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English Premier League

How Manchester United rated during their victory over Everton

Jake Jackman



Manchester United

Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a convincing 4-0 victory over Everton. They took an early lead through Antonio Valencia and struggled to put the game to bed until the final ten minutes. Their three goals during that period show how devastating they are and that they are one of the teams to beat this season. At this early stage, it is looking like a fight between the two Manchester clubs for the title. Here are how their players rated on Sunday:

David de Gea – The goalkeeper hasn’t been the focus this season as United are now not reliant on him, but he reminded everyone of his ability on Sunday. He made some great saves, including one outstanding one to keep out Sandro. 7

Antonio Valencia – It was a great start for Manchester United as they took the lead in the opening minutes. Their right-back produced an excellent strike from range to beat Jordan Pickford. His overall contribution was good as he offered support down the right and wasn’t beaten at the back. 8

Eric Bailly – Although the attack has been taking the plaudits, the defensive record of the team has been impressive. The Ivory Coast international has been central to that as his positioning is spot on and he is reliable in possession. He ended this game with a 97% pass success rate. 7

Phil Jones – Nobody expected the Englishman to have a key role to play this season, but he has been given a fresh start by Jose Mourinho. His aerial presence was notable and his partnership with Bailly continues to improve. 6

Ashley Young – Like Jones, few expected Young to have a big role to play this season, but he was given an opportunity against Everton and performed well. His experience as a winger allows him to offer a threat down the left and he is by no means out of his depth when the team doesn’t have possession. During the match, he made seven ball recoveries and he will be pleased with that aspect of his game. 7

Marouane Fellaini – It was Fellaini that was brought into the team to replace Paul Pogba and he delivered a good performance. He won five aerial duels and made eight ball recoveries, which underlines his value to the team. The Belgian won the ball high up the pitch, which led to the second goal and that put the result beyond doubt. It was a crucial contribution from the midfielder. 8

Nemanja Matic – He has had a great start to the season and was assured again on Sunday. Matic has provided something new to the squad and he is emerging as one of their most important players. Five ball recoveries and an assist show what he offers. 7

Juan Mata – The Spaniard does a lot of things that go unnoticed and it is clear that Mourinho considers him to be an important player. He made three key passes and came close to scoring in the second half as his shot hit the woodwork. 7

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – There are signs that Mkhitaryan is taking his game to the next level this season and he is emerging as one of the best players in the division. His positivity in possession is key to United’s exciting brand of football and he showed his cool head in front of goal to score the second. 8

Marcus Rashford – The teenager is exciting to watch as his pace and dynamism causes problems for opposition teams. It was a frustrating afternoon for him, but he did carry a threat and made one key pass. At the age of 19, he is still learning and it is refreshing to see Mourinho give him a prominent role. 6

Romelu Lukaku – This was always going to be a big match for the Belgian as he came up against his former club and he did manage to get on the score-sheet. On another day, he could have got more, but he continued to work hard and got his reward. Lukaku isn’t afraid to miss chances and that is a good trait to have. In addition to his goal, he got the assist for the second and that showed that he can be unselfish to benefit the team, which will please Mourinho. 9

Jesse Lingard – Like Rashford, he was enthusiastic and looked to make things happen. He made one key pass and got the assist for the third as he flicked the ball on to Lukaku. Lingard won’t be a regular starter, but he has a part to play. 6

Ander Herrera – Something isn’t quite right with Herrera. He came on and looked tidy in possession, but didn’t do anything noteworthy to earn a rating. N/A

Anthony Martial – The Frenchman has had a great start to the season and he was impressive again on Sunday during his short time on the pitch. It was his great work that won the penalty and he then put it away coolly. He is pressing hard for a starting place. 7

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Leicester City

West Ham and Leicester should pounce for Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri



Photo: Getty Images.

One player certain to be on the move this summer is Stoke City midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who will put an end to an unhappy spell at the bet365 Stadium, but could still stay in the Premier League to West Ham or Leicester.

Sky Bet offer odds as low as 1/10 that Shaqiri will depart this summer, with West Ham the leading Premier League club in the betting at 8/1 and Leicester City not far behind at 10/1.

That’s not to say that a stay in England is certain, particularly given that the two Milan clubs are favourites with Inter at 6/1 and AC Milan at 13/2, with Lyon also in the running at 8/1 level with the Hammers.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The winger has not hidden his disappointment with the team’s struggles this season and the Potters now face an uphill battle if they are to avoid relegation from the top flight.

The Swiss international will not entertain the idea of playing second tier football after a decorated career has previously seen him play for the likes of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

Having failed to live up to expectations since Mark Hughes brought him to England in 2015, he may be keen to make the move abroad, but with finances likely to be more attractive to remain in the Premier League he may not rule out such a move.

Leicester could be forced to sign a replacement for Riyahd Mahrez whilst West Ham will also be looking for options out wide when Joao Mario’s loan spell comes to an end.

His pace, power and strength could catch the eye of both sides but they will have their work cut out to convince him to remain in England this summer.

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Liverpool fans will love who are favourites to sign Mario Balotelli



Mario Balotelli
Photo: Getty Images.

