Man Utd Ask For Fans Help In Anti-Racism Battle

File photo: Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (1st-R) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on March 8, 2020.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United have set up an online system encouraging supporters to report incidents of racism and other hate crimes.

United’s “See Red” campaign follows Arsenal’s launch earlier this week of an action plan called #StopOnlineAbuse.

United stars Antony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Fred have all been subjected to racist abuse this season.

READ ALSO: CAF Fixes Date For Next Africa Cup Of Nations In Cameroon

Fred hit back saying “we cannot feed that culture” of racism after he was racially abused following his side’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat by Leicester.

Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry recently quit all his social media platforms in protest at the rise in internet abuse.

In this file photo taken on December 16, 2018 ex-Monaco’s French head coach Thierry Henry reacts during the French L1 football match between Lyon (OL) and Monaco (ASM) at the Groupama Stadium in Decines-Charpieu near Lyon, central-eastern France.  ROMAIN LAFABREGUE / AFP

 

“We challenge our fans, and indeed fans of every club, to watch this and think about their own favourite memories, their top teams and their most celebrated players,” United group managing director Richard Arnold said.

“How different would those memories be without the diversity of some of the best players in the world who have graced our game and our club?

“Sadly, footballers across the country continue to receive abuse online, seemingly without fear of censure.

“It is not good enough for us all to sit silently on the sidelines when we see or read racist remarks or behaviour.

“Inaction has a consequence. We must call it out. We must not tolerate it. If you see it or read it — report it.”

United will collaborate with the Premier League “to escalate any complaints received to the social media platforms and the relevant authorities.”

The club also urged social media platforms to punish the “online racists” with “tough action”.

AFP

Man Utd Crashed Out Of FA Cup Due To Fatigue – Solskjaer

 

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP
Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1.
Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended his decision to field a weakened team as Manchester United crashed out of the FA Cup with a 3-1 quarter-final defeat at Leicester on Sunday.

Solskjaer made five changes from the United side that beat AC Milan in the Europa League last-16 second leg on Thursday.

Paul Pogba was back in the starting line-up but Bruno Fernandes was left on the bench until the second half, while Marcus Rashford was missing from the squad.

United responded to the switches with a lethargic display as they were beaten for the first time in 30 domestic away games.

READ ALSO: Leicester Advance To FA Cup Semis As Iheanacho’s Double Send United Out

Mason Greenwood cancelled out Kelechi Iheanacho’s opener, but second-half goals from Youri Tielemans and Iheanacho killed off United.

It leaves Solskjaer with only the Europa League left as a realistic opportunity to win the first silverware of his reign as United boss.

Insisting he had no regrets about his selection, Solskjaer said: “I would have started the same team again. Every team selection has reasons behind it.

“On Thursday Bruno broke all his records physically and the boy is not inhuman.

“He has played a game every three or four days. It was a chance to start both Donny (Van de Beek) and Paul (Pogba) but the accumulation of games maybe caught up with us.

“We knew we had substitutes who could come on and make a difference. Everyone could see we weren’t as sharp as we have been.”

Without a major trophy since 2017, United are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and face Spanish side Granada in the Europa League quarter-finals in April.

“You are always disappointed, especially when it’s the end of the line of a cup run. We couldn’t find the normal spark, brightness and energy,” Solskjaer said.

“Maybe all the games caught up with us. Thursday was a big night and today we didn’t have the zip.”

Brendan Rodgers urged Leicester to create history after his team reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982.

Leicester have made four final appearances but have never won the competition.

“We are in the semi-final and we have a chance to get to the final and create history,” said Rodgers, whose side will face Southampton in the last four at Wembley in April.

“When it comes we will fight and give everything we can to achieve that.

“For the club to get to the final and win the trophy would be really special. It’s a trophy in their history they haven’t won. I would be so happy for the owners.

“There are lots of teams ahead of us in terms of budget or whatever else, maybe history, but the ambition is there to win titles and be competitive.”

 

AFP

Manchester City Reach FA Cup Semi-Finals, Beat Everton 2-0

Everton’s Portuguese goalkeeper Joao Virginia (R) reacts as Manchester City’s German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring his team’s first goal with teammates during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northwest England on March 20, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP

 

 

Manchester City’s quest for an unprecedented quadruple of trophies remains intact after seeing off Everton 2-0 to reach the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday as Southampton also booked their place in the last four.

