria in his first nine games in charge. Three wins, three losses, three draws, 10 goals for and 12 conceded sees them five points better off and +3 goal difference to the previous man in charge.

Compare this to Laurent Binade’s first nine games in charge this season before he was replaced by Maamria – One win, four losses, 4 draws, nine goals for and 14 conceded. Things are certainly looking up for Oldham.

However, it’s off the pitch that isn’t improving. A big section of fans are disgruntled with life under chairman Lemesgan and a project called Push the Boundary seem to be the driving force for change at Boundary Park.

Their aim is to protest on the 7th December, as a voice from the stands.

Oldham have been in steady decline over a number of years, finding themselves in the bottom tier of the football league last season. Being favourites to go straight back up, Oldham ended up with a midtable finish after a succession of managers.

That trend has continued this season, with them already on their second manager after nine games of the season. Finding themselves at the wrong end of the table so early on, they already face an uphill battle to claim a play-off spot come to the end of the season.

Oldham boss feeling optimistic

However, Oldham boss Maamria is feeling optimistic after yesterday’s game. With him trying to close the gap between the team and fans, by dedicating the three points to the travelling away support.

From an outside point of view, it seems that this season is going to be turbulent on and off the pitch. With a clash eventually coming to fruition of fans and the board – which many will be hoping to be the turning point towards a positive future at Boundary Park.

Results on the pitch can only paper over the cracks for so long in the short-term.

Wigan Athletic fans voice their opinion following another defeat ‘it’s time for a change’

Wigan Athletic fans took to Twitter last night to vent yet more anger towards manager Paul Cook following another defeat away from home.

Wigan again lost away from home, taking their winless streak to 5 games in the Championship. They now hover one point above the bottom three. Stoke gained crucial ground on them, with back to back victories in Michael O’Neill’s first 2 games in charge.

Despite being backed in the transfer market in the summer, while bringing in big names like Jamal Lowe and Keiffer Moore. Cook, along with the Latics fans would surely have wanted to build on their end of season form, that seen them steer clear of relegation.

One loss in their last nine games should have been somewhat of a springboard into this season. Especially with the strengthening of the squad in the summer transfer window.

However, four wins out of their 17 games so far this season see Wigan loitering in 20th position. Crucial games against Reading and Luton coming up in the next two weeks could define not only Wigan’s season but Cook’s future.

Many Wigan fans believe the time is now to change…

Wigan Athletic boss hopes returning stars can lift the team ahead of Stoke City

Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook

Wigan Athletic travel to Stoke City in the hope of ending a horrendous away record of 1 win in league 29 games in the Championship.

Wigan (20th) sit above Stoke (23rd) in the Championship by 4 points. Both have had miserable starts to the season and will be hoping this game is the kickstart to climbing up the table.

However, Wigan’s away record is abysmal. Although, with returning stars like Keiffer Moore and David Marshall coming back after successful international breaks, Paul Cook will be hoping that it can lift the squad…

“Kieffer had two exceptionally good games; it was fantastic for Wales to qualify,” Cook continued. “David played and Scotland are on the back of a good run of three wins to finish their campaign.

“Everyone has come back well; it makes it difficult that Kieffer only comes back yesterday but that’s just part of football.

“I think it is great for Wales and the home nations that there is the chance to qualify; Scotland have a play-off coming up, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have a chance too.

“It is great for us that our players are qualifying and getting to play in these big tournaments, which only enhances football in the UK.”

Quoted from WiganAthletic.com

Wigan Athletic feeling refreshed?

After a two week break from the competitiveness of the Championship. Cook would surely be hoping the rest will have a positive effect on the players, as they look to end a run of 4 league games without a win.

Stoke, on the other hand, fired 4 past Barnsley in O’Neill’s opening game. The Potters fans will surely be hoping for that infamous new manager bounce, to climb out of the bottom three and surge up the table.

Paul Cook ended his Wigan press conference with

“For our lads, though, it is about us going down there and making sure we have done everything we can by 5pm to have won the game.”

Quoted from WiganAthletic.com

With Wigan Athletic not losing to Stoke City since 2009 in the Premier League, 10 games in total. The omens are good for a Wigan win.

The key Man City v Chelsea midfield battle that will win the game

Man City's Rodrigo

Man City entertain Frank Lampard’s Chelsea tomorrow in a top-four clash many wouldn’t have expected with Chelsea above Man City.

Guardiola’s men find themselves in fourth, nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool and struggling for form in recent times.

3 wins and 2 losses to Liverpool and Wolves in the last 5 league games, see the Citizen’s with a bigger gap than last year’s 7 points to make up to Liverpool. If they want to complete a treble of domestic title’s, they have to refind their groove.

Chelsea comes into the game with only one loss since the middle of September across all competitions. They surely provide a stern test once again for Man City. Albeit, Guardiola is boosted by the news that Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson is available following his injury.