Mario Balotelli is not a man who conjures up fond memories for Liverpool fans, but that could all be about to change if the betting is accurate in forecasting where he could move if he leaves OGC Nice this summer with one Premier League side leading the race to bring him back to England.

Whilst Serie A sides are the frontrunners in the betting to sign Mario Balotelli, there are also several English clubs in the mix, based on odds offered by Sky Bet. Favourites are the side that Liverpool fans would both find hilarious and dread in equal measure: Everton.

Odds on the controversial Italian moving to Goodison Park this summer are as low as 8/1, whilst West Ham are also in the running at 12/1.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The centre forward picked up more yellow cards, seven, than goals, four, during his time on Merseyside but has scored 39 goals in 61 games for his new club in France and insists he’s a new, mature man.

Italy still seems his most likely destination with Napoli and Juventus leading the odds, but a move to Everton would give Balotelli the chance to either redeem himself with Liverpool fans by failing as much as he did at Anfield, or rebuild his reputation in the country where he made his name with Manchester City.

The Toffees are desperate to add firepower up-front, but having been so disappointed by their business last summer it is hard to see how taking a gamble on a player as volatile as Balotelli would be a wise move.

That said, they know that the quality is clearly there within the player and may have the same hope as Brendan Rodgers did when he signed Balotelli for Liverpool, that they can bring him in cheap, get the best out of him and sell him on for a profit.

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Manchester United

Has Romelu Lukaku enjoyed a successful debut season at Manchester United?

The Belgian international has 27 goals in all competitions this season.

Martyn Cooke



Romelu Lukaku
Photo: Getty Images

Expectations at Old Trafford have always been high.

Over the previous three decades, Manchester United have become one of the most successful club teams in Europe with Sir Alex Ferguson creating an era of dominance that brought success and trophies on a previously unprecedented scale.

His successors may not have been able to directly replicate his achievements, both David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal won just won FA Cup between them, but the raised bar that he set remains in place.

Expectations of individual players are also high, especially if you happen to be a striker.

Wayne Rooney, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Robin Van Persie, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham are just a small selection of prestigious names that have shouldered the goal scoring responsibility at Old Trafford.

So, it would be fair to say that Romelu Lukaku has some rather large historical boots to fill.

The Belgian striker arrived at Old Trafford in the summer for an initial fee of £75 million after prolific spells with Everton and West Bromwich Albion.

He was brought in by Jose Mourinho to be the focal point of the Manchester United attack and to placate some of the goal scoring issues that the Portuguese coach had experience in his debut season with the club.

(Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A big-name striker, following in the footsteps of club legends, at a club that demands success – expectations were certainly high.

So, how do we rate Lukaku’s first season with Manchester United?

On Wednesday evening the Belgian climbed off the bench at the Vitality Stadium to score the goal that secured three points against Bournemouth. It was the 24-year-old’s 16th Premier League strike of the season and the 27th goal that he has netted in all competitions so far this campaign.

In basic terms, this season has been the most successful and prolific in front of goal in Lukaku’s career.

Mourinho has been using the Belgian as a lone striker and the focal point of Manchester United’s attack in a campaign in which the club has struggled to maintain pace with their cross-city rivals.

Lukaku has demonstrated that he possesses the pace, power and strength to become one of the leading strikers in world football and when he is fit, confident and on form the 24-year-old is as good as anyone else in the business.

However, despite his considerable goal return Lukaku has not been without his critics in his debut season at Old Trafford.

It has been suggested that the Belgian is a fast-track bully, a big-name that only scores against the so-called ‘smaller’ clubs and fails to produce when it really matters.

Critics point to the limited impact that he has had in matches against Manchester United’s direct rivals – he has scored only once against a top six-team this season.

Some supporters have also become increasingly frustrated that Mourinho’s reliance on Lukaku has seen game time restricted for players such as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

(Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The duo started the game against Bournemouth in mid-week and flourished in the Belgian’s absence, offering a more mobile, pacey form of attack that has often been missing this season.

Finally, it is noticeable that Lukaku has been lagging behind somewhat in the Premier League goal scoring charts this campaign. He is currently the sixth leading scorer in the league and has found the back of the net 14 times fewer than Mohamed Salah and 10 times less than Harry Kane.

However, when analysing the 24-year-old’s performances this season it is also worth remembering the pragmatic style of play that Mourinho has utilised.

The Portuguese coach is renowned for his defensive approach against other top-six teams whilst even against so-called ‘lesser’ clubs Manchester United have struggled to produce an aesthetically pleasing style of play.

The fact that Lukaku is on track to score 30 goals this season given the general approach of his manager should be applauded, not derided.

The Belgian has undoubtedly been a success in his debut season at Old Trafford but there is certainly room for improvement next year. However, Lukaku is still only 24 and he still has an abundance of time to grow, improve and develop his game whilst the peak years of his career are still ahead of him.

Manchester United supporters will be hoping that his significant goal return this season is just the start and that Lukaku will be able to build on the relative success of his debut campaign and push his game onto the next level next year.

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