The international break can prove to be a problem for club teams, as it can serve to stall their momentum and there is a chance that players can return with injuries. Manchester United have been dealt an injury blow as Marouane Fellaini was taken off during Belgium’s World Cup qualifying win against Bosnia-Herzegovina with a knee injury. BBC Sport report that the midfielder is set to miss next weekend’s match against Liverpool and that will cause a selection headache for Jose Mourinho as Paul Pogba remains on the sidelines.
At one point in the club’s recent history, an injury to Fellaini wouldn’t have been seen as a blow, but he has proven himself to be a real weapon in Mourinho’s armoury since the Portuguese manager took over at Old Trafford. The 29-year-old can be very effective if deployed correctly and it is in the bigger matches that he is at his best.
Given Liverpool’s high-pressing game, it would have been a good option to start with Fellaini as the Belgian international can dominate in the air and a more direct style could be used. Although Manchester United wouldn’t resort to hoofball, they could have been quicker in their transitions and targeted a struggling Reds’ defence aerially.
The 29-year-old has been in great form too. He has already scored four goals this season, including a brace in the team’s last Premier League outing against Crystal Palace. There were rumours linking him with a move away from Old Trafford during the summer, but the club were determined to keep hold of him and his contribution already this season underlines why. It will be a disappointment for Mourinho that he won’t be able to call on the Belgian midfielder against Liverpool.
How can Manchester United replace him?
The club would have hoped to have Paul Pogba return for the match against their top-six rivals, but The Sun reported over the weekend that the Frenchman could be missing for another two months. Although that hasn’t been confirmed, it is clear that he won’t be ready to start against Liverpool. The beneficiary of the injury problems at the club is likely to be Ander Herrera.
Last season, the Spaniard emerged as one of the club’s most important players, but he has found first-team opportunities difficult to come by at the beginning of the new campaign. The midfielder has started only once in the Premier League and that came against the Stoke City, the only match that the Red Devils have failed to win this season.
It is too early to suggest why Herrera hasn’t been in the first-team, but the arrival of Nemanja Matic could have had a role to play. Mourinho may believe that the two players are too similar to work in the same midfield, which will be put to the test against Liverpool. United will need to dominate central areas and use possession intelligently against the Reds. If they can’t dominate the midfield areas, they will struggle to get a positive result.
Despite the disappointment of losing two midfield players, it is a display of the strength in depth that Manchester United have that they can call on Ander Herrera. The midfielder was excellent last season and emerged as one of the most consistent players in the Premier League. For one reason or another, it hasn’t clicked for him this season, but this is his chance. If he performs to the level that he can reach, he could earn himself a more prominent first-team role.
Does Tottenham’s reported Alassane Plea swoop suggest Anthony Martial pursuit is over?
Does this new pursuit suggest Tottenham are finished with the Manchester United man?
Tottenham have opened negotiations for OGC Nice forward Alassane Plea with an offer of around 25 million euros (£21.9m), as Mauricio Pochettino looks to bolster the supply line to 41-goal man Harry Kane, according to reports from Foot Mercato.
The 25-year-old striker stood out this season for the Ligue 1 outfit, bagging an impressive 21 goals and seven assists in 49 appearances for a stuttering side, and the Spurs boss has decided he could be the man to diversify the attack at White Hart Lane next term.
Anthony Martial was originally touted as high on the list 0f the Argentine’s targets last month, according to London Evening Standard, but it appears that, after failing to gather any traction in negotiations for the Frenchman, the Lilywhites could have ended all hope of landing his signature.
Both players employ a similar play-style, using their speed and attacking intelligence to trouble defences with runs in-behind, and it seems unlikely Pochettino would try to land both this summer, given previous financial restrictions in recent years.
The most likely outcome is that Spurs have decided that financially, the pursuit of Martial isn’t worth what Manchester United are demanding – the Mirror having reported that the Red Devils have slapped a £75 million price-tag on the 22-year-old – and Alassane Plea is a secondary target.
Manchester United World Cup round-up: David De Gea bounces back for Spain
As one of the world’s biggest clubs, it is no surprise to see a host of names linked to Manchester United in action at the biggest stage in the form of the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Only one current player was in action on Wednesday, goalkeeper David de Gea, but he was joined in action by ex-players and transfer targets.
The Player: David de Gea (Spain)
After a humiliating mistake earned some harsh critics from Spain, David de Gea bounced back by getting his first clean sheet of the World Cup for the Spaniards against Iran in a 1-0 win.
It was perhaps not as quiet an evening as the goalkeeper may have been hoping for and he did look a little nervous early on, but he settled into the game and looked more like his composed and confident self as the game went on.
A clean sheet will give him renewed belief after two consecutive mistakes in a friendly against Switzerland and the World Cup opener against Portugal.
The Ex-Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
It was an ex-Red Devil who capitalised on De Gea’s error in the opening round of World Cup games, and Cristiano Ronaldo added a fourth World Cup goal to ensure he remains on top spot of the goalscoring charts.
That came in another 1-0 win, for Portugal against Morocco, as he powered home a powerful header in just the fourth minute to put his team into pole position and see out their first win of the campaign.
Whilst many of his team-mates struggled and looked lacklustre at times, no-one can question the unbelievable quality of the Real Madrid player.
The Transfer Target: Jose Gimenez (Uruguay)
It now looks unlikely that Jose Gimenez will move to Old Trafford after signing a new long-term deal with Atletico Madrid, but the Express reported that the club were considering a move for him this summer after months of links.
The young central defender lined up alongside club team-mate Diego Godin for Uruguay in the heart of defence against Saudi Arabia and enjoyed a comfortable afternoon as Saudi Arabia struggled to really threaten.
England must start Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek after Panama reveal tactics
England must opt for creativity after the Panama captain’s comments
Panama have revealed plans stifle England with a physical approach in their upcoming clash on Sunday, in quotes from captain Roman Torres on the Telegraph, and Gareth Southgate should ensure the Three Lions’ approach is suited to the style of opponent.
The Central Americans were beaten 3-0 by a star-studded Belgium outfit on Monday in their World Cup debut, meaning a win against England is pivotal in ensuring they remain in the competition beyond the group stages. And England will have a tough task taking the lion’s share of points on the day.
“England are a bit more direct than Belgium. They try to make use of the pace they have. We’ll need to be compact and limit their space,” revealed Torres told the Telegraph.
And as a result England must employ the right tactics. Creativity and bravery will be key, as they will undoubtedly have the majority of possession, and Southgate will want to make it count. Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added instant impetus to a languid outfit, after coming on late against Tunisia.
The team’s performance became full of purpose and directness in the last 20 minutes, with both taking the responsibility of carrying the ball forward and creating, and from that arrived the corner and subsequent winner from Harry Kane.
The end product from the likes of Rashford was missing in the opening stages of the game also, as team-mate Jesse Lingard squandered a number of key opportunities to put the game to bed early, and Southgate will not want a repeat this time around.