City were far from their flowing best at Goodison Park after Pep Guardiola made six changes from the side that cruised into the Champions League quarter-finals in midweek with a routine 2-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in Budapest.

But goals in the final six minutes from Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne booked City’s place in the semi-finals for the fourth time in five seasons under Guardiola.

City won the domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup for the first time in English football history two seasons ago and are firm favourites to repeat that feat.

Guardiola’s men are 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League and face struggling Tottenham in the League Cup final next month.

However, the Champions League is the trophy City most want and Guardiola showed where his priorities lie with a quarter-final clash with Borussia Dortmund to come after the international break by taking the chance to rest the likes of Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and De Bruyne from the start.

Oleksandr Zinchenko cleared Everton defender Yerry Mina’s header off the line with the best effort either side mustered before half-time.

Joao Virginia started in goal for The Toffees for just the second time due to injuries to regular goalkeepers Jordan Pickford and Robin Olsen.

However, the 21-year-old Portuguese stopper produced a brilliant save early in the second half to prevent Raheem Sterling from converting Fernandinho’s pinpoint low cross.

Guardiola was forced to introduce Mahrez and De Bruyne off the bench in the final quarter.

But it was the unlikely source of Aymeric Laporte who opened Everton up as he broke forward from centre-back before Virginia brilliantly turned the Frenchman’s initial effort onto the crossbar.

Gundogan was following up, though, to head into an empty net and end the resistence from Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

De Bruyne then wrapped up the tie with a thundering finish in stoppage time as Everton claimed in vain for a high boot by Mahrez on Mina.

 

Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (R) scores his team’s second goal past Everton’s English midfielder Ben Godfrey (L) during the English FA Cup quarter final football match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on March 20, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP)

‘Big target’

Southampton cast aside their Premier League struggles to ease past Bournemouth 3-0 to reach the semi-finals.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side has slumped into the Premier League relegation battle after losing 10 of their last 12 top-flight matches.

But the Saints have been immune to those woes in the FA Cup this term and they booked a place in the Wembley semi-finals thanks to Nathan Redmond’s double after Moussa Djenepo’s opener.

While Premier League survival is the priority, Hasenhuttl insists the FA Cup was a “big target” and he made just two changes against a Bournemouth team who sat seventh in the Championship.

Redmond’s enterprising run took him, past two defenders, to the edge of the area and he slipped a deft pass to Djenepo, who guided a composed finish into the far corner to open the scoring eight minutes before half-time.

Having provided the assist for the Mali winger’s first goal since October, Redmond did it all on his own to double the lead in first-half stoppage-time.

Redmond put the result beyond doubt with his third goal of the season in the 59th minute, the midfielder slotting home from 10 yards after Stuart Armstrong’s shot bounced back off the post.

 

Manchester City’s German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (L) scores his team’s first goal during the English FA Cup quarter final football match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on March 20, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP)

 

In Sunday’s two quarter-finals, Manchester United travel to Leicester in a clash between the teams currently in second and third place in the Premier League respectively, while Chelsea aim to continue Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten start in charge at Stamford Bridge against managerless Sheffield United.

Man Utd Sign Shirt Sponsorship Deal With TeamViewer

Manchester United's France's midfielder Paul Pogba (L) celebrates after opening the scoring during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg football match between AC Milan and Manchester United at San Siro stadium in Milan on March 18, 2021. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP
Manchester United’s France’s midfielder Paul Pogba (L) celebrates after opening the scoring during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg football match between AC Milan and Manchester United at San Siro stadium in Milan on March 18, 2021. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Manchester United have agreed a five-year deal with technology company TeamViewer to become their principal shirt sponsor from next season in a reported £47 million-a-year deal, it was announced on Friday.

The German-based firm will replace American car manufacturers Chevrolet, who have been the Premier League side’s main shirt sponsor since 2014.

No figures were disclosed by the club but ESPN reported it was worth £47 million ($65 million) a year, saying it was a £17 million annual drop compared with the Chevrolet deal.

Since the Chevrolet contract was agreed in 2012, United’s fortunes on the field have declined.

READ ALSO: Mourinho Feels Pain After Worst-Ever European Night

The Red Devils have not won the Premier League since former manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and have reached the Champions League quarter-finals only twice in the past 10 seasons.

In a statement, United’s managing director Richard Arnold said: “We are tremendously proud to be establishing this partnership with one of the most exciting and dynamic global software companies.

“The ability to connect and collaborate has never been more important to the world and our community of 1.1 billion fans and followers.

“We are looking forward to working with TeamViewer to bring to life our vision for a partnership built on smarter ways of connecting people and businesses.”

The deal is TeamViewer’s first major move into sports sponsorship.

Investors did not react fondly to the deal, though, as the company’s share price dipped more than 12 percent soon after the announcement.

Despite the limited success since Ferguson’s departure, United’s strong commercial appeal has allowed them to maintain their position as the Premier League’s wealthiest club.

United were fourth in the latest version of Deloitte’s Football Money League, which ranks clubs based on their revenue, behind Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid and European champions Bayern Munich.

 

AFP

Malaysian Prince Tunku Ismail Eyes Stake In Manchester United

A picture combination of Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and the Manchester United logo

 

A Malaysian prince on Friday said he is eyeing a stake in English Premier League side Manchester United, just weeks after triggering speculation of a takeover bid for Spanish club Valencia.

Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, crown prince of the southern state of Johor, said he was “open to any shares in football in Europe” during a press conference.

He singled out Manchester United, adding that he knew there was an opening to invest in the club by buying a stake of three to five percent.

“Manchester United is a club which will take decades for its commercial value to go down,” the 36-year-old said.

“In terms of sustainability, they are superb. So that is why I will try to have a meeting.”

Earlier this month, Tunku Ismail sparked speculation that was interested in buying Valencia with a series of Instagram posts.

He had said the club needed someone who is “hungry for success”, adding that he was motivated by “creating history”.

On Friday, he said only there was “pros and cons” of investing in Valencia, without going into detail.

Valencia are owned by Peter Lim, a billionaire businessman from Singapore, which neighbours the prince’s southern state across the Straits of Johor.

Tunku Ismail already owns Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim, who last year won their seventh straight Malaysian league title and inaugurated the 40,000-capacity Sultan Ibraham Stadium.

Europa League: Ibra Set To Return In Milan’s Clash With United 

File photo: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic gestures during the UEFA Europa League first round day three Group H football match between AC Milan and Lille (LOSC) at the Meazza stadium in Milan on November 5, 2020. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to face Manchester United in AC Milan’s Europa League showdown with the English giants on Thursday as the resurgent ‘Rossoneri’ aim to announce their return to the big stage.

The Swede should be in good spirits after announcing his return to international football after nearly five years away on Tuesday, and appears to be winning the race to face his old club in the second leg of their last-16 clash at the San Siro.

The tie is locked at 1-1, with Milan having the slight advantage thanks to Simon Kjaer’s stoppage-time away goal in the first leg at Old Trafford last week.

Italian media reported on Tuesday that the veteran forward trained with the rest of the Milan squad and should be available for the first time since he left his side’s 2-1 win at Roma with a thigh injury at the end of last month.

Since then he has made headlines on a different kind of stage, co-hosting the Sanremo music festival which is possibly Italy’s biggest pop cultural event.

With 14 goals in 14 league games, the 39-year-old was a major reason behind Milan occupying top spot in Serie A for large periods of this season and his return to Old Trafford for the first leg had been highly anticipated before he picked up his injury.

Coach Stefano Pioli knows that he doesn’t need Ibrahimovic to get past United after a superb display in Manchester last week, and his side could well start the game with their talisman on the bench.

READ ALSO: Tiger Woods Transferred To Los Angeles Hospital For Further Treatment

However to ensure passage to the last eight, Milan will need to turn around a dismal recent record at the San Siro which has contributed to their slipping nine points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan having been top themselves little more than a month ago.

– Milan wobbling –
Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Napoli was their fourth straight match without a win at the San Siro, preceded by draws against Udinese and Red Star Belgrade and a 3-0 derby thumping at the hands of Inter.

Five defeats in 13 league matches in 2021 also has second-placed Milan looking over their shoulders at a series of rivals for a place in the Champions League, a competition in which the seven-time European champions have not played since 2014.

The next few days will also be crucial for United’s chances of silverware this season.

 

AC Milan's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic centres the ball before feeling pain at his left leg, a thigh muscle strain during the Italian serie A football match Napoli vs AC Milan on November 22, 2020 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP
File photo: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic centres the ball before feeling pain at his left leg, a thigh muscle strain during the Italian serie A football match Napoli vs AC Milan on November 22, 2020 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples.  ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

 

They follow their trip to Italy with an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City on Sunday, putting their season at a crossroads with Manchester City 14 points clear of their local rivals at the top of the Premier League.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has Marcus Rashford back after the England forward played the full 90 minutes of their 1-0 win over West Ham at the weekend.

Of the remaining ties, only Rangers’ with Slavia Prague looks to be in the balance as they will kick off at Ibrox all square at 1-1 following their draw in the Czech Republic last week.

Steven Gerrard’s side have already been crowned Scottish champions, although they will also have one eye on the Old Firm derby with Celtic at the weekend.

Four-time European champions Ajax and Roma are both virtually assured of passage into the next round as they are 3-0 ahead in their ties with Young Boys and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Also strong favourites to go through are Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Villarreal and Granada thanks to their two-goal leads going into their second-leg matches.

Olympiakos head to the Emirates to face Arsenal, who are fresh from a derby triumph over Tottenham, but face a battle at 3-1 down.

AFP

Kjaer’s Late Equaliser Forces United To Disappointing Draw Against AC Milan

Simon Kjaer celebrates scoring the equaliser. Photo: [email protected] Kjaer.

 

Simon Kjaer bagged a late equaliser on Thursday to force Manchester United to a disappointing 1-1 draw in the first leg of a Europa League round of 16 tie against AC Milan.

Although Milan dominated the opening exchanges, United took the lead in the second half after teenager Amad Diallo’s header beat Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.

It was the 18-year-old’s first goal for the English giants following his £37m switch from Atalanta in January.

The Milan defender’s late intervention spoiled a memorable moment for Ivorian teenager Diallo.

In only his third appearance for United, Diallo gave a glimpse of the potential that persuaded the Premier League club to pay £18 million ($25 million) to sign him from Italian side Atalanta in January.

Just five minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute, the 18-year-old put United in front with a superb header.

Legends including Paolo Maldini, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho have all featured in previous clashes between United and Milan.

While it is far too soon to place Diallo in that company, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope that scoring with his first ever effort on goal bodes well for the much-hyped youngster’s future with the club.

At 18 years and 243 days, Diallo is the fourth youngest player to score for United in a major European competition, after Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and George Best.

Diallo, yet to start for United, made his debut as a substitute in the Europa League last 32 first leg against Real Sociedad.

 

This was his second home appearance and scoring at Old Trafford’s famous Stretford End was even sweeter for the precocious starlet.

While Diallo’s headline-grabbing act was significant, it wasn’t enough to help United build on the momentum from their 2-0 win at Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.

With United 14 points behind City, the Europa League and FA Cup represent their best hopes of winning the first trophy of Solskjaer’s reign.

The second leg in Italy next Thursday won’t be easy for United on the evidence of a composed and determined performance from injury-hit Milan’s crop of promising youngsters.

Crowned European champions 10 times between them, United and Milan were once feared for their swashbuckling play and financial muscle, but both clubs have lost their lustre in recent years.

– Late drama –
In a sign of the drop in standards at Old Trafford and the San Siro, the first meeting between two of the world’s most historic teams since 2010 was their first outside the Champions League knockout stages.

Milan called the shots early on and Rafael Leao had the ball in the net when he sprinted clear to fire home, only to see his effort ruled offside.

Stefano Pioli’s side were denied an 11th-minute opener after Franck Kessie pounced on a long throw and smashed a superb strike past Dean Henderson from just inside the area.

Kessie’s celebrations were premature as a VAR review showed the ball had glanced off the midfielder’s arm before his shot.

Harry Maguire was guilty of an incredible miss when the United defender, no more than a yard out, somehow shot against the post after Bruno Fernandes flicked on Alex Telles’ corner.

United had moved the ball too slowly and with too little purpose in the first half, so Solskjaer replaced Anthony Martial with Diallo at half-time.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Ease Past RB Leipzig Into Champions League Last Eight

After a brief delay while he had a wristband taped up on the touchline, Diallo’s introduction proved an inspired move as he broke the deadlock in the 50th minute.

Fernandes unfurled a delightful long pass towards Diallo, who made an incisive run behind the Milan defence and looped a clever backwards header over Gianluigi Donnarumma.

But United failed to build on that lead and Milan’s intelligent play was rewarded with just seconds left when Kjaer powered his header past Henderson from a corner.

 

Manchester United Appoint Darren Fletcher As Technical Director

We are pleased to announce the appointment of John Murtough as the club’s new Football Director, and Darren Fletcher as Technical Director, Manchester United posted on Twitter. PHOTO CREDIT: @ManUtd/Twitter

 

Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has been named as the club’s first technical director, with John Murtough promoted to the role of football director, the Premier League club announced on Wednesday.

United said the two new roles would “further strengthen the club’s football operations” after years of speculation over the absence of a director of football at Old Trafford.

Fletcher returned to United in January as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s coaching set-up.

The 37-year-old will focus on “a coordinated and long-term approach to player and squad development”, the club said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Haaland Double Fires Dortmund Into Champions League Quarter-Finals

Murtough, promoted from a role as head of football development, will “have overall leadership and responsibility for operations and strategy across all football functions”.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: “These are hugely important appointments that reinforce the progress we have been making as a club in recent years in our relentless pursuit of success.

“We have already made great strides forward in the way we run our football operations, and the benefits are visible in the resurgent pipeline of academy talent reaching the first team and through our improved recruitment record.”

Speaking about Fletcher he said: “Darren’s stellar achievements as a player and his own journey from academy to Premier League and Champions League winner means he naturally commands respect and understands this vital part of the club’s DNA.”

Former Scotland international Fletcher, who won five Premier League titles at Old Trafford, said: “It is great to be back with the club and I am delighted to be taking on this new role.

“We are moving in the right direction and I am looking forward to continuing to work with Ole and his coaching team, and now with John as the football director.”

United are currently second in the Premier League, 11 points behind Manchester City.

AFP

‘We Have To Be Realistic’: Solskjaer Promises ‘Responsible’ Transfer At Man Utd

File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Ol d Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 6, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have to focus on realistic and responsible business as they target improvements to their squad during the coronavirus pandemic.

Next Monday marks a year to the day since Old Trafford last welcomed fans, with a full house roaring the hosts to a 2-0 derby victory against rivals Manchester City.

United have not beaten a traditional “big six” rival in the Premier League since and Solskjaer’s second-placed side are already 15 points behind City with just 12 matches remaining.

READ ALSO: [‘A New Chapter:’] Nigerian Star Ighalo Joins Saudi Club Al Shabab

The Norwegian knows there remains work to do if they are to bring success back to the club but Covid-19 has changed the landscape.

“We have to be realistic, we have to be responsible in the way we do our business both on and off the pitch,” he said.

“There’s improvements on the training ground, stadium. We just have to look at the whole picture.

“Where can we spend the money? And how much is there? It’s just the real world now. It has changed.”

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP
File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020.Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP

 

Solskjaer said young players at the club’s academy could be handed opportunities as a result of the changed circumstances.

“Of course, all clubs in the world are going through the same situation so it’s no different for other clubs than for us,” he said.

“I think there’s just going to be less and less transfers happening in the world of football until this changes.”

United left their transfer business until late last summer, with free agent Edinson Cavani arriving on deadline day on a contract until the end of the season with the option of a further year.

The 34-year-old striker’s future remains unclear beyond the end of this campaign and talk about a long-term solution continues, with Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford.

“I always say that Mason (Greenwood), Anthony (Martial), Edinson… when we can really get them really firing that means we’re a very good team,” he said.

“But we’re always looking at better players, of course we are.”

AFP

Man City Chase Quadruple As Man Utd Aim To Spoil Tuchel’s Record

File photo: (l to R) Manchester City’s French defender Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City’s Portuguese defender Ruben Dias and Manchester City’s English defender Kyle Walker react after the UEFA Champions League, last 16, 1st-leg football match Borussia Moenchengladbach v Manchester City at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on February 24, 2021. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP)

 

Manchester City have set their sights on a clean sweep of the four major trophies as the runaway Premier League leaders prepare to host high-flying West Ham this weekend.

To have any chance of putting City under pressure, second-placed Manchester United must end Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten start as Chelsea boss.

AFP Sport looks at some of the main talking points ahead of the weekend action in the English top-flight.

Man City flex musclesManchester City’s march to the top of the Premier League was not a surprise given their title-winning pedigree, but their record-breaking surge has fuelled belief that they can achieve greatness.

READ ALSO: Tiger Woods Transferred To Los Angeles Hospital For Further Treatment

City chalked up their 19th successive win in all competitions — a record for an English top-flight side — as they eased to a 2-0 victory at Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League, face Tottenham in the League Cup final and have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Bernardo Silva, who was on the scoresheet against Borussia, gave voice to City’s swaggering confidence after they moved a step closer to an unprecedented quadruple.

Unbeaten in 26 matches stretching back to November, Silva said City could set a new standard of excellence after their domestic treble two years ago.

“We know we have good momentum, but this is just the last 16 of the Champions League,” he said. “We have the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup.

“It is going to be a tough season but we are going to try to win them all.”

Man Utd face Tuchel testManchester United are the closest challengers to Manchester City, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will need a major collapse from their rivals if they are to win the title for the first time since 2013.

File photo: Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L) and teammates react after conceding their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 27, 2021. (Photo by Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP).

 

Victory at Chelsea on Sunday is essential to keep United’s faint hopes alive.

That will not be easy given the Blues’ revival under former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel.

Since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard in January, Tuchel has won six of his eight games in all competitions to lift Chelsea up to fifth place.

But United are unbeaten in five league games and their forward Marcus Rashford believes they are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

“I think we’ve said all season that we’re a team that’s still improving, learning lessons about ourselves every game,” he said.

“We have to concentrate on ourselves and keep giving the best version of us. Ultimately that’s going to make us win the games.”

Alli comes in from the cold after spending much of the season cast into exile by Jose Mourinho, Dele Alli’s return to form has given the Tottenham manager a welcome selection headache.

Alli appeared close to leaving on loan during the January transfer window before the club reportedly blocked the England midfielder’s attempt to rejoin his former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino at PSG.

The 24-year-old has since held clear-the-air talks with Mourinho and has been reintegrated into the squad.

Alli used Wednesday’s 4-0 Europa League win over Wolfsberger to underline his qualities, scoring a brilliant overhead kick and providing two assists.

Ninth-placed Tottenham must beat Burnley on Sunday to get back in top-four contention.

File photo: Tottenham Hotspur’s Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld celebrates with teammates after he scores his team’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 2, 2021. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP

 

“These are the headaches that I love,” Mourinho said, referring to his selection quandaries. “The headaches that you don’t like are lots of people not performing. Lots of doubts, by negative reasons.

“These are the wonderful problems. The players they need to understand this concept of team, and the intensity of matches. If you have everybody ready or play at this level, it’s the best thing to happen to the team.”

Fixtures:

Saturday (GMT)

Manchester City v West Ham (1230), West Brom v Brighton (1500), Leeds v Aston Villa (1730), Newcastle v Wolves (2000)

Sunday

Crystal Palace v Fulham (1200), Leicester v Arsenal (1200), Tottenham v Burnley (1400), Chelsea v Manchester United (1630), Sheffield United v Liverpool (1915)

Monday

Everton v Southampton (2000)

 

19-Year-Old Mason Greenwood Signs New Four-Year Deal With Manchester United

Manchester United’s English striker Mason Greenwood runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, central England, on February 14, 2021. (Photo by Nick Potts / POOL / AFP)

 

Mason Greenwood committed himself to Manchester United till 2025 on Tuesday with the club’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying it is his responsibility to ensure the winger “reaches his phenomenal potential”.

The 19-year-old’s new and improved deal which includes a one-year extension option comes after a series of impressive performances since he broke into the first team.

Greenwood has been with the club since the age of seven and gone on to make 82 first-team appearances and earning himself one England cap.

Solskjaer handed Greenwood his debut against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in March 2019 and has been delighted with his progress.

“Mason is a fantastic talent and yet another fine example of the type of player that our academy produces,” said Solskjaer.

“He has made great progress this season, showing real maturity and adaptability to his game which has seen him develop into one of the best young players in the country.

“Whilst it is easy for people outside of the club to forget that Mason is just 19, it is our job as coaches to ensure he reaches his phenomenal potential and every step we take is to help him along that path.”

Greenwood for his part said it was thanks to the United Academy he had realised his dream of playing first team football.

“When you join the club at seven years old you just dream of playing for the first-team one day,” Greenwood said.

“I’ve worked so hard to reach this level and the last two years have been amazing.

“I want to thank the academy for everything they have done for me and for their continued support to this day.”

Greenwood — who has scored four times in 29 appearances across all competitions this term — said he wanted to reciprocate the faith shown in him by helping United win silverware.

“There is so much that I want to achieve in the game and I know that this is the perfect environment to play my football.

“There is a lot more to come from myself and this team and I am so committed to working week in, week out to help the group achieve success.

“I want to repay the club for the support that everyone has given me over the years and show everyone just what I am capable of.”

Man Utd Stumble Again In Arsenal Stalemate

Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka (C) blocks this shot from Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP)

 

Manchester United’s Premier League title challenge suffered a second setback in four days as they failed to breakdown an under-strength Arsenal in a 0-0 draw at the Emirates on Saturday.

United threw away top spot with a shock 2-1 defeat to bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United in midweek and are now three points adrift of league leaders Manchester City having played a game more than their local rivals.

A point edges eighth-placed Arsenal to within six points of the top four and it was the Gunners who came closest to scoring when Granit Xhaka’s free-kick struck the bar in the second half.

Unlike the early days of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, it is against their traditional top six rivals that the Red Devils’ challenge for a first league title since 2013 has faltered.

 

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe reacts after narrowly missing with a shot during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)

United have still yet to beat any of City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea or Arsenal in the league in six attempts this season.

After winning at Old Trafford three months ago, the Gunners went seven league games without a victory but have bounced back in recent weeks.

Mikel Arteta’s men are now unbeaten in seven to move back into contention for a top-four finish, but will rue missing their chances in the second half to take all three points despite a number of key absences.

 

Arsenal’s Brazilian midfielder Willian runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)

 

Two of Arsenal’s most impressive performers this season, Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka, were missing through injury, while captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also absent for the third consecutive game due to his mother suffering from an illness.

After a tentative start from both sides, Bernd Leno made a brilliant save to deny Fred a clever opener for United as the Brazilian tried to lob the ball in from the edge of the box.

Arsenal had a number of half-chances before the break without testing David de Gea as Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe shot just wide from the edge of the box and a teasing cross from Gabriel Martinelli just evaded Alexandre Lacazette.

 

Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard makes his debut during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Andy Rain / POOL / AFP)

 

– Fernandes goes close –
It is exactly a year to the day since United signed Bruno Fernandes and the Portuguese nearly celebrated the anniversary with a curling effort that drifted inches wide.

Fernandes has had a transformative impact on United’s fortunes and came closer than anyone to breaking the deadlock before the break with a free-kick that was deflected inches over.

Willian has had the opposite effect since joining Arsenal in August, but the Brazilian was called upon by Arteta for the second half in place of Martinelli.

The former Chelsea winger’s lack of confidence was obvious as his weak effort was blocked behind when presented with a great chance two minutes into the second period.

Pepe then saw a goalbound shot blocked by Harry Maguire as Arsenal were the better side after the break.

Xhaka’s free-kick came even closer than Fernandes’s effort from a similar area on the field as the Swiss midfielder’s shot crashed back off the bar.

Moments later Emile Smith Rowe’s powereful effort was parried by De Gea.

 

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (L) watches his shot go wide during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)

 

Another swerving effort from Pepe just did not have enough curl to nestle in the far corner, but United could still have snatched a win to keep the pressure on City late on.

Edinson Cavani was quiet for 88 minutes, but the Uruguayan pounced on Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s dangerous cross only to see his volley fly inches wide.

A point does at least maintain United’s long unbeaten run away from home in the league, which now stands at 18 games, bettering the previous club record held by Alex Ferguson’s 1998/99 treble-winning team.