As former midfielders, Guardiola and Lampard know that these type’s of games are won and lost in the midfield area. Both Jorghino and Rodrigo are excelling in the DMC role this season and could be the key to who takes the three points…

Man City’s Rodrigo

The Spanish defensive midfielder is the younger of the two and is in his debut season in the Premier League. He rates higher on whoscored.com’s ratings with 7.47 compared to Jorghino’s 7.14.

Alongside a strong passing game with 91.6% completed passes and 2.9 aerial battles won per game – it seems Rodrigo will the main man come Saturday with his offensive stats stacking up against Jorghino, with more key passes and long ball distribution per game.

To compare, Jorghinos pass completion is 88.4% and the Italian has 0.5 aerial duels won per game.

Chelsea’s Jorghino

However, the role of a defensive midfielder is to stop the attacks. This is where Chelsea’s Jorghino starts to show his age and experience over Rodigo.

He wins the battle of tackles (2.5 – 2.4), interceptions (2.1 – 0.8), less fouls given away (1 – 1.3) and blocks (0.3 – 0.2) per game.

Some of the stats are marginal. Sometimes, marginal is what it takes to win a match in the top four.

Whatever the result between these two sides. it will be a fascinating watch in the centre fo the park.

Man Utd’s 2 key 2019 games to cut the gap on the top 4

Solskjaer at a Man Utd press conference

In today’s press conference, Solskjaer wanted to re-focus his Man Utd team into clawing back the 9 point distance to the top 4.

Solskjaer earlier today in his press conference was keen to mention that Man Utd now need to be consistent.

“Yeah, it’s a clear gap in the league between the top four,”

“There are, I don’t know, many teams, within a range of three or four points. So, for us, it’s about consistency now and getting as many points on the board as we can.

“We turned a corner we felt, performance-wise and results-wise after the last international break, but, then again, it’s so tight and I’m just looking forward to this game. We need to have a good performance and a result.”

Quotes taken from ManUtd.com

Man Utd currently has lost once in the past 7 games across all competitions. However, in the Premier League, it’s 2 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw in their 5 recent fixtures.

Here backs up Solskjaer’s claims of how the team needs to find that consistent groove if they are to motor up the league.

No doubt, with Spurs having Mourinho newly appointed. They will find the new manager bounce upturn in form, that will hopefully see them start to turn their season around, with them currently lying in 14th position.

If Man Utd wants to cut the gap, here are two fixtures that they must win…

Sheffield United v Man Utd

Man United travel to Sheffield United on Sunday in the late kick-off. The Blades are currently flying high in 5th position. However, they are only a point above the Red Devils.

To start to cut the gap, United need to come away from this game with the three points. It’ll be a great start for them in the run-in to Christmas.

United seem to have stumbled at so-called ‘easy wins’ this season. With losses to Crystal Palace, West Ham and Newcastle Utd frustrating the Old Trafford faithful this season.

Manchester City away

The Manchester derby comes 4 days after, what will be, a tasty encounter with Tottenham Hotspur.

Man City currently lay in 4th in the Premier League, nine points adrift from Liverpool.

City seems to have inconsistencies of their own, with only 3 wins out of the last five Premier League fixtures. It could be a good time to play Guardiola’s men if this is a theme for their season, as they look to clinch a third title in a row.

As with all derbies, the form book goes out of the window. Man Utd has taken 8 points away from the ‘top 7’ in thier four games. with Man City managing one point out of a possible 6.

A win against their rivals could really catapult Man Utd going forward under Solskjaer.

Man City can edge closer to Liverpool with these 2 key fixtures

Man City boss Pep Guardiola

It is going to be crucial for Man City to pick up as many points as possible in the next few weeks. They need to close the gap on Liverpool.

Liverpool currently sits at the top of the Premier League on 34 points. Man City have now dropped to 4th with 25 points following last weekend’s defeat.

Leicester City and Chelsea have overtaken them recently. Now it is time for the Blues to step up if they want to regain their title for the third time in a row.

Pep Guardiola’s side lost 3-1 to Liverpool last week in a VAR debated game. This caused them to fall behind even more and the gap between the two clubs has opened up.

However, Man City will have to make the most of upcoming games and try to get as many points as possible.

Here are two games that stand out…

Man City v Chelsea

Frank Lampard’s side has recently overtaken Man City in the League. They have gone to 3rd with 26 points.

However, the blues need to take advantage of them. Their team is quite young, which could see them gain from with the experience they have.

Chelsea has also not had many big goal-scoring games. Most have been 2-1 wins. Man City can try to score a few in this game to make sure they take 3 points. They face Chelsea at home next weekend.

Southampton away

This fixture isn’t until April. However, that is closer to the end of the season and it will be a critical time for City in the title race.

That is if a race is still on. Southampton is currently 19th in the League. They only have 8 points. Pep’s side has already played them twice this season.

Pep Guardiola’s side won both meetings. However, this gives them an advantage as they should know what to expect.

Wigan Athletic hope these 2 key fixtures will turn form around

Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook

Wigan Athletic fans are getting increasingly frustrated with their team’s performances. Their away form is poor and the results aren’t going their way.

The Latics are currently 20th in the Championship. they sit on 15 points. However, teams below them are catching up.

Luton Town is on 14 points, Middlesbrough is just below on 13, Stoke City are on 11 points and Barnsley is at the bottom on 9 points.

Some fans are getting fed up of manager, Paul Cook. They think it’s his time to go. However, the Wigan team need to focus on each game.

Another criticism that the squad have received, is the fact that they don’t play a full 90 minutes. It’s like the team switch off too early and concede late on.

Wigan also had a poor game at the weekend. They lost 3-0 to Brentford at home and even went 1-0 down after 5 minutes. Cedric Kipre got sent off too.

In a bid to turn these performances around, there are a couple of fixtures that Wigan could take advantage of…

Stoke City away

Next Saturday, Wigan will face Stoke away. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware of Wigan’s poor away form.

I am also aware that Stoke won their last game against Barnsley, 4-2. This means they could be feeling confident ahead of their clash with Wigan.

However, Stoke City is below Wigan in the league and the Latics should take full advantage of that. If they can go ahead early, they should stand a chance of taking all three points.

Wigan Athletic away at Luton Town

On the 7th of December, Wigan will travel to Luton. Even though this is another away clash, like many fans, I hope they will be able to take advantage of the fact Luton are currently below them in the Championship.

Luton’s last win was on the 19th of October against Bristol City. Wigan needs to take advantage of that fact and try to take all 3 points.

If they don’t manage to take the maximum points from at least one of these games, I think fans will make it clear that it is time for Cook to go.

Oldham Athletic’s 2 key fixtures to jump-start season

Oldham Athletic manager Dino Maamria

Oldham Athletic are having a tough time down at the bottom of League Two. Even though they have drawn more recently, they need to find wins.

In difficult times for a football club like Oldham, focussing on League Two is something that should be a priority. They recently got knocked out of the Leasing.com Trophy but went through in the FA Cup.

Now it is time to try and get some wins in League Two. Oldham is currently 20th on 16 points. The team’s below them aren’t far behind as only 2-3 points separate them.

Fans are getting fed up with their club. They want change in ownership and management but that doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.

Therefore, the team will just have to work hard to change things around. They need to start attacking early on in games and defending wins so that they can climb to a safer League position.

With that in mind, here are two fixtures coming up for Oldham that they could take advantage of…

Morecambe away

On Boxing Day, Oldham will travel to Morecambe. They are currently bottom of League Two on 13 points.

If Morecambe doesn’t suddenly improve, Oldham will be able to take advantage of them and try to take an early lead.

Oldham can also aim to improve their goal difference in this game. If they can keep their confidence up, they may be able to score a few in this game. However, they will also have to keep on top of their defence.

Oldham Athletic v Scunthorpe

Oldham will also have to play Scunthorpe on New Year’s Day. They are also down at the bottom of League Two.

Scunthorpe currently sits on 15 points and if they are still struggling next month, Oldham could take advantage of this fixture too.

So this means that Oldham could give fans a nice Christmas and New Years present if they collect as many points as possible from these fixtures. However, they also face Salford City at home on the 29th if December.

This is a lot of game time to take on in such a short amount of time. Fitness will become a priority.

Bolton Wanderers’ 2 Key fixtures to close the gap

Bolton Wanderers Keith Hill

Bolton Wanderers sit on -2 points in League One. However, despite improved form recently, hard work needs to continue to climb out of the relegation zone.

Despite the injury blows within Keith Hill’s squad, he has got his men playing to a great standard recently.

Even though they got knocked out of the FA Cup by Plymouth Argyle last weekend, they have been improving in League One. They have also gone through to the next round of the Leasing.com Trophy.

They recently beat Fleetwood at home, 2-1. This win took them to -2 points. A massive improvement on the -12 they started out on this season.

In order to now climb out of the minus points and relegation zone, they will need some wins. Here are two fixtures they could take advantage of soon…

Bolton Wanderers v MK Dons

This Saturday will see the Trotters play MK Dons. Not only does being at home give them an advantage, but MK Dons being 21st in the League also helps.

When they have been beating the likes of Fleetwood who are in the top half of the table, Bolton should be confident here.

MK Dons currently have 13 points and are struggling. Bolton need to take advantage of that and aim for a win.

Accrington Stanley away

On the 23rd of November, Bolton will travel to Accrington Stanley. The fact that Bolton will be the away team may not favour their chances of winning.

However, Accrington Stanley are currently 19th in League One and are on 15 points. They should be able to use that to their advantage.

If Bolton can get some points from MK Dons, that should give them the confidence to beat Accrington Stanley too.

EFL Decision

Despite the positive thinking about Bolton getting out of the minus points and possibly the relegation zone too, there may be another issue.

Earlier in the season, Bolton couldn’t fulfil two fixtures. After a player strike, their clash with Brentford was called off. Then a player welfare issue meant that their clash with Doncaster also didn’t go ahead.

This has all meant that further misconduct charges could be placed on the club. The Bolton News has reported that the EFL will make a decision and it will be announced next week. Could all the hard work at Bolton be a waste of time?